by Kelly Hobkirk
People like to complain about advertising. We engage it on Facebook, all over the internet, on YouTube, on the tele, on billboards, in magazines, in the mail, in email, and it annoys us. My knee-jerk reaction to any internet ad is a rapid-fire pushing of the mute button. People would prefer to have their entertainment cakes and just stare at them with syrupy eyes, never having to engage their minds in the inner “manipulative” advertisements.
Thing is, advertising is not manipulative in the least. In fact, people actually value advertising as part of their daily lives, more so now than ever before. Think of all the advertisements you embrace each day: ads on iTunes, Facebook — which is in and of itself a giant nonstop advertising medium, on any number of smartphone apps, in the newspaper or on a news site, in the package of your cereal or tea or coffee, on billboards, on the radio, on your company’s entry signage, in the movie theater, on every blog, and on every receipt at the grocery store — and not just on the back — that logo or name at the top, that’s an advertisement.
Think about that for a second. There can be no other reason for a logo appearing on a receipt than for the purpose of advertising. I’ve listened to people protest this point, saying it’s there so we know who we bought something from, but really we already know. The logo is there to forge a connection, which is precisely what advertising does. Speaking of connections, when you come across a link to another page on a site, that’s an advertisement. So if I point you to our advertising portfolio, I’m advertising to you.
All advertising mediums are completely optional. Without the adverts people love to complain about, few of the mediums would exist. Advertising pays for the entertainment we treasure and learn from. It brings people into the stores and onto the sites we love buying from. Advertising is a win-win for everyone. You get your entertainment, the advertiser gets a great response (when they do it right), and the medium – be it a tv program, magazine, website, retail, or whateva’ – continues. It’s win-win-win, in fact.
Do you watch movie previews? They’re adverts. Do you ever see a movie preview that entices you to go see another movie? That’s an advert that worked the moment you paid for the next ticket. If the movie previews annoy you, you are free to look away or enter the cinema just in time for the feature. I usually see a packed theater during the previews, and people hush up not before the movie, but before the previews.
The same choice to look away or simply not engage applies to every advertising medium that exists. Try thinking about advertising like this: Advertising pays for the entertainment you love. Which forms of entertainment do you love? What types of advertising are bringing that value to you?
The biggest advertising machine ever
Social media is just a giant advertising machine. Someone recommending a product is them advertising to you. “Liking” a website, Facebook page, product or service is advertising it. Tweeting? Yup, that’s advertising too. Providing a recommendation? Advertising.
I recall a presentation I gave to a class who had just read Naomi Klein’s No Logo some years back. Half the class loathed the concept of branding, while the other half appreciated how they could wield its power. That second half, they’re the ones who probably helped build Facebook. In fact, by the end of my talk, 99% of the kids were excited about branding, while one lone person remained skeptical and on the fence. He probably ignores Twitter.
What social media has literally accomplished is the creation of passionately opinionated, vocal, living, breathing, walking, talking human advertisers. It’s brought advertising to the family level, the community level, the up-to-the-minute daily interaction level. Instead of brands becoming insignificant, they’ve virtually exploded. If you’re not on Facebook, some see you as an outsider. That’s negative advertising rooted in peer pressure.
When I mention my blog to you with footer text on an email, I’m advertising to you. How many of those do you see each day? By the way, have you subscribed to our newsletter? (It’s an easy 1-step form at the bottom of the page). Oh my, I’ve just advertised.