These days, advertising is absolutely everywhere you look. Somehow, we remain oblivious on a conscious level whether it’s flashing neon lights at the side of the road or perhaps a huge billboard on the highway. However, advertising was never designed for the conscious mind and proof of this comes with our automatic response to companies who have been advertising for many decades. Thanks to long-term and large-scale marketing campaigns, we now know the slogans of brands without even thinking about it; ‘You’re in good hands’ and ‘Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there’ are two that spring to mind immediately.
If we look back many years, targeting individuals looking for niche products was impossible; therefore, companies would create products that appealed to the masses. If they could reach millions all at the same time, they knew it would stick with a certain percentage. Traditionally, these types of campaigns could be seen with insurance companies, car manufacturers, restaurant chains, department stores, and food/drink manufacturers.
Now, we’re entering a new chapter of advertising and it comes courtesy of the internet. Suddenly, consumers on the other side of the world have the same access to a brand in New York as those within a three-minute walk. Compared to years gone by, buyers and sellers are closer than ever before. While buyers can find their desired product within one minute, sellers can find their niche audience just as quickly.
Of course, Facebook and Google have led the way with their advertising systems and this means that companies aren't forced to target millions just to gain a few thousand customers. Instead, they can cherry-pick individuals who have shown signs online that they would be interested in the brand. Thanks to technology and the growth of the internet, companies can target people who are searching for their products. With Facebook, ads can be placed depending on race, age, and other personal details. Compared to what large companies have been paying for aimless marketing, the cost is significantly lower today.
What does this mean? Well, above all else, it means that the smaller companies have a chance of acquiring just as many new customers as the likes of McDonald’s. For many years, the fast-food brand has been pumping out TV and radio ads with catchy songs and the ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ catchphrase. At the time, this was a smart move because the majority of Americans today know the big yellow ‘M’, the name, and the phrase. Today, however, small companies can target their potential customers, regardless of the distance between them, for a much smaller price.
Considering the worldwide brands Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have become, we can’t slam the ‘advertise to all’ approach because it clearly worked. All around the world, vending machines would be considered strange if they didn't have a Coca-Cola product on offer. Similarly, we like to visit McDonald’s when abroad because it’s what we know. This being said, it only works for those who have the budget, are available nationwide, and appeal to millions of consumers.
With the internet, niches and smaller companies are being afforded an opportunity. If we take Gillette as a prime example, they were hidden behind their mass advertising for many years and it allowed them to charge premium prices. Now, we have companies like Dollar Shave Club who can advertise to their own niche for a fraction of the cost Gillette has been spending. Just two years ago, Unilever paid $1 billion for Dollar Shave Club and this journey will be replicated time and time again as we continue through time.
In the coming years, advertising will continue on a niche level but we could see the end of advertising as a whole eventually. As data reigns supreme these days, it seems as though consumers are being paired with a company by searching online before they even know it. By searching online for a product, they’re seeing brands who have worked hard to appear high in the rankings on Google and other search engines. With four in every five people now searching online before shopping for a product, mass advertising, and perhaps even advertising as a whole, may just decline and disappear in the years ahead.