The Enduring Power of Advertising in a New Age

With the decline of traditional advertising in mainstream media, some have begun to question whether advertising has lost its effectiveness as a marketing tool. To this, I say, "Nonsense." Advertising continues to be a potent force, and it always will be. What has changed, however, is that good advertising now outshines bad advertising by a considerable margin. While this may sound simplistic, the truth is that in the past, when there were only a single newspaper and a handful of broadcast TV stations, even subpar advertising still yielded results. It's this shift that has led to challenges for mainstream media and some advertisers today.

Today, consumers have countless ways to consume content and be entertained, and they also have ample opportunities to tune out ads that merely interrupt their journeys. Additionally, the rise of online advertising, an industry that barely existed a decade ago and is now worth $25 billion, has disrupted the landscape. So, advertising still works exceptionally well; it just operates differently now. Adapt, innovate, and integrate, and advertising can remain a potent component of your lead generation strategies.

Modern advertisers understand that advertising is less about directly driving sales and more about creating awareness—specifically, awareness of educational, trust-building content. Your advertising's primary goal should be to obtain permission, permission to educate. Even online ads, which were once seen as a novelty, now blend seamlessly into the digital landscape when they lack relevance. The most effective online ads are those that engage viewers by offering valuable content from a trusted source. Guiding a prospect to consume content that addresses a particular problem or desire is the most logical way to allow them to become advocates for your eventual solution. This is not a hurried transaction; it's a nuanced dance.

Advertising's true value lies in illuminating the path to valuable content that might otherwise go unnoticed or undeveloped. While a sales pitch may not be trusted, an education-based content campaign can be. This is likely why the recent debate over sponsored content has generated strong reactions. People tend to place higher trust in content that appears as editorial, and this influence can be harnessed or misused. Content creators must tread carefully, respect their readers, provide full disclosure, and put in the effort to craft content that is read, indexed, and discussed. In doing so, they will inadvertently generate organic search results, another highly trusted, cost-free, yet earned form of advertising in today's marketing mix. (Google might not call it advertising, but there's a case to be made.)

Another form of content advertising (an expanded interpretation of the classic term) is gaining traction daily on platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Through strategic engagement, marketers are growing their networks, raising awareness, and eventually driving traffic to their content and revenue-generating initiatives. When Brian Clark @copyblogger (a fantastic blog, highly recommended) tweets something like, "Check out today's Landing Page Makeover Clinic at Copyblogger –," isn't this, in essence, an advertisement? Don't get me wrong; it's brilliant, it's perfect, and he has earned the right with his followers and the public to draw people to his content. That's precisely why it works – advertising in its purest form, but with a modified mechanism and implementation.

So, use your advertising to initiate conversations, and create content that fosters trust and community, and you'll harness the enduring power of advertising to generate leads and sales. And, as we know, this will persist until the next big thing emerges.

Jeff Hecht

Jeff Hecht

Jeff is the Founder and Managing Director of the Aronson Hecht Agency. He grew up in the advertising industry at his father's' agency. He has over 40 years in sales and marketing experience. Jeff brings that experience to every client and every project we work on.