You can still rent out billboard space or bus benches to advertise your business, but gone are the days when you have to solely rely on hand-painted signs saying things like, “Wilson Family General Store: We Have Candy!” Times have changed and the ad game has evolved too. Sure you can still have someone stand outside your business wearing a hot dog costume and twirling a sign, luring customers off the street (rumor has it that Brad Pitt once donned a chicken costume to pay the bills and help advertise a business, so anything is possible). It’s important to look at online and digital advertising too, though. If you don’t think you can afford the budget for a slick commercial, there are other ways to get people’s attention.
- Web Series: Online web series might not have the glamour of TV shows just yet, but the audience is growing. Unlike movie attendance, which is declining due to high ticket prices, web shows are building and audience and gaining attention, and they can be a great way to advertise your business or brand. Most web series are free to watch, and they rely on ads to pay the creators and hosts. If you find a web series that has content that matches your brand (for example, if your product appeals to college students, you could find web series that target this audience and try to work with them). Match brands to web series content, so seek them out and develop a plan that works for your brand and budget.
- Audience Participation: Make your target audience feel involved in your campaign by adding interactivity. For example, the movie Source Code that starred Jake Gyllenhaal and was released by Summit Entertainment created an interactive ad campaign that won an Outstanding Achievement in Internet Advertising award and Best of Show Social Media Campaign in 2012 from the IAC (Internet Advertising Competition). They created a multi-platform campaign that asked people to play a game in which they help the main character with his life-or-death mission. They could recruit friends to help them, via social media, and once the user finished all the tasks in the game, their profile picture on Facebook became part of the movie’s online poster. They could also be entered to win a trip to the South by Southwest Festival if they finished the game. By getting people involved and utilizing all these channels, you can make a strong impression with your brand.
- Create Your Own: Denny’s has a new campaign that is a great example of keeping up with the times. Instead of just placing their ads within an existing web series, they have created their own. The series is called “Always Open” and it features some well-known performers (Maya Rudolph, Jessica Biel, Sarah Silverman etc). They’re produced by well-known comedians Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, and the celebs are interviewed as they sit in a booth at Denny’s. It’s a great way to target the 20s-30s audience and expand a brand. If you don’t think you have access to celebrities (it’s worth a try – you never know) you can still find a way to create your own simple, effective web series that’s entertaining and that doubles as an ad for your brand. Especially if you’re trying to reach the college and post-college audience, this can be a great tool.
So see what kind of online and interactive advertising works for you – do your research and think outside the box!