It’s often said that “it takes money to make money.” This often refers to the fact that a business must advertise in order to create an awareness of what is being offered to the general public. The average person is exposed to over 1,000 different brands and messages every day that promote a business or specific products. This means there are some certain advantages that can be gained by advertising, but there are certain disadvantages in the modern advertising campaign that must be considered as well.
If you’re thinking about a new advertising campaign, then here are some of the pros and cons to consider as you begin creating.
The Pros of Advertising
1. It’s an easy way to create a value proposition.
Prospects need to see that something can solve a problem for them in order for them to consider making a purchase. Value is often seen as saving someone time or saving them money. Advertising is an easy way to prove that there is a value proposition to be considered with a brand or product. If the real value which is received is equal to or greater than the perceived value received in an advertising message, then a solid relationship can be built.
2. It creates a way to set brands and products apart from the competition.
People today don’t just want to buy something that is “good enough.” They want to purchase the best product at the best price. If someone has got $100 to spend on Champagne and there’s a bottle of Dom Perignon found within that person’s budget, would they spend all of their cash on the bottle of Dom or buy 5 bottles of $20 Champagne instead? Setting a brand apart gives the product extra value and that’s why most people would purchase the bottle of Dom.
3. It reaches multiple demographics simultaneously.
Advertising is one of the easiest ways to reach out to multiple target groups at the same time. This action helps a business to better discover who their primary customers tend to be, the demographics to which they belong, and provides information that allows for prospect cloning. It also gives a business the chance to reach out to multiple new demographics in order to judge how influential their marketing messages happen to be.
4. One single target demographic can also be emphasized.
Advertising also allows for a business to specifically target one demographic. This is seen every day with direct mail campaigns, email marketing, and even food commercials that air right when people get done with their 9-5 grind and don’t feel like cooking. If a business knows when and where they can reach specific prospects, then advertising creates a natural relationship-building point that can help prospects engage because they appreciate the value proposition that has been created.
5. Ultra-specific demographics can be targeted today.
In the past, advertising was about choosing a certain time of day, a specific zip code, or households that earned a certain amount of money. Today all of these can become filters for an ultra-specific advertising campaign that happens online. This allows a business to find their best customers in the best places and keep replicating those results over a potentially infinite period of time.
6. It provides consumers information about choice.
Every consumer has different personal preferences that make certain products more appealing than others. From flavors to prices to specific product comparisons to show how one product is better, companies can provide information about broad options that can appeal to broad demographics so that consumers can practice their right to choose what products are best for them.
7. Advertising provides economic growth and support.
When advertising is available in major markets, there is a direct correlation to that market’s GDP increases to the amount of advertising that is consumed. This is even true on an industry level within an overall economy. Certain industries that advertise more often have better growth results than industries that don’t advertise. Growth is always the liveliest when advertising is a major point of emphasis.
8. Advertising creates jobs.
In the United States alone, advertising provides over 18 million jobs that contribute to the economy in various ways. It isn’t just in the creative industry either. Improved revenues because of advertising contribute to job growth within the business or industry and this provides more profitability, which eventually leads to more job growth. Then the cycle repeats itself with every new advertising campaign, helping many people in the process of generating revenues for a business at the same time.
9. Advertising supports global culture.
Without advertising, many of the things we enjoy today would be either more expensive or wouldn’t exist at all. For example, the 2012 London Games had an estimated cost of $3.5 billion in order to run. All of those costs were covered through advertising sponsorships and incoming revenues from ticket sales and other consumer purchases. The same is true of TV sports broadcasts, art exhibitions, and even grassroots crowdfunding efforts.
10. It’s one of the easiest ways to prove niche expertise.
One of the hottest forms of advertising that is happening today is the whitepaper, ebook, or article that is allowed to be downloaded for free. This information creates evidence in the minds of B2B and B2C prospects that proves a business has expertise that can create value. Hard evidence is much more influential than manipulated advertising images or slogans that are designed to keep a brand at the top of a prospect’s mind.
11. Social and moral issues can be promoted with ease.
Public advertising campaigns can help to bring more awareness to certain societal issues, such as bullying or homelessness, that may not otherwise be obtained through other sources. These public campaigns may have a cost to them from a production standpoint, but because they spur local actions and support, the value comes back around over time and everyone benefits from it.
12. It inspires people.
Advertising can stir the human soul and imagination to create real inspiration that benefits the world. The “God made a farmer” advertisement from Dodge, featuring Paul Harvey, is a classic example of this. Aired during the 2013 Super Bowl, it was 2 minutes of inspiration for America’s Heartland that still has people talking. Yet at the end of the commercial, one simple sentence of six words connected the advertisement to everyone: “To the farmer in all of us.”
The Cons of Advertising
1. It costs time and money.
Advertising doesn’t come cheap. It will always cost time, money, or both to complete successfully. It may not cost someone anything to create a video, but they’ll be spending time editing the content of it, use resources to upload it, and spend time responding to comments about it. This means every business must find some way to make sure there is time or money budgeted for advertising so there aren’t any unhealthy surprises that come along. When money is tight, this naturally limits advertising options and that means growth options are limited as well.
2. Messages get lost in the white noise of information overload.
People today spend less than 5 seconds analyzing data to determine if it is worthy of consumption. If it passes the test, then it will be consumed. If not, then it will simply blend in with the rest of the white noise that occurs on the internet every day. It is very easy for an advertising message to get lost because it doesn’t properly communicate value. Something as simple as a sentence being too long or a word being unknown to a viewer can be enough to cause prospects to turn away.
3. Results are never guaranteed.
It is entirely possible for a business to spend $1 million on advertising and get $0 in return. The results of an advertising campaign are never guaranteed. This is why so much research goes into demographic research so that problems can be identified and solved by the products that a brand represents. As long as there is some sort of valid value proposition, there will always be some sort of return. Even then, however that $1 million campaign could bring a return of just $1.
4. There are a ridiculous amount of platforms that accept advertising.
Which platform a targeted demographic prefers to receive their advertising on can be just as costly and time consuming as the creation of the advertising campaign itself. From billboards to radio, TV to the internet, there are literally hundreds of ways that a business could spend their advertising budget. Although this means brand saturation is easier to achieve, it also means that being completely ignored happens more often as well.
5. It is difficult to stay unique with today’s information-sharing world.
Because an advertising campaign can go global in a matter of minutes [or even seconds] on the modern internet, it is very difficult for a business to be able to stay unique. Successful advertising campaigns can be copied by others so that the successes can be replicated. This requires a business to be continually innovating, creating, and find new approaches in order to provide a unique message.
6. Advertising is often associated with media.
Advertising is how most people today receive their media, even if that is from an online source. Two out of three internet users say that there are willing to be exposed to higher levels of advertising just so they can receive more information that can be freely consumed. This still happens in the print world as well since advertising reduces the subscription prices of newspapers or magazines by 50% or more.
7. It is very easy for the wrong message to be consumed.
Budweiser discovered this disadvantage of advertising in April 2015 during the next phase of their Up For Whatever ongoing campaign. A slogan was printed on the label of Bud Light bottles that said “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” The intent was to have people be “up for whatever,” like table tennis with Arnold Schwarzenegger or playing real life Pac-Man. The problem was that many consumers say this message as promoting rape culture and the backlash against the slogan caused negative publicity for Budweiser instead of a positive campaign.
8. Advertising always impacts someone in some way.
Every advertisement that someone views will have either a positive or negative impact on them. Those impacts might be slight, but they could be very large impacts as well. Imagine a recovering alcoholic being exposed to several commercials for beer, wine, and spirits or kids being exposed to product commercials for 5 minutes straight during their favorite cartoon – both instances that happen with regularity. Because there is no way to control how advertising impacts people on the individual level, businesses are forced to hope that the positives outweigh the negatives.
9. It’s a general nuisance.
Excessive advertising might have a positive effect on the economy, but it tends to have a negative effect on consumers when the same type of advertising happens over and over again. This is especially true during election cycles when political advertising takes over the landscape. Hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising may be spent on a single election, exposing people to competing messages that get repetitive and irritating when they are seen several times per hour.
10. The intended targets of the advertising campaign may never see it.
The goal of advertising is to reach a specific demographic at a specific time. The only problem is that even with comprehensive research guiding the way, viewing hours are subject to change at any given time. Someone might decide they’ve had enough of the internet and don’t log into social networking sites for a month. A flat tire keeps someone away from the TV at the targeted time they’d normally be watching it. A desired moment of silence causes someone to turn their radio off. Everything can be done correctly, but “fate” can still intervene and create a missed message.
11. Product placements can ruin personal enjoyment.
There are some iconic brand placements that have happened over the years. Remember Superman crashing through the giant Coca-Cola billboard? There are also some ridiculous product placements that have ruined experiences for people. Remember the gourmet food enjoyed in Demolition Man at Taco Bell? Product placement could be a $50 billion industry in 2015 and helps to fund entertainment options, but it can be sometimes too aggressive and create a negative effect.
12. It isn’t always ethical.
Kids under the age of 8 are susceptible to believing everything they see on TV. If a product says it is the best ever created, kids are going to believe it. If someone is hungry and they see a picture of pizza, burgers, or unhealthy food options that they are craving, then they’ll often decide on the unhealthy food instead of making something healthier at home. By its nature, advertising isn’t always ethical because it is attempting to influence purchasing decisions so that people spend money they weren’t intending to spend.
Advertising is a Necessity in the Modern World.
Businesses will need to segment 10 billion people by 2050 and that requires them to stand out in a unique way today. By evaluating the pros and cons of advertising, more effective campaigns can be created. That will not only lead to eventual profitability if managed correctly, but it will also help the economy so that everyone has a little more to spend.