As marketers look for ways to keep pace with technology and media, advertising trends have changed dramatically. Think, for example, about that crazy email you got from your friend -- the one featuring the water skiing squirrel.
After you stopped laughing (and wondering why anyone would fashion tiny water skis to strap on a squirrel) you noticed a product logo in the corner of the screen. And before you realized it, you had "consumed" a brand message, and experienced one of the new advertising trends.
This form of sponsorship, known as "viral videos," is among many recent promotional vehicles replacing conventional advertising. Thanks to YouTube, blogs, TiVo, Facebook and basic email, people are spending less time watching television commercials and reading print ads.
The advertising revolution is on.
Declining ad purchases. Increasing video consumption
In 2009, U. S. ad spending plunged nine percent, according to consumer research firm Nielsen, shedding $11.6 billion last year. And industry trade journal AdWeek wrote that the trend shows no sign of abating, maintaining a pattern of at least six straight quarters of declines.
Conversely, as conventional advertising has been sinking, the number of videos seen online is rising. Nielsen reported that year over year, all relevant video categories -- unique viewers, total streams, streams per viewer and time per viewer --were up, led by 13 percent bumps in time per viewer.
So, clever folks that they are, advertisers have found new ways to capture those eyeballs, ideally without offending the people behind them.
Branded entertainment. Laughing for dollars
Say your product is a tortilla chip, or a beer, or a sexploitation chick cop flick. Clearly, your target audience is dudes 18 to 34. And where will you find them? In front of their computers, watching two of the things they love most -- ideally at the same time during Burly Sports Show on Heavy.com or Carl's Lock on SuperDeluxe.com. Web channels like these have developed new forms of entertainment, three minute shows called "webisodes." They play directly to the ADD nature of the Internet, and people looking for quick breaks in their workday.
Burly and Carl's toast and roast the previous week in pro sports, trashing athletes and their teams. In return for the laughs, viewers allow the sponsors to ply their wares -- sometimes in the frame around the screen, sometimes as part of the entertainment. And just in case you think this new web-centric format is less than prime time, take a look at some of the ongoing sponsors: Doritos, Coke Zero, AT & T, Dove and of course, sexploitation chick cop flick Bitch Slap.
You Tube. Your new ad network
The 30-second TV spot hasn't gone away entirely. It's just that the smart money is spending less of theirs on media, and placing ads on YouTube. They then attempt to drive consumers there via other inexpensive means. YouTube is a vehicle to attract viewers who might not be watching as much TV, or skipping the shows in the brand's media buy. It's also an ideal vehicle to expand an advertiser's reach. The spot developed for an audience in Peoria is now reaching you wherever you are, thanks to You Tube's international exposure.