In the days of Madison Avenue men drinking Manhattans and waxing poetic over a carton of Lucky Strikes, advertising followed a fairly simple formula — TV ad, print ad, checkmate.
The TV ad, usually 30 seconds long, would tell a story to grab the eyes and hearts of the viewing public. The task of that ad was to generate enough viewership, buzz, conversation, and interest to drive people to the store, restaurant, or product being advertised. The print ad was the TV ad’s trusty sidekick, wherein more information on the said store, restaurant, or product could be provided. The tagline led a small paragraph or list of bullets of anything additional you may need to know, from the sales price to side effects.
These days, advertising has given way to marketing, particularly in the digital world. The success of ads is driven more often by report-driven KPIs like clickthrough rate, impressions, and cost-per-click. Gone are the days of the “what ad were the ladies discussing at the beauty salon today” KPI. While literal “impression” is definitely important — see Pepsi’s colossal failure in social impression — advertising’s marketing metric makeover has transformed the Mad Men’s old fashioned process into a team-centered, data-driven, holistic marketing campaign.
”The TV ad, with its six-figure budgets, famous faces, and big, emotional message, has been replaced with what some agencies call “hero content.”
The TV ad, with its six-figure budgets, famous faces, and big, emotional message, has been replaced with what some agencies call “hero content.” Basically, it’s a TV ad in every way but medium. It’s broadcast on a website, rather than brought into your home through the miracle of television, transforming it from “push” to “pull.” The budget may stay large if the content is highly developed, the famous faces may remain through influencer strategy, and the draw of a big, emotional message will never go away. But from there, things have changed even more.
The Internet has given us the curse and the blessing of the always-on conversation, and every brand’s (and seemingly, individual’s) need to continually participate in order to stay relevant. Therefore, brands can rely on their hero content as a stake in the ground for these conversations. By promoting hero content in email, blogs, digital ads, social media posts, and beyond, the conversation can continue with viewers on all media platforms without creating too much cacophony in the noisy digital space. With this hub and spoke model of content marketing campaign strategy, brands can send a creative but unified message out into the world on every medium possible, all of which lead back to a conversion opportunity. While the spokes are infinitely more numerous now than in the golden age of advertising, the digital content marketing strategy’s heart remains the same.
”Brands can send a creative but unified message out into the world on every medium possible, all of which lead back to a conversion opportunity."
So that’s what happened to the good, old-fashioned advertising campaign. It came of age and adapted to the brave new world, just like the rest of us. It dropped some of its mystique for the assurances of data prediction and analytics, but advertising (even through the modern lens of content marketing) remains a unique art form that requires the same ingredients: passion, focus, creativity, and authenticity.
Oh, and sometimes, a good, stiff drink.