This article was published on June 17, 2010

Internet advertising: how to stand out in the upcoming flood.

Internet advertising: how to stand out in the upcoming flood.
Brad McCarty
Story by

Brad McCarty

A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty. A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty.

In the next 4 years, the Internet is likely to overtake newspapers as the second most viewed advertising platform in the US.

That’s some pretty heavy information, both for businesses and for those who are specializing in online advertising.  What it comes down to is a tidal wave of online advertisers, and it will lead to a noisy space in the near future.

What can you do to stand out?  How can you, in a sea of ads, make sure that yours is the one that gets noticed?  We have some thoughts, and we’ll share them with you.

(As a bit of background, and justification for my thoughts, please bear in mind that I worked in radio and television for over 10 years, and I’ve worked in marketing for over 15.  I’ve seen the best and worst advertising, and I’ve seen the fatal mistakes of those who created it.)

1 – Stop Being Annoying

You ever wonder why used car dealers tend to have the same annoying advertising?  It’s because for years they’ve been certain that if they had the loudest, most obtrusive message, it would gather the most attention.  But what do you do when an ad comes on?  Change the channel?  Mute the program?  Regardless, I’m betting that you don’t watch it.

The same is true with online advertising.  Buyers love to use the most annoying, invasive medium that they can find.  Float-in ads, pre-roll advertising on major websites, embedded audio.  Whatever the format, consumers will tend to tune out these ads just as they’ve done for years previous.

In the world of the Internet, changing the channel gives me a lot more options that it does on television.  There are literally more websites than any of us would care to count, and you’re not advertising on all of them.  Don’t make me change the channel.

2 – Don’t Do It Yourself

Roy Williams (dubbed The Wizard of Ads, some 30 years ago), has a unique idea about business owners: you are the absolute worst person to design the advertising for your product.  Why?  Because you’re the only person who will see it the way that you do.

So what do you do?  You hire people who can give an objective, wide-based perspective about what you’re trying to sell.  We recently wrote about Trada, a Colorado-based company that is doing just that.  Trada puts the energy of 500 pay-per-click experts at your disposal, and lets them find out the different ways in which your product should be represented.

3 – Forget Tradition

Here’s a thought to ponder: she doesn’t care about cut, clarity, color or carat weight.  What she does care about is the look on her friends’ faces when she shows them the ring.

Tradition tells you to advertise facts.  But good advertising will go above and beyond that, and will tell your customer what the facts truly mean to them.  Find a way to connect your words, images or video to your customers’ emotions and you’ll find successful advertising.

4 – Go Mobile

“But I don’t do mobile stuff!”  Sure you do.  Have a website?  You do mobile stuff.  If you don’t think that mobile advertising is a big enough medium, then you should look at both Apple and Google.  Just because you don’t have a mobile application doesn’t mean that you can’t offer mobile-oriented content.

In 2009, $414 million was spent on mobile advertising.  By 2014, that’s expected to be $1.6 billion.  Yes, billion.  Get in early, get your foothold and hang on for the ride.  Don’t write off the mobile market, just because it doesn’t seem like the right thing at the time.

5 – Be the Customer

Any time that we talk about advertising, we get a rash of comments about “use adblock” and the like.  But let’s face it, those are a minority.  The general user of the Internet doesn’t have ad blocking software.  So be that user, if you’re not.  Start paying attention to what ads annoy you and what ones pique your interest.  Once you’ve found that, you can follow suite.

There’s no one sure answer to advertising success.  Or, if there is, nobody has found it yet.  Instead, we have ideas and guidelines.  There are no rules, so don’t let anyone try to fool you into it.  All you can do is pay attention, get objective help and branch yourself out of your area of comfort.

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