How Advertisements Have Changed Because of Digital Marketing

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Social Media and Its Effect on Advertising


Advertising Design in the Age of Social Media: What Has Changed?

July 20, 2021
7 minutes


Remember when ads were a minute long and strictly on TV? Me neither! Keep reading to know what led to the way ads look today, and how social media influenced advertising design.

The look of ads, channels where they are distributed, and the ways people perceive them nowadays are drastically different than, say, 15 years ago. It’s safe to say that they’re different than one year ago too, simply because social media is a melting pot of different trends, backgrounds, styles and changes in public discourse.

Luckily, social media channels are also a place where brands can pinpoint the exact audience they need to reach, so the success of the ever-changing ads can also be measured more easily.

So, what are the biggest changes? We tried to list a few that depict the big changes social media brought.

Ads can be targeted

This is obvious, but also a big one. Advertisements can now be directed to the ideal buyer so easily, they are designed in such a way that the final viewer feels they’re made specifically for them. That is exactly what makes them effective.

Whereas in the past, ads had a ‘one size fits all’ approach, the designs today can be made specifically for the tastes of particular social media users.

Instead of a print ad placed in a newspaper or magazine, that you have no idea if anyone saw, or if it worked on them at all, you can now place a web banner or social media ad that will be seen by the people most likely to purchase your product or service (based on their searching patterns). It can also be designed in the style that you can safely assume the targeted demographic likes and responds well to.

Naturally, because of this possibility, the advertising design of today changes pretty regularly, and if you look through the evolution of advertising, nowadays it goes as quickly as what would take dozens of years in the Golden age of ads.

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Brands focus on inbound marketing rather than outbound

Another big change that social media and the internet in general brought, is that companies adopted a completely different approach to acquiring their marketing leads, and as a result, their customers.

An inbound marketing strategy means that you pull your leads towards your business, by offering them something useful, engaging and educational.

Here is how Hubspot defines it: Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.


Naturally, this wouldn’t be possible without having a social media platform on which you can easily receive feedback and “test the waters”. At the same time, the ability to do A/B testing will help you learn what pulls people more, both in design, style, copy and the offer itself.

In comparison, once the print machine is running, you don’t have many customization options in print marketing.

The attention span is shorter

Social media is not all good and not bad. Unfortunately, the overwhelming number of posts, ads and new information that one receives daily make the average human attention span shorter.

Apparently, the average attention span fell from 12 seconds in 2000, to only eight seconds in 2018. In the meantime, the surge of smartphones and social media helped in this dramatic change.

This means that the design of ads also had to change, and become more attention-grabbing, effective and straightforward.

The colors, typography and copy in static ads became bigger, bolder and more experimental, whereas video ads are now shorter, explanatory and often in a style much different than plain videos (animation, claymation, motion graphics, etc.).

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User-generated content is possible

Being present on a social media platform enabled brands to connect with their audience better, and communicate easily. That’s one of the many reasons that make the internet social and beneficial for brands.

One of the ways brands can coexist with their audience and even benefit from it is user-generated content. You have probably seen plenty of small businesses tagging regular customers wearing or using their products, or posting positive comments they receive via email or Google reviews.

But this tactic isn’t limited only to small businesses: huge brands like Glossier, Fenty, Starbucks and even Tesla post pictures of their happy customers on social media, and often use these posts as ads.

And it works, because people trust casual customers more than what a brand might say for itself. Opinion by peers always helps us make a decision before purchase, so if you are thinking about an affordable strategy that fits your marketing budget, but might gain you some new customers, think about user-generated content.

starbucks user generated content.jpg

Influencers are also in the marketing mix

A decade ago, if you told a financial executive that your marketing team needs a couple of thousand dollars so a person with no special skills or relevant experience can post a picture with your product on a vanity-based social media platform, they’d probably laugh at your face. Today, this item in the budget is a normal thing.

Influencers greatly changed the landscape of advertising, and plenty of people (including social media advertisers) might not like that. Still, they seem to be effective in raising sales and brand awareness.

Whether it’s micro-influencers for a niche topic, or a million-dollar worth celebrity endorsing a huge brand, influencers are here to stay.

In Influencer Marketing Hub’s Benchmark Report for 2021, the platform surveyed more than 5000 marketing agencies, brands, and professionals to find the participants’ views and experiences with this industry.

They found some statistics that prove the efficiency of influencer marketing strategies:

  • Influencer marketing is set to grow to approximately $13.8 billion in 2021
  • 90% of the participants believed influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing
  • 67% of them use Instagram for influencer marketing
  • There has also been a colossal increase in TikTok influencer marketing
  • Finding influencers is the most significant challenge for marketers that run campaigns in-house, but is becoming less of a problem compared to previous years’ reports.

So, needless to say, when performed correctly, this form of digital marketing can help you reach potential customers quickly and has a great return on investment.

karen camargo 1.jpg

Consumers’ trust needs to be earned

One of the biggest challenges for social media marketers is to curate content that speaks about the brand but doesn’t trigger negative feedback. At the same time, customers often use social media to leave a negative review, post a bad story about brands in the comments, or simply bash customer service.

So, what is the takeaway here? Of course, the main thing would be that people can use social media to talk freely about anything. That includes bad experiences with brands. So, as a company, you should try your best to give your customers a great experience and meet their expectations.

This is not always the case, unfortunately, and bad experiences still happen even to the best-managed companies.

So, your social media team should know how to avert a crisis and show that even when the customer might not be right, you are dealing with the matter at hand the best you can, and keep your patience.

People’s trust doesn’t come with you posting good stories about your brand. Most of the time, people read online reviews before purchasing a product or service, so you should do your best to react well even to the bad reviews, and try to paint a different picture.

Go through comments on your social media accounts regularly, and reply to them. Check the reviews and don’t delete bad ones: it is better to recognize a mistake or problem, and then to try and fix it.

Unpaid marketing became marketing too

Finally, one of the biggest changes that happened to advertising and marketing, is that everything you post on social media can be relevant and reach the eyes of many people, even when you haven’t paid for that.

Pictures, videos, tweets… All of these things can become viral on social media, and brands sometimes don’t waste a penny. Of course, there is no knowing what becomes popular and gains organic traction, but you should post regularly and try anyway.

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Stefanija Tenekedjieva

July 20, 2021

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.