A lot has changed in the last 20 years. In the year that Shakespeare in Love won best picture at the Oscars, Britney Spears topped the charts and the Y2K bug terrified computer users everywhere, there were 186,270 advertisers. Whether due to high levels of consolidation, M&A, companies not surviving over the years, or a shift away from traditional classified advertising and increased use of endorsements or sponsorships, the number of advertisers has steadily dropped to less than half the number there were 20 years ago, a mere 85,630 advertisers (as of 2018).
Nielsen Ad Intel data shows that over the last five years, there has been a significant reduction in the number of advertisers in the top five advertising categories. In Entertainment & Leisure, advertisers have dropped from 28k to 18k; Finance from 6k to 5k; Food from 2k to 1k; Auto down from 7k to 6k; and Travel & Transport from 9k to 6k.
Despite this, and thanks to the evolution of digital media, the total number of creatives has actually increased across most of the top five advertising categories. The more adverts there are, the more difficult it becomes for brands to cut through the noise and reach their intended audience.
The brands that will successfully future proof their advertising strategies will be the ones that follow best practice for advertising within their sector. Here are a few things for marketers to consider.
That’s entertainment: great advertising in the leisure sector
Entertainment is a sector ripe for experimentation with exciting new formats made available by burgeoning AR/MR technology. Entertainment marketers can also get creative with formats like six-second ads. Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience found that compressed ads were perfect for dwindling attention spans as they require less cognitive effort to process. A recent study found that 96% of compressed ads performed as well or better than the original, just one of the reasons we’re seeing greater adoption of this format. Airbnb has used six-second for its Live There With Your Family campaign, and Universal teased the release of Jason Bourne.
Banking on a bright future for finance
The number of finance adverts has steadily grown over the past five years, potentially owing to finance brands wishing to improve trust following the financial crash in 2008, and the rise of new disruptors like Monzo, many of which exist only online, and are looking to make their mark.
Nielsen’s Connected Commerce report shows that 63m Brits are online, and 84% of UK consumers are using mobile internet, one thing is certain: advertisers should be thinking mobile-first. Finance brands that want to successfully engage with new and existing customers should focus on engaging social content and personalised, best-in-class mobile ad experiences. Banking is no longer just selling a service, it’s selling a lifestyle.
The road to success for automotive
It’s a generally acknowledged truth that automotive ads struggle to cut-through. As the trend towards buying fewer cars continues, auto brands should focus on reinforcing their messaging with memorable creatives so customers can accurately associate a given campaign to the right brand.
As driverless cars edge ever closer to becoming a reality, and people become passengers rather than drivers, auto brands should think about the potential role that their out of home advertising could now play, as well as the additional advertising possibilities and formats that this new technology will bring.
Blue skies ahead for travel advertisers
The number of travel and transport adverts peaked in 2017 at 9m, and has been declining since then (8m in 2018). Travel marketers looking to give potential and existing customers a great advertising experience should focus on the visuals in the creatives – consumers now shop with their eyes, as the social media effect, in particular, Instagram influences everything from purchasing decisions to which products get manufactured in the first place. The travel industry is capitalising on this, EasyJet recently launched an app that allows travellers to buy a flight just by looking at a photo of the destination. Looks aren’t everything – but they count for a lot in this sector in the Insta Generation.
Making advertising a piece of cake for food brands
Older households account for a huge proportion of the shopping demographic and have an enormous impact on the consumer marketplace. Older households (45+) represent 62% of households, yet they control almost 70% of total FMCG spend.
Quality is the main factor that older shoppers look for, and 60% of mature shoppers look for locally made products. Another key concern for the mature shopper group is plastic: two thirds are very concerned about the amount of plastic packaging within grocery products. With such a huge amount of buying power, it is clear that food brands should be engaging older shoppers with advertising focused on these trends in order to increase awareness, loyalty and to drive sales.
Here’s to the next 20 years of advertising – and better advertising for all involved.
Originally published in Campaign, April 2019