(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘marketing

“I think that I shall never see / A billboard lovely as a tree. / Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, / I’ll never see a tree at all.”*…

Billboards date back (at least) to Egyptian dynastic times. They’ve become a staple of modern advertising– and like the rest of that field, are being redefined by technology…

As a concept, billboards are simple. They’re just a big board conveying a message. But their use requires a purpose and before the Industrial Revolution, only governments and rulers really had a need to communicate with large groups. Then Jared Bell had a need of his own.

The explosion of commerce in the 19th century resulting from the steam engine and other innovations created much of our modern world. But it was the invention of lithography in the 1790s by Alous Senefelder allowing for the mass production of printed color flyers and posters that allowed for modern billboards. Jared Bell was an event promoter in 1830s New York seeking to drum up business for the Ringling Brothers Circus. And that’s the story of how Jared Bell became the father of billboards

In any case, the idea quickly caught on… by 1900, “a standardized billboard structure was established in America,” allowing for national advertising campaigns from newly emergent national brands like Coca-Cola and Kellogg. And with the popularity of the automobile along with the reshaping of cities to suit roads, billboards became a staple of modern life in many countries or wherever market share was up for grabs.

The future is digital, in all fields but especially with advertising. Static billboards that need to be replaced by hand are giving way to digital displays that can be updated remotely. In some instances, this also allows for some pretty nifty interactive content. 

Smartphone apps are letting consumers directly participate with digital billboards, as seen in campaigns from Audi and American Eagle. A British Airways campaign from 2013 called “Look Up” used a massive video screen in London’s Piccadilly Circus to feature an ad with a child following real flights that passed overhead…

Advertisers are now placing big bets on digital alternatives with one research group expecting a 7.5 percent compound annual growth in the market until 2028. Currently, the digital signage market is worth more than $20 billion. With digital billboards representing just 4 percent of the outdoor advertising market, it will be quite a will before they have anywhere near the ubiquity of traditional options.

Advertisers focusing on billboards are especially bullish on digital technology because of increased competition for attention and consumer awareness. One advertising firm framed the issue almost like an existential crisis, “Today’s consumers are much smarter and well informed than they were 30 years ago; therefore, merely repeating a message to the average individual is not a viable strategy for return on investment. In 2021, along with a great website design, Google SEO, and content creation, advertisers will need to incorporate technology and customer preference in their advertising models to keep the spirit of advertising alive.” 

Like any good salespeople, this increased competition isn’t a problem but an opportunity to incorporate digital billboards into advertising campaigns because “experts also believe that out-of-home advertising is making a comeback because consumers are getting tired of the constant bombardment of advertisements on their phones.”…

The evolution– and the future– of the billboard, an object that very much tends to keep pace with the times: “Billboard Empire,” From Andrew Egan in @readtedium.

* Ogden Nash

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As we obey, we might recall that on this date in 1982 the #1 song in the U.S. was “Don’t You Want Me,” by The Human League (and “the second British Invasion”was underway).

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“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”*…

In the U.S., more than $250 billion a year is spent on advertising; globally, the figure is more than half a trillion dollars. So, it would seem there’s a basic question worth asking: does all that advertising actually work? The ad industry swears by its efficacy — but a massive new study tells a different story…

Have you ever been puzzled by something that’s supposed to be true, but you didn’t quite believe it — and you didn’t have the evidence to challenge it? But then, one day, the evidence appears! Today is that day. From Freakonomics (@Freakonomics), “Does Advertising Actually Work?

The link above is to Part One, which focuses on television advertising; for a look at the new sheriff in town, digital advertising, see Part Two.

John Wanamaker, pioneer of the modern department store and gifted merchant and marketer who helped define the modern consumer era

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As we ponder persuasion, we might note that, history would suggest that some advertising has worked even better than expected; case in point: on this date in 1959 the Barbie doll was introduced (at the American Toy Fair in New York).  Ruth Handler (co-founder, with her husband, of Mattel), created Barbie as an “aspirational” (i.e., grown up) alternative to baby dolls.  She adapted Barbie from a German doll, Lilli, which was based on a German cartoon strip– and which was sold as a “racy” item, primary to men in tobacco stores…  Amped via Mattel’s sponsorship of The Mickey Mouse Club (Mattel was the first toy company to use television advertising), the figurine was a huge smash…and was followed by Midge, Skipper, and– enfranchising a set of men perhaps beyond those who felt bereft when Lilli became Barbie– Ken.

 Barbie Millicent Roberts™ from Willows, Wisconsin, 1959

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 9, 2021 at 1:01 am

“Commercials are about products in the same sense that the story of Jonah is about the anatomy of whales”*…

The Superbowl has, since its inception been… well, the superbowl of broadcasting; this year’s expected audience is over 100 million. Even in this pandemic-challenged economy, 30-second spots on today’s sold-out Superbowl telecast listed for $5.6 million each (though in Scott’s Miracle-Gro reportedly scored a steal at $5.5 million); there’s an extra $300,000 fee to be included in the livestream.

With that kind of investment at stake, and their sights set on the gargantuan audience who will see their commercials, the companies that advertise take their ads very seriously. And as for viewers, many report that the commercials are their favorite part of the show…

Like millions of viewers who tune into the big game year after year, we at FiveThirtyEight LOVE Super Bowl commercials. We love them so much, in fact, that we wanted to know everything about them … by analyzing and categorizing them, of course. We dug into the defining characteristics of a Super Bowl ad, then grouped commercials based on which criteria they shared — and let me tell you, we found some really weird clusters of commercials.

We watched 233 ads from the 10 brands that aired the most spots in all 21 Super Bowls this century, according to superbowl-ads.com. While we watched, we evaluated ads using seven specific criteria…

Superbowl commercials, as only FiveThirtyEight could analyze them: “According To Super Bowl Ads, Americans Love America, Animals And Sex“… sometimes even all at the same time. (Videos included!)

* Neil Postman

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As we contemplate our culture, we might recall that the first organized Mardi Gras celebration in (what is now) the United States was held by French settlers in Mobile, Alabama on this date in 1703.

The first Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans processed on this date in 1827 when masked and costumed students danced through the streets.

Mardi Gras 1937- by Eudora Welty (who, before she became a writer, took photos for the WPA)

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 7, 2021 at 1:01 am

“This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy”*…

A hundred years ago a new theory about human nature was put forth by Sigmund Freud. He had discovered he said, primitive and sexual and aggressive forces hidden deep inside the minds of all human beings. Forces which if not controlled led individuals and societies to chaos and destruction.

This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.

But the heart of the series is not just Sigmund Freud but other members of the Freud family.

This episode is about Freud’s American nephew Edward Bernays. [See here.]

Bernays is almost completely unknown today but his influence on the 20th century was nearly as great as his uncles. Because Bernays was the first person to take Freud’s ideas about human beings and use them to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations for the first time how to they could make people want things they didn’t need by linking mass produced goods to their unconscious desires.

Out of this would come a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying people’s inner selfish desires one made them happy and thus docile. It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate our world today…

From the introduction to Adam Curtis‘ remarkable 2002 BBC documentary series, Century of Self, all-too-relevant today– how propaganda, marketing and advertising, political messaging, management techniques all “flowered” from Freud’s seed.

Here is a complete transcript of the series.

Readers can find the (riveting) documentaries themselves at:

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode Three

Episode Four

Hypernormalization, Curtis’ 2016 BBC (sort of) sequel is here.

And keep an eye peeled for What Is It That’s Coming, a (tentatively-titled series, projected at nine parts) on which he’s currently at work.

* Adam Curtis

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As we sort signal from noise, we might consider just how far we have– and haven’t– come, as it was on this date in 1859 that Charles Darwin published The Origin of the Species.  Actually, on that day he published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life; the title was shortened to the one we know with the sixth edition in 1872.

 Title page of the 1859 edition

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