Advertising: What Brands Must Know


The first step for advertising to work is to grab the attention of the audience. It totally makes sense, doesn't it? The whole effort of advertising will be useless if no one pays attention to what you have to say!

Then, after grabbing the attention, it should persuade the audience to take a specific action. But for it to be persuasive, it should be informative. So good advertising not only attracts attention but also is persuasive.

To attract attention, an ad should be entertaining;

to persuade, it should be informative

Now, add the decreasing attention span of today's audience from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015. (Source: Statistic Brain) to the mix and..., you've got yourself quite a real problem!

Oh, and let's not forget the limited time ads actually have to do what we want them to do! Consider video ads on TV or in movie theatres - they're not really cheap!

So, what do we do now?

The solution is rather simple: Build the relationship, then work on it!

What do I mean? I mean, you don't invite someone you've never met for a week-long ski trip with your family, do you? You ask them out for a coffee first, then a dinner maybe, and then you build on it. You don't wanna scare them away, right? It's exactly the same in advertising! You should go up the ladder of engagement!

You meet, you entertain, and then you invite them to visit your website, or Facebook page, or Instagram account, or your Twitter - depending on what you want them to see and do - and you give them a compelling reason to do so.

If you start an ad by asking for people's names, phone numbers, and a bunch of personal questions, or with a "buy this from us, because we're awesome!" message, there's a good chance you're making them skip your ad, change the channel, or ignore it - if they have no other choice!

Oh, and while we're on this, you know what else is as annoying as this? The subscription pop-ups on websites when they appear as soon as you land on a page and block the whole content! I mean I haven't freaking read it yet! Give me like 20 seconds to figure out what the hell your post is about! Then I'll find a way to subscribe!

Anyways, back to advertising. For advertising to be effective, it should grab the attention and then move it to the next level, but How?

It is a bit tricky, but you can do it by encouraging the audience to continue to engage with you on another platform probably the one that you own and don't have to pay for! And then... More engagement, and then persuasion when you have their attention - right place at the right time!

The entertainment factor in advertising is really important because you need the user's attention, therefore the design and creativity of an ad do matter. This means in today's world, we should think about advertising as a 2-step multichannel process.

Another important factor in advertising is to understand which stage of the Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) your target customers are at. You can't treat a customer at consideration stage like a customer in evaluation or purchase stage. They have different needs so they pay attention to different types of content on different platforms.

The Common Mistake in Advertising

Companies usually think of advertising as a process of creating and distributing ads. With all the focus on the ad itself, they usually take the scarcest resource - consumer's attention - for granted.

It's not that the ad is not important, it definitely is, but the type of attention it's getting is important too. For example, an ad in a cinema cannot be the same as a TV ad. Why? Because it's not getting the same type of attention!

In cinema, people are there to watch the screen, so they watch the screen. Technically, they should have their cellphones switched off as well, so it won't interrupt, right? This means they're already paying attention to the screen, so the ads can be less entertaining and more informative, not on TV!

For a multitasking customer who takes a break from watching the TV during the commercial breaks to check their Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram feeds on their phone, the ad's being entertaining is more important than its being informative. In fact, it provides an opportunity to get them switch to your app, your Twitter account, Facebook page, or Instagram profile while they have one on your ad on TV and one eye on their phone!

This is a common mistake, mostly among smaller companies who think by creating one piece of content and sharing it across all their platforms, they should get the same - hopefully great - result on all of them, which doesn't happen and is disappointing. Oh, and this happens on social media A LOT! (Read more about common social media mistakes on Jason Squires' Blog).

Bonus Point: B2B Businesses are run by people too!

When talking about ads being entertaining, many don't believe in its being an important factor in B2B ads. They tend to focus on the ads' being informative - which they should, but I think they're missing a point. I believe they undermine the power of entertainment.

When the CEO of the Company X watches TV in their living room, goes to the cinema with their family, and/or scrolls through their Twitter feed, they don't do these just as the CEO of the Company X - yes, they might, but that's not the only hat they're wearing!

CEOs are humans too - with families, feelings, curiosities and everything, and an entertaining ad might reach out to their human side rather than their "business" CEO side! And who's to deny the importance of feelings in decision making, right?


To sum it up, customers are people, treat them like you would like to be treated. Don't force them, and don't push a selling message too hard. Instead, try to understand them and where in their decision journey they are, so you can act accordingly. But this is not limited to customers of a B2C business, B2B businesses can use this to improve their advertising campaigns.

The most important point is to know what type of attention you need and what type of attention your ads can get!


Finally, to start the discussion, let me ask:

  • What's the most recent ad that has caught your attention?
  • Do you use any AdBlock softwares?