In a world that’s becoming increasingly congested with digital messages, it’s simultaneously becoming more difficult for brands to expose themselves to their target markets in engaging and meaningful ways.
Everywhere you look, there’s advertising. But is any of it effective? And are advertisers maximizing the space they have to reach people?
For the most part, the answers to these questions are “no” and “no.” However, there are exceptions.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen a number of companies, both in the technology and advertising fields, develop new tools and strategies for rising above the noise and enhancing meaningful brand-consumer engagement.
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Balancing Clever and Meaningful
There’s a big difference between clever ad placement and meaningful ad placement. Just because a company is targeting customers in a never-before-seen way, doesn’t mean it will be effective or profitable.
Take the following instance as an example.
In 2005, a Utah woman accepted $15,000 from GoldenPalace.com in return for permanantly tattooing the casino’s name on her forhead.
At the time, Golden Palace released this statement: “I think this kind of advertising will become increasingly popular as time goes on. It is a perfect way to get attention amid the clutter of advertising that people see every second of every day. Conventional forms of marketing just don't cut it anymore. To get people's attention, you have to stand out from the crowd.”
And while Golden Palace’s investment may have brought an initial surge of traffic to its website, mainly from curious people wanting to learn more about the backstory, the long-term value is pretty low.
It may get attention “amid the clutter of advertising,” but this is one unconventional form of marketing that won’t take off.
There are plenty of other bizarre stories like this one. There’s the groom that sold ad space on his wedding tie; the man that launched a business based on wearing different branded t-shirts every day of the year; and the movie producer who famously used a homeless man as ad space, but these aren’t anything more than sensational tactics designed to create momentary buzz around an idea or product.
While these certainly represent clever use of advertising space, they are anything but meaningful.
Clever and Meaningful Use of Ad Space
However, there are companies that have been able to produce meaningful engagement with clever placement.
In 2016, we’re witnessing a couple of highly relevant examples.
1. New Outdoor Digital Marketing Boards
The first one that comes to mind is the Miami Heat’s recent addition of the Xfinity East Plaza at the American Airline Arena, which brilliantly features digital marketing boards from a company called Nanolumens.
These revolutionary marketing boards allow the Heat to advertise on ordinary pillars that would have otherwise been blanketed with canvases, or altogether underutilized.
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It’s really an incredible piece of technology and shows how companies are creating and contriving ad space where there formerly was none.
But they aren’t just creating unique ad space as a PR stunt, which was undeniably the primary focus behind the previous strange examples.
There’s actual value to be extracted from this strategy. By delivering content through previously underutilized space, the Heat organization, its network of advertisers, and the fans are all able to benefit.
2. Hot Air Balloons
For years, customers have been exposed to the famous Goodyear Blimp. If a major sporting event is taking place, you can bet the blimp is flying high above the venue.
And while it’s an extremely effective advertising medium for Goodyear, you don’t see many other companies investing in the same strategy.
The primary reason is that a blimp costs millions of dollars to construct.
Well, over the past few years, marketers have discovered ways to bypass this exuberant cost while simultaneously leveraging ad space that was previously underutilized.
They are doing so by purchasing banners and corporate advertisements on hot air balloons.
While it’s not exactly a groundbreaking advertising tactic, companies have sparingly used hot air balloons for decades, it’s growing in popularity thanks to the subsequent growth of social sharing.
As social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have exploded onto the scene, the ability to quickly share images with friends and peers has emerged.
This means the real value of hot air balloon advertising takes place when the image gets recorded and shared hundreds or thousands of times over.
3. Smartphone Lock Screen
How many times do you open up your lock screen on your smartphone each day to check the time, read a text, or send an email? If you’re like the average user, you access your lock screen between 30 and 50 times per day.
A study from 2013 suggests the number could be as high as 110 times per day for the average user.
Regardless, this makes it one of the most frequent habitual activities you participate in.
New startup, Slidejoy, noticed this trend and saw what nobody else did, underutilized advertising space. The app, which has received more than $1.2 million in funding, allows brands to deliver advertisements directly to a user’s lock screen. In return, the user can earn roughly $5 to $6 per month.
In the world of adblockers, this could be the answer brands are looking for to tap into the lucrative world of mobile advertising.
“We are creating a system where a user is incentivized to have the ad on the phone but not necessarily needed to click the ad to get the reward,” says Robert Seo, founder and CEO of Slidejoy.
Creating Ad Space Out of Nothing
As the advertising world becomes noisier and noisier, it’s becoming that much more important for brands to leverage good opportunities for consumer engagement.
Simply paying for the same old PPC ads and physical billboards won’t work for every brand.
At the same time, the increased noise means the value of ad space is rising. As a result, venues and individuals are looking for ways to create ad space where none previously existed.
This produces an additional revenue stream and grabs the customer’s attention better than other oversaturated approaches.
As we move through 2016, look for more creative use of ad space, both in physical and digital marketing.
In particular, look for the rise of wearable marketing. If wearable devices continue to rise in popularity as many market experts predict, then it naturally follows that advertisers will seek out ways to leverage ad space in this niche.
We aren’t quite there, but then again, you never know who will be the first to try something new.