Advertising in the Digital Age

Posted on September 12, 2011


Advertising platforms are constantly changing. But why?

How many hours a day do you read the newspaper? Listen to the radio? Watch TV? Spend time on the Internet, or more specifically, social media sites? Chances are, you spend more time with the latter. But once upon a time, television was your predominant media, and before that, radio or newspapers.

This is why the advertising industry never seems to sit still. Primary platforms are always changing. Advertisers want to advertise their product to the greatest number of people at one time.  This is most easily accomplished by advertising with a broadcast method, or a platform intended to reach a large number of people, such as those mentioned above. During the 1940s, the New York Daily News had a circulation of over two million, but today, social media is king. Let’s take a look at two of the major sites, Facebook and Twitter, and how they are affecting advertising.


Facebook has over 750 million active users, or 1/9 of the world population. BINGO! More people equals more exposure which equals a greater likelihood of a return on your initial investment. According to a study conducted by Constant Contact and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey:

  • 52% of Americans over 18 spend at least one hour a week on Facebook
  • 34% of all people on Facebook interact with their favorite brands
  • More than half of people “like” a brand because they are a customer and like receiving discounts and special promotions
  • 76% of people have never “un-liked” a brand
  • Over 50% of fans are more likely to buy a product or recommend the brand to a friend.

Within Facebook, advertisers can buy ad space or make pages and groups for their companies. The trick is to drive traffic to these pages, often through exclusive Facebook promotions. After that, advertisers are likely to have a loyal customer and even free advertising through word-of-mouth exposure. What’s more, advertisers don’t have to constantly reacquaint their audience with the company, as they did traditionally on TV and the radio.


Twitter is less about profiles and more about summing up massive quantities of information into a format that the consumer can easily digest, i.e. the “human news filter.” Twitter confines posts to 140 characters, shortening our attention span to that of 6-year-olds. This is not always bad, especially for advertisers. Everything said must be concise and polished in order to get one’s point across pronto. Often, these pitches are the most memorable because they are simple and easy to understand. Twitter allows companies to tweet little reminders, promotions, or news about their business without creating full-blown advertisements.

According to this Twitter analysis compiled by (as of March 2011):

  • Twitter has over 100 million accounts and is growing by about 300,000 every day
  • Twitter users send 55 million tweets per day, but 41% of users have never tweeted
  • 75% of traffic come from outside Twitter

This information suggests that people are specifically seeking out content they are interested in. They are even willing to create accounts simply for following others. Advertisers should capitalize on this attentive, willing audience. Remember, just like with Facebook, the audience that is following you wants to follow you. Never before have advertisers worked with an audience like this.

How the Internet is Changing Advertising

Why has social media caused such a stir in the advertising world? Social media breaks the traditional confines of content producers and content consumers. Back in the 1940s, advertisers produced content and their audience consumed that information in a one-to-one linear relationship.  Today, thanks to the Internet, just about anyone can produce content. Now, advertisers have to listen to their audience, creating a circular relationship between advertisers and consumer. Advertisers need to concentrate on giving the audience material that causes them to think and share with others through social media platforms. This new interactive relationship has given rise to the “epipheo,” an epiphany-video.