The concept of advertising to sell products and services can be traced back as far as Ancient Egypt. All advertising must include the basic rule of journalism by stating the who, the what, the where, and most importantly, the why. While this truth hasn’t changed, the way in which advertising is disseminated has. There are many ways to reach one’s audience today. Divided into three categories, there is print media (which includes magazines, newspapers, flyers, brochures, billboards), broadcast media (such as television and radio), and digital media (which includes online and email.) Under the banner of online, one can find everything from simple banner ads, social media, to connected videos. While there are countless ways to deliver your message, there are also countless ways to best deliver within those mediums.

Understand “The Overlap”
Repetition is how your message is retained. A layered approach to the types of advertising you choose, helps create repetition in the minds of those who may view your message in more than one place throughout different times of their day. Imagine a businessman riding the train or bus to work in the morning. He sees your ad and smiles at the cleverness of the message and the appeal of the product or service. He gets to his office and sits down at his desk. He pulls up his favourite website where your targeted ad invites him to click to learn more. He goes out for lunch and sees your message on a bus stop, taxi cab, or even possibly in a guerrilla campaign on the street. He goes home at the end of the day to see your ad on TV or shared on social media from his friends. This repetition is exactly how top advertisers blend their marketing dollars to create true market saturation. This approach builds credibility for your brand, overall recognition, and keeps your product or service top-of-mind when the buying decision comes into effect.

Understand “The Space”
While the actual people who view your message may overlap from one media to the next, the way in which they interact and interpret your message can still vary from space to space. A person reading your message on something like a banner inside a bus or train will have a lot more time to read it than that same person driving down the road looking at a billboard. People have completely different attention spans when viewing different media. The trick is to tailor your message in each scenario to appeal to the viewer with the time they are willing to spend in each space. There are rules of thumb that help. The billboard mentioned earlier for example. If your message can’t be read twice and understood in the space of 4 seconds, it needs to be reconsidered. Online video on YouTube only has a few seconds to hook you before clicking the “skip ad” button. People came to view a YouTube video – not your ad. So it better be worth their time or they will just click past it when given the opportunity.

Understand “The Restrictions”
Your ad may have a universal message, but the way you share it may be required to change depending on where it’s displayed. For example, many billboards are required to be printed or screened at relatively low resolution. If you had created an advertisement that had a lot of information, the message would break down and the details become unreadable. Also, the time that travellers had to read your message would only be a few seconds as they drove by – which would result in your message being unread and a waste of advertising dollars. In a magazine ad, your message may have slightly more time to be fleshed out. But don’t mistake this time to fill the ad with everything including the kitchen sink. It just means you can massage the essentials a bit more.

Understand “The Hierarchy”
No matter what your message is or how long your viewers have to read or watch it, hierarchy is crucial to pulling your viewer in to want to learn more. Companies sometimes have a bad habit in thinking that all information is important and therefore should be treated equally. If everything is important – nothing is. The headline should not compete with the contact information. The image should not compete with the body copy. And lastly, the logo does not need to be bigger. It’s the signature of your brand – not the headline. There are always exceptions to this rule, but rarely is it the norm.

Advertising is a broad subject with countless nuances that change and adapt along with our current culture. While knowing your target audience and the demographic is important, understanding your message within a particular medium can be equally critical.