It has been a bleak year for print advertising. This month the Daily Mail and General Trust, Britain’s biggest news industry company, announced that ad revenues for this year have slipped by £15million in its print components, but rose sharply by £19million from its website.

SwissCognitiveAdvertising giant WPP dramatically cut its growth forecast over the summer, highlighted the challenges that traditional conventional companies face as they continue to struggle in the new marketing climate. Traditional forms of advertising are beginning to lose their appeal quickly, budgets are cut and media moves online, as newly emerging marketing possibilities are beginning to be driven by technology. But it is not enough to simply translate the same adverts into virtual media. The proliferation of ads online has made it increasingly difficult for brands to make their voices heard – in a world inundated with information, passive selling is no longer likely to be successful. To deal with the sheer scale of modern retail, businesses need to re-examine their tactics. Sellers need to address this by moving from the art of advertising to the science of active digital marketing.

Off to online marketing

With this reduction in advertising budgets, costly campaigns across traditional media forms such as print and broadcasting have become less sustainable. As online marketing can be made visible to an increasingly large audience, growing numbers of large companies are moving their advertising online.1 But the trouble is that, whilst the internet helps businesses to reach a wider audience, it also allows a much larger number of advertisers to try and address that audience. The proliferation of social media and digital marketing has brought a deafening level of adverts online which has lead, in turn, to a host of ad-blocking extensions – whose usage rose 30% last year. In effect, the sheer volume of adverts online mean that many consumers have taken the steps to make sure they no longer see adverts at all.

Use data intelligently

So what can marketers do, if traditional media is too costly, and online adverts struggle to stand out and get through to the right customers? Many have realised that the answer lies in data. Most companies have it in buckets, particularly about existing customers. Brick-and-mortar retailers can see what is being purchased in store, which customers are making those purchases, and when. Online retailers often have information about website traffic, product taste, and demographic details such as age and gender. Retailers have access to large amounts of data about their customers and their spending habits, and, if used correctly, this data can be a goldmine of marketing insight. […]