This paper will delve into the reality of social advertising, detailing a brief historical background of the same, proceeding to look at the nature of social advertising in the present age and the techniques that are employed in social advertising. Ultimately, the paper will go through the positive effects of social advertising among the Americans in details giving practical examples of how social advertising has helped make a better USA.
What is advertising?
There are numerous activities that go on in the community, country and world at large. We also have items, utilities, consumables and services that help all these activities run at all these levels. It is therefore significant that these necessary support in form of items or even services to be brought to the attention of the potential user.
The above can be achieved through advertisement. Advertisement according to McNamara (2011) can be defined as "bringing a product (or service) to the attention of potential and current customers ... focused on one product… hence the plan for one product might be different than that for another…" it is therefore essential as well to note that there are several mediums through which advertisement has over the years been carried out through like commercials, signs, direct nails, personal contact, and signs or even through electronic mails.
What is social advertising?
Social advertising as well has been in use for years over against the beliefs of many who tend to think and suggest that it is a new and recent idea in the communication sector. The whole idea of social advertisement is pegged on using the marketing and advertising philosophies to promote health and social issues with an aim of bringing forth a positive change in behavior of a targeted group or society in general. It is widely used by nonprofits and other institutions as the Centre for Disease Control and Drug Free Partnership for America among others have been using and engaging in for many years to impact the society and world at large.
Technically the term social advertising/marketing was used by Kotler and Zalman in 1971 first in reference to application of marketing in a bid to solve societal problems (the Philippine Star, 2001). Since marketing had there before been used to remarkably move market products, it was argued that in the same trend it can be used to move human beings to adopt particular behaviors that are desirable and beneficial to the society.
There are those social marketing campaigns that are meant to expose the trouble areas to the wider society and make us attentive to their causes. Even though bringing the attention of the society to the root of the problem may not trigger change in the attitude of the society and their behavior "as these are shaped by habits, interests, feelings, and beliefs…" (ibid) and that is the reason why the social advertising campaigns, in order to be considered effective must transverse the mere hurdle of agitation and education.
Social marketing is peculiarly characterized by its emphasis on the non-tangible products and performance as opposed to the focus of the commercial marketing, which are characterized by tangible goods and products. The primary focus is on the public in focus as we try to understand what their wants and needs are, rather than twisting them to fit into what we have like in the commercial marketing model.
In nutshell, social advertising sells to the viewer behavior change more often to a targeted group. It basically tells the individual/group to embrace new behavior, decline a probable influence/behavior, change a current behavior and discard an old behavior.
Characteristics of social advertising
The social advertisements strive to put forth advertisement formats that will capitalize on the social perception and perspective of the viewer (Pharma Marketing, 2010). This is in contrast to the traditional advertising that was non-social and was targeted based on the details known about the individual whereas the social advertising is aimed at the individual user's existing and potential network.
It is the capitalization on the perceptions of the viewer that make social advertising to be the first of its kind to take systematic leverage over the traditionally 'offline' potentiality, such as friends recommendations, peer influence and pressure an other manifestations of peer influence. This makes it more popular and used by many more each waking day.
The social advertising repeats the content over and over within very short time unlike the traditional advertising that were timed and limited to the peak times when it is felt they can generate more influence and impact. The social network will treat the viewers to timely and repeated transmissions at staggered intervals (Compass Labs, 2010).
The social advertisements have also acted referrals that are trusted by many people and this gives even more evidence that people can influence other people. The social advertising takes advantage on the fact that it is no longer a paradigm of what message is sent to the wider viewer platform but that which is shared among friends and social advertising sets out to explore these social trends to develop a new type of advertising system (Bloomerg Businessweek, 2007).
The advertisers are hence constantly searching for ways to reach out to numerous social networks which compels them to look at advertising networks to push through their custom content and applications (Digital Signage Today, 2011). This makes them come up with interactive advertisements or contextual advertising. To get a deeper understanding of the idea of social advertising, it will be worthy taking a look at a few examples of these advertisers and the advertisements as well and see what they deal in.
The various social advertising that we face day-to-day include those that push us to accept new behavior like "Wear a life vest while in the boat," those that encourage us to reject potential harmful behavior like "pregnant women should avoid alcohol" to escape possibilities of defects to the unborn child.
There are those social advertisements that aim to modify a current behavior like parents to wear seat belts as a role model in order to reduce injuries incase of an accident, and those that target to help one abandon old behaviors like quitting smoking to reduce chances of cancers or birth defects. These are some of the social advertising that w come across on very regular basis.
Some of the features that are common with most if not all social advertising is that they are non-commercial and solely aimed at societal benefits. They are also performed by governments, large corporate organizations or NGOs. They are as well related to the people's attitude and enlist the use of big names that are popular among the targeted society or group.
Techniques of social advertising
In the world of social advertising, there are numerous techniques that are employed by the parties involved. The mediums to be used are endless depending on the targeted audience and viewers and what is easily accessible to them. Wall murals, billboards, flyers, street furniture, cards, radio, television, mobile phone screens, human billboards, newspapers, shopping carts, bus sides, planes, web banners, rooftops, stickers, back of tickets and many more places have been used by the social advertising to pass across their message and point (thoughts.com, 2011).
Of late there have been tendencies of more and more social advertising going to the World Wide Web which is a recent discovery as compared to the others. It is a very influential medium since once advert is uploaded onto the website, the message and pictures cam be seen throughout the world.
The other recent mode is the digital signage. It is a force to reckon with in the field of advertisement. The digital signage gets into close touch with the targeted viewers and explores the interactive nature of human beings. They are also easy to control with precision as to what to display and for how long and how often as they focus on effectiveness, functionality and opportunity (Digital Signage Today, 2011). This makes the message to be relevant to the audience at all times and varying places. These are used in supermarkets, restaurants and even street corners.
The other recent technique that the social advertising uses is the E-mail phenomenon which is equally a recent trend as the digital signage. More often this happens in form of unsolicited nails that contain the social motivator or message intended to be passed across. There also pop-ups that many social networks use to get to online advertising like twitter and facebook who try to have their URLs and hyperlinks on almost all E-mail service providers (Majon International, 2010).
From the above techniques, it is apparent that the social media has struck favor among the users due to its simplicity to use and the relevance in content and timeliness. For instance, it is easier to create an advertisement page on facebook than most social media. As a matter of fact it takes few minutes to do it, after which you can get suggestions instantly of target groups…