Sarah Gate
Sarah Gate 26 May 2016

3 Things Digital Marketers can learn from Marketing in the 1950s

We've all poked fun at a 1950s ad, when it was not uncommon to open the daily newspaper only to read about the health benefits of smoking, over breakfast. But smoking aside, here are three hot tips that the modern marketer can learn from the golden years of advertising and successfully implement strategies today.

For the sake of a good listicle, here are three key fundamentals we can take away from the 1950s advertising pioneers, who sort of stumbled their way into marketing and helped to shape what it is today. 

1. Define your message and your audience: segmentation


Advertising in the 1950s emphasised society's upward mobility and prosperity, I'm sure you'll be familiar with the term "keeping up with the Joneses." The main householder buyer was identified as the "housewife" and advertising (see above) started to target her, not necessarily successfully (again, see above). What we can learn from this is that it is important to truly know your audience and how they will react to your message.

Thanks to digital marketing, the ability to track and target at an individual level has allowed for hyper-segmentation. Although marketers can understand the effectiveness of a campaign faster than ever before, the thinking should remain the same as our 1950s advertisers, in which it is still important to identify, target and communicate the RIGHT messages to the RIGHT buying audience. And maybe do some market research before.

2. We are here to sell: direct response


Sometimes as marketers we forget the core of our function; we are really just fancy* salespeople, pushing a product or service. It is confusing when advertising does not have a call to action or leave the viewer interested enough in the product to go out and try it. The nature of digital channels has seen an influx of performance measures available, and we too often get caught up in the numbers of click-throughs and impressions. Digital marketing should flick through some 1950s ads for a quick refresher on how to successfully reinstate the call-to-action and in turn nurture lead generation. 

3. Don't be a pop up


In a multi-channel, multi-device world, marketing seeks for consistency and video commercials now fight for a captive audience. We've all gone to stream our favourite TV show online only to be [read: rudely] interrupted by an advertisement in the form of video content. There goes 30 seconds of your life you will never get back. Adblockers are available for those more technical consumers, but the majority will sit through the advertisement. Without starting a campaign against these ads, they are commonly unpopular and increasingly common. Whereas our 1950s counterparts were successful at ensuring a harmonic relationship between buying and selling advertising space; for example, a host of a TV show would announce the sponsor, or there would be subtle product placement. As a result, the brand was a reflection of the content it was present with as much as, in turn, the content represented the brand. The more the line between advertising and content blurs the harder it becomes for the consumer to distinguish the difference of where one starts and the other begins. The summary of this is that marketers need to look at how their advertising space affects their brand. 

*Because we are fancy. 

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