Rapid advances in technology have changed everything from health care to communication. As the latest technology becomes broadly accessible, now advertising is changing, too. Ten years ago, a company could plan an ad campaign around a few television commercials and print advertisements, and few would have considered spending a significant portion of their advertising budget on the Internet. In 2006, online ad expenditures are expected to reach $17 billion!

Marketers who want to reach their target audience and remain competitive in this high-tech world have to change with the times. You need to keep abreast of emerging new technologies, which media types are most popular, and how consumers use what is available to them.

Consider the following forms of emerging media:


Blogs


Short for “web log,” a blog is essentially an online journal people can create easily from any computer, without any knowledge of HTML. They are frequently updated and usually include the owner’s thoughts or musings on topics ranging from what’s happening in the news to what they ate for lunch.

Companies can keep blogs, too, and company blogs usually promote products in what are known as “adverblogs.” However, blogs started by individuals without commercial affiliation usually have more credibility.

About fifty million people keep blogs, in all sorts of categories, including travel, health and business. Blogs are so popular because they provide a concise summary of news and information and give users power by providing timely information in one place. A blog dedicated to heart health, for example, will probably pull information from sources all over the Internet, so that someone surfing for information on heart health doesn’t have to search multiple sites for the most up-to-date research about the topic.

One can advertise on blogs, too; such ads are generally related to the blog’s topic. That heart health blog could be an excellent place to advertise a health food or exercise product. If you’re interested in advertising on blogs, first look for help from marketing companies that measure hot blog topics and provide market research based on blog content.


Podcasts


Podcasts deliver digital audio and video files to a user via the Internet. The name comes from the iPod, but they aren’t just for iPod users. A podcast is an audio file in MP3 format that consumers can download to their iPod, MP3 player or computer, and then listen to it over and over again, share it with friends, and save it on a computer’s hard drive.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, six million people have downloaded podcasts; of the 22 million iPod owners, 29 percent have downloaded podcasts.

As this media outlet increases in popularity, the advertising possibilities will grow as well. Viacom, Disney and Clear Channel all have radio-type podcasts, and even print media outlets are using podcasts to broadcast interviews and other audio supplements to their print stories. For example, you can read an issue of a magazine and then listen to an interview in its entirety on the magazine’s web site.


Gaming


Out of 108 million households, 68 percent currently play video and computer games, according to the “Digital Gaming in America” Ziff Davis report of August 2005. Advertisers can reach this market, which is mostly comprised of young males, in two ways.

First, advertisers can use gaming technology to insert their ads into popular games. When you play a football video game on your Xbox 360TM you’ll see ads on the sidelines and scoreboard, just as you would in a real football stadium. Video games are also played online, allowing gamers to compete with opponents in other parts of the world offering many opportunities to place logos before a huge audience.

Another way to advertise using games is to create your own game that the consumer can play online, commonly referred to as “advergaming.” Many companies, such as Lipton® and Mountain Dew®, have used this advertising technique. The greatest benefit of these games is that they get people involved in the brand.


Mobile Advertising


Nearly 199 million people in the United States subscribe to mobile phone services—and every phone produced in the last year is capable of accessing the Internet. What does this mean for advertisers? Yet another method for reaching the target audience. People now use mobile phones to search the Internet, play games and instant message, as well as to access sports scores, learn breaking news and even check out horoscopes.

Mobile advertising presents another new and growing way to reach the high-school and college-student markets with banner and video ads. Currently, mobile ads are simple and usually text banners. But down the road, as this technology continues to advance, cell phones may be capable of displaying television ads. However, this media outlet is not without limitations. Everything in your ad has to be cleared by the phone company, so you must consider the logistical aspects of placing mobile ads.


The High-Tech Future of Advertising


If you want to remain competitive in the future, technology will be key to your success. Because traditional media outlets just aren’t as effective as they once were, it makes more and more sense to consider these four and any other new types of digital media when assembling any advertising strategy. While it’s difficult to predict exactly where the trends are headed, when you keep an eye on new technology, you and your products won’t be left behind.

PETER KOEPPEL is founder and President of Koeppel Direct,
a leader in direct-response television media buying, marketing,
campaign management and creative strategies; his clients have
included Scholastic, Columbia House, Ben Hogan Golf,
H.J. Heinz and DirecTV.
www.networkingtimes.com/link/koeppel