How The Advertising Industry is Changing

It’s no longer as simple as buying ad space and waiting for the traffic to roll in.

 Advertising is a long way from the OG billboards and TV commercials. In the modern era, advertising is mostly online, and sometimes it appears in ways you might not even understand or be aware of. Subtlety and targeted placement have taken the place of blunt, aggressive pop-ups. Each and every company in the world has some sort of advertising strategy, from Apple to your closest corner store. Of course, as trends and customer behaviors have changed, advertising has had to change too to keep up.

As we talked to Eric Porat, an online entrepreneur who is determined to change online advertising and make it easy for advertisers to get their products in front of interested potential customers, he stated: “Especially in the modern era, people are simply well-aware of advertising strategies, not to mention privacy concerns. Companies are having to completely reimagine how they promote their services and products.”. So, here we’ll take a look back at the advertising world and how it’s changed (and will continue to change).


The first digital ad in history was presented by AT&T, who paid $30,000 for a three-month ad on HotWired in 1994. This ad had a click-through rate of 44%, which is nearly 73,000% better than today’s usual rate of less than 0.07%. Crazy, right?

Last year, the digital ad industry was estimated at over $333.25 billion. A big change. Well, companies simply realized that digital advertising was a viable breeding ground for curtailed marketing, customizing ads for specific demographics. This platform was the perfect way to organically reveal insights about user behavior and thus generate data to assist businesses in understanding their audiences better. Data tools soon appeared that helped advertisers analyze and optimize their ad campaigns. This meant that ads started seeing increasingly complex ROI models.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing and everyone working remotely, online marketing is shifting from more overt techniques to subtle, more targeted content. This is better for both sides, really, because companies learn valuable info about their target demographics, and customers can get a bit of validation themselves from methods like quiz results and product recommendations that target their specific interests.

This more honest quid pro quo style exchange is perhaps the most efficient and practical way to power long-term marketing campaigns in the modern age. This is particularly true given increasing mistrust surrounding digital ads and hacking concerns.


Because of the highly-targeted nature of modern social media ads, online social tracking strategies and data scraping are increasingly giving businesses more direct insights into their target demographics. This naturally has raised privacy concerns. There isn’t always confirmation from social media sites that data will be sold to third parties, although they often half-heartedly warn users that third parties may have access to user data. In short, it’s quite concerning, and has prompted backlash against targeted ads among many in the public eye.

TikTok, for example, recently came out with a function called “personalized ads” where users are able to block the app from using their own personal information, and thus from generating targeted ads for them. Other social platforms like Instagram also allow their participants to remove targeted advertising on their platform. Requiring users to opt out of advanced targeting, however, naturally turns the tables on the user, since the opt-out process is almost never overtly mentioned or widely broadcast on the platform. The elderly and young children, for example, often don’t understand how to disable these functions at all. turn this off. In many cases, privacy settings have to be applied across each device individually, which makes it hard to be certain you’re blocking out all targeted ads.

As a result, our brands need to find new ways to understand and meet customer needs. Having access to their online behavior is no longer acceptable, nor was it ever really ethical. The key to true ethical marketing is if you’re able to get actual consent from a user. Online quizzes and interactive content are, as a result, an extremely savvy technique to do this. The data is still real, so it’s more effective than an IP address and demographic details. It’s also consensual, so it’s ethical and transparent. Better for everyone!


 Digital advertising will probably soon grow into a consumer-led movement. Like we discussed above, consumers are growing more and more privacy-conscious. As a result, our brands are going to be required to utilize more transparency when promoting their products and gathering data. Customers having more oversight into data collection can naturally make it more tough to have widespread tracking plans in play, and can make it harder to build deeper demographic profiles.

Still, there are other options.

Quizzes and interactive content are the best of these. Quizzes, for example, are the perfect way to invert the entire strategy behind traditional advertising. Instead of brands telling people what they should want, people are getting to tell brands what they want. People take these quizzes to learn something about themselves or a topic, and they naturally choose to take these quizzes because they provide value to them. In turn, the quizzes give brands valuable insight into the consumer’s preferences, in a far deeper and more meaningful way than traditional IP tracking.

This advertising technique also isn’t disruptive to the user experience and is generally far more effective, due to the fact that it creates a question-and-answer dialogue, a level playing field, so to speak.

Rather than swiping past ads like usual, 82% of people engage with quizzes that show up on their feeds. It’s a win-win. Businesses gain access to a wide trove of voluntarily given information about how customers see themselves, while at the same time customers provide truthful data during the quiz, because they want true and insightful results about themselves. Beyond merely analyzing a consumer’s number of clicks, quizzes can show why they choose the products and lifestyle services they do.

Opt-in marketing is the tactic of the future, folks. Get with it!