3 Advertising Trends Small Business Owners Need to Know Now

If you’re a small business owner/entrepreneur, it’s tough to keep up with the changes in your business, let alone those in the marketing world.

Heck, I really try to keep up with marketing trends…and it’s more than a full-time job!

But I’ve identified 3 major trends that are changing how advertisers market their products and services.

As a small business owner, having knowledge of these trends can help boost your bottom line. They can give you an important edge if and when you decide to invest in advertising. Chances are good these trends will last for years.

Even if you don’t currently purchase advertising, having knowledge of these trends will likely benefit you at some point — and maybe when you least expect it! 

#1 Shift in Budgets from Traditional Ads to Content Based Ads

Traditional advertising budgets have decreased in favor of content marketing. Consumers are becoming more and more “blind” to traditional ads on TV, radio, print, and digital.

More often, businesses are shifting their traditional ad budgets to content marketing tactics, which can encompass many different types of writing, such as:

  • blogs/advertorials
  • emails
  • social media posts
  • newsletters
  • podcasts

And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the many types of content marketing used today.

Consumers appreciate good content that serves a purpose, whether that is to inform, inspire, educate, or entertain. This is true, even if the content is “sponsored.”

Traditional advertising can still be highly effective, but now it costs far more to reach far fewer people.

Many small businesses simply cannot afford to purchase traditional ads. And if they can afford it, it’s often not enough to make a meaningful difference in their bottom line.

#2: Contextual Marketing & Advertising

Talk about what’s old is new again.

Another trend that is gaining steam in the industry is contextual advertising. As consumer privacy controls and ad targeting rules become more strict, contextual marketing/advertising will take on an even greater role for many businesses. (you can read more about this in my previous LinkedIn article here).

Contextual advertising has been around for over 100 years. It started with print and radio ads. Now it is mostly found in digital advertising and powered by AI. However, the concept isn’t new.

Below is a simple example of modern contextual advertising. On Motortrend.com, there is an ad on the right for a GMC Sierra Truck and Meclum Car Auctions…car-centric ads are on a site surrounded by car-based editorial.

Another popular form of content marketing is advertorials.

Advertorials are articles that businesses pay for and place on various websites. They appear as a regular piece of editorial. However, they are labeled something like “Sponsored Content” or “Paid Program,” etc.

Of course, the goal with advertorials is generally to sell consumers various products and services. However, if they are well-written, advertorials can also inform, entertain, and educate consumers.

This Capital One Advertorial in Forbes about the future of car buying below is labeled “Paid program” on top.

As you can see, it looks like a regular editorial article that is informative and interesting, especially if you’re a car buff or in the market for a car. 

#3: Sponsored Product Ads on Large Retailer Sites

As the name implies, sponsored product ads are only used to sell products and not services on retailer sites.

Think of these as paid search ads, but instead of appearing on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, these would appear on major retailer sites such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

Take Amazon for example. They have reams 1st party data that advertisers can take advantage of when running their own ad campaigns to promote their products that Amazon sells.

1st party data is what Amazon collects from your shopping behaviors. Advertisers are able to leverage that data and use it to target their customers on Amazon.

Below is an example of sponsored product ads on Amazon. When I typed in “smart TVs” in the search bar, these LG Smart TV sponsored products ads (paid for) came up on top of the organic or non-paid search results.

The giant online destinations such as Amazon and Walmart have become both retailer and media powerhouses over the past decade.

According to Business Insider, Amazon’s advertising revenue has skyrocketed 50% year over year in the third quarter of 2021 to $8 billion. [i]

In the first three quarters of 2021, it netted $23 billion in advertising. This was up from $13.5 billion for the same period in 2020.

Although advertising makes up a small portion of Amazon’s overall revenue, it is one of their fastest-growing areas.

With sponsored product ads, the goal is to be front and center in the search results listings on Amazon, so that your products stand out above the rest, as shown in the example above.

Walmart’s ad business has grown substantially as well. According to Ad Age, in November of last year, they enjoyed a 240% two-year revenue increase for their Walmart Connect ad business. [ii]

A Challenge for Today’s Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

Small business owners wear so many hats these days. They constantly have to revisit their budgets to determine what is the best ROI to meet their goals and objectives.

They also have to work within the constraints of ever-changing regulations in the advertising industry.

The next time you decide to invest in advertising, keep these trends in mind and see how they can best apply to your own business to grow your bottom line.

[i] Business Insider-Inside Amazon’s Growing Ad Business

[ii] Ad Age- Walmart Ad Revenue Surge

Dina Marovich

Marketing Consultant, Direct Response Copywriter & Advertising Strategist. Meaningful results for your business.

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