The use of ambient advertising in the modern age

It is a widely held misconception that ambient advertising is a modern phenomenon when, in fact, it has been with us since the first days of advertising. Ambient advertising is, to put it simply, a method of getting a point across using other than traditional methods, and as such is an age old method of making a point.

A motorist, or pedestrian, in the early part of the 20th century would have seen many examples of ambient advertising, much as we do today: we see buses covered in billboard-style messages, whereas they would have seen handcarts and horse drawn drays with company names written in bold letters: all of this is ambient advertising.

The growth of ambient advertising

The modern age is that in which we live and lends itself very well to ambient advertising techniques, especially given the modern day propensity for a short attention span. A form of ambient advertising recently encountered was the use of something as minor as a car park ticket is the sort one sticks on the windscreen as an advertising portal. It is there, after all, and millions of people buy them why not stick a name on the back, and a phone number?

The effectiveness of this sort of ambient advertising comes in that it is specific: the advertiser on the ticket was a local garage offering cut price servicing, and the readers of that advert almost exclusively motorists.

The same happens in bars and clubs where advertising of relevant products takes on a new lease of life; bar towels, beer mats, menus and so forth, all featuring drinks promotions and the like, and all talking to a captive audience.

The creative ability of the advertising executive has been utilised to excess in bringing ambient advertising into such spheres of influence, and there is no doubt at all that this growth is set to continue apace.

The problems with traditional advertising

We have seen that an ambient advertising campaign can be very specific indeed, and can be used to target a very well chosen audience those in the bar and motorists in our examples – but many will ask what the advantages are over traditional advertising routines.

Let us take print first; how many times does the average reader pay attention to an advert in a newspaper or magazine? If that magazine is one with a specific content – mobile phones or cars, for instance then doubtless the reader has bought it for that purpose; if, however, the publication is a daily newspaper or weekly glossy, then unless the reader is specifically searching for advice on something the advert will, in the most part, pass him or her by.

Likewise television, where figures record an explosion of people making the tea during the advert breaks, and radio, where people can simply not listen should they not wish to.
Ambient advertising, as in the examples we talked of, has the advantage of being there, and while one can ignore at will, the beauty of ambient advertising lies in its direct approach and a targeted audience.