23 Advertising Techniques You Should Be Using in 2023
Your typical day is probably full of advertising encounters. From the sticker on the side of a transit bus to the video ad that pops up on a social media feed, companies are using all the advertising techniques you can think of to communicate their messages to customers.
As a marketer, the goal is to make your specific brand stand out from all this clutter. People are inundated with advertisements every hour of every day, and their minds are trained to ignore anything that is not noteworthy or relevant to them.
Having a Proper Advertising Technique is Crucial
It is not enough to simply create a piece of marketing collateral and put it out into the universe, hoping that it drives favorable action for your business. An effective advertisement uses techniques that serve to garner attention for the message and the associated brand.
Great Technique Prevents Wasted Resources
An advertisement that is not memorable, funny, emotional, interesting, or compelling will fail to leave an impression on the target audience, resulting in wasted time, money, and effort. Your company may not be able to afford to lose that many resources.
Audio/Visual Marketing Techniques to Make Your Advertisements More Powerful
Advertising relies on a combination of visual, audio, and sometimes physical elements to create a response in the consumer. Advertisers must focus on the right tactical approach when creating marketing pieces to ensure that they will grab the attention of potential customers and lead to action.
There are many ways to focus your advertisements so that they are more likely to be compelling. Let's take a look at 23 common advertising techniques that can help your brand accomplish its messaging goals.
Most visual creatives will understand the importance of composition. Put simply, it refers to the layout of an image and how the designers place elements in the available space. The composition of the image or advertisement can include many of the techniques that will be addressed later, such as the focal point, visual flow, and color psychology.
The composition of visual marketing pieces can directly impact how effective they are at communicating the message to consumers, so working with skilled creatives can elevate your marketing strategy.
Many advertisements use the concept of gaze effectively to draw out certain emotions from the audience. For example, a direct gaze is when the subject of the advertisement is looking directly at the viewer. A direct gaze tends to create an immediate connection between the subject and the audience member, whereas a three-quarter gaze, where the subject is looking away from the camera, evokes a sense of mystery.
Often, a three-quarter gaze is used in advertising to shift focus to a product or service that the subject is looking at, such as a woman looking at a mirror while using beauty products. Both direct gaze and three-quarter gaze are common advertising techniques that can achieve the desired effect on the viewer depending on what the piece is aiming for.
3. Visual Path
As you will see with many of these advertising techniques, the viewer's eye is a tool that marketers can leverage to get their message across. Visual path refers to the order in which elements of the ad are seen by the customer. What does the viewer notice first? Where does the visual path take them next? Elements like color, shape, size, and texture can create visual paths that strengthen the message that the piece is attempting to convey.
Many of the techniques involved in creating a visual path will be touched on throughout this guide. For example, the visual path often starts with the focal point.
4. Focal Point
The focal point is one of the most important elements of visual marketing. The focal point should represent the thing that you most want audiences to see or notice about the advertisement. The wrong focal point could result in people failing to understand the main message or following a visual path that undermines the effectiveness of the ad.
One tactic that can help in creating an obvious focal point is to use selective focus. Selective focus puts one part of the ad in focus while the rest is blurry. This naturally draws the eye to that focal point since it is the easiest for the brain to interpret that part of the image.
5. Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a well-known principle in the design and photography industries. Essentially, an image is divided into three columns and three rows. Designers place elements where the lines that divide these images meet since those are the spots where the focal point of the image can be.
Not all creatives agree that the rule of thirds should always be followed, but it is one of the most visually appealing layouts for an image when consumers are looking at it.
It is also a simple way to ensure that the visual paths you want to create are followed. Often, of the nine rectangles that are formed by the lines, six equal rectangles will have the majority of the design features. Usually, two rows that are next to each other are included in this section, while the third has more empty space.
6. Color Psychology
The color palette used for your advertisements can have a strong impact on the emotions of the audience. Color psychology refers to the idea that certain colors evoke certain feelings and emotions. For example, blue can feel like a calming color, while orange evokes feelings of warmth or joy.
Color psychology is a visual tool that can maximize the effectiveness of a visual advertisement, subconsciously drawing out the desired emotions from the viewer with this simple trick.
Choose a color palette based on the emotions you most want to engage with in the target audience as a psychological tactic to guide the customer toward a favorable action for the brand.
Typography refers to the use of fonts, text sizes, and other characteristics to make the text aspects of an advertisement stand out. A smaller text size, for example, may cause the viewer to lean in more or get closer to the advertisement to be able to read it. Large, bold fonts, on the other hand, will be noticeable from a great distance, making it easier to grab the attention of more people.
Making things easy on the viewer's eye is often a top priority with an advertisement that they may only glance at before moving on to the next thing. Therefore, the more noticeable and legible the text, the more likely it is to get your messaging across efficiently.
However, the medium will also impact the typography strategy (opens in a new window). A billboard, for example, will benefit from large, bold fonts, while a testimonial video may use simpler styles and smaller text to share a story.
8. Motion Graphic
Advertisements that use motion graphics can quickly share information in a creative way. Still-image ads may be able to draw attention based on notable shapes, compelling pictures, or eye-catching text, but motion graphics can tell more of a visual story with more dynamism.
Types of motion graphic advertisements can include gifs, videos, short animations, or even presentations. Many brands will rely on moving images for online advertising, like banner ads.
9. Visual Metaphor
A metaphor is when one thing is used to represent or symbolize something else. The visual metaphor refers to when this occurs on an image or video in advertising. Advertising agencies will frequently use this technique in their marketing strategy to draw in customers, as it relies on them making the connection to be effective.
Often, when an advertisement makes someone think, it leaves a stronger impression in their memory, so using metaphor in the design is a visual style that can result in deeper interactions with the ad.
10. Body Language
Body language is a concept that is critical for communication between people. While what we say and how we act will say a lot about us, our body language can say just as much. Advertisers understand that body language plays a crucial role in interpreting what a person is thinking or feeling.
For this reason, you can create an effective advertisement by focusing on the body language of the subject in the ad. If they are supposed to be happy that they have used toothpaste that whitens their teeth, they should be standing up straighter and smiling to project their newfound confidence.
11. Point of View
Video advertising techniques are currently considered one of the most effective. A video can quickly tell a story, be viewed on mobile devices, and be shared to multiple platforms for greater reach.
One visual tool that your brand could select for this video is point of view. This makes the camera the eye of the customer, allowing them to experience whatever the "subject" of the video is seeing.
A sports equipment brand whose target audience loves mountain biking could benefit greatly from video ads featuring the point of view of a mountain biker riding down a unique terrain.
12. Emotional Appeal
Now we are getting into the actual message of an advertisement rather than just the visual style. An emotional appeal is used in advertising to create stronger responses in customers when they engage with the ad. Common emotions to target in an emotional appeal include sadness, loneliness, excitement, joy, anticipation, and fear.
As an example, a clothing brand may feature a video ad about preparing for a summer of fun with the family by purchasing bathing suits during a sale. The ad itself could feature children playing with their parents in a pool and laughing joyfully.
This example is an emotional appeal to joy or excitement, making the viewer imagine the fun summer activities they could engage in with their own family with some new bathing suits.
The repetition technique is based on research that a person must hear a message at least seven times before it sinks in, otherwise known as the Rule of 7 in marketing. The repetition technique relies on putting out the same messaging on various channels to achieve those seven engagements.
Marketers may use similar messaging across magazine ads, social media posts, and TV commercials to implement this technique and make the message sink in for as many customers as possible.
14. Focus on Benefits
Every product or service has both features and benefits. Features refer to the specific things that the product or service does for a person. An example of a feature for the communication platform Slack would be its ability to host multiple channels within an organization, streamlining communication for team members working together.
A benefit, on the other hand, is the positive result that the user experiences when using the product. In that first example, the benefit of using Slack is a more cohesive team that can be more productive at work. An advertising technique that focuses on highlighting benefits can often be more effective than highlighting features.
15. Social Proof
The social proof advertising technique attempts to get consumers to copy the actions of others who have used a product. The advertisement leverages social influence to convince potential customers that they can experience the same success that other customers have experienced.
Customer testimonials are one of the simplest ways to advertise with the social proof technique. The advertisement could feature short text from a satisfied customer, or a video ad on Youtube could show customer testimonials being spoken by the customers themselves.
16. Social Media Influencers
When a company utilizes social media influencers for its digital advertising strategy, they are investing in another form of social proof. Social media influencers are paid either per post or via affiliate links to advertise a specific product on their platform, whether that is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another channel. Then, this individual's followers will consider buying that product.
The key to implementing this social proof technique successfully is to choose the right influencers. Connect with personalities that would have a similar audience to your customer base. The more they align with your brand and its niche, the greater the impact the advertising could have.
17. Celebrity Endorsement
A celebrity endorsement is similar to an influencer campaign because it leverages well-known individuals to market a product to an audience. Often, these celebrities are charismatic, attractive individuals who immediately catch the attention of consumers when they are seen on TV, in an online advertisement, or on a large billboard.
Again, selecting the right celebrity can mean the difference between success and failure with this advertising technique. If the individual is not able to connect with your customers effectively, then the initiative could fall flat.
18. Promotional Products
Many brands engage in promotions that involve giveaways. A brand will invest in promotional products and company swag that feature the company logo, then give them away to consumers to increase brand awareness or reward loyal customers.
Branded merchandise is one of the most popular advertising techniques, especially for brands that want to establish their presence in a specific location. The more consumers in the area see the logo on various products like clothing, tech gadgets, wellness items, and others, the more likely they are to remember and engage with the brand. Affordable promotional products are the best way to go for a small business trying to gain a foothold.
19. Unfinished Ads
If you want to use advertising techniques that leave consumers wanting more, then you should consider unfinished ads. Often, these types of advertisements make claims without including any of the details. When the advertisement is over, or there is no more to see, consumers are left with questions like "How does that work?" or "Does it really do that?"
This can cause potential customers to seek out more information, heading to the brand website to research the product specifications or find positive online reviews that answer their questions.
This is an advertising technique that often causes more buy-in from the viewer since they have to take extra steps or spend more time thinking about the ad.
20. Behind the Scenes
Consumers like brands that are authentic and vulnerable. If your brand can come across as welcoming and personable, there is a greater chance of growing the customer base. To this end, a company may invest in behind-the-scenes advertising techniques like a video tour or employee testimonials.
The result is a brand that is presenting more of its face to the public and showing what it takes to give customers what they love. For example, an auto-manufacturing brand could share a video tour of a production line, showcasing the level of detail and precision that goes into making their products safe for drivers.
Nostalgia can be one of the most powerful feelings. It can easily drive consumers to make a decision that is favorable to your brand. People often think of the good old days or their childhoods, reminiscing on fond memories that put them in a positive mindset.
Using nostalgia as an advertising technique could make your marketing strategy far more effective. All you have to do is do a little research about your ideal consumers. What age range do they fall in?
Then rewind to their childhoods and figure out what was popular with young children during that time. Concepts like "only 90s kids would understand" are a great way to leverage nostalgia marketing (opens in a new window).
Traditional advertising media like television and radio are perfect platforms for this tactic.
22. Experiential Marketing Strategy
Some advertising techniques are not about creating pieces and delivering them to consumers. Normally, encounters with traditional advertising pieces are one-sided. The viewer watches the ad or looks at it, but the brand that created the ad has no part to play once the ad has been created.
Experiential marketing is about creating more interactive experiences to make stronger impressions on people while engaging with the brand more intently. A great example of this tactic is the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine.
A vending machine placed in a college cafeteria dispensed not just soda, but other goodies that caused genuine surprise from the recipient and bystanders. Hidden cameras captured the footage, resulting in a viral marketing sensation. By creating a happy and unique experience, and recording it to go viral, Coca-Cola achieved immense brand recognition.
23. Guerrilla Marketing
Guerrilla warfare depends on the element of surprise and intense knowledge of the environment to be successful. The advertising technique that borrows from the idea follows the same principles. Displays that are meant to elicit surprise or awe can be visual advertisement pieces that achieve great results for your brand.
A company that has used guerrilla advertising techniques effectively in the past is McDonald's. In multiple countries, crosswalks were painted yellow with the iconic French fry container painted on the ground nearby. The stripes of the crosswalk, as a result, looked like French fries coming out of the container. This example demonstrates how a relatively low-budget idea can generate tons of attention for a company.
Combine These Advertising Techniques with the Right Media for Your Target Audience
From digital advertising to direct mail, the right medium matters when your company is communicating with consumers. Even if the company applies the above techniques to every piece of marketing collateral, the campaign could fall flat if the audience never interacts with the chosen medium.
There are many ways to advertise the company or products to the intended audience through various media. Here are a few of the most common that you could apply these advertising techniques when crafting pieces.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat are where consumers go to connect. Companies can take advantage by joining these communities and establishing a positive reputation through posts, shares, comments, and interactions.
Social media are also great platforms for advertising. Videos that focus on emotional appeal and the visual placement of important elements can easily be shared and come across the feeds of broad swaths of the intended audience.
Plus, product promotions can leverage the mobile audience with device-friendly advertisements that take viewers directly to a sales page or online catalog.
A more traditional technique is a direct mail campaign. This advertising method can be ideal for a company trying to reach customers in a specific geography.
For example, postcards are a common form of direct campaign. Using the rule of thirds, designers can create attractive graphics for the postcard by filling six equal rectangles out of the nine with imagery and text. This would use up two rows and three columns, leaving the remaining third with more open or empty space.
This technique can make promotions through direct mail postcards more visually appealing, and, therefore, successful.
People spend a lot of time online nowadays, browsing the internet, scrolling through social feeds, and visiting their favorite websites. Online ads are an opportunity for your company to get in front of more consumers as they browse the internet throughout the day.
Banner ads, Google ads, social media ads, and others can be targeted to reach your ideal customer base, leading to a higher number of conversions. Plus, the various forms of advertisements make it easy to incorporate multiple advertising techniques that have been mentioned previously to create compelling pieces.
Before the internet took off, companies relied on more traditional methods of marketing to communicate. Advertisements in magazines and newspapers were often the main focus of some of these companies. Others may have spent more money on creating television commercials or putting advertisements on local radio stations.
While an online presence is now the focus of the majority of companies, there are still plenty of audiences that engage regularly with more traditional media. As you craft compelling advertisements for these channels, remember to implement whatever advertising technique may suit the circumstances of each piece.
Increase Your Marketing Impact with Advertising Techniques that Fit Your Chosen Media
Marketing can sometimes be a game of luck. All the research and planning in the world cannot predict how a particular campaign is going to go. Therefore, your goal for every piece should be to give it the best chance of making an impact on audiences.
There are several ways to increase the likelihood of a particular advertisement being successful.
A pleasing visual composition can make a huge difference for most marketing channels. The right visual flow and focal point will make it easier for viewers to understand what they are looking at. You can use color as a psychological tactic to draw out specific emotions. Notable shapes that draw the attention of more viewers can increase the reach of the advertisement.
What people learn from the piece needs to be compelling in some way, leading them to take action after engaging. Brands in the leadership coaching space should create messaging that emphasizes team members working together toward a common goal to demonstrate what is possible.
Wellness companies must understand what health concerns their clients care about. Messaging that does not involve any emotions or benefits is unlikely to make an impression.
The last piece of the puzzle is choosing an accessible channel. The platform itself is not the only important decision. Timing and cultural context also matter. Ideally, your audience research has revealed which media formats are most likely to result in interactions with the advertisement.
Stay Ahead of Competing Companies with Refined Advertising
Each technique in this list could help your marketing collateral stand out from the competition. To stay relevant in your niche or get ahead in the industry, a strong advertising strategy is necessary.
The list above should give your marketing team and creatives a clear direction for their ad creation efforts. Find the right balance of technique, messaging, and medium to gain a competitive advantage and strengthen your customer base going forward.