Is Advertising Making the World A Better Place?

What if I asked you, “Is advertising making the world a better place?” I would imagine your answer would likely be no. Understandable. Advertising is everywhere and can be an annoyance to our daily lives. Heck, Spotify’s business model is built on paying $9.99 a month to remove their ads. That tells me a lot. Users are willing to pay to remove ads. It’s hilarious that Spotify sells ad time to advertisers but gives their consumer the option to pay to not hear their ads. It’s kind of a slap in the face to the advertisers.

“Come buy ad space here where our users pay us to not hear your ads!”

At the end of the day, Spotify’s users are paying money to remove an interruption.

I believe that advertising can be used to make the world a better place. On a surface level, advertising is a good thing when it introduces a new product or service that causes the consumer to be a in a better place after they have made their purchase decision.

If the consumer regrets their purchase decision, advertising has then been used in a negative way. I’m thankful to own products that were introduced to me through advertising to solve my problems; they put me in a better place (a quick side-note: Serif will not work with a company unless we believe in what they are doing. Yes, we have walked away from huge projects because we didn’t believe in the product/service).

Let’s look at this on a deeper level. We are bombarded by ads and brand impressions everyday. Brands are jockeying for our attention left and right. Below are staggering statistics:

  1. According to Media Dynamics, Inc, the average American is exposed to 3,000 – 20,000 advertising and brand messages a day.
  2. According to eMarketer, in 2014, the U.S. spent over 160 billion on media and advertising.
  3. The top 5 most watched ads on YouTube have a combined 414,424,602 views. That’s four hundred fourteen million views, which is more than the US population.
  4. And… The most followed brand on Twitter is Facebook. What?



Due to the high volume of ad impressions, we have developed a numbness and a hyper discernment for what’s good and bad. I think this is especially true with millennials. We (I can say we because I am one) have been exposed to more media than any other generation. This is why millennials have even more of a hyper discernment and crave authentic/transparent bands

Up until the launch of the internet, most advertising was pretty much the same. Present the facts, say the product is good, what you see is what you get, end of story. Brands could get away with that back in the day. The tables have turned. We now have the ability to audit companies online, review products, read customer testimonials, and use a host of other tools and apps at our finger tips like The Good Guide.

I asked my buddy Nathan Okuley who just “gets it” when it comes to marketing to weigh in on this topic. Here is what he had to say:

“Advertising, as a whole, has changed dramatically. In the early 1900’s, brands relied on catchy phrases, slogans, and jingles. But as the consumer continued to get smarter and the line began to blur between entertainment vs. advertising, the advertising world was forced to pivot. While telling great stories is a timeless attribute for brands, great advertisers have learned to focus on content as a form of marketing. By making the consumer smarter or by teaching them something they may not have known, the brand has gained what many brands crave today… Authenticity and trust.  It’s in the trenches of authenticity and trust that a brand can truly utilize it’s advertising strategy to drive sales and achieve success.” — Nathan Okuley, Director of Social Media at Geben Communication 

Companies can no longer say they are good, they have to be good.

Companies can no longer say they are the best, they to have to be the best.

This is thanks to advertising. Advertising got us to where we are now.

Advertising is causing companies to be the best and is forcing them to be authentic because the average consumer now can discern what is BS. Which, in turn, causes brands to create better prouducts, provide better services, and become more authentic. All of which will hopefully make the world a better place.

So there you have it. That’s my theory on why advertising is making the world a better place.

Agree or disagree?


(Ah, the good ol’ days of advertising. The below print ad has creepy little old man boys, cleaning a hand, claiming to be the World’s Best Known Hand Cleaner. Maybe it was true…)




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