The Case of the Amazing Shrinking Media

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018

In advertising bigger isn’t always better.

In the past when we essentially had only TV, Radio, Billboards, Magazine Ads, and Direct Mail as our media options, bigger WAS usually better: full 60-second TV commercials, 60-second radio spots, giant billboards, full spread ads (or better yet multi-page inserts), and dimensional mailings.

Not any more.  With the proliferation of devices and media–especially the internet and social media–the marketing options are endless.  There’s been a paradigm shift in scale, scope, and size especially. Size is down to minuscule proportions.

Look at FB ads: a single image and a handful of words.  Website column ads: smaller than the palm of your hand. Google ads: the fewest of persuasive words. App banner ads smaller than your pinky: teeny tiny image and a couple words.

This shift presents a whopping communication challenge:  the smaller the space the more critical the words and the image.  Everything has to count.  No wastage. No fluff.  If you think saying something important in the most minimum of words is easy, think again.  Let alone finding a graphic that’s actually going to break through and grab someone’s attention…in a nanosecond.

My son is a digital marketing guru.  He has a degree in Creative Writing…specifically poetry.  I know what you’re thinking.  “What kind of job can you get with a poetry degree?” Well…he majored in it specifically because he knew he was going into advertising.  And probably be doing digital marketing. So he wanted to hone his skill at saying the most with the least words.  In a creatively unique way.  Pithy so to speak.

Case in point: I was on a walk with my neighbor who has an iWatch.  He was looking at Facebook on it—which meant he was looking at stamp-sized ads.  If you watch Black Mirror, you know we’ll probably have ads delivered via chips in our eyeglasses, in our contacts, heck straight into our heads for that matter.

The paradigm shift even applies to experiential marketing.  Here’s a non-pithy example: a friend of mine is a clothing stylist who does fashion presentations—live, in person—imagine clothes, women, trying on outfits, chaos.  A client came in to work with her in her home and said, “My girlfriend in London loves my clothes and wants to see these. So I’m going to FaceTime her and you can show her the clothes!” So essentially she did a fashion show on FaceTime via a small iPhone screen, while the woman watched and commented on an equally small iPhone screen from the other end, all the way across “the Pond”. Unexpected. Impromptu. Improvised. But easy, fun and not to mention profitable.

So basically, we’ve got to be open to ANYTHING, because EVERYTHING is changing and there will be constant new communication options available to us.  A constant need to learn and adapt.

It all really comes down to the words.  The images.  And the idea.  In the age of small the value of a big idea will never go away.