A New Path for Advertising?


Using Learning-Fueled Media to Amplify the Impact of Digital Ads

When you think about it, advertising at its core has always been about education—albeit gilded in glamor, with a small dash of brainwashing. Unfortunately, because of the limitations of time and space (30-second spots, column inches, etc.), the education element often fell by the wayside, and the focus rested mainly on the emotional elements (glamor, desire, sex, coolness, utility, ambition…).

That’s not a criticism. There have been true physical limitations for advertising in the past and let’s face it, we humans respond to the emotional triggers. It works.

But Advertisers Now Face Strong Headwinds

However, several factors are now starting to throttle the success of advertising. First, the sheer explosion in volume: We now have 1,500 TV channels, digital radio & music subscriptions, mobile apps & games, limitless media websites, online video ads, search advertising, offline advertising, and more. Everyone, every second, of every day, is literally surrounded by advertising. There’s no doubt that inundation is impacting overall response. The rapid decline of banner ad performance is a key indicator of this fatigue.

The second factor is trust and expectation. Younger, digital-native generations are sophisticated about marketing. They’ve learned to tune it out or at a minimum, expect an exceptional level of personalization, interaction and relevance before it captures their interest. So now we have a higher bar for response, coupled with an explosion in inventory. Not good.

Finally, there’s the “creep factor.” Users are now stalked online based on demographics, click history, purchase history, and more. We’re now starting to see some pushback (from users and government regulatory agencies) against the pervasiveness and invasiveness of online tracking. So now we have an explosion in inventory, a higher bar for response, and a visceral reaction to the capabilities that enable us to achieve that higher bar. Really not good.

Could Concepts Used in Education & Learning Improve Advertising Performance?


Ultimately, advertisers and advertising venues crave discoverability, attention, response, data, and insights. And traditional online and offline advertising have had varying degrees of success achieving those goals.

But let’s think for a moment about the power of learning and discovery. We humans are naturally curious, enjoy putting our knowledge and abilities to the test, and are insatiable when it comes to comparing ourselves to others. Education, learning, and training do this every day, at scale, and at much greater depth than advertising. What if we could combine marketing & advertising’s proven attention-grabbing power with the depth of experience and data-generating capabilities of education and learning?

Learning + Advertising: The Opportunities

Deeper Engagement

From small learning modules to quizzes and assessments, standard educational and learning models naturally drive users into content more deeply. Harness marketing & advertising’s ability to create compelling content and you have an extraordinarily powerful advertising experience.

Longer Engagement Times & Greater Understanding

Compelling learning experiences suck people in. They spend more time with content and gain deeper knowledge and insight into the topic at hand. What could marketers and advertisers do with that additional time? What opportunities would arise if an audience was spending more time with information about your (or your client’s) products and services?

More Data, More Insights, More Feedback

One of those opportunities is the ability to collect additional data. Learning is an iterative process—people discover and learn about a topic and there’s a natural inclination to dive deeper. Each point in that process provides an opportunity to collect data. With traditional online advertising, data is limited by available tracking. With a learning-fueled advertising experience, the audience is directly providing data to you. It is truly “direct response” advertising.

Imagine the possibilities of a learning-fueled advertising experience. Your advertising would combine the capabilities of market research, in-depth product discovery & engagement, lead generation, lead qualification, demographic modeling, and more.

And it’s not pie in the sky. It doesn’t require AI, VR, or any exotic technology. It’s existing tech that can be easily integrated online. You just have to combine the imagination of advertising with the expertise of learning. And with the issues surrounding ad fatigue, privacy, etc., it just might lead the way to more engaging advertising that produces better results for advertisers and better experiences for audiences.

What would you do with learning-fueled advertising? Add your thoughts in the comments below. Looking for more insights & strategies on the opportunities at the intersection of media and learning? Subscribe today.