Advertising: Digital Ads, Direct Response, Branding

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Advertising: Digital Ads, Direct Response, Branding

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If you’re new to advertising, I’m going to make you an adventurous proposition. You should start learning about this industry dramatically, not like latecomers to the party do, in a mechanical way; through college, or simply a course, or just an apprenticeship. You must not tarry in the theoretical trenches of advertising. You must get your feet wet ASAP!

    Advertising Definition 
      Some Types of Digital Advertising
        Landing Page
        Squeeze Page
        Web Advertising
        Press Release
        Sales Letter
        Press Kit
      Direct Response Advertising Resources
        Direct Mail Marketing
        Email Campaign content

    Is Advertising for You?
      If Academically you are a Clean Slate
      If you Went Through College

In this section, you will find all kinds of resources related to advertising, especially those related to digital advertising. We all know that most ads on the web are of the direct response kind. Because of that, the main area of this section covers that topic. Some other topics in this section:

    History of advertising
    Advertising job description
    Types of advertising
    Direct Response Advertising
    Brand Building
    Brand Management

Advertising Definition 

Advertisers, also known as communicators, utilize a straightforwardly supported, non-individual message to advance or sell an item, product, idea, or service. Sponsors of advertising are regularly organizations wishing to advance their services or products. Public relations is different from advertising in that an advertiser pays for, and has command over, their advertising message.

Some Types of Digital Advertising

Landing Page

A landing page is the masthead of a streamlined, contemporary website.

I see the use of landing pages, especially when it makes handsome use of the opportunity that the mandatory hero image gives, like a revival of what 90% Java-powered websites wanted to be two decades ago and ended up in virtual obsolescence due to their uselessness for SEO.

I’m happy at the looks of the standard landing page of the present, but when you’re a copywriter you know that the hero image isn’t everything, and a landing page and its child master pages that it links to, are one of the most versatile and useful forms of content to write for a website.

Squeeze Page

Also known as lead capture page, or opt-in page. These are a more in-your-face sort of landing page. The mechanics of lead capture is to use a lead magnet to force the lead to opt-in. No contact info? No money, honey.

Web Advertising

What started with simple banner and skyscraper ads has evolved into a barrage of dozens and dozens of different species of advertisements. Their radical difference from each other is the difference in the mechanisms provided by the advertising software technology. There are traditional banners, skyscrapers, in-line links, push notifications, emergent windows, fly-ins, pop-ups.

There are newer technologies like, omnichannel, and DOOH that may prove controversial for detractors of advertising in general and for those that care about their privacy.

Press Release

Press releases want to be news but as matter of fact are a specific type of advertising that’s used generally for launches of products or services.

Press releases attempt to cover a wide range of channels all at once.

If you’re bootstrapping and don’t have money for paid public relations tactics, like releasing a press release, please don’t believe that you can’t get your press release out there with an investment of only time and writing.

There are paid and free ways to circulate a press release through

    News sites and subdomains
    Search Engines
    RSS databases
    Through your site
    Document silos
    Blogger outreach
    Social Media
    Trade Channels

Not using paid distribution may not get you the result that you seek with a press release, to get journalists interested in your story, still, if you do it for the backlinks, it makes sense.

Sales Letter

Many categories of the sales letter, two of which are the email sales letter and the sales letter as part of the copy in a squeeze page or as a component of any other type of long copy advertisement.

Press Kit

A package of content and sourced media for journalists to use and spread the brand or company around. 

Direct Response Advertising Resources

The long-standing business of selling by mail, and its evolution, the internet-powered counterparts of direct response.

Some people like to belong to the brands of their choice. These kinds of customers, one of the most valuable types, you can incentivize, retain, sell to and then nurture, sell again, cross-sell and upsell to.  Mail is one of the best ways of keeping a link with them.

Direct Mail Marketing

We are better off segmenting our customer base to be able to provide them with an experience, product, and/or service that is as personalized as possible.

One way we have to do this is by targeting our customers differently depending on which stage of our buying process they’re sitting at the moment of marketing something to them.

I mean by this, that a customer that just knew about you should be treated differently from one who already bought from you.

In the case of direct mail marketing, you’re better off not pitching any product or service directly to any of the new leads on your list.

But when you want to market to someone that is in the nurturing phase of her or his relationship with your product or service, someone who already bought something from you, then pitching them something directly is advised.

We all know that, for many managers and people who do managerial and clerical work, email is one of the moot points of the whole job and one of the things you must keep on a leash.

Besides, with so many other types of media, the good old email doesn’t carry the weight it used to carry and emails have a great chance to go unnoticed.

What if, on top of those two already very hard obstacles to overcome, we mess it up when we are aiming at sending our base of converted leads only one-shot advertising as an email?

It’s difficult to pull this off, and get hundreds/thousands of conversions on day one if you are aiming at keeping the converted customers.

I wouldn’t say direct digital marketing is the pinnacle of copywriting, but a message like this can and should be super-targeted and at the same time excellently written to show your leads that you still want the best for them, and you’re letting them in on an especial deal because they’re validated as customers with you.

Email Campaign content

You must provide value, and the sequencing of content you’re going to dispense during a direct mail campaign must be configured in an effective, proven-to-work way.

You can’t just slap some pages of content together, see how portions of it could be fragmented into single messages, and then unbundle them in, say, 16 email-length content pieces and then call that an email campaign.

The process of trust creation, pre-selling, and selling through an email campaign includes much more than that.


I’m a copywriter, but I also have a background in information technology.

Because of that, in this section, you’ll learn not just the copywriting part of a successful direct response campaign, but also how to set it up correctly with the services and tools that get the automated, grunt work of this method done.

Is Advertising for You?

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You may think that because all through your life you were exposed to advertising, you have experience. That all you need to do is just learn a few secrets, or a cookie-cutter method to craft advertisements.

You may even think that studying a course will fill all the blanks in your knowledge of this craft. Or that going to college and subjecting yourself to three to five years of study will confirm all the preconceptions you have about advertising. And when you finally get your diploma, you will be ready to start creating advertisements. That only after you assimilated a lot of theory a world of dream jobs and riches will open to you.

You may be lucky and become a good advertising man or woman this way, but on top of the years formally studying the subject you must also consider the years of internship you may have to go through. And after that, you will start in a position at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. Then, when you finally achieve a position in a company with some sort of leeway, you will notice that you are well past your prime and you aren’t young anymore.

Here I’m not talking to the college undergraduate or to those who think that studying to work in this industry should be done by conventional means. If you are such a person, then be prepared to unlearn a lot of what you were taught. Starting with how to write copy. It can be done, but after how they limit you in college, to unlearn the sesquipedalian way of writing that they teach you there isn’t going to be easy.

If Academically you are a Clean Slate

And you haven’t had a college education, please pay attention because people like you make the best admen.

First, you have to have a passion for it, and the best way you can achieve that passion is to start advertising something as soon as possible, even before learning any of the topics of advertising in depth. And I mean, learn the bare essentials for one week or a fortnight, and start advertising something right away.

While you’re starting to advertise, slowly begin to learn how to become a good communicator. I’m telling you to start practicing as soon as possible with real-world ads, because the sooner you do this, the less it will take until some of your ads succeeds and you see for yourself how powerful advertising is. Once this happens, you will start to feel a passion for it. Once that happens, your hunger for knowledge will be boundless.

That’s why I suggest you if you’re going to learn advertising on your own, or by any other means that don’t tie you to a schedule, then do something audacious that would mark a before and an after in your life in advertising. If you can, move (temporarily or permanently) somewhere else while you’re learning your first things about advertising.

Be it a book, a course, a mentor on the internet, or whatever you’ll use, move someplace else, the more culturally different to what you’re accustomed to, the more unfamiliar the surroundings, the better.

I’m telling you this because what lies ahead is nothing like society leads you to believe, (namely, course and title), but a life of never-ending education.

There’s a lot to learn, and you need to expand your intellectual real estate by great orders of magnitude, and there’s nothing like pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, to land in a different place where you’ll see different kinds of ads through a considerably different light.

If you do this intently the cultural shock of the place and the differences between the ads you have been passively consuming all your life with the ones in the new place will create a rift in your psyche that will make you learn and practice advertising in a much more powerful way.

If you Went Through College

As I said, it’s not going to be easy. You have a few advantages over those that never went through college, but you have a lot of work to do. The most important thing for you is to unlearn the meandering way of writing they teach you in college. My advice is this, learning to write and edit copy for advertisements should be among your priorities but not your top priority.

Your world needs to be shaken to the core. In my experience learning to write copy for advertisements is not as strong as the rigors of learning to write screenplays.

If you can spend six months or so learning how to write screenplays and actually practicing it, I think it will be the greatest, fastest way for you to unlearn college writing. Your screenplays need not be for movies, but you must learn Hollywood-style screenplay writing.

Ideally, during the six months in which you will be studying how to write movie scripts, you will write one or two feature-length ones. If you do this, don’t get caught up in the hopeless dream of selling them. You will do this as an exercise only, they can be non-commercial since they are for your eyes only.

But if you feel that doing this is too unrelated to your interests (because it is), then don’t do it. Just learn how to write scripts the Hollywood way, this part is non-negotiable.

And then, when you need to practice, write commercial scripts of two to five pages/minutes each.

In the six months, you should write from thirty to sixty commercial scripts of two to five pages each. I think that if you do this when the six months are over you would have unlearned the kind of writing that will take you nowhere in advertising.

There is another way, I don’t remember now from who I learned this one, but I think it was in Ben Suarez’s book. This other method goes like this.

First, you create a swipe file with say, twenty to forty of the best advertisements of all time. The ads you will save in your swipe file have to have a long copy, meaning that each has to be a page or more of text. Ads with a line or two of text don’t count.

Then you have to print them or load them on your computer screen and copy them with pen and paper. After you transcribe two or three dozens of long-form ads, you will have formed an idea of how different advertising copy is from academic writing. That is just the beginning, you will have to study many more techniques.

Media Attributions
TopRank Marketing Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2007 CC BY 2.0

© Martin Wensley, 2020-2022 — Advertising Definition