The viewers of online advertisements are changing as rapidly as the technology they are using, and the need to effectively reach this new audience has led to much innovation in marketing. With the goal of accessing and utilizing channels that traditional media fails to include, such as mobile devices, today’s novel advertising methods take a more subtle approach to attracting customers. Simple banner ads are no longer appealing to viewers, causing an expansion of current online advertising trends.

Content marketing is the most important buzzword to understand in this age of the business-customer relationship. The concept shuns the idea of marketing to the masses with overt messages. Inbound marketing is emphasized instead, which more successfully builds up brand loyalty through the creation of valuable content designed for a particular audience.

Generally, content consists of relevant industry information that either provides understanding of a topic or amusement. Articles on business websites, e-newsletters, case studies, videos, and articles taken from outside websites are all effective pieces of content that marketers can produce and disseminate through a variety of channels.

All content, however, must feature two things: images and simplicity. Viewers are looking for “snackable” content that is quickly digestible, which is why written content should be broken up with pictures or converted into an infographic. Image-based content also has higher chances of going viral.

Viewers prefer simpler messages to in-depth ones, and they are tired of being barraged by flashy ads with a sensory overload of information. Thus, marketing campaigns should be toned down and not overhyped, offering great content that people want to share.

A presence on multiple social media sites is crucial for success in online advertising. These sites are the places where content is definitively created and shared, drawing a large Internet audience. If content is of high enough quality, then viewers will be apt to give it their undivided attention, which is better than what a banner ad is capable of.

When a viewer shares a company’s content, they essentially become a marketer for the brand, but social shares are significant to more than just brand image. The amount of shares a piece of content gets is becoming more important to SEO. Search engines attempt to return the most relevant content possible to users, and lots of shares tend to suggest a level of perceived quality by viewers.

Branching out to multiple social networks, even some of the less used ones, adds weight to social signals in SEO and increases the likelihood of engagement, which is when consumers interact with a brand or its advertising on social media. A business should determine which sites best suit its own needs and those of its customer base.

Native advertising, also known as organic advertising or sponsored content, is another method that is related to the use of social media. Ad formats are created for a specific platform in order to take advantage of the way that consumers use the platform. Sponsored stories and suggested posts on Facebook, promoted pins on Pinterest, ads on Instagram, and branded Vines are all examples of native advertising. The inherent diversity of these ads, though, presents an issue in defining standards to optimize them and measure their success.

Marketers can also directly advertise on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and in the future, these sites might solicit ad deals comparable to those maintained by television now. Direct advertising in the form of digital ads, however, has undergone a major transformation in recent years. Wireless networks now have the ability to stream video reliably, which has led to the popularity of online video ads. This banner ad alternative captures the attention of the viewer more easily and for a longer span of time, and it also gets readily shared on social media sites.

Mobile ads are on the rise as well, since 30% of all web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. The new mantra for marketers is “mobile design first”; mobile ads are not considered “add-ons” to campaigns any more. They are a must-have, and in order to capitalize on mobile traffic, content and ads have to be made accessible on either mobile apps or mobile-optimized sites with responsive web design.

Whether online, mobile, or both, digital ads consisting of rich media are much more effective than mere banner ads or social media messages. Rich media ads usually expand when rolled over with a mouse or tapped on with a finger. They occupy more screen space than other kinds of ads, and by their nature, ensure that the user interacts with them. This interaction generally entails clicking a video or playing a game, but it results in an immersive ad experience.

The advergame, a combination of advertising and entertainment that takes the form of a video game, is a type of rich media in which the viewer actively wants immersion. Since consumers spend a great deal of time on the Internet playing games, the usage of in-game advertising has grown. Apps and games specifically designed for the purpose of advertising are a natural result of this growth.

Three main kinds of advergames exist. The first is a game, which may or may not be product-related, that is placed on a company website to attract visitors. Another is a traditional video game developed to be played on computers or consoles, but created with the goal of influencing consumers about a product. The last is the product placement approach, in-game advertising where a product or ad for a product is an actual part of the game.

A branded app or game will engage its users more thoroughly than programming in a prime time television slot. While a traditional televised ad holds the viewer’s attention for 30 seconds, advergames have the capability to immerse users for full minutes or even hours, which results in psychological effects that lead to better brand retention and increased familiarity. Clever or entertaining games even have the potential to go viral.

Aside from types of digital ads themselves, new marketing strategies for these ads are popping up, one of which is ad retargeting. Browser cookies are utilized to track what websites users have visited. After leaving a certain site, the products or services users viewed on those websites will be shown to them again in ads across different websites they visit.

Only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit to a site, so ad retargeting aims to increase this rate by reminding consumers of products and services they have already seen. This keeps a brand at the forefront of a consumer’s mind, with the simple re-exposure creating brand familiarity and trust, as well as increasing the likelihood of purchases.

After determining a solid online advertising strategy, a marketer must take one other factor into account—viewability of ads. This concept, whether or not paid advertisements are actually seen by real human beings, is a big issue in marketing, because half of ads are placed where no one will see them, usually at the bottom of pages. Using an independent company that offers solutions to make sure ads are being bought only in the places where viewers can see them will assist in the process of starting an ad campaign.

Online advertising is not the same playing field that it was twenty years ago, or even ten. Without an up-to-date, effective strategy for digital marketing, a business today will fail to reach a key demographic of their market, the growing sector of individuals who are turning to their smartphones and smart devices to access the Internet. For those users on PCs, improving the online ad experience for them is crucial to maintaining engaged and loyal customers. Brand image does not count for much if it cannot be portrayed well; understanding how to take full advantage of current advertising channels is knowledge no marketer should lack, if business success is to be achieved.