Digital ad revenue surpassed TV for the first time ever in 2016. Advertisers pumped over $72 billion into digital ads compared to $71 billion spent on TV. That's a 22% increase in spend on digital and a decline in spend on TV.

At the same time, Netflix boasts more American subscribers than cable TV (50.85 million compared to 48.61 million). Given these and other similar trends, traditional media ad buys are a thing of the past. For brands to be successful today, they must invest in new channels in order to reach target audiences.

This article will outline 7 of the best channels for big brands to invest in, and will include a few examples of how other brands are already harnessing the power of new media to connect with customers.

1. Instagram

Over 700 million Instagram users log onto the platform each month, as of April of this year. That makes Instagram the fifth most popular social media platform in the world (excluding messaging platforms). Brands like Nike understand the power that Instagram has when it comes to reaching their target audience.

They have cultivated over 73 million Instagram followers, a number far larger than any TV ad would attract. Nike keeps their Instagram followers engaged by constantly sharing visually striking content that is on brand.

Instagram is a particularly compelling platform for brands, because according to Locowise, 75% of users take action (visiting a website or engaging with a post for example) based on Instagram ads.

2. Snapchat

For brands hoping to engage with Generation Z, Snapchat is a far more effective marketing channel than traditional media. Approximately 166 million people use Snapchat each month, while that number is far smaller compared to Facebook, or Instagram, Snapchat does have a place in the mix of new marketing channels.

A favorite of Generation Z, one study cited in the Drum found that 88% of college age adults use Snapchat, and that 76% of respondents use Snapchat at least six times a day (yes you read that right). In short, Snapchat has a smaller, but fiercely dedicated audience of young people.

Brands like Vice News, Gatorade, and the New York Times use Snapchat to engage with younger audience members. Often, these brands will supply behind the scenes videos that make brand loyalists feel as though they are sharing a rare moment with a brand they already care about.

3. YouTube

What does it mean to run like a girl and why is it meant as an insult? That's a question Always probed in a series of YouTube videos designed to shed light on reasons why girl's self-esteem plummets when puberty begins. The videos received over 100 million views, hundreds of thousands of likes, and thousands of comments.

Since Always used YouTube to launch the series, it allowed audience members to engage with the content via the comments section. Since the video was hosted on line, websites could easily embed or re-share the video, increasing brand reach in the process.

This is just one example of the viral nature of YouTube video ads, and why so many brands have already embraced YouTube as a vital part of the modern marketing mix.

4. Brand Activations

For brands interested in cutting through the noise in order to meaningfully engage with a target audience, live event experiences are a great alternative to digital. Take Snap as a great example. While many might think of Snap as a purely digital company, Snap turned to in-person brand activations in order to promote Spectacles.

If a company like Snap turns to brand activations, it is a good indication that other companies will see positive results if digital is married with in-person marketing to connect with customers.

5. Messaging Platforms

Take a minute to think of the top 5 social networks. Did you guess that 3 of the top five were messaging platforms? WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat are used by over 2 billion people combined.

Unlike other social networks, messaging platforms are known as "dark social" because it is harder for brands to access user analytics.

Dark social is slated to change quickly however. Outbrain, a content aggregation platform announced plans to develop a chatbot for Facebook Messenger that would recommend specific piece of content based on a user's profile. Sephora is another brand that is already using Facebook messenger.

The brand created an app to aid shoppers searching for their ideal makeup. The bot first asks shoppers a series of questions to determine their needs and then makes various recommendations based on an algorithm.

6. Native Content

According to stats compiled by people view native content 53% more frequently than they view banner advertisements. Native content is becoming increasingly popular as it allows brands to subtly connect with potential customers, while offering audience members something of value.

This value based approach to advertising is a more desirable way of connecting with audience members than the interruptive forms of advertising often found in traditional marketing channels.


In order for big brands to stay relevant, they will need to incorporate some, if not all of the new channels listed in this article in order to engage potential customers. Traditional ad buys will increasingly become less effective as new forms of media begin monopolizing people's attention.

Published on: Jul 24, 2017
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