The effectiveness of advertising is something that has been debated among experts for decades. Some claim that it doesn’t work, and that purchasers are going to buy what they’re going to buy regardless. Conversely, some experts suggest that good ads will make the purchaser more likely to choose a certain product, whether they realize it or not.

Both sides make valid points, but today we will be focusing on how advertising still works today.

Ads are more prevalent now than they have ever been. Ads are no longer simply put in the newspaper, T.V., or on radio with the hope that they will reach their target audiences. Using the internet, companies can be assured that their target audience will be reached by their advertisements. For example, if you see an ad on Facebook’s news feed, it’s likely that you are the target audience of that product/service. The Facebook algorithm reaches target audiences by showing people ads based off their interests. They calculate interests by collecting data, and generating digital profiles.

One of the biggest arguments against the effectiveness of internet advertising is that engagement rates mean nothing. Those opposed to online advertising claim that engagement rates on posts look good, but don’t necessarily translate into real sales. In addition, paid links that appear at the top of Google searches are labeled as unimportant, since the natural link normally will appear directly underneath it as the first result. However, what these people fail to realize is that advertising isn’t about engagement. Advertising is about creating an impression on someone in the target audience. If someone sees an ad, it doesn’t matter whether or not they comment on it or engage with it. If they saw the ad, potentially the next time they see that product at the store which had been advertised to them earlier, they will subconsciously think to purchase that product. The consumer most likely will not know that the ad had any effect on them. The best advertising doesn’t demand engagement or even need it at all. With good advertising, the consumer won’t even know that they have been affected by the ad. Instead, they will find themselves buying the product advertised, without realizing why.

Another example demonstrating that advertising is still effective is that companies are still spending money on it, in fact, more and more each year. It’s hard to imagine that advertising doesn’t work at all when in fact over $500 billion is spent on it worldwide each year! That number is expected to climb nearly 6% in 2016 alone. Since we are well into the information age, companies are investing a great deal of money on digital advertising.

Studies have shown that people are influenced by advertisements just by seeing them a number of times. This is called the “mere-exposure” effect. This effect demonstrates that if a person is exposed to something for long enough, they will eventually find something they like about it. By simply being exposed to an ad multiple times, the ads can affect people’s brains to favor their products over others

Lastly, whenever a large company/corporation stops advertising, sales begin to drop. That correlation alone is enough to spur companies to continue advertising in new ways. 10 years ago there were no ads on YouTube, or really anywhere on our phone. However, now there are ads within every app, there are ads before YouTube videos, and even product placement Instagram posts from celebrities.

The advertising world is alive and well, but the means by which people are advertising are completely new. As far as where advertising will go in the future and whether it will continue to be effective—only time will tell.