Advertising in the digital age: Studying personalized advertisements on mobile and the internet

Anurag Dwivedi[1] and Shubham Kushwaha[2]


Online advertising has made it possible for businesses to reach a global target audience at a far cheaper cost than they could with traditional advertising. In the material that is now available, this article examines both present and potential developments in traditional and online advertising. It also analyses the characteristics of both forms of advertising and outlines a new communication paradigm shift that gives businesses the chance to promote online so they can now more effectively reach the consumer audience that is becoming more and more dispersed. It also makes the case that conventional media won’t necessarily go away.

Traditional media in India is still growing along with the new technologies in the internet for marketing communication although personalized advertisement has created clutter among the targeted audiences, resulting in high chances of ad avoidance. Since conventional media advertising will never be replaced by online advertising, an integrated strategy by marketers and advertisers seems to be the wisest course of action.

Keywords: Traditional Media,Traditional Advertising, Internet Advertising, Personalized advertising, Digital Age


“I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.”― David Ogilvy

Marketing is a never-ending process since early civilizations. Advertisements have dominated our modern life in the digital age, impacting individuals in ways they may not always be aware of. Everywhere we go, whether inside or outside of our homes, we are surrounded by advertisements. Every media outlet tries to communicate with us some commercial messages that are meant to persuade people to buy the product, including radio, newspapers, television, the internet, billboards, and advertisements on moving vehicles.

The influence of traditional advertising media(print, television, and radio) were high or dominant before the advent of the internet which resulted in the sustainability of traditional advertising media. Traditional media companies have faced considerable problems as a result of the Internet’s development during the past 20 years. Particularly, some occurrences have had a significant impact on print media, including newspapers and magazines. Consumers have moved away from print media in favor of online content. Furthermore, print media have also launched electronic versions of their print content, typically in the form of companion websites, in an effort to stop the loss of subscribers (Chandra & Kaiser, 2014).

Online advertising seems to be more interactive than conventional media which results in attracting new approaches to advertising based on online advertising. Advertising is a significant and important part of media and has a pivotal role in the communication field. Advertising impacts not only the marketing strategies which are responsible for the promotion of goods or services but also the communication strategies which aim to construct the opinions, thoughts, beliefs, and mindsets of the people. The messages of ads have the potential to influence the attitudes and behaviors of the audience (Bergemann&Bonatti, 2011). 

Literature Review

Tracing the evolution

The origin of early advertising as a public announcement was made possible by the advent of the printing press, after which public notices, posters, and billboards in large numbers came into existence. However, evidence of outdoor advertisements is found in early civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, and in India, where discovered inscriptions for promoting the messages of emperor Ashoka. (Kumar, 2000).

In a similar way, the Rosetta stone is kept in a British museum and has a record of remissions of taxes and other dues of the Egyptian people. These messages were circulated by the priests to the public and placed the copy of the stone in temples and markets (Nevett & Nevett, 1982). The government of Rome used inscriptions on tablets, buildings, and monuments to tell the public about its newly made laws. Historical literature also found that there were ads for slaves and household goods that also occurred in the early civilization (Ambler &Tellis, 2007). Town criers used to read public notices loudly in the public sphere and were employed by businessmen to promote their goods.

In the 17th century during the industrial revolution, the large urban population was increasing, resulting in a prospective market for advertisers or marketers. During this period, advertising came as a powerful tool to stimulate need and demand among the common people. Mediums like handbills, flyers, and later, broadsheet newspapers disseminated advertising messages more widely after the development in the mass printing press. These media flourished with transportation systems, stimulating growth in mass marketing, advertising, and communication systems. People started asking for the brands they knew as a result of advertising, which created demanding consumers, by which retailers started stocking the advertised brands (Williams, 2000).

During world war II, radio became a popular medium to connect with the masses, political forces used radio as a propaganda machine which resulted in less development of advertisements on the radio during the war. There was a need for mass production of receivers and marketing for radio broadcasting to be commercially viable. After the war, Radio found its commercial base and was given a social form “through a combination of several traditions- those of telecommunications, mass industry, and the press (Kumar, 2000, 401-447). With technological advancement, T.V came into existence which brought a revolution in the field of mass media as TV had the potential to engage the audience which played a vital role in need generation, awareness, creating interest, desires, and persuasion which resulted in increasing the market demand.

On 1st July 1941, the first US television commercial was shown to the public. It was a 10-second ad for Bulova Watch Company which played during a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The company paid $9 to WNBT for Advertising. From the industry’s point of view, marketing started to be seen as a company’s important function apart from the sales department, and the industry boomed with the advent of television. It changed the way advertising messages were framed and delivered to the masses. Creating brand names and introducing new products got beneficial through television as it was an accessible medium to the mass market. (Mendelova, 2018)

The objectives of early Advertising were to inform, persuade (sell), remind and reinforce consumers as it is similar to today’s objective. However, it was limited because of limited media and the limited number of goods available for trading as compared to the present advertising scenario in the digital age (Norris, 2013, 3-11)

In the Digital Age, the Internet has appeared as the fastest-growing new medium ever (Eastin et al., 2011). Internet advertising started in 1994 in the USA, where people used to serve internet for the information. In early 2000, with the advent of web 2.0, this communication technology underwent a drastic change by which the internet became a participatory medium or an interactive medium. Early advertisers who started advertising on the internet included AT&T, Sprint, and Timex(Young, 2000).

Online advertising or digital advertising started with the boom of Yahoo and Google as these companies realized the potential of online marketing, After which the use of digital advertising tools like SEO, keyword marketing, and email marketing got increased to do personalized advertising which depends upon demographics and Psychographics strata but the existence of personalized advertising can be seen in 1892 when Sears, Roebuck, and Co. launched their massive direct mail campaign, they posted 8,000 postcards across the country to introduce and promote their new services such as washing machines, watches, baby carriages, bicycles, harnesses, and stoves got advertised. To get the attention of the target audience they made an eye-catchy tagline “Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back,” which actually gave them a good conversion rate. Two thousand orders were immediately received. (MENDELOVA, 2018)

Nowadays, online advertising became a crucial part of communication strategy. Google and Facebook have their own data points, Location, Apps used and websites created, Searches and bookmarks, Emails, contacts, calendar data, YouTube videos, Photos were taken on your phone, downloaded files, and the search and browsing history of the user. After tracking all these data, the advertiser usually shows the audience personalized ads according to their browsing behaviors.

With the acceleration of communication strategy over time, people are exposing themselves to numerous ways of advertisements. Advertising began as soon as communication technology began, with the new mediums of information or advertising; the communication strategy of an advertiser is more focused on personalized advertising rather than just selling the product to the customer.

Research Objectives

This paper aims to:

  1. To explore how people started avoiding commercials on TV and radio; stopped paying attention to ads in print outlets.
  2. To understand how digital platforms started focusing on new online advertising strategies like display ads/native ads/retargeting/social media ads/search engine ads on the internet platforms.
  3. To understand the pros and cons of personalized advertising.

Research Gap

There is a limited research study on ad avoidance that has largely focused on television ads. For instance, Abernethy (l991c) indicates that mechanical avoidance (switching channels) reduces ad exposure by 10% but physical avoidance (leaving the room) reduces it by more than 20%. Additional research has looked at the characteristics of zappers (Danaher, 1995), attitudes toward advertising and zapping behavior, as well as the effects of motive and media exposure on ad avoidance. This paper mainly aims to explore a conceptual understanding of Advertising in the digital age, and how digital advertising created a space for personalized advertisements with the advent of the Internet. 

Research Methodology

This research study is descriptive in nature, based on the Secondary data.Qualitative research deals with the exploration of issues, understanding phenomena, and finding answers to questions by analyzing and understanding available literature. Qualitative research is most suitable for answering the how and the why of issues, processes, and behavior.

Ten research papers and previous research work has been studied to understand advertising in the digital age and the conventional advertising mediums. There is a limited research study on ad avoidance that has largely focused on television ads. This paper mainly aims to explore a conceptual understanding of Advertising in the digital age, and how digital advertising created a space for personalized advertisements with the advent of the Internet.

Paul Surgi Speck and Michael T. Elliott mentioned in their research work the factors that are responsible for ad avoidance in four major mediums of mass media (magazines, newspapers, radio, and television.). They analyzed demographic characteristics, media-related variables, attitudes toward advertising in each medium, and communication problems related to advertising. Ad perceptions were the strongest predictors of ad avoidance and were best in differentiating print from broadcast media. The different age groups and people with different income groups tend to avoid ads was the reason behind the ignoring ads in different mass media (Speck & Elliott, 2013). Whereas in the present digital media environment, advertisers and ad agencies are developing new advertising approaches to reach out to their target audiences. They are incorporating techniques such as keyword search, display ads, mobile, streaming video, gaming, social media, gadgets, and digital media channels are also part of interactive media. Most advertisers believed that the future of advertising is neither easy nor clearly marked.

Radio Analysis

A radio ad can be avoided by listeners by ignoring it (cognitive) or by changing the channel (behavioral and mechanical). While the radio is playing, people may read, talk, drive, take a shower, or work. The radio and other activities can receive intermittent attention. Ads may be simpler to overlook when the radio is playing in the background. Radio advertisements are most likely to be avoided by people who are young and single, listen to numerous stations or don’t listen very often, find them annoying, have trouble finding programs, look disruptive, or appear distracting (Young, 2000). 

Television Analysis

The likelihood that someone will avoid television ads increases if they are young or well-off, they watch a lot of channels, they find them unbelievable, annoying, or a waste of time, they find it difficult to find other programs, or they appear disruptive. Age, disruption, and the belief that advertising is bothersome are the three factors that predict ad avoidance the best (Young, 2000). Whereas when it comes to newspapers, People are more likely to avoid newspaper advertisements if they are older, well-educated, and wealthy; if they have a favorable opinion of newspapers in general; if they find newspaper advertisements to be uninteresting, useless, or irritating, if there are too many advertisements; or if newspaper advertisements obstruct their search for other newspaper content. The two factors that predict ad avoidance most accurately are search difficulty and the belief that ads are uninteresting (Young, 2000).

Print Analysis

Even if there is a global decline in the newspaper sector, print media still dominates the market in India, along with television and digital media. India has had a sharp increase in print newspaper sales, making the country the sector’s largest global market. The print media in India has reached its full potential, with over 100,000 registered newspapers and magazines as of 2021, up from a little over 200 dailies produced in post-independence India (Basuroy, 2022). 

While in magazines, people are more likely to keep away from magazine advertisements if their household size is small, their income is high, they find magazine advertisements unbelievable or useless, they think there are too many of them, or if they obstruct their ability to find other magazine material. The two factors that are most effective at predicting ad avoidance are search difficulty and the belief that ads are uninteresting.The marketer makes sure that consumers receive what is relevant and helpful and what they actually expect to receive instead of bombarding them with irrelevant ads. The marketer must give customers a simple method to unsubscribe from the list and exit from each message if they find it offensive.

Advertising has been evolving since the first banner ad appeared on the World Wide Web. The Internet presents marketers with a whole new universe of opportunities thanks to sophisticated tools that can track responses and target customers. In this essay from the HBS Bulletin, HBS Professors John A. Deighton and Alvin J. Silk provide their opinions on advertising in the Internet age (Young, 2000). The World Wide Web was not yet well-known in 1994. A brand-new business called Yahoo! had recently created a method for finding websites on the Internet—the search engine. As the first online magazine to feature adverts, Hotwired made its debut. About 10% of visitors who saw the site’s first banner ads—bright, billboard-shaped notices—were persuaded to click on them. A new era in advertising started when these web surfers were directed to the sponsor’s website (Young, 2000).

Recent research indicates that the internet has become a popular sales channel. Online advertising is significantly altering customer tastes and buying behavior while also introducing new methods of product acquisition (Mishra &Mahalik, 2017). Online marketing, or online advertising, is significantly more cost-effective than traditional forms of marketing; marketing is made possible by the use of interactive media and the strength of the internet network (Kumar & Shah, 2004)

Particularly since 2013, the term “digital marketing” has become the most used worldwide. Digital advertising spending increased by 48% in 2010, with an estimated 4.5 trillion internet ads served annually. Businesses that utilize Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) to target advertising at internet users account for an increasing share of advertising, yet OBA creates issues with consumer privacy and data security. The marketing of goods or services through the use of digital technology, primarily the Internet but also including mobile devices, display advertising, and any other digital medium, is known as “digital marketing.” (Kumar & Shah, 2004)

Another explanation for conventional media’s downfall is how ineffectively they can use tailored advertising when compared to online media. Online advertisers can employ sophisticated techniques to target consumers through targeted advertising, which allows for the display of ads to the most responsive audiences. Traditional media often does not employ these techniques. (Bergemann&Bonatti, 2011).

Digital marketing is the practice of promoting goods or services through the use of digital technology, primarily the Internet, but also mobile devices, display advertising, and other digital media. The growth of digital marketing since the 1990s and 2000s has altered how companies and brands use technology for marketing. Digital marketing efforts are becoming more common and effective as digital platforms are integrated into every day as individuals utilize digital gadgets rather than go to physical stores (Desai, 2019).

Personalized advertising on the internet

As of February 2022, the country’s digital population was estimated to be 658 million active users due to the implementation of the government’s Digital India plan and the rising internet penetration over the previous years. At this time, mobile internet users accounted for the majority of traffic in the second-largest internet market in the world. Since the launch of Reliance Jio services in 2007, all socioeconomic groups and income levels in the nation have had access to enticing subsidies and programs that are also easily attainable. In less than 10 years after its inception, Jio services accounted for more than 60% of all mobile data traffic, therefore the impact was practically immediate (Basuroy, 2022).

With the advent of digital advertising, the concept of personalized advertising has become a common phenomenon for advertisers and marketers. Techniques such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Content Marketing, influencer marketing, content automation, campaign marketing, data-driven marketing, e-commerce marketing, social media marketing, social media optimization, e-mail direct marketing, display advertising, affiliate marketing, native advertising, marketing automation, pay-per-click (PPC), online PR, online behavioral advertising eBooks, and optical discs and games are just a few of the digital marketing strategies that are becoming more and more popular as technology advances. These days, digital marketing includes non-Internet platforms that offer digital media, like mobile phones (SMS and MMS), callback services, and on-hold ringtones (Desai, 2019). 

Personalized advertising

According to “Google Adsense” – Advertising that targets consumers based on their interests and demographics is known as personalized advertising (formerly known as interest-based advertising) (e.g., “sports enthusiasts”). You encounter advertisements as you browse the internet, use mobile apps, read email, or conduct online shopping. Google displays advertisements on Google services like Play, YouTube, and Search. Your usage of these goods is the primary source of the information needed to tailor the adverts that appear on them. Additionally, third parties use Google’s ad network to display adverts on apps and websites that are not owned by Google. One of several ad networks that can tailor advertisements depending on your internet activities is this one. Your activity on these third-party websites and apps is the main source of the information used to tailor the adverts you see on them.

Pros and cons of personalized advertising

With personalized advertising, advertisers can instantly see precise outcomes. It is challenging to determine how many readers actually turned to that page and read the advertisement when it is placed in a newspaper. There is no definite way to determine whether that advertisement contributed to any sales at all. However, personalized advertising may help you understand the market for your product or service, communicate with potential customers, have a global presence, and advertise in a tailored way. However, there are significant drawbacks to personalized advertising (Young, 2000). The internet is a crucial component in digital marketing. Because users’ internet connections could be unreliable or specific places might not have access to the internet. Marketing professionals struggle to separate from the clutter and encourage people to talk about a company’s brand or products because of this. However, having a lot of rival products and services that use the same digital advertising techniques might be a drawback. Due to the volume of advertising that appears on websites and social media that may be considered fraudulent, some customers may have a poor perception of some businesses. Even one person or a small group of people can damage a brand’s reputation. Digital marketing merely provides information to potential customers, the majority of whom lack purchasing authority or power. Therefore, it is doubtful whether digital marketing actually increases sales (Cho, 2013).

Factors of AD avoidance

Ad avoidance was defined in this study as any behavior by media users that significantly lowers their exposure to ad material. Ads are resisted by people cognitively, behaviorally, and mechanically. They continually weigh their options. In addition to developing general attitudes about advertising and ad avoidance practices, content preferences and processing habits also develop. Ad evasion is a component of one’s general media etiquette. People who zap TV ads also zap shows and leave the room (Abernethy, 1991). Turning between television channels is similar to flipping through pages of a magazine or newspaper, and zapping television commercials is similar to zapping radio ads. During commercial breaks, avoidance and inattention significantly rise (Speck & Elliott, 2013). 

Contrary to popular assumption among marketers and advertisers, advertising on the Internet is a considerably more difficult undertaking and takes a much more competent strategy to be successful. Marketers are currently concerned with the efficient integration of the Internet into their conventional marketing communication mix after the initial rush to create an online organizational presence (Hanekom&Scriven, 2007). Despite claims that conventional media have been overtaken by the “onslaught” of internet media, several traditional and new media organizations think that both types of media will have better futures (Media firms eye rebound after Net advertising losses 2001).

Due to their previous perception of the Internet as a tool or task-performer rather than an entertainment medium, many users avoided online advertisements during the second or third generation of the Internet. This may be especially true for users who are under time pressure to complete specific tasks. Internet users may have negative attitudes toward internet advertisements if they believe that internet advertisements cause a slowdown in the speed of data access. Additionally, Internet users were concerned with the speed of data access and downloading time, which is less applicable to the current situation of internet advertising.Internet ad avoidance may also include purposefully refraining from taking any additional action because the Internet requires more voluntary action from users (such as clicking banners and hyperlinks) (e.g., ignoring ads by intentionally not clicking any hyperlink). Low click-through rates (usually less than 1%) and banner blindness serve as examples of this.

In comparison to traditional advertising, new technologies like the World Wide Web (WWW) of the Internet have made it possible for businesses to market their goods and services to a global target audience. In the material that is now available, this article examines both present and potential developments in traditional and online advertising (Hanekom&Scriven, 2007). It also analyses the differences between the two types of advertising and outlines a new paradigm shift in communication that gives businesses the chance to promote online so they may now connect with the more dispersed consumer audience. It also makes the case that conventional media won’t necessarily go away.Banner adverts and other online efforts are more successful at primarily “pushing” particular promotions, but conventional media, notably outdoor and print media, seem to be far more effective at establishing brand recognition. Online and traditional media should be viewed as distinct tools used for distinct purposes. It is essential to create an advertising framework in this environment and for the future that pays close attention to the consumer contexts and mindsets related to these new and developing vehicles and places a strong emphasis on providing consumers with value rather than just exposure impressions. 


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[1]Anurag Dwivedi, Ph.D. Scholar, JagranLakecity University and Guest Faculty at MakhanlalChaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, Bhopal. Email:

[2]Shubham Kushwaha, Assistant Professor, Journalism and Mass Communication, ITM University Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Email: