In the early days of advertising, awareness was the name of the game.

Fifty years ago, if your brand could afford to get into television, print or radio advertising, you could dominate your category because you were one of the few brands with high top-of-mind awareness.

Most advertising was not yet about things like unique selling propositions or higher-end emotional benefits. And in a media landscape dominated by interruptive media and captive audiences, no one was talking about “brand engagement.” The job of big brands was to hammer home their brand names, again and again. Reach was guaranteed, so frequency was everything. If you owned a big brand, it was “media-driven.”

Today, despite all the industry’s talk of engagement, awareness has become king again. And there are two things that are vital about its resurgence: It is reoccurring for entirely different (and almost polar opposite) reasons, and most advertisers do not yet realize that in a world dominated by on-demand and interpersonal media, awareness should be their primary (and perhaps only) marketing objective.

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