Agile marketing is an active, adaptive, and responsive approach that maximizes the ROI of your advertising and promotional efforts. It allows a marketing team to recognize nascent opportunities and respond quickly, iterate towards success with relatively little risk, and rely on measurable results to direct execution steps instead of on guessing and forecasting.

These principles can be readily adapted to building display ads, and they should be. Ads built on long development cycles might be irrelevant by the time they’re trafficked, and might unwisely place too many resource eggs in a speculative basket. Instead, a solid display ad strategy, and a small team empowered to experiment within a defined scope, can home in on success more quickly and at lower cost than with traditional ad build models.

1. Define your strategy.
Agile marketing depends on a well-developed strategy that sets the bounds for testing. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my company’s values? What are lines that we will never cross?
  • What does my brand stand for? What kind of impression of our brand should ad viewers walk away with?
  • What kinds of copy and creative am I allowed to use?
  • What content and media channels are we updating that we can port over to our ads? (See paid media publishing for more)
  • Who is my customer and potential customer? What types of ads and messaging will resonate with them?
  • What kinds of changes in customer sentiment, product launches, and events are worth designing a display ad campaign around?
  • Who is on our team? Do we have all necessary functions represented? Are we small and nimble enough to act quickly? Does our team structure and strategy have buy-in from all stakeholders?

2. Set up your monitoring and analytical systems.
Knowing what your campaign approach will listen to and react to, and how, should be a lynchpin of your display ad campaign strategy. How will you know how your customers, and others, are reacting to your brand? How will you be notified of changes? Third-party service providers such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly Radian6 and Buddy Media) can help monitor social media for changing sentiments about your brand, some of which can be used to develop targeted display ads. Similarly, news alerts (such as Google Alerts) can be used to define triggers for responsive campaigns, and your team should also be apprised of any internal product developments that might be meaningful to your customers.

Likewise, you should define which marketing KPI (key performance indicators) you will use to judge the success of your campaigns, and ensure that systems to measure these are supported on your backend.

3. Design and execute your experiments.
Define the scope of your experiments: what creative types and sizes will you test, and on which media? Here are some suggestions on variants worth evaluating.

  • Experiment with functionality
    • Video vs Flash animation overlay
    • Live Twitter, Facebook, or RSS feeds vs. static messaging
    • In-ad videos versus clicking through to reach content
  • Experiment with creative
    • Content
    • Layout
    • Navigation
  • Experiment with context/media buy
    • Ad networks
    • Targeting
    • Frequency capping

Execution should almost always start small, and ramp up rapidly as soon as the data support it.

4. Measure quickly, ideally in real time.
Put on your analytical cap, and make sense of the incoming data. The quicker you draw conclusions about the performance of your ad, the quicker you can make changes for your next iteration. It follows that real-time data can allow you to iterate most quickly. Make some tweaks to your display ad creative based on the story the data tells, and kick off another test.

When the performance of your display ad campaigns improves, that’s the time to loosen the budget reins and ramp up your buys. Testing cycles should remain small and fast until then.

Flite Ad Studio was built in order to empower agile marketing teams to build, traffic, and analyze the performance of cutting-edge, engaging display ads. Wikia’s effective display ad campaign using Flite demonstrates nicely the sort of success publishers enjoy when agile marketing principles are applied correctly. Watch a 90-second video or request a demo to see how Flite can revolutionize your display ad business.