If you are a premium publisher selling ad inventory direct, or an agency pitching services to clients, ad products are something you should be investing heavily in.
Ad products are digital advertising magic. They take something that is overly complex and package it up into a simple, sellable, and repeatable solution.
An ad product is more than just an ad. It should be defined by the following elements:
the ad format and features
the creative within that format
the workflow behind producing the ad
the metrics associated with the ad
Having worked closely with both publishers and agencies developing ad products over the last 3 years, here are the common elements of ad products that win deals.
Like products in other categories, ad products should have their own name and branding. All collateral for the ad product should use the same fonts and colors.
It’s likely the ad product’s branding is very similar to the agency or publisher selling the ad. It doesn’t have to be complicated or even nuanced, but it should be consistent.
For instance, Forbes has done an excellent job with BrandVoice, their native ad product. BrandVoice references on Forbes.com always appear in the serifed font Georgia, with the word "voice" displayed in italics, in red hex code #920a12.
Tip #1: If your ad products don’t have memorable branding, start by giving them distinct names and choosing a fonts and colors to use.
One step beyond branding for your product is its packaging. Like any other product, each ad product should have:
a clear value proposition
It may also include:
a pitch deck
one sheet leave behinds
a promo video
Bundle everything up in a clear package that is easy to understand and leaves few questions unanswered.
Tip #2: Gather everything related to your ad product into a bundle and ask, “Is there anything missing that you would expect if this were a different kind of product?”
An Efficient Workflow
Ad products should also have a workflow behind producing the ad. The workflow includes tangible elements like templates, and also processes like who does what.
Demonstrating a clear workflow during the pitch will help your client visualize using your ad products. You want the prospective client to picture themselves in the process, with things going smoothly, and arriving at a positive outcome.
For instance, the CONTENT@SCALE product we recently helped Starcom MediaVest Group launch has a built in process to source content, license it, get brand approval, choose a template, and then scale it into display ads.
By having such clearly defined steps, the possibility of doing something new--in this case, content advertising--is made accessible and understandable. The workflow shows insight into the brand’s pain point of sourcing and approving content for use in advertising.
Tip #3: Quickly map out your ad product’s workflow. Prepare a one-sheet for your sales team that includes which partner companies or roles are responsible for each step.
Success Metrics & Benchmarks
At the core of every ad product are its success metrics. Is your ad product an vehicle for in-ad engagement, or does it focus on direct response? The answer should define which KPIs are most relevant to the product.
Set expectations early and educate your clients on how to evaluate the ad’s performance. To use the BrandVoice example again, they recently shared a lot of interesting data on the product's performance with various advertisers, showing clear results on what can be achieved.
Here are some example metrics to keep in mind for your own ad products.
Content Ads / Engagement Ads
Avg. Time on Unit
Video Play metrics
Avg. Time on Page
Direct Response Ads
With the success metrics determined, start to establish benchmarks to give brands expectations on how their campaigns should perform.
Monitoring your product performance this closely will enable you to optimize the format as well, and ultimately provide better value for your advertisers. Turn what you notice into best practices that you can share with your clients to make them more successful.
Tip #4: Gather your ad product’s performance together and establish benchmarks. If you already have benchmarks, get specific by segmenting your data by vertical, format, or another relevant category.
Take time to differentiate yourself and give your clients something they can’t get anywhere else.
This unique element can be a part of your service:
“We have a team of editorial writers who will work with you to ensure your native article resonates with our readers.”
It can be related to functionality:
“These tablet ads combine daily deals with maps to promote in-store traffic and purchase.”
...based on format:
"Use video in a Billboard unit to engage 30 million monthly unique visitors."
...or tied a special value proposition:
“Publish branded content ads at the speed of social media.”
Whatever your product is, honing in on what differentiates you will help your sales team make a memorable pitch.
Tip #5: Tap into what you're able to do that nobody else can, and make it memorable.
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A well-conceived ad product is an opportunity to provide real expertise to brands. By putting on your product marketing hat and treating it as what it is, a product, you will strengthen your offering and win more deals.