There is one day each year when people actually like ads: during the Superbowl. Now that that's over, most people have gone back to ignoring ads.
And yet, paid media is still the best way to get your brand message out to millions of people in a scalable, consistent way. After working with an extensive base of Fortune 500 companies -- Shell, Kraft, Charles Schwab — and publishers — Rolling Stones, Glam.com, FoodNetwork.com — we've found that there are themes that successful advertising campaigns have in common.
If you want to increase your chances of having consumers like your ads, read on.
1. Let them have content.
Don’t force users to click on an ad in order to access brand content. In the old days, online ads consisted of a static image and text. Now, technology allows brands to pull forward content that was originally only on your landing page, that now can live directly in the ad unit itself.
Consumers should be able to scroll through recipes, click on tabs with polls and Twitter feeds, and read articles directly in your ad. Actually it doesn't matter where the consumer is engaging with your content, as long as they have a positive experience. But since less than 1 in 1,000 people click on ads, most consumers won’t arrive at your landing page by clicking on an ad. Therefore, it makes sense to provide the path of least resistance by allowing them to engage with content directly in the ad in the moment when they are interested.
2. Think of content and creative as movable parts within an ad.
When planning your campaign creative, ensure that your layout allows for plenty of flexibility. That way, as you begin to gather data points about campaign performance, it will be easier to make adjustments to ads in order to optimize during the campaign.
A simple way of visualizing this is to imagine an ad as a series of parts. Each part, such as a navigation tab, can be re-positioned over the course of a campaign. For example, if you notice that customers are engaging with the Facebook tab much more than the Twitter one, you can remove the Twitter tab, and substitute it with something else, like a video. If you notice that consumers are abandoning the video after a 30 seconds, you may realize that your 2 minute video is too long, and therefore substitute the video with a shorter one. By thinking of your ad as movable parts, you can swap content and functionality while keeping the overall brand experience consistent.
3. Measure the right thing. Just because one metric is down, doesn't mean that the campaign isn't effective.
When you pull content forward and have interactive functionality in an ad, it makes sense for click-through rate to be down. After all, consumers are interacting with your brand in the ad itself, without needing to click. In this case, you might find that the engagement rate is up as users hover, scroll, and click on tabs within an ad. Don’t be stuck on CTR as a key metric for display because it is simply not as relevant for rich media ads. It also helps to choose one or two metrics up front to track as a KPI. The number of people taking a quiz or watching a video in your ad are two examples of valuable engagement metrics.