How Socially Awkward Ad Creative Wins

Your ad campaign may be targeted carefully, have a big budget and get an excellent reach. A setup for success? Not just yet. No matter how smart your delivery system is: If your ad creative isn’t engaging, you won’t get the conversion rates you should be reaching for. This is particularly true for highly visual platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. While a good targeting strategy ensures that your ads reach the right audience that is most likely to be interested in your product, it’s up to your ad creative to get someone to stop scrolling and click on it. Ultimately, your creative will – or won’t – give your ad the chance it deserves.

At Search & Gather, we have been developing and testing ad creative for a wide range of brands and products. Even as digital marketing specialists, we were surprised by some of the results. Here are some of the main takeaways we have gathered from why creative is so vital in successful digital marketing, and how you can get it right.

Stop them from scrolling: Pick the right image.

 Your ad creative is what will interrupt your audience’s scroll flow. It’s the image that will either catch their eye and entice them, or get dismissed as clutter – despite the great deal you had to offer. So, how do you go about choosing the right image?

Protecting Your Brand May Be Failing Your Ads. While having clear style guidelines increases credibility and makes brands more recognizable, it easily leads to ads being overlooked on social media. Aesthetic consistency is great on websites, but when it comes to digital advertising, being disruptive is what gets results. 

 Getting the attention of social media users scrolling past hundreds of images a day is a little more challenging than displaying a billboard in front of a bus stop. A stock photo of a couple seeming strangely excited about sitting on a couch isn’t going to make scrollers stop. Skip the vanilla stuff. Be Disruptive. Test until you get it right.

When choosing an image for display, many marketers choose images that are directly related to the product they are advertising. While this helps with reaching a target audience that is immediately interested in your product, it won’t grab the attention of those who might not know yet that they are interested in your product. Capture their interest not by showcasing your product, but by eliciting a response in them.

Stop playing it safe. In the digital world, it takes something out of the ordinary to make an impression. Think of your product and your audience in a broader sense, and connect the two. Be authentic. Show humor. Provoke emotions. Use colours that stand out. Show something people might not expect. This doesn’t mean you have to take a shot of your colleague doing handstands on your office building – it can be as simple as a cucumber!

An example is this ad we ran for the newsletter of the skincare brand BioVitality. Our first attempt was a safe one, showing a predictable image for a skincare ad – a young woman with beautiful smooth skin.

For our second attempt, we went a little bolder, a little less predictable. The image we chose was a simple image of a cucumber on a white background. It wasn’t directly related to the product, but referred to the copy, a tip about the skin benefits cucumbers provide. This image was a creative test and we didn’t know if it would work. In the end, the cucumber doubled the ads click-through-rate and lowered the cost-per-click by more than half. Why? Because in a feed of hundreds of well-curated but ordinary images, this one threw people off and made them stop. By doing this, the ad got a chance. A chance to be considered and a chance to get a click.

So think outside of the box and try different things. Testing new ad creative should even make you a little nervous. Will this really work? Some ideas will fail, others will surprise you.

Get that click: Find the right words.

If you succeeded with your ad image and got someone to stop scrolling, you will get a 1-3 second window during which the viewer will decide whether they will click on your ad or continue scrolling. This is up to your ad copy. Yes, promoting deals with an urgency tend to perform well, but it’s about how you can capture even those who aren’t easily persuaded.

Just as with images, digital consumers are bombarded with offers and products begging to be bought every minute they look at a screen. They have developed a thick skin that has conditioned them to ad-block their way through their clicking pattern. How can you poke through it and soften them up with your ad?

Get Personal. Get emotional. It is the words you choose in your ad copy that will eventually result in a click. Taylor your copy to your targeted audience. Your ad has to touch them, so get personal with them. Get into their heads. What is a typical person in your target audience like? What are their problems, what are their aspirations? Connect these with your brand. What solution can your product offer them? Find the emotions tied to this solution and use your copy as a tool to provoke them.

Consider this brainstorming example we used in an ad for TopHat:

The product: A web-based interactive platform that lets professors track attendance and increase student participation.

The target audience: Professors

The target audience’s problem: Low lecture attendance rates, low participation, students lacking enthusiasm

The solution the product offers: Letting students engage with the lecture content in an interactive way

The emotion to provoke: Making a difference. Having enthusiastic students. Giving a meaningful lecture.

Here Is The Result:

Test and Keep it Fresh

Especially when it’s hard to pin down what your target audience will respond to, you might not get great results with your first try. That’s why testing and optimizing your ad creative is essential to any campaign. Always have 3-7 different versions running at the same time for at least a week. Read from your data to see what works and what doesn’t, and keep optimizing until you end up with an ad your audience reacts to.

But even then, you can’t just sit back and watch the clicks roll in. This is because of something called audience fatigue.

The creative lifespan of an ad usually lasts, depending on your platform and settings, from a week to a month. After this period of time, your audience will have seen your ad already, perhaps several times, and they will be tired of it. The only click you will get at this point is to block it.

So what should you do? Stop your campaign? No, simply switch things up. We all need to work to keep that spark alive. You have already learned about your audience and what it responds to from previous testing, so use this to your advantage. Use new compelling images and combine them with new copy. Your ad will be recognized as novelty and it will be reconsidered by your audience. Even if your last ad didn’t get a click from a particular person, your new creative will give it a new chance. So get your notebooks out, start brainstorming and have fun with your creative! The results will pay off.

Need help coming up with engaging creative? Search & Gather is a digital marketing agency that specializes in PPC. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are looking for affordable help with Paid Search, Paid Social, or Online Conversion.

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