What are the Most Effective Digital Ads?

What are the Most Effective Digital Ads?

A few years ago, I was watching the Super Bowl and the most ridiculous commercial came on. It was a woman that was overly in love with her son and throughout the commercial she was being dragged in a laundry basket behind a car, played a two faced janitor at his school while he was eating lunch, popped up from a sand pile while he was on the beach, and also popped up from a couch and is being dragged across the living room floor. It was the most ridiculous commercial I have ever seen, but I was totally engaged with the ad and watched it until the end because I needed to know what company was behind this ad. I watched the full :60 ad, and it did exactly what they set out for it to do, because it is 6 years later, and I am still talking about that Old Spice commercial. For all of those inquiring minds out there, here is a link to said commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3T8OhBND1M

There are 3 kinds of ads in the marketing world:

  1. Category Specific Ad: A generic idea that businesses believe will work for everyone in the category, the thinking is that one size fits all
  2. Product Specific Ad: Not promoting the business, but promoting the product
  3. Client Specific: Ads that cannot be used by someone else. In a high emotional state, businesses can WIN big or LOSE big depending on what their messaging is. You cannot be predatory or insensitive. This is not branding but customer bonding.

I always like to think of ad creative as telling a story no matter what type of advertising medium you are using, and there are a lot of things to take into consideration when creating that story. What is your message? What are you promoting? What colors are you using in your ad? How many words are you placing in your ad? What is your call to action message? Where are you landing people when they click on your ad? If you take out the name or logo of your business and put in your competitors name or logo, does the ad still work? For example, ad “A” is a category specific ad for a furniture store. If I own Katie’s Furniture, I can easily put my name or logo on this ad and it is going to look like any other furniture ad. Ad “B” is a product specific ad and is taking a different approach and promoting their design services put a creative spin on it.



With the world being in a pandemic state at the moment, a business owner’s first thought might be to pull all advertising efforts, but instead of doing that, you should change your message to relate to your customers and potential customers on a different level. When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its “share of mind” with consumers, with the potential of losing current – and possibly future – sales. An increase in “share of voice” typically leads to in an increase in “share of market.” An increase in market share results, with an increase in profits. In a non-pandemic state, you probably wouldn’t think of a landscaping company thanking and acknowledging first responders, but this is a great example of a client specific ad and a business that is still advertising and getting their name out there during a downturn by offering discounts to healthcare workers and first responders. Not only is this a great strategy because they are still advertising which could pay off when things get back to normal, but consumers can relate to that message. I look at this and see one small business trying showing gratitude to other working members in the community, and that personally would make me want to do business with them.

Another example of making your business or brand stand apart from your competitors that I like to use is in the automotive industry. Most auto dealer ads look and sound the same. On the radio they typically consist of verbiage like “Visit your local dealer for 0% financing for 72 months or shop our certified pre-owned inventory”, and it gets caught in the noise because it doesn’t stand out. Subaru has done a great job at branding themselves as the safest brand of car, and that’s been done through their marketing advertising. Instead of using the same verbiage that every other manufacturer and auto dealer is using, Subaru tells a story. Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind, explains “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor. Everyone loves a good story; every culture bathes its children in stories.” For example, a few years back I remember a TV commercial with a husband and wife and the husband is narrating and saying “I was lying in bed with my wife last night and she was looking at car seats because she wanted the baby to be as safe as possible, but I thought to myself, what good is a good car seat if we don’t have the safest car? And that’s when I knew we needed a Subaru.” They are taking a different approach and connecting with the consumer on an emotional level. What is a way to get people to spend money? Pull on those heartstrings! The mind will always create logic to justify what the heart has already decided. It takes 250 milliseconds for the brain to absorb visual cues, but only 13 milliseconds for images to elicit emotion – even if your customer isn’t fully absorbing what they are seeing.

When it comes to creating good ad creative, you want to make sure that you have a clear and concise benefit statement resulting in a positive user experience. You don’t want to create a lot of friction for the user so that they are searching for the advertised offer that they saw in the ad. If it isn’t easy to navigate for the user, the chances of them bouncing out increase. For example, if I am served an ad that is promoting a $200 credit when signing up for a certain credit card, when I click on that ad, I expect to land on a page that is talking about that $200 credit offer.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to take 10 pounds of information and put it into a 5 pound bag. Business owners tend to want to put as much information as they can into an ad, but you typically have about one second to get your message across, so you want to make sure that ad is really focusing on one particular aspect. Do you remember the term K.I.S.S (Keep It Super Simple) from elementary school? That acronym is also going to apply when it comes to creating digital ads. Using ads with 5 words or less have a 43% higher click through rate (CTR). When you see or hear a McDonalds commercial, they aren’t promoting hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken McNuggets, McFlurries, French fries, breakfast sandwiches, salads, and the McRib all at the same time. They focus on one aspect of the business and promote different products at different times. During the month of March, they might advertise their Shamrock Shake, or during April they might promote their fish sandwich. You want to make it very clear on what you are promoting, or what you are looking for the user to accomplish.

Believe it or not, color is another big factor when it comes to creating good ad creative. Certain colors are going to grab different people’s attention, so you want to take into consideration who you are targeting. Here is quick study that shows the most liked colors by men and women and showed that the most popular colors among men are blue (57%) and green (14%); while women are into blue (35%) and purple (23%), so use that to your advantage. If you are a retail store that primarily sells to women, use blue and purple in your ads. If you’re targeting men, use blue and green.

Going back to our McDonalds example, there is a reason that they use red and yellow for their brand. “Looking at the positive psychology qualities of red and yellow in relation to the fast food industry, red triggers stimulation, appetite, hunger, it attracts attention. Yellow triggers the feelings of happiness and friendliness. When you combine red and yellow, it’s about speed, quickness. In, eat and out again.” You also want to be sure to keep the color, images, and typeface consistent with your ad in order to streamline the engagement process. In this example, I see an ad with a white and pink color scheme with people rock climbing next to a volcano, but when I click on it, the visual context completely changes, and the message is different, which could cause some confusion with the user.    

When you’re creating an ad, look at your ads through the eyes of the consumer. You know your consumer and target audience the best, so what will capture their attention? You want to be sure to use eye-catching graphics and images that are going to entice the consumer. Now is the time to showcase your products or services and be a showoff.

When it comes to advertising, online marketing certainly matters, but a great story can still win the day. Your bond with customer will be built on emotion, not information. “If you win the heart, the mind will follow.”

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