Archives for January 2016
While data is the fuel for great programmatic advertising, laser-focused targeting and budget optimization can only do so much. Creative plays a critically important role in attracting and engaging audiences.
While we’re not design school graduates here at MediaCrossing (not all of us, anyway!), we have learned a great deal about creative best practices over the years. While some of these recommendations may seem incredibly obvious to more seasoned advertisers, you’d be amazed by how frequently they’re overlooked, even by some of the smartest brands and marketers. So, without further ado, here are our tips:
- Include a call to action. We’re starting with the most obvious first here. Every ad should have a call to action (CTA), whether it’s “Download the Whitepaper” or “Buy Now.” Your call to action is more than a hardcore sales tactic. It’s not pushy or rude – it actually provides a better user experience. By giving your audience a clear CTA, you’re giving them direction, you’re letting them know how they can engage with your brand or take advantage of your offer. And it gives your ad a purpose — a raison d’etre, if you will.
- Make sure your ad is readable. Another obvious one, and yet, so often clarity takes a back seat to aesthetics. There are a few distinct issues we see with respect to readability:
- ALL CAPITALS! Sure, caps make a statement, but they really are hard to read. The shape of a word in lowercase is much easier for the eye to discern. Ads can be scanned much more easily if they’re in title or sentence case.
- Teeny-tiny fonts. You may have a lot to say, but if saying a lot means reducing your copy to 8-point fonts, brevity – and larger fonts – may be the smarter option. Save your benefit statements for the landing experience.
- Fancy typefaces. Everyone loves a pretty ad, but don’t sacrifice your readability for a curly-cue font. If no one can read your ad, no one is likely to respond to it.
- Reverse text. White or super-bright fonts against a dark background can look really cool, but the contrast may be hard on the eyes for some. When combined with all-caps, fancy or tiny fonts, reverse text can be a clarity killer.
- Running video? Be sure to identify your product or brand in the first three seconds. YouTube gives advertisers less than five seconds of mandatory viewing time in a pre-roll ad – and that’s all the time you have to convince viewers that your ad is worth watching for another 10 seconds. And yet, we’re constantly surprised by how many advertisers let those three seconds slip past without so much as a logo. Don’t make the same mistake. Put your most compelling content – and your logo! – right at the top of your video ad.
- Let your data guide the creative. (Yes, we’re talking about data again, because we love data.) In the past, we left the creative decisions to the Don Draper types. But today, we have data to tell us exactly who our audiences are, what they like and what drives their purchase decisions. By analyzing that data, we can draft a creative roadmap that will guide us to our buyers. We can learn simple but important facts that can guide every aspect of our creative, whether it’s that the audience is women aged 18-24, that they read the Twilight books, that they love country music, that they have a taste for muscle cars and WWE, or that they prefer to shop at Walmart. Any or all of those factors could and should influence the creative process.
- Test, optimize and test again. Never assume that your creative is perfect. Let your audiences decide what needs to change by testing. Test different images, different calls to action, even Title Case versus Sentence case. The smallest changes can often have tremendous impact, so test every element you can. If an A/B test is all that fits in your budget, do it. Take every opportunity you can to learn what resonates with you audience, because that’s how you’ll develop increasingly successful ads.
Programmatic may make advertising more efficient, but if your ad creative falls flat, no amount of data or automation is going to help it. Start your campaigns off on the right foot by following these creative best practices and developing the best possible ad.
Want more tips? Contact us to learn how we can help!
In the early days of digital advertising, things were simple. Marketers knew which websites their clients loved, so they’d contact the publisher of that website and buy some banner advertising on the homepage. 20 years and a several million websites later, it’s not so easy. Not only is the web itself exponentially bigger, we have more screens, more media types and more web-savvy users than ever before.
Programmatic advertising offers a new way to reach more of those users at the moment they’re most receptive, and on the device they’re using at that moment.
If you’re not familiar with the term or the concept, don’t worry – you’re not alone! In an ANA study last year, 12 percent of marketers admitted they’d never heard of programmatic media buying – a key aspect of programmatic advertising – and 29% confessed they’d heard of it, but didn’t understand it.
So what is programmatic advertising, and how can it make your digital advertising campaigns more powerful? Joe Zawadzki, CEO of MediaMath, defines it as “The use of technology to automate processes and the use of math to improve results. It is the future of marketing, available now.”
Essentially programmatic advertising is advertising powered by data. Marketers can use their own first-party data, coupled with available second- or third-party data (available from specific vendors) to target consumers on the internet. The data can identify users by who they are demographically, where they’ve shopped, or what they’ve watched, read or engaged with online. While the data can get very specific (like “soccer moms in New Jersey who drive minivans and enjoy gourmet cooking”), it will never allow the user to be personally identified.
Programmatic media, purchased based on data, solves the huge problem of media fragmentation. When consumers just watched TV on TV, and only listened to radio on their radios, ads could be easily purchased based on the medium and demographic targets. Now, which people streaming football games on their phones and listening to their favorite radio shows on their laptops, it’s a little more complicated. Programmatic media targets the user herself via the content she consumes, rather than trying to reach her when she’s watching TV or listening to the radio.
This shift to programmatic advertising is then beneficial for three key reasons:
- Targeting the user with behavioral data is far more specific than targeting with broader demographic data. The more we know the user, the more likely we are to reach her on the sites, programs, magazine and radio stations she favors. Since programmatic media buying doesn’t limit us to just one publisher or radio station, we have a lot more opportunity to reach that consumer. Furthermore. the collection of data we get from multiple sources in programmatic will give us a much better idea of who we’re targeting and whether that person is the right audience – versus the looser demographic and user targeting we’d get from a radio/TV station or single publisher.
- Programmatic advertising, like all digital advertising, is “always on” – and so are consumers. Advertisers who leverage programmatic channels are far more likely to reach and engage consumers online, and use their advertising budgets more efficiently and effectively. With linear TV and radio, and even with direct buys on publisher websites, there’s no guarantee your target customer will be on the site (or show) when your ad is running.
- Like most other digital channels, programmatic advertising happens in real-time. That means campaigns can be optimized on the fly. So if your creative isn’t performing as well as you’d like, it can be tweaked or swapped in real-time to improve results. Creative, targeting and budgets can be adjusted quickly and easily. It also means you have access to real-time reporting so you’ll always know how your campaigns are performing, the state of your current spend, and what your ROI is.
Programmatic advertising symbolizes a true revolution in digital advertising overall: It promises to make advertising more targeted, more efficient, and more effective than ever. It’s still evolving, improving and growing in adoption every day, and soon it will be the standard way to purchase digital media. Why not try it now, and see how much more effective your online advertising campaigns can be?
Want to learn more about programmatic? Download our free infographic – “Life of a Programmatic Ad in 200 Milliseconds!”