How to Create Effective Digital Advertising 

  • Upsides and Downsides to Digital Advertising
  • Tips for Memorable Digital Creative

Digital advertising is on fire, and there’s no stopping its spread. Whether it’s mobile, social, display or another format, brands are leaning into digital to reach Gen Z buyers, Millennials, Boomers and beyond. Consider the fact that TikTok is available in over 150 countries and has over 1 billion users, 23 million of whom live in the UK. Meanwhile, 150 million monthly active TikTok users reside in the United States, meaning that nearly half of the US population regularly uses the video-sharing app.

Digital advertising is so hot that the Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report notes that online advertising’s share of total adspend in the UK is predicted to surpass 75% in 2023. In the US, ad spend is expected to grow 4.3% in 2023, with digital advertising comprising a majority of total spend.

Upsides and Downsides to Digital Advertising

There are numerous benefits that marketers associate with digital advertising, like the ability to target specific audiences as well as reach people around the world in a relatively cost-effective manner; the flexibility of ad placement and timing; a wealth of metrics on ad performance; and the ability to easily conduct A/B testing.

However, there are also downsides to the rise of digital channels. In his IPA books Lemon and Look out, Orlando Wood addresses the creative effectiveness crisis and how the increased use of digital channels is contributing to an overwhelming use of left-brain features in advertising. Attention spans are shrinking, people are turning more inward and many advertisers are moving in the wrong direction with their campaigns. Wood outlines the fact that “rigidity has replaced movement, the stare has replaced the look, and humour has been lost” – all causes for concern, as we know that right-brain features in advertising are more effective at brand building.

Users of digital platforms can experience ad fatigue as more and more businesses turn to these channels. Users can also install ad blocking software to avoid some messages altogether, further reducing the reach of advertising. And while many brands have worked hard to establish relationships with trusted mega- and micro-influencers to deliver sponsored content in a more realistic and trusted way, the “deinfluencing” trend of influencers telling followers not to buy certain products has further complicated the digital advertising and partnerships landscape.

Coupled with the fact that many advertisers don’t have stellar track records when it comes to digital advertising success due to an overreliance on left-brain work, digital advertising is a challenge. Yet, it’s a hurdle that advertisers need to overcome in order to compete in today’s competitive marketplace.

Tips for Memorable Digital Creative

Your digital creative needs to stand out and promote brand building. Consider these strategies for successful digital advertising:

  • Borrow from your proven winners

Your brand-building campaigns on linear and streaming TV can serve as the foundation of your digital ads. This is not only more cost effective but easier to execute, especially as many brands face tighter marketing budgets. Borrow the visuals from 30- and 60-second versions for 6- and 10-second digital advertisements to maintain a consistent look and feel. Cadbury does this frequently and has seen strong results. It’s important to edit thoughtfully though – the storyline shouldn’t be completely erased just because the duration is shorter. Ads of every length need to finish strong in order to effectively entertain.

  • Take inspiration from customer insights

There’s a wealth of consumer data available to advertisers, and it can be the difference between a campaign that aligns with audiences and one that misses the mark. Seek out information and key trends that will help your brand make advertising that feels of the moment and relevant to consumers’ needs and wants.

Digital channels where creators and their fans are starting and building on conversations are especially useful for uncovering insights. In 2022, Pringles debuted its “Stuck In” ad during the Super Bowl, introducing the idea of someone’s hand becoming permanently stuck in the brand’s signature slim container. More recently, an animated TikTok of a Borzoi dog using its long nose to get a crisp from a Pringles can went viral. For Super Bowl LVII, Pringles once again featured people’s hands getting stuck, further playing up the interest in this unique storyline.

  • Keep your Fluent Devices at the forefront

The rise of digital has resulted in the decline of Fluent Devices, recurring characters and scenarios that create memory structures for brand recognition. But they offer clear advantages in the digital age. Also in Lemon, Wood writes that, “characters are highly visual properties with the ability to make an impression quickly across platforms” and they elicit a stronger emotional response compared to campaigns that don’t use them. Wood notes a potential explanation for abandoning this tool, stating it may “stem from a reluctance to feature anything that looks like advertising on social channels.” Yet on digital platforms where audiences have more control over what they consume, advertisers need assets that can be processed quickly. A familiar character or slogan is the solution to engage the right brain.

Want more insight on what works and why when it comes to digital advertising? Don’t miss Orlando Wood’s session at the upcoming Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2023 He’ll be revealing System1’s latest findings on digital advertising effectiveness to help advertisers make memorable creative across platforms that promote shorter attention spans.

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