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Why the industry needs to relearn advertising

“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make,” said the late Bill Bernbach, often heralded as the original Don Draper. This couldn’t be more true now, as the industry moves beyond counting ad impressions as a key metric – especially with the advent of ad fraud (set to cost brands USD 16.4 billion globally) affecting the reliability of using impressions as a means to measure performance.

This begs the question: what counts as truly effective advertising?

Truly effective advertising incites strong emotional responses that ignite and fan the flames of brand loyalty and advocacy, while at the same time driving the bottom line. It also allows brands to bring together powerful messages, based on well-researched insights, with effective delivery methods, that influence audiences in meaningful ways.

The problem is that, with the volatile paradigm of media consumption, the path to creating an effective ad campaign has become a lot more complex. It’s no longer just about ingenious messaging and stunning visuals. It’s about finding the optimal way to deliver a personalised message that reaches a target consumer at the exact time and place. Not to mention the need to navigate the capricious landscape of digital advertising, all while mastering a whole new set of tools.

In our quest to stay afloat in the brave new world of digital advertising, we’ve lost sight of some of the core fundamentals. Making digital ad campaigns more effective is not just about hurtling into the latest and trendiest, hopping from bandwagon to bandwagon, or necessarily even about knowing more or doing more. Evidently, the time has come for us to relearn advertising.

While every advertising campaign has, of course, its own unique set of objectives, there are some key elements that consistently and significantly impact the overall success of a digital ad campaign, regardless of the industry. Marketers can make the most of their spend by following these best practices:

1. Investing in quality content while avoiding content overload
‘Content is king’ is the current mantra of every marketer. In fact, 75 per cent of companies are increasing their investment in content marketing. However, in their eagerness to jump on this trend, they are running the risk of content overload – a problem made worse by the fact that we now operate in an age of distraction. Marketers need to learn how to pare back, to re-learn the lesson that less truly is more. It’s about highlighting the important information that is the essence of the campaign. While conversation and buzz is all good, the product or service needs to remain the focal point.

2. Using visual content to increase user engagement
Besides stepping up their investment in content marketing, another nuance that can be observed is the pouring of dollars into developing visual content. A recent survey revealed that between 91-100 per cent of the content published by participants contained visual material. This isn’t surprising, as visual content is known to drive high levels of user engagement. Of course, it is crucial to strike a balance so that the visual elements do not detract from the main message. A loud visual ad may enhance memorability, but it may also be counter-productive in that the audience might end up overlooking the most important part – the actual message and call to action.

3. Improving targeting for campaign optimisation
Understanding your target audience is crucial – this is old news. Marketers know that building a campaign with your key demographic in mind will help increase engagement, thereby increasing the likelihood of converting viewers to customers. However, in using targeting to optimise campaigns, it’s important that marketers look beyond demographic targeting. While demographic targeting is the second-most widely-used form of targeting, only 40 per cent of industry professionals believe it is effective. Marketers should be looking at supplementing their targeting strategy with behavioural and contextual targeting as well. This would allow marketers to connect with real people across all channels, including TV, capturing consumers’ attention when and where it matters most.

4. Using video across all platforms in an integrated advertising campaign
If you are not already part of the 80 per cent of brand and agency executives that are planning to up their digital video spend – it’s high time you started. Thanks to video’s ability to offer an immersive experience, thereby fostering better user engagement, video is now seen by most advertisers as a key part of every integrated advertising campaign. Indeed, we are seeing huge growth in both social video and native video across the APAC markets.

5. Consistent messaging across all touch points
Today’s consumers are no longer restricted to one device, and nowhere is this truer than in the APAC region. In Australia, almost 80 per cent of people use three devices or more, while this figure stands at 77 per cent in Taiwan, 74 per cent in the Philippines, 70 per cent in South Korea, 69 per cent in Singapore, and 66 per cent in Japan. However, despite switching across multiple devices, consumers still expect a personalised experience that is consistent throughout their buying and consideration journey. This means that it’s not enough to be reaching consumers across all devices; marketers must also pay attention to the message that is being communicated, to ensure consistency and control of brand voice, no matter where the message may appear.

Ultimately, while there is no silver bullet for creating a successful campaign, these five best practices provide fundamental guiding principles that will help any marketer optimise their campaign.

Udita Vasishth

Udita Vasishth is the Regional Marketing Manager, APAC at dataxu.