In years past, exceptional/astounding/astonishing/outstanding creative pushed the advertising envelope. Consider Apple’s pivotal “1984” ad or Wendy’s unforgettable “Where’s the Beef?” But now, thanks to technology, innovation in advertising is about connecting with consumers. Want to make a great ad? Make it engaging, informative, useful or fun (or if you’re really good, all of the above).
As the digital landscape evolves and the generation of “digital natives” moves into the spotlight, how can advertisers engage a generation that’s all mobile, all social, all the time? My bet is that those of us paying the closest attention to consumers – using tech and data to anticipate their wants and needs -- are going to figure it out first.
Here are five ways you can put consumers front and center in your advertising:
1. Inform and entertain. Smart marketers -- as they continue to leverage leading-edge technology -- are going back to basics: creating advertising that puts consumers first. No matter how the digital landscape evolves, this is a strategy that’s bound to pay handsome dividends. Ads that provide consumers with utility, entertainment and value are an asset for the consumer, whether they are recipes from a food brand or road conditions from an automaker.
2. Keep it relevant. In our mad dash for CTR and attribution, we often forget that an ad doesn’t work unless it works for consumers -- a notoriously diverse and difficult group to target. At the same time, the industry is embracing strategies that allow them to be contextually relevant to consumers by delivering ads in the right place and at the right time.
3. Try new formats. One approach that’ has been effective both online and off: creating ads that contribute something to consumers’ lives, without distracting or
annoying them. User-initiated campaigns are giving consumers greater control of how and when they engage with brands -- through in-text, in-image and toolbar-based ads. Video spots are beginning to
evolve from pre-roll and other “forced view” strategies, toward more user-initiated, immersive formats.
4. Consider your audience. The service-oriented approach to ad creative is even more critical in the changing digital landscape. With the emerging maturity of digital natives, we have a new understanding of how media and technology are profoundly altering the ways in which people interact with content and advertising. Recent studies show that 98 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use social media and 63 percent of those 18 to 29 use geosocial (check-ins) or location-based services. Just imagine what numbers we’ll see when today’s kindergartners stand up to be counted.
5. Serve it to go. Smart marketers are taking note of the shift to mobile, which is rapidly changing the way ads work. Sure -- everyone will still watch TV at home and maybe use desktop computers (at the office at least) for the immediately foreseeable future. But consumer behavior is definitely on the move, with mobile Internet usage projected to surpass desktop by 2014. Especially in cities, the mobile and tablet lifestyle is taking over, with more of our lives and decisions outsourced to FreshDirect, Seamless, Netflix streaming and Yelp.
So what will it mean to add value, fun and engagement as we continue to forge ahead into this continually evolving digital world? How will ads remain relevant alongside apps, gaming and mobile ecommerce? One thing is for sure: Users will dictate the terms of engagement.