Let's Make Online Advertising Great Again!

There’s a simple way to make advertising great again. It’s called emotion.

Most online advertising is targeted, which means it is efficient in media terms.  A lot of online advertising is personalized, but it’s personalized in what I refer to as “first-grade math” fashion, meaning it’s simple and pretty much anyone can do it.   

We need to get more advanced -- we need to start doing some algebra and maybe some calculus.  True personalization requires a more advanced level of attention, and more-complex math.  True personalization requires relevance and a little bit of context -- and if you combine these two items, emotion is not far behind.

The ads you see on the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards or the Oscars are typically very contextually related, tapping into the emotion of the specific show.  Sports, music and movies demonstrate how effective advertising can be when you take into account context and relevancy.  



The ads you see on these programs are typically either one-and-done or they’re the launching point for a new campaign.  So they’re generally more engaging than the commercials you see across any prime-time TV landscape, which are repetitive and ubiquitous, not personalized in any way. We get tired of them and therefore disregard them, even fast-forwarding to bypass such ads completely.

The same goes for online advertising.  You see the same banners and the same video ads peppered all over the Web.  Some are following you around via retargeting and the rest are simply placed via audience targeting.  They rarely are truly personalized and they are never contextually relevant anymore.  The lone exception here are native ads, which seem to be more effective but are not scalable in their current form and function.  

Dynamic creative typically gets thrown around at this stage of the conversation, with some brands creating multiple campaigns that rotate in different images, etc.  

I think dynamic creative is far too simple.  I don’t see the emotional impact of showing a red car or a white car in the ad next to a family with kids or a family with a dog.   Online advertising requires a higher level of personalization that relies on data science to glean insights and transform those insights into true campaigns.  

In the old model, a brand chose a single big idea and pushed that out everywhere.  In the new order, a brand can run multiple ideas to support a strategy that identifies where in the customer journey targets may be, delivering a message with significantly more emotional relevance.   

In this model, you have the option to show an ad that includes a family-oriented message and a specific type of car vs. a review-oriented ad that speaks to safety and luxury features — or a more caution-to-the-wind ad that says sports car and excitement, depending on who you are showing the ad to, and what behavior they have exhibited before this moment of exposure. The science required includes insights that led to predictive analytics, which manifest in the type of message that will be shown.  

Any advertiser worth a damn knows emotion is the root of all messaging, but online advertising has overlooked emotion in favor of data in recent years.  My solution is simple: Mine the data to create opportunity for emotion.  If you accomplish this, things will get much more effective, very quickly!

That is my platform, as I am running to make advertising great again!  I hope you’ll vote for me in this coming election. :)

3 comments about "Let's Make Online Advertising Great Again!".
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  1. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, May 4, 2016 at 5:48 p.m.

    Hey Cory, I see where you are heading, but I think we have a much bigger problem with targeting -- it pushes consumers away -- normal people not in our business always refer to online advertising that is obviously targeting their behaviors as creepy and unsavory -- so the more targeting we embrace the more distrustful consumers become -- I am sure I am in the minority with this thinking but I know you well enough to offer it up to consider.  That said, I think your draw an line to targeting "an emotion" and perhaps that's the middle ground that is both effective and does not cause poeple to shake their heads in disgust. 

  2. William Hebel from Business Longevity Consulting, May 5, 2016 at 4:38 a.m.

    When I saw the headline, I wanted to cheer. Everybody is whining about ad blockers, but frankly, I use an ad blocker because the advertising is boring, it gets in the way, and sometimes takes over my computer with multiple pop ups. And there is nothing worse than a video that starts the second I launch a site.
    The solution is great and relevant advertising. As the headline says, let's make online advertising great again. While I must agree with Ari that we can go too far with targeting (creepy sums it up), it is time to take advantage of the web can offer.
    People watch ads on the Super Bowl because they are expecting something great.
    People search out relevant ads when making purchasing decisions.
    Ads do need to be engaging. And consumers need to get the message at the right time and in the right place. The advertising community has spent decades doing this in traditional media.
    We need to do it online as well.
    You have my vote.

  3. Mani Gandham from Instinctive, June 23, 2016 at 6:54 p.m.

    Great article, agree with everything except for this line:

    "The lone exception here are native ads, which seem to be more effective but are not scalable in their current form and function. "

    This is because many native ad vendors today aren't native at all but just attempting to reuse display and rich media, which of course doesn't work. At Instinctive, we define native as look/feel + context + behavior. All 3 are require more work than traditional formats but are just as scalable as display while delivering far more engagement.

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