The pandemic has changed the rules for everything, including marketing. Never has the brand message or the way it is communicated mattered more than it has lately — and that’s a good thing for marketers and consumers moving forward.
Brands have had to go beyond just selling their products and services to embracing sensitivity and empathy as well. At the same time, creativity has flourished, as channels and the variety of ad units available have proliferated. Meanwhile, categories like e-commerce have exploded, creating still more opportunity for marketers and necessitating more creative expertise.
As the leaders in High Impact Advertising, with a rich history of creativity and campaign success, the team at Undertone has learned a thing or two through the years, especially in 2020. Our ads are more creative, more timely and more effective now than ever. Here, we would like to share our seven best practices to creating effective, resonant ads in 2021 and beyond.
1. Put creativity first. There are myriad creative tools you could and should be putting to use for your brand. First, think emotional versus rational. 95% of decisions are made by our fast-thinking emotional side. In addition, show don’t tell. An ad littered by copy is less effective than telling a story visually. Provide context for your products or services by showcasing their use in a particular setting, to reinforce the benefits to the user and the solutions it brings. These are just a few of the tried and true creative best practices that over time have proved to work, no matter what is going on in the world around us.
2. Take advantage of the diversity of formats. Creating advertising is more complex than ever. You have to convey not just a marketing message but do so using as many ad units in as many formats and channels as are available, from mobile to desktop to CTV. Take a brand that limits itself to mobile units only. Why, in this universe of media choices, would a marketer do that? Brands must embrace multi-point solutions toward achieving their ultimate marketing goals. Which brings us to the next point.
3. Employ creative symmetry across formats. Articulating a message across platforms is crucial, and so is a seamless creative message regardless of medium. With the right partner, a client can get it done in one shot, knowing that their mobile ad won't look totally disjointed from their CTV ad. Undertone created an interactive CTV ad for an automaker featuring three sub videos that enabled the viewer to see additional features of the car. So, a typical, 30-second spot was transformed into an interactive ad that more deeply immersed the consumer. And it’s not just CTV; the same execution could happen across mobile or desktop, and could be easily tweaked to fit those formats.
4. Rely on the best, most intelligent data. Data is abundant, but how smart is your data? You need to know not just who is seeing your ad but who’s engaging with it, and how. And you need to know which creative is working and which is not. Does a blue background work better than a green background? Intelligence and creative are part of the same equation for connecting with consumers. With the right data, you have the ability to know what your targets are thinking about your ad and can change up the creative accordingly. And you need a partner that’s always expanding its data resources. For example, Undertone recently enhanced targeting of our clients’ ads by partnering with Fyllo, creator of the first and largest ecosystem of cannabis and CBD-derived purchase data, which enabled marketers in mainstream categories like CPG, QSR and pharma to reach a whole new group of consumers.
5. Be agile, and find agile partners. We’ve all had to maintain the ability to turn on a dime the past year, and advertising is no exception. E-commerce has exploded. The travel industry has been rocked. Ad messaging has had to change in an instant around pandemic protocols and sensitivities. Social and political events have also necessitated shifts in content. The ability to change at a moment’s notice is essential in a marketer and in an ad partner. If you need to change your ad copy at once, and across formats and channels, you need a partner who you trust can get the job done. In today’s world, there is no other option.
6. Get involved. Today, brands must also be activists. Community service is not just the right thing to do. Consumers expect it of you. And brands must partner with companies that are also socially conscious and active. In the earliest days of the pandemic, we launched an initiative benefiting frontline workers called From the Front Burners to the Front Lines, encompassing partnerships with nonprofits in cities where we have offices—among them, Support and Feed in New York and The Giving Kitchen in Atlanta. More recently, we threw our support behind the Ad Council’s #AloneTogether campaign, focusing on mental health issues around the pandemic. Today, causes are top of mind for consumers, and they must be for you as well.
7. Stay forward-looking. How do brands create a connection with audiences in the thrall of social media influencers, and who embrace the latest technology, like TikTok? By being—and staying—ahead of the curve. Trends seem to come and go by the day, especially in these times. Relatively few of us would have ever, before a year ago, considered shopping for groceries online. Today, we can’t imagine living without Amazon Fresh or Instacart. The latest trends can spell opportunities for your brand. Don’t miss out.
With these best practices, and by deploying the best creative, data and media options to intelligently craft and execute campaigns, your brand can make meaningful consumer connections and deliver powerful results. Bringing together the art and science of advertising means that consumers, brands and publishers all stand to benefit.