Friday, March 09, 2018

Well, That's One Way to Make Ads Cool

Digital ads don't have the best reputation. Many people see them as annoying or even intrusive; most people claim never to click on them. Up to 20% of internet users have installed ad blockers. Imagine - spending money, as a brand, to deplete your brand value. Not a compelling proposition, as increasingly large advertisers are beginning to say more frequently.

Advertisers' first goal with respect to digital marketing strategy should be to avoid being seen as one of the bad guys. (Or even as one of the annoying guys). This starts with an understanding that digital ads can be annoying unless they're especially interesting. And they can be especially interesting in at least two key ways: they can be selling a product that is relevant to the user, they can be engaging, and they can make the ad itself a unique shopping experience.

Of course, advertisers have always understood the first one of the above. Try to send your impressions to viewers for whom they are likely to make a difference because of a potential interest in your product. In digital advertising, this audience-finding is the focus of much or most of the technological attention.

Engaging ads are on the rise thanks to an expansion of technological possibilities. Brands that have jumped on top of augmented reality are a good example (see link #1 below). In these cases, the ad experience itself is likely to build brand equity (free fun!). Mobile formats have been affording new opportunities like this for years; AR is the latest and may end up being one of the greatest.

Even more interesting is the idea of making an ad a unique purchase channel, as Allbirds has done (link #2 below) in making their special edition shoes available only through Instagram. For people to whom these shoes have special value, this amounts practically to an award for being a member of the brand's digital audience.

If digital ads are engaging and fun regardless of what they're selling, and brands reward users for being a part of their social and/or digital audience, they might just become a little less uncool.


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