Nikki Hawke, CMO, The Exchange Lab
Digital advertising has become an essential part of any overall marketing strategy, and with this evolution it has become clear that it’s less about pitting creative and technology against each other, and more about celebrating their convergence to deliver advertising as we’ve never seen it before. The possibilities technology provides mean more compelling, relevant, and immersive brand experiences.
Looking at key themes from major marketing events this year, such as Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and SXSW, here are some of the major themes to emerge this year so far that can help to determine where the market is going.
Say hello to the specialist agency.
Old school advertising agencies have been reinventing the most famous global brands for decades. However, their biggest challenge yet may lie in reinventing themselves in response to the changing digital landscape. Advertising technology is moving faster than ever, and successful campaigns require a number of specialized skill sets. While media and creative agencies aren’t going anywhere thanks to their strategic prowess and buying power for clients, they will increasingly team with specialist agencies—think search, social, etc.—to further amplify their clients’ messages.
The line between advertising and content continues to blur.
Attracting—and holding—consumer attention is growing increasingly elusive across all types of media. A 30-second TV spot or a full page print ad will no longer do the trick, and as a result, brands need to get creative with their marketing efforts.
Burger King’s McWhopper campaign won big at Cannes this year – scoring the coveted Grand Prix distinction in both the “Media” and “Print and Publishing” categories – in no small part for its ability to seamlessly bridge the gap between advertising and content. In an open letter from Burger King (BK) to McDonald’s, BK made a peace offering to unite the Big Mac and the Whopper in honor of World Peace Day. McDonald’s refused the offer, spurring consumers to make their own burger mashups on social media and further amplifying the campaign.
Data reigns supreme above all else.
Data is a marketer’s best friend. And with access to more sophisticated demographic and location data than ever before, brands are able to reach only the most relevant consumers with their offerings through highly targeted creative. One such example: Red Roof Inn’s “Flight Cancellations into Hotel Reservations” campaign. Using mobile location targeting and customized creative, Red Roof Inn was able to reach people whose flights had been cancelled and were looking for last-minute lodging more quickly than competitors, resulting in a 375% increase in conversion rates.
Creativity and consumer engagement are the answer to ad blocking.
Advertisers, agencies and publishers need to come together to serve ads that provide a utility or some other added value to consumers. And the first step? Get rid of annoying or disruptive ads. This means tailoring creative to different platforms. People interact with desktop and mobile differently, not to mention technical variances between the two, such as resolution or screen size. The bottom line: mobile ads should be natively mobile, not repurposed from desktop creative. Platform-specific creative, less intrusive ad formats, and sophisticated targeting lead to higher levels of engagement and can stem the growth of ad blocking.
It all comes back to making creative connections with your audience.
At its core, advertising is really just about storytelling, and telling those stories in a way that resonates with the right people. As the technology available to marketers becomes more advanced, marketers are able to produce better, more impactful creative that, ultimately, tell more engaging and meaningful stories. It’s not about championing technology or creative. Rather, the most successful advertisers are realizing that the most powerful stories—and campaigns—are born from the marriage of technology and creative.
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