We've all been where we've been patiently waiting to see the results of a newly launched paid social campaign that we've spent hours planning, designing, and building. We had audience personalities, the right campaign goal, some highly skilled audiences, and some ads that we thought would resonate with our audience. You even went a step further and used a motif optimized for your key placements. However, a few days later the results are not available. Low volume, high cost per action results are not what we expected from all of this hard work. We investigate what is wrong from the ad level (hint, hint). The first thing we notice is poor CTR and high cost per click. Knowing the rest of our campaign design is correct, it is obvious that the ads are not working. You lose yourself in the middle of an endless feed of cute animal photos, hilarious cartoons and hot political news. Let's face it, the photo of a group of smiling business people with the overlay text that includes the title of our white paper is not going to cut it. Just think of similar ads that appear on your social feeds and skip them without thinking about it.
Nobody really looks forward to seeing another ad. In the modern world, we are exposed to thousands of advertisements every day. Over the past few decades, our brains have developed an internal ad blocking system (known as banner blindness) to simply ignore anything that looks like an "ad" that distracts us from the actual content.
But what if we design our ads less as “commercial” and more as interesting content that makes the user pause and maybe even deal with it? This is the key to creating high quality paid social ads, given the disruption to advertising on social media platforms. In this post, we're going to share some ideas that can help ads look more organic, deliver real content value, and, of course, get results.
Provide the context
The first thing that comes to mind when designing an ad is to show the product in the creative, similar to the weekly ads you get from your local grocery store in your mailbox and toss in the trash without thinking about it. The same thing can happen for digital advertisements! As digital marketers, however, we have some advantages over our colleagues in direct mail. First, we can see engagement metrics to see that Product Shot isn't working, and second, we can test new ideas and measure the difference.
To go beyond the product (or service), we can think about providing context in the creative. Talk about why our product exists, the problem it solves, and even show its use in real use cases.
- Use photos or videos of people interacting with your product and using it in action.
- Display the product in environments that resonate with the user and their real world use cases of the product (like the Super ATV ad below).
- Make your copy and pictures of the problem you are solving.
- Make use of user generated content or minimal use of models in your creative graphics that resemble the demographics of your target audience (or the users of the product, if the buyer isn't the end user, Target's ad below does just that).
Give your company a face
Companies often focus on branding elements in their motifs to look serious and formal, as they believe this is the way to instill trust with their audiences. We've all seen ads from SaaS or B2B advertisers about the latest webinar, white paper, or blog post. All of them are potentially valuable content. There are better ways to promote B2B content than display a model of a book with the white paper title. After all, we want to build a human relationship. Let's see what we can do when we see our brand as a collective of caring and intelligent people who have something of value to offer compared to a building with a logo.
- Show your team! Use images of the people behind your brand, the minds behind the solution, and the faces your customers would make an emotional connection with.
- Use videos from your team members to talk about your upcoming webinar or event. Bonus points for being the actual webinar moderator or the author of the content you want to promote.
- Work with influencers as brand ambassadors. Take this to the next level by using the branded content features of various paid social platforms to promote your offers through their profiles.
Make your ads look "organic"
This ties in with what we said earlier about ad blindness. The last thing we want to do when designing our ad is using a cookie cutter ad template that screams "THIS IS AN AD". Instead, we want to look organic and heavily integrated with the nature of the content on every platform we want to advertise on. Here are a few ideas.
- Check the performance of your organic posts and use the best performers as an ad. I am not suggesting that you post "Boosted Post" ads as they will limit your control over the management and analysis of your campaigns. I want to identify the elements of your organic posts that have produced positive results and replicate them in your ads.
- Use UGC (User Generated Content). Unboxing videos, testimonials, reviews are just a few examples. Consider running contests to encourage your users to generate their content, share it with you, and choose the best for your ads.
- Learn how to use your pictures to grab attention. Sometimes a polished, professional looking ad isn't the way to go, instead you may need to look more relaxed and natural.
There you have it! I hope you can apply some of these ideas to your campaigns and make your ads less "ad-like" and get wonderful results.