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How to make your ads more effective

When I was starting out as a creative in advertising, I learned early on that incorporating product into a commercial had to be subtle. To craft persuasive and emotive stories, one had to be delicate with the product placement. Otherwise it'd be jarring and completely off-putting for viewers, and in turn, bad for the brand.

At least that was the thinking.

And it may have been true in the golden age of television when we had a more captive audience. Where our goal was to be as entertaining as the programming itself.

But research conducted by Karen Nelson-Field shows this approach is useless in the new attention economy.

Turns out, brand size and brand duration on screen play a big role in the effectiveness of ads.

Spanning 5 platforms and several countries, her study found that higher performing ads showed the brand at twice the size, and twice as long on screen.

Considering the variety of platforms and screen sizes ads run on today, this makes a lot of sense.

Yet most ads aren’t branded well or fail to link to the brand at all.

Of course, branding isn’t the full story. Creativity and emotive storytelling is absolutely critical for driving attention. A large product on screen for a long time in a boring ad will work about as well as a knitted condom.

But even the most breakthrough creative won’t change human nature. People won’t work to figure out which brand your ad is for.

Our brains are hardwired to look for shortcuts for things that don’t matter to avoid cognitive overload. And ads fall high on that list.

So at best, the creative ad will entertain. At worst, it will get attributed to your biggest competitor. (Because pesky mental shortcuts.)

It’s not easy to craft a great, breakthrough ad. So why wouldn’t we make them work as hard as possible?

Nelson-Field recommends doing 3 things to improve ad effectiveness:

• good branding off the top (the first 3 seconds to be exact)

• good branding during a peak moment in the creative (the holy grail of effectiveness)

• branding visibility on the various platforms and ad sizes (resize your ads for smaller screens so the branding/product takes up as much screen space as possible)

It's a great time to be in marketing because technology allows us to test our assumptions, and evolve our approach.

What’s your experience? Have you A/B tested this for your brand?

(Image Source: Karen Nelson-Field's presentation, How brands and media owners succeed in the new Attention Economy)


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