The Five Platinum Rules to
Online Advertising Creative
advertising can deliver platinum results, but just like any media
vehicle, under-performing creative can sabotage a campaign. Good
strategy and effective creative execution are necessary ingredients
to achieve success. Below are five crucial elements of successful
online advertising creative.
Know the purpose of your campaign and the psychological mechanism
of your ad: The marketer and agency need to agree explicitly on
the objective of the ad campaign and the psychological mechanism to
achieve the objective. For example sales might be the objective of
the ad and the mechanism could be:
Reminder: Used to move an established brand up the
mental agenda of the consumer
Reinforcement: Used to strengthen specific
pre-existing perceptions about a brand
Reposition: Used to change existing brand
Introduce: Used to launch a new product or brand
Direct response: Used to generate leads, sell, etc.
Apply Brand Mark Persistently: Brand persistence
should be used no matter what the psychological mechanism of the
ad. At a minimum the ad strengthens top of mind awareness of the
brand. At maximum, persistent brand presence will ensure linkage of
the key visual message back to the brand.
Use the glance test to determine whether a consumer can
quickly and readily identify the brand. Be sure the brand logo is
visible in all frames of the ad and in the context of a web page
regardless of the format or size of the ad.
Volvo ad labeled “after” used brand persistence and results in an
average lift in all branding metrics of 86%.
Use Simple Iconic Message: Consider for a moment how your
consumer is using the Internet. Now ask yourself, what must your ad
do to be visible and understood in each of the relevant contexts for
your consumer? A common thread in most Online situations is the
active control the consumer exerts over the media. In such a
context, the advertisement must convey the message simply and
quickly to be seen and understood by your consumer. The use of
straight-forward iconic imagery and concise messaging is key. What
makes for an iconic visual message to the consumer?
People say, “a picture
is worth a thousand words” but for iconic imagery, the marketer
should aim for the picture to capture the essence of a singular
concept. For an ad to reinforce or shape perceptions, a visual
message should communicate the essence of the brand promise.
Together the logo and the image should be easily understood at a
glace. Consider the image of woman used as an icon in Figure 2.
This conveys Olay’s straightforward promise of beauty. Yes, the
image may imply more, but the core concepts should be clear at a
After completing the ad development, review it and remove any
extraneous elements to limit the clutter a consumer is faced with.
For example, the words “Love the skin you’re in” communicate the
same message as “Discover how to love the skin you’re in”
Consider The Format: Find the best Online format for your
message. The most common ad formats are banners and ad boxes. These
work well for many situations. When a more complicated message is
necessary, such as the introduction of a new product or
repositioning an existing brand, there are online ad formats which
capture more of the viewer’s undivided attention such as
interstitial, gateway, and over the page units.
Page skins like the
Coca-Cola skin shown in Figure 3 are effective at reminding or
reinforcing in that they can raise the salience of a specific brand
or perception by using imagery that the consumer is already familiar
links are useful for some categories where the consumer is highly
targeted and actively seeking the specific information you are
offering (such as keyword buys). The text should focus on the
product and primary consumer motivators such price or availability.
Optimize Creative: Many of the tips in this paper should help
you develop effective creative, but pre testing should be part of
every creative process. Pre-testing the creative allows you to
optimize around the results. Marketing Evolution has built in a
creative testing process to all our major research efforts in order
to eliminate ill performing ads. This simple process will ensure
that effective ads are being used.
bother? Out of a sampling of 5 studies where creative tests were
employed only one advertiser had all of their concepts positively
influence purchase intent. Two had some ads that were effective and
others that were not, which would dilute the effect of the overall
campaign. The remaining two had ads that would have failed in the
market place had they not developed more effective creative based on
the learnings from the test. Shouldn’t you optimize your creative
before you spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in media
When building ads we become absorbed in the process, a live
real-world online creative test is an easy way to get objective
perspective and ensure the success of a campaign.
the purpose of your campaign and the psychological mechanism of your
Apply Brand Mark Persistently,
Simple Iconic Message,
Consider the Format, and
keys to success in online advertising. They are platinum rules that
will help ensure consistent platinum results. Advertising is a
process of testing, learning and applying the insight. Or, as we
say at Marketing Evolution, “Test, Learn, Evolve.”
Rex Briggs is the founder and CEO of Marketing Evolution and
co-author of “What Sticks – Why Most Advertising Fails and How to
Guarantee Yours Succeeds.” His marketing theories have being taught
at Harvard and published in several books. Rex was named one of the
“Best and Brightest” in Media and Technology by Ad Week, and one of
the people to “watch and learn from” according to BrandWeek. Rex
pioneered the leading methodologies for marketing ROI and
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