I was asked to get involved with a Marketing Week article about online advertising the other day and it was going to be a debate about creativity in online advertising and whether it was burnt out. In the end a follow up chat on the mobile while dashing across a car park became part of this but I wanted to explore the more interesting original idea.
In terms of my pitch into the idea of “is online advertising creativity dead” or “is the medium dead”…
We currently have two strategies of approach to online advertising: Tactical+ and Brand Reality.
The key is not to let similar creative executions run across all sites – great results come from integrated creative placements so you need to achieve a closer relationship between creative strategy and media strategy. This is where Tactical+ creative for “Browsing site placements” come in – giving all the information people need but not taking someone out of their journey – but measurement KPIs have to shift towards interaction rates and post-impression clicks. The idea is to cut through the clutter and reward interaction by applying brand creative values to direct transactional executions.
This approach is the one we’ve taken for some Emirates work like:
Newcastle Timelapse – Newcastle campaign as a whole got 12million interactions 270% rate, but Timelapse had a 5% CTR from 900,000 impressions despite it having a very small click-thorough area and being in the mail section of MSN.
Or for the TfL Oyster iTunes campaign for Auto top-up:
You can put as much content and experience in a banner ad as you used to put in a micro-site and you get more of a brand impact by not asking user to leave the site they are on or interrupt what they are doing. Download free content, play games, take part in polls and watch videos without having to go anywhere and as these units become more consistent, people will be more ready to interact with them. But you have to push the engagement, creativity and design which is what we have done with some other Emirates work like the Ladybird Execution (http://emirates.chemdig2.co.uk) or:
Or even some of the campaigns I worked on at my previous agency for the Army, like Army on Everest (don’t get me started I’ll go on for hours).
Obviously you need strong CTAs and offer driven work for Affiliates to ensure take up (they aren’t and never will be interested in interaction KPIs) and you need to know when to be shallow – particularly on “transactional site placements”.
I see the long-term future of online advertising as Brand Reality Creative. Online advertising should be semantic windows on personally relevant content and live, real events and features. Interactive work is not interesting because it is digital, it is interesting because it provides a way for real people to connect and do things together – social networking was just the village pump on a global scale where we used social media and applications to present aspects of our real or imagined personalities. It is this reality and content that will be sought after and valued, and online advertising needs to evolve to account for this or else it will be filtered out and switched off. It needs to be valuable in itself and get people closer to content and reality.
So I don’t think creativity is dead but it definitely needs to perk-up a bit. I think we need to stop the delusion that people leap out of their chair when they see an ad and actually try and make advertising useful instead.