NO MATTER who you are or where you live, as a consumer you are surrounded by a vast amount of companies vying for your time. The incredibly busy marketplace means that standing out has become paramount for any business looking to thrive. One potentially effective way to do so is through digital marketing. However, this fact has become common knowledge. Doing it right or wrong can consequently be the difference between success and failure.

Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to analyse and reveal what the best ways to stand out and reach maximum impact using online advertising are. They will not only help you cut through the clutter and ensure that your message sticks with the audience, but also increase your ROI.

Today, we are going to start by looking at the infamous “creative” and how it can shine. In short, the creative refers to the various elements that make up an ad’s content (e.g. words, visuals and sound), but also the overall concept. Getting a creative right can mean the difference between a look and a click regardless of the format used. To put it bluntly, if a creative isn’t up to par, the campaign as a whole will inevitably fail to reach its potential. Here are three keys to an effective creative.


1. Invest Time

British actor John Cleese once said that if you want creative workers, you have to give them time to play. In an advertising world moving at five million miles an hour, finding time to actually be creative is often easier said than done. In fact, insufficient time invested in optimisation – which includes the creative – is most frequently named the top reason why campaigns struggle.

An investment in time is worth doing though. Creative quality has proven to be the most important factor for sales changes. Studies have also shown that 70 % of ad campaigns with above-average creatives perform above average. Meanwhile, campaigns with below-average creatives never perform above average. In other words, actually taking the time to get the creative right is an essential first step for any campaign to be successful.


2. Understand the Brand

We know based on several studies that, as a general rule, creative campaigns are considerably more effective than non-creative ones. However, that’s not to say the only requirement is to come up with an inventive creative.

Certain dimensions of creativity have proven to be more effective than others in influencing purchasing behaviour. Understanding the brand being promoted is key to determining which dimensions will work best and tailoring the creative accordingly. For example, originality is always good, but combining it with elaboration (extending simple ideas to more intricate and complicated ones) often yields even better results. In order to know what ideas to elaborate upon, well, you have to understand the brand. As an added bonus, it also inevitably leads to a deeper understanding of the brand’s target audience.


3. Consider the Format

For the creative designer, prioritizing understanding the format used can take an ad to another level. A Single Image is a canvas. An engaging format such as a Spincube is a potential art installation. Knowing how the creative will eventually be presented means that it can be optimised to fit.

Advertisers often ask what the best format is for a given industry or campaign. The truth is that while certain formats (namely interactive engaging ones) are likely to perform better than others in general, the most successful format is often the one that works best with the creative. Ensuring the perfect match means one of two things. Either you adapt the format to take advantage of the creative or you adapt the creative to take advantage of the format. Either way, it can mean the difference between just another painting in the gallery and a memorable masterpiece.

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