After covering some of the basics of Performance marketing, I feel we should move onto something that I often see as an issue with advertising teams (and other agency teams that work alongside them, of course).
Once you’ve reached at least some sort of middle-level experience in online advertising, and you’re a good performance marketer, you’ve already gone through an endless amount of ad campaigns, platforms, and ad formats, right? And it’s at this point that you’d probably conclude that “Advertising is boring, it’s all the same thing with just a pinch of a difference in targeting and/or formats”, right? Mind you, it’s done for different Clients and with different goals, but the operative part of it is tiresome and uniform — kind of giving your work a feeling of “staleness”, right? Wrong, wrong, and oh so wrong.
Here’s the thing — if you found yourself in any of the previously listed claims, I blame at least two more teams in your agency (or a few more people in your company’s digital team). At least. Oh, and I mostly blame you.
Now, before you tell me to watch my step getting off that high horse that I’m sitting on, let me explain…
The formats and campaign types advertisers use in digital advertising are based on an interface dependent on the platform itself. I know, some favor Google, some favor Facebook, while others favor vanilla, and don’t really care about the platforms themselves. With this in mind, we (advertisers) are often restricted in creating “different” campaigns and ads by targeting, design, core setup, format, and many other things. All these limitations don’t necessarily need to be cumbersome for our campaigns. In fact, you can make a lot of different and cool campaigns, using the same format. Think of it like LEGOs. If you have a vision, it doesn’t matter that they’re “only bricks”.
I’m not only talking about design and copywriting — yes, programmatic advertising is a big thing which showed us in plenty cases, even that of Donald Trump, that switching up creatives leads to great new insights infused with better results, but what I’d like to focus on more is the ways you can creatively use the formats themselves (even though you should definitely seek out every new Facebook format, or Google, likewise).
Goal – Aim – Measure – Edit
Yes, I know the headline is short for GAME, I wanted it to be. :)
I’ll explain each step, so you’ll see why I think it’s memorable and easy to use…
Goal – Set your goal. Easy as that! Find out (from your client or boss) what kind of problem you’re trying to fix, and make it palpable. Not a “feeling”, but rather a concrete action (i.e. “I want to let people know about my new product’s special feature” or “I want to increase bookings during the winter”).
Aim – Think how you can target people to achieve this goal, which people you should target, and when. By doing this, you’ve already helped yourself a lot in getting to the goal, and this is the key part where you should let your creative juices flow. Don’t limit yourself to the platform or format, just think about how you can get your message across in the most precise and fastest way (I’ll give some cool examples below).
Measure – Try to be unbiased and look at your results, analytics, and metrics often. See what the numbers are telling you, and read it properly. You want each campaign to help you reach your main goal, but that doesn’t mean that the success of each campaign is measured equally (i.e. you want to reach a lot of people when you’re branding a product or its feature, but you want to track conversions when you want to sell — every metric in a campaign should be aligned to that campaign’s individual goal).
Edit – After a couple of months/weeks/days you’ll notice some ads are underperforming, while others are working great (at least to what your expectations were). Edit and test. Turn inadequate ads off, switch up creatives, and above all else, be objective and harsh towards all the good results. Could they be attributed to something else? Are they really aiming exactly at the main goal? This way, you’ll ensure that you’re running a comparison competition within your own ads and you’ll constantly improve them (what’s otherwise known as A/B or multivariate testing).
Let’s make a couple of examples that should help in inciting your creative approach to advertising!
“I rest my (suit)case”
In our first case, let’s make our goal simple and performance-oriented. Let’s say you own a hotel/motel that you want to increase bookings for. So:
Goal – Increase bookings (overall)
You can always modify this broad-range goal into “Increase bookings during *time*”, or “Increase bookings of our most expensive rooms”, or whatever you want in regards of your overall business goals. If you’re going wide, you’ll get more actionable info from your campaigns (under the assumption that you really go wide, and not hold back on reaching as many potential customers as you can), so that’s also good!
Aim – Facebook geo-targeting (in any and all applicable formats)
Facebook’s geo-targeting options are great for this type of goal! You might think “Sure, we can use that (and we do, most of the time, you’re not really helpful)”, but you also might be wrong. I don’t mean “target a city-wide area where you might find potential travelers who will visit your booking location”. I mean, geo-target gas stations on the way to your booking location, or any place where people might be in a consideration phase (feeling tired, wanting to rest, grabbing a cup of coffee) in a way that can drive them to you.
I once created a geo-targeted campaign for a female beauty product that I advertised in the range of OB-GYN clinics in a major city. The logic is simple: women will (almost always) wait for their turn for an examination, and they’ll (very often) go on social media during that time. They get a product ad that’s tailored for them, with copywriting that can be open about its intention (“Check this out while you wait!”).
Measure – Bookings made
This one’s easy. Just check which of your ad sets (oriented on several gas stations/locations) are making a difference in online bookings! When you see the numbers, just adapt those that “failed”.
Edit – Optimise your campaigns
This is the “adapt those that failed” part. Maybe it’s the way you communicated, maybe it’s a gas station or location that’s not really visited often. Make sure you know the “why” before you adapt, and then just change things up and test another approach (creative-wise or targeting-wise)!
Let’s take another example! In this case, we’ll see what we can do when we’re trying to point out a couple of features for a new product!
Goal – Finding out which product feature is most liked by our target audience
Here’s the main issue: you can’t be sure you’ll reach your goal unless the numbers are really relevant (big), and finding out that one feature “lost” the competition (and one will) doesn’t mean it’s an unnecessary feature, or that people hate it. Maybe they see it as a basic thing; one that should be included in every product like yours. It most definitely doesn’t mean it’s bad, or that you should remove it from your marketing communication.
Aim – Chain Instant Experiences remarketing
Again, we can use some cool Facebook features here. If you still haven’t heard of it (and you should have), check Instant Experiences (formerly known as Canvas) out over here. The idea of this format is that you can build a mobile mini-website where you can present (in a visually awesome way) your product. Being creative here just means we’re going to split our product’s features into their separate Instant Experiences (IE), and remarket each of those to see which feature stands out.
For instance, let’s make our product a mobile phone. The features we want tested out would be: camera quality, battery quality, design, and dual-SIM capability. We’d create 4 separate IE ads, each outlining one great feature of the mobile phone, set up in a way that each Experience leads to the other 3, and we’d (of course) set up tracking for all of them, so we can remarket them easily. The idea is that people will be more prone to one feature, and your tracking will let you know precisely which one.
Measure – Remarketing; IE views, CTR, and time spent on the ad (potentially Brand Retention too)
Here it’s of the utmost importance to just focus on what each metric is saying. In its core, this is a branding campaign, so any and all metrics mean success/feedback (if you’ve reached enough people). This should be your main standpoint, but you should still be very critical in reading the results properly because they could give you invaluable insight into how to market your new phone (what feature you should point out most).
Edit – Creatives (design/copywriting)
Since it’s a branding campaign, the one thing you can definitely put to the test is your ad creatives. Talk about each feature in at least 4-8 different ways. Look at what your consumers might find most resonating with their experience. Is it a long-lasting battery for playing mobile games, or is it a long-lasting battery for all those wild business calls? Maybe GPS-usage for travelers? Or could it be plain, old texting that you need more “juice” for?
The core of these tests is to show you the consumer’s intent while browsing your product’s features. It will tell you what means most to (a great deal of) them, and how your product can help.
I could list more cases of being creative, but I feel I’ve already taken up a lot of your time, so let me bring this to a conclusion. :)
Don’t be shy, share!
There are a lot of different formats and campaign types, but you should always consider using each one in (at least) five different ways. Not sure how? That’s why I mentioned your Account managers, creative team and you (advertisers). You should work together and bounce ideas off one another. Maybe the other teams just don’t know what you can do in advertising. Maybe it’s you, and you can’t seem to find a creative approach to a campaign. Whichever is true, you can do it together, trust me! Communicate, imagine, and go wild. There’ll always be that one guy or girl to bring you down to Earth and make everything realistic and doable, so you don’t have to worry you’ll limit yourself (or others) — just work as a team as often as you can!
If you need more help, or just want to learn more about branding, performance, advertising, or any of the things we went over in this blog — please feel free to contact us. We love learning too, and we’re even bigger fans of sharing what we know!