This article is part of the “Level up your mobile ad creative” series to help marketers make more effective mobile ads.
Highly creative advertising pays off. In fact, it pays off 16x more in terms of growth in profitability than less creative advertising. That’s the finding from research from Peter Field, a leading marketing consultant and researcher.
But he also found that advertising is less creative than ever before. Today, the most creative advertising (as judged by award wins for creativity) provides no more boost to marketing effectiveness than less creative campaigns.
And where digital media mixes and audiences tend to be relatively similar across a set of competitive brands, creativity is one of the key places where brands can stand out.
But if creativity can be so powerful, why is it less effective than ever?
How short-termism hampers creativity
The ‘Ad Contrarian’ Bob Hoffman blames digital marketing: “The tactical, short-term nature of online advertising has taken precedence over the long-term, strategic belief in brand-building advertising.”
Peter Field also thinks it is the rise of short-termism that has led to less-effective creativity. He argues that creativity needs time to work its magic. He found that behavioural change from our target customers happens only after the campaign runs for a long time (around 6+ months).
But nowadays, many marketers view ads that are not a rational and immediate call to action are looked at as wasted money. Ideas that aren’t designed to pay off in the next few days feel like a risk. We are driven more by clicks, less by creating real connections.
Field concludes: “Stop squandering the use of creative firepower for tactical initiatives. Instead, stress the importance of how ideas will strengthen the brand over time.”
How do we stop short-term creativity in digital advertising?
What is the position you want to occupy in the market? What do you want people to think when they think of your brand? Figure out your message and own it for a couple of years.
But how do you stick with it for a long time without it getting tired? The creative idea that represents your position needs to be big. Big enough for a wide range of different ways your idea can come to life. You need to be able to repeat the essence of your message imaginatively and memorably.
Look at Snickers and it’s brilliant ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign. The position: the perfect snack for when you’re hungry. The idea: show that when you’re hungry you don’t act like yourself. It is a clear strategic position and creative idea that powered a comms campaign that lasted over 6 years. Because it was a big idea with plenty of legs, it was brought to life in dozens of ways across TV, social, radio, digital and more.
As a result, global sales increased 15.9%. Not bad for an established giant like Snickers.
Good ideas work by creating differentiation and distinctiveness. When backed with enough budget they own a position in the mind’s of your customers – then they have enough legs to provide longevity.
Think back to Snickers. The good idea positioned it as the answer to hunger. Because it could reinforce the message in a variety of ways, the phrase “You’re not you when you’re hungry” became widely known and is a distinctive asset for the brand.
Mobile advertising needs to find its creative mojo again. It needs marketers to stop focusing on small, short ideas, and instead think bigger.
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