You need to get your audience’s attention. Unfortunately, in the increasingly competitive digital space, that’s only becoming more difficult. Businesses combined to spend $88 billion on digital ads in 2017, and that number will only grow in the coming years.
Meanwhile, your audience’s attention span is getting shorter. Online users respond more favorably to short content snippets, and they won’t have time to sift through countless ads just to find yours. That’s probably why they don’t even notice more than 90% of digital ads.
And yet, none of this means that you can’t leverage digital ads for brand success. Instead of throwing money into the void, having a full understanding of the concept (and how it can work) will help you build a better strategy of differentiating your paid ads and growing your business as a result.
The Basics of Paid Online Ads
As a marketing professional, chances are you know a paid ad when you come across it. It’s any type of content you can place for payment on a website or in an app, usually to a targeted audience. Paid ads can live on Google, all major social media networks from Facebook to Twitter, inside mobile apps, and countless websites.
The benefits of integrating paid ads into your digital marketing strategy range widely:
- Spread awareness of your brand in what is becoming the most popular medium for your audience.
- Target a specific, segmented audience based on your industry and target demographics.
- Create fast results, especially compared to long-term organic digital strategies like SEO and inbound tactics.
- Contain measurable efforts, allowing you to determine the ROI of your marketing spend.
5 Ways to Differentiate Your Paid Ads
Of course, the above benefits only matter if you can actually leverage the paid component of your marketing strategy the right way. On an average day, your audience sees thousands of promotional messages online and elsewhere. To cut through the clutter, you have to differentiate your ads.
1) Be BOLD
Your advertisements are not the place to be timid. If they look and sound like the rest of the content your audience consumes online, chances are they’ll simply tune them out. Instead, be bold. Don’t be afraid to take on an edge that resonates with your audience. Find your brand personality, and show your voice in every ad you publish and pay for.
Of course, being bold does not mean being dishonest. Even in paid advertising, authenticity and credibility still matters. Your audience will begin to tune you out if you make claims that seem unrealistic or that you cannot substantiate. Be bold in your messaging and visuals, but always bring it back to your core brand promise to make sure you can actually deliver.
2) Focus on the Visuals
In today’s digital environment, visuals are everything. They’re quite literally the difference between being seen and being ignored. Simply including a compelling visual in your content can triple your shares and engagement on social media. Unless the ad type prevents it, no promotional content you pay for should be published without at least some type of visuals.
Ideally, that means a video, which has become the preferred type of content for almost all audiences. If that isn’t possible, images can still be effective. Regardless of which you choose, make sure that the visuals are high-quality and relate directly to your brand.
3) Less is More
Don’t get carried away by the opportunity. It can be tempting to cram as much content and selling points into your ads as possible to maximize your budget. In reality, this type of approach actually has the opposite effect. In some channels, like Facebook, graphics that include text can actually decrease the reach of your ads.
The time you have to impress your audience is precious. Your audience forms a first impression within 0.05 seconds. Instead of overwhelming them, get right to the point. Don’t distract them with facts or visuals that aren’t actually relevant to your core message. Instead, make sure that your paid ads capture their attention from the first glance.
4) Switch it Up!
All the best practices outlined here and in other places are only theory. In practice, you may find that your audience may feel very differently. And even if you come up with a great formula for your content, they get tired of it after a while and stop responding. That’s why, in digital advertising, the only constant is change. Consider:
- Running multiple variations of the same ads to better understand preferences.
- Monitoring your ads closely to see when one starts to fail, and take action.
- Regularly switching out your visuals and copy to keep it fresh.
5) Build a Strong CTA
Finally, build every ad with your intended next step in mind. Pure awareness should never be your goal in marketing, and advertising is no different. Ideally, you want to drive them to your website, to become leads, and to become customers. Once you know what that goal is, you can build every ad around it.
A strong headline is a great start to communicate what your audience can expect from that next step. The entire ad, from copy to visuals, should create a sense of urgency. Finally, an explicit call to action button within or adjacent to your ad guides users who pay attention to it into the direction you want them to take.
How to Move from Differentiation to Implementation of Your Paid Ads
Through these five steps, you can make sure that your ads stand out not just from your competition, but the slew of digital content that gets published on all major websites and networks every single day. Of course, knowing what the steps are in theory is only the beginning. Next, it’s time to think about implementation.
Paid digital advertising can be immensely powerful, if you know how to master the concept. Setting up Google search ads, or Facebook sponsored content, requires in-depth understanding of each advertising platforms and the limitations and opportunities of the channel. Fortunately, RedShift can help.
Contact us to learn more about our expertise in this area. Let’s talk about building ads that your audience actually wants to see and engage with.