3 Display ad strategies to beat viral marketing

The marketer in you is probably twitching at the idea of conflating branding and performance metrics. Welcome to agency life.

Back when I was working in an agency, the request I would hear of the most was “I need a viral post”. “We have a pretty good promotion; how do we make that viral?” they’d ask. The marketer in you is probably twitching at the idea of conflating branding and performance metrics. Welcome to agency life.

So, it’s off to the drawing board, trying to reframe the question, sneak in a lesson on metrics, engineer a strategy, give it a name, and table it for the next WIP.

Unfortunately, any science that attempts to tear apart components that make a post “viral” is at the ultimate mercy of the platform algorithm. In any case, going viral shouldn’t be the only goal of a marketer. Instead of chasing short spikes in your traffic volume, a more sustainable approach is getting the right people to watch and interact with your ad in a meaningful way, at the right time.

Having worked at Crimtan, where we specialise in lifecycle messaging, here are three guiding principles we go by to achieve sustainable, trackable outcomes:

1 – Pursue message longevity, not (just) spikes in likes and shares.

It is important to be talked about – but the content must be relevant to the individual for the message to stick, and customise strategies are needed to cater for different user motivations at every stage of the consumer lifecycle. My approach is to start with an understanding of your audience and craft messages specific to them. We see a much more tangible impact when brands maximise ad engagement for high message retention – it is possible to design these ads in a way that directly correlates with sales.

Conversely, going viral has the benefit of mass reach – but it is sometimes difficult to develop on-point messaging that carries the zeitgeist of the moment and do so within brand guidelines. Few companies have managed to merge their own brand with a strong game in capitalising gaffes and gags of the moment. IKEA and Scoot have, in my opinion, proved that it is possible to exemplify coveted marketing philosophies: being accessible, cheeky, authentic and on-trend. But in the absence of a sizable retainer fee and/or marketing team, it is important to build your company’s message in captivating ways. As if it weren’t difficult enough, we need to do so in an increasingly noisy environment.

Enter programmatic display: Crimtan’s partnerships with Digital Element, Grapeshot, Experian and the key audience segments that make up the core of our DMP make it easy to reach users when it counts. When it comes to maximising ROI, it’s never a thousand flower bloom strategy. Throwing various messages into the marketplace “to see what sticks” can have the counterproductive effect of diluting your brand message. Choose your battleground wisely.

2 – How brands communicate their brand equity matters

Display and video channels are a great way to communicate your brand values, but how do we maximise the ad dollars we put behind these placements?

The design of the ads – the way users touch, swipe and interact with the ads – speaks as loudly as the message in the ads. Sometimes the way you say certain things is as important as what is being said.

To achieve this, Crimtan has created various interactive formats for our clients. One of Crimtan’s strongest sectors is Finance, where we launched campaigns with aspirational in-banner videos for reach, and later retargeted users with customised ads based on products they were interested in – interest rate calculators, real-time trading boards and so on. Eventually, we led them towards inbuilt lead generation forms.

Each of the custom units was designed to lead users further down the stages of eventual conversion, whatever that may be defined to be. And because we customised the ad units towards actions that encouraged, reach, acquisition, conversion, cross-sell and up-sell, we ensured quality engagement to a qualified audience.

3 – Give your winning setup time to succeed

“I’d like many conversions, upsized CTRs, with a side of must-meet cost per registration and cost per click metrics please. I can wait for 10 minutes, but if I don’t get results within 5, I’m shutting this down.

The more KPIs there are, the more confounding it gets – and unfortunately, most metrics are correlated. A low CPM most definitely cannot guarantee a low CPA, low CPC and high CTR at the same time. However, even with performance marketing metrics, marketers can be easily distracted by vanity metrics, – especially when they commit to more than is feasible to keep their manager happy.

It is worth clarifying that KPIs are only useful if you give campaigns time. For an adequate and fair test, I recommend a minimum of two months to test and learn from new strategies. This means we have the ability to pivot and capitalise on new trends in the data; it also means we get time to design and execute A/B tests correctly. Thus time has a direct correlation to an improvement in performance.

One of the first campaigns I ran in Crimtan was for a niche brand, competing against much bigger players in a crowded space. The odds were seemingly stacked against us, but my team pushed ahead with our proprietary pre-campaign planning tool to make sure the campaign started off on the right foot. The first month performed as expected – no notable trend with a smattering of conversions. On the second month, it started performing with more users performing actions that we were measured against. Our always-on strategy worked because we had time to design multivariate tests, hypothesise, put it to a test, and scale.

In Conclusion…

Ultimately, viral content can help with driving traffic – up to a point, but for consistent performance, we need three things:

  1. Relevant ads to maximise message retention among users.
  2. High impact ads that drive users along the customer lifecycle approach towards conversion.
  3. Time to flourish – and to let our traders and algorithms do the fine-tuning.

If you want to find out more about how display ads can beat viral marketing, contact your nearest Crimtan office.

By Danielle Goh, Technical Account Manager, Crimtan APAC

Danielle first posted this article on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-ways-deliver-digital-ads-surgical-precision-why-trumps-danielle-goh/?published=t