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Advertising in lockdown – getting your creative to engage

Shaun Austin Head of Media 20/01/2021

How do you ensure your campaign creative is engaging with the right audiences? After a particularly challenging year, and a new lockdown in place here in the UK and across much of Europe, brands and their creative teams have faced many challenges.

The tone of adverts has certainly changed in the past 10 months, as brands have tried to ensure that the creative delivery hits the correct tone of voice.

Getting the tone of adverts right during the pandemic has been a real challenge. You just need to look at the controversy Ryan Air’s ad, launched over Christmas, which has drawn over 1600 complaints. Complaints centred around trivialisation of the pandemic and the misleading nature of the campaign that the vaccine will have been successfully been rolled out by the summer. Controversy is nothing new for Ryan Air, and despite the controversy it’s helped grabbed the attention of audiences, dreaming of blue skies and summer sun in months to come. Regardless of best intentions, as seen with Ryan Air, any advert playing off the back of the pandemic is fraught with risk.

It highlights the challenges brands and their media partners have faced in trying to engage audiences. The tone of adverts has certainly changed in the past 10 months, as brands have tried to ensure that the creative delivery hits the correct tone of voice. Whilst the initial tone of adverts reflected the pandemic, with a distinct level of sombreness and uncertainty, in recent months there have been a great number of brands who have got the tone just right.

It’s not surprising that brands have upped their digital ad spend across 2020. With most of us restricted to our homes and physical retail opportunities limited, online sales have risen. In terms of media consumption, we have seen a rise in linear TV viewing, time spent on social media and VOD viewers figures have increased. So, brands need to weigh up all these factors when advertising and selecting the appropriate media channel and getting the tone right has been crucial for brands to build engagement, affinity, and drive revenues.

So, what has this meant for advertisers?

Making sure your digital ads stand out is crucial, but 10 months on it’s still a fine balance for advertisers. With another lockdown underway, the start of vaccination rollout (at least in the UK), it’s still important for brands to ensure they don’t come across as capitalising on the current situation. Messaging therefore needs to reflect the current increasingly fluid and changing climate. Our qualitative insight monitor from Lockdown 1.0 found that the best performing ads consider consumers altered worlds, where basic need states tended to be more of a focus, including physiological, shelter and safety needs. Community and financial security are more top of mind for consumers in this difficult environment, and ads that talk about companies protecting their staff, helping community, and supporting charity perform well.

For advertisers, the challenge is to identify where to focus spend to ensure that a campaign fully resonates and engages with the target audience and ensuring that the creative is optimised to maximise its impact in that environment.

As demographics are increasingly less reflective of a typical consumer’s behaviour, there has been a focus on developing a better understanding of audiences and then targeting them to ensure effectiveness. However, the pandemic has skewed ‘typical’ behaviour even further. This is where getting the creative proposition right is crucial, especially as short form ads play an increasingly important role and time to engage is minimal.

How can advertisers make sure they don’t miss the mark?

The only real way for brands and advertisers to know how a digital ad is going to resonate is to test it first, and there are a number of ways of approaching this.

Creative Testing, including our Digital Ad Performance:

We have developed a creative testing methodology which is designed to ensure your creative is working as hard as it possibly can. Our methodology will look to identify ways to fine tune the creative to ensure it resonates with the target audience and highlight key areas to help brief creative and media agencies.

In addition, our Digital Ad Performance tool takes your target audience through a simulated online or mobile web experience, allowing you to gain insights on how effective your ads (and the potential media platforms it might sit on) actually are for your brand. By combining survey responses with digital behaviour metrics, we give clients a holistic view on the performance of their ad.

Insights from this research will help to understand how the creative will be viewed across different platforms, and crucially provide understanding of how creative concepts impact on your brand.

Essentials Campaign evaluation:

Our Essentials range are a suite of research products that have been designed to offer a simple, cost effective alternative to answering your business objectives.

By using a pre-scripted multi-stage questionnaire, on which you can add campaign specific questions and audience criteria, we can provide insights into how your campaign creative could perform and provide a complete post-campaign overview.

Utilising benchmarked data to understand where your offer fits alongside the competition, we can help you to…

  • Identify how well your campaign is performing on increasing KPIs relative to other campaigns
  • Establish uplift scores for brand awareness, brand image perceptions and how your campaign is influencing consumer behaviours, including purchase intent
  • Understand which elements of your campaign are working hardest and performing best
  • Ascertain how your creative is performing relative to other campaigns
  • Inform future campaign development, identifying opportunities for further optimization

Savanta Essentials range offers a practical range of cost effective, fast turnaround research solutions to solving key business issues. Our Essentials range are a suite of research products that have been designed to offer a simple and powerful alternative to complex and bespoke research. To find out more about the Essentials range please click here:

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Agencies & Consultancies | B2B Brands | Consumer Brands | Digital Ad Performance (DAP) | Essentials | Media

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