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How do brands ensure their creative is engaging audiences?

Shaun Austin Head of Media 16/09/2020

The impact of lockdown and subsequent economic downturn has devastated marketing budgets. It’s also had a massive effect on how consumers engage with advertising creative, from a when and where perspective, but more crucially from the tone of the advert itself.

With most of us restricted to our homes, it’s not surprising that brands have upped their digital ad spend in recent months.

As a result, the UK advertising market is expected to decline by 7.5% in 2020 (source: eMarketer), driven predominantly by a lack of sporting events and the public’s general stay at home mentality, combined with advertisers’ reluctance to spend in an uncertain market and limitations around the production of advertising creative. Meanwhile, GroupM, has predicted total US ad spend to decline by 13% in 2020, although political advertising may boost this by £3bn, resulting in a potential drop of just 8%.

With most of us restricted to our homes, it’s not surprising that brands have upped their digital ad spend in recent months. It’s become an increased area of focus, offering the most realistic and cost-effective approach to captivate consumers.

This digital targeting reflects the change in consumers’ spending habits. Lockdown saw an emphasis on in-home activity, and in-home entertainment has indeed seen one of the biggest changes in net spend over the last six months – alongside drinking alcohol at home, DIY, gardening, eating in and home security.

Our research shows that people have turned to their phones during lockdown to fill their time and gaps in the day, and they just can’t break the scrolling cycle. This has likely led to a boom in consumers buying things online, with the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reporting that online sales have grown 18% year on year as of July.

This behaviour has dramatically impacted the way that people are shopping across the board – they are treating online retail like they treat their social media feed – happy to scroll through retail sites, often with no initial intention to buy, merely to fill time, like window shopping in a digital world. But, with ecommerce providing such a low friction transaction, it’s easy for customers to shop online and receive their purchases within a very short window, tempting many consumers into making a purchase.

So, what does this all mean for advertisers?

Making sure your digital ads stand out is crucial, but it’s still a fine balance for advertisers. Whilst a sense of normality may be returning, it’s still important for brands to ensure they don’t come across as capitalising on the current situation, and that the messaging reflects the current increasingly fluid and changing climate.

As the use of digital advertising continues to rise, the challenge for advertisers is to identify where to focus their spend and ensure that a campaign fully resonates and engages with the target audience. A key part of this challenge is trusting in the creative. 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, this year’s events have 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.

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. The respondents won’t even know they are evaluating an ad, so the opinions and feedback will remain candid. We combine survey responses with digital behaviour metrics, giving clients a holistic view on the performance of their ad.

These quick tests will help you gain an early campaign read without paid impressions, while providing a great user experience for respondents so you can feel confident in the data and make quick decisions around your digital campaign.

Insights from these tests will help you focus your digital media spend, find out how your creative will be viewed across platforms, and crucially provide understanding of how creative concepts impact on your brand.

If you want to find out more, please get in contact via our Digital Ad Performance form.