“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” should be the catchphrase for marketers.

We have so much data about our target audiences that we are nearly drowning in it, but information alone won’t make an ad perform.

The science and numbers of marketing is simply leading our potential consumers to the water.

It’s the ad creative that entices them to drink.

4 Reasons Your Ad Creative Is Critical

  • The Visual Captures Attention
  • Increases Engagement
  • Creates Brand Recognition
  • Attracts the Right Customer

Yes, you need to know how to target your audience – paid advertising doesn’t work unless you understand how to deliver your ad to the right people. The science is still important. A truly superlative ad, though, blends the data with design with the design at the forefront.

After all, there’s no point in leading anyone to water if the water looks tepid and murky.

The Visual Captures Attention

Humans are visual creatures. Our sight drives us like nothing else. If you understand that facet of human nature, then you’ll understand why the ad creative is the single thing that can draw focus away from all the other distractions and noise in the marketing space.

Humans are also hard-wired to notice unexpected movement in their field of vision. As such, a video will be more effective than a still image.

The conclusion here is that if you are doing any kind of marketing, having a video creative will deliver far better results. Fortunately, video is no longer prohibitively expensive. Technology has progressed to allow a solo operator to create fantastic video, drastically reducing the cost to businesses large and small.

Creating great video creative takes time, experience, and a certain level of intuition. Not everyone has this skill set but the good news is that those with the skills are more widely available than ever before, and at a cost that won’t bankrupt the business.

At this point in the marketing game, no ad campaign should be without at least some good video.

Increases Engagement

One of the biggest boons of the internet to marketing is that our ads are interactive. We can see not only who viewed our campaign, but the consumers themselves can give us real-time feedback. It’s not possible to engage with a billboard on the side of the freeway, but it’s easy to express an opinion about the latests fashion trends, a friend’s baby announcement, and breaking news stories.

The consumer’s ability to actually express attention gave rise to the importance of engagement. It’s no longer enough to brag about the size of your audience. Engagement is now the yardstick we use to measure whether an ad was effective. No one cares if you can market to 120,000 people if only two of them are genuinely interested and active.

In effect, marketing has become about more than just delivering a message to a target audience. It’s now about the ability to create relationships that consumers themselves find meaningful.

Engagement also has the additional bonus of increasing the ad’s reach. Most platforms reward a campaign that is getting a lot of engagement by putting it where more people will see it.

If you think of it from a platform’s perspective, like Facebook, an post that is getting a lot of engagement means that people like it. Facebook wants to deliver popular, likeable content to its users so that the users will enjoy their experience and come back. It’s in the platform’s best interest to reward marketers that are doing their job correctly.

Creates Brand Recongnition

Brand recognition is a nearly priceless commodity. Before a consumer reaches the decision to buy, they need to trust that whatever they are buying is the solution. And, before they can reach that level of trust, they need to become aware that there is a solution.

Developing brand recognition is often a slow-burn. Most consumers require several exposures to a brand before they will engage in a meaningful way, and turn into a lead or a sale.

These exposures, called impressions in the marketing lingo, are often subtle and brief. Over time, with repeated exposures, a potential consumer builds up a higher and higher levels of awareness. Awareness leads to recognition, and recognition kindles trust.

Think of it this way: you are more likely to open your front door to someone you recognize than to a stranger. It’s the same way for marketing.

The key to brand recognition is an ad creative that makes enough of an impact that the potential consumer retains a memory of the brand. If your ad creative is forgettable, then it will take many more exposures to develop enough recognition to establish trust. And that means spending more marketing dollars. Dollar for dollar, investing in the ad creative is more cost-effective than running endless ad campaigns with mediocre content.

Attracts the Right Customer

It’s an old adage in marketing that if you are talking to everyone, you are talking to no one.

The first part of talking to the right people is setting up an ad campaign that is set to deliver your ad to a targeted audience. That’s the science of marketing, and it takes time and experimentation. Identifying and refining your perfect audience involves a lot of data analysis and thoughtful consideration, and then more experimentation.

And all of it means very little if the ad creative fails to attract the right people.

A generic creative doesn’t entice anyone to do anything, which often results in low engagement and low conversion, even if the content is delivered to the right audience. That’s a waste of money.

On the other hand, if the ad gets a lot of engagement from non-ideal consumers, it means that a business owner will spend a lot of time and resources trying to drive revenue from an audience that isn’t willing or ready to take action. This happens when the marketer forgets about the target audience and the ad’s creative ends up delivering the wrong message. This is also a waste of money.

The ad creative is the part that will resonate with the desired consumer, and weed out those that aren’t a good fit.

For example, say there is a business that produces software that is ideal for large corporations with hundreds of employees. This is their target audience. If they produce a creative that talks about startups and entrepreneurs, they aren’t likely to generate leads from their target audience. Instead, they will likely have a bunch of prospects from small businesses which are not suited to the product they offer. The result is wasted marketing dollars, and wasted time in trying to sell a product to businesses that don’t need it.

Data and Design

The data will always support the design. The information we have about our ideal consumer tells us how to put together a creative that will resonate with them, and in turn generate engagement and ultimately revenue.

The content of an ad campaign is what really delivers the results that a company needs to transform their business. Investing in producting a truly superlative creative will produce dividends any business can use to grow their market share and bottom line.

At it’s core, marketing has always been about communicating a message to consumers. How we market has changed over the decades as we gained access to new technology and information about our consumers, but the reason we market has stayed the same.

As marketers, we can lead the consumer to water, and while we certainly can’t make them drink, we have a lot of ability to show them exactly how thirsty they are.