|Making Online Ads Suck Less in 8 Easy Steps|
|Tuesday, 20 April 2010 10:16|
by John Young
Banner ads suck. Or not. It depends on what you expect and how you go about delivering. No matter whether your objective is awareness, engagement or click-through, you can improve performance over time. This strategy takes rigor: in the forms of measurement and analytics, multidisciplinary collaboration (strategy, creative, analytics) and the long-view. Not to mention a client willing to embrace all three.
The idea sounds simple and it may seem obvious -- build a library of banner ads -- but none of the many Fortune 500 clients I've worked with have done it well. Most marketers are reactionary and opportunistic with a short-term vision. If it worked, good. If it didn't, kill it and give me something new. But no one spends the time to really learn much or record what they did learn.
To dramatically enhance performance long term, develop a plan following these eight steps:
1. The Create Step
2. The Measurement Step
3. The Selection and Speculation Step
Set aside those top performers. And plan tweaks for the
mid-level group. Be deliberate about the optimization so you can
track performance lifts or dips.
4. Codify Learnings and Assumptions
For one recent banner ad campaign, we saw static banners (ones used where media placements don't take Flash or where users turned off Flash) outperform our high-production animated banners. It shattered our assumptions.
Build on industry best practices to develop a set of client-specific and/or audience-specific best practices. Refine and record what is working in this situation.
But continue to question, test and question again. And be willing to take risks.
This is a journey with no final destination.
5. Create and Measure Again
Consciously leverage what you think you learned as you build the second set.
Obviously you track and measure the banners again.
Again evaluate the performance, trying to glean learnings and
6. Select Top Performers Again
Again, write down what you learned and what you can assume
(recording the difference). This is how you add strength to future
creative rounds, including rounds of optimization based on what you
know and what you think you know. That means testing another
call-to-action, different colors or images, new offers, different
7. Leveraging the Library
And, of course, measure every drop of blood you can squeeze
8. Leveraging the Library Long Term
Stay on it, rerun top performers (but don't wear them out), test tweaked banners, add new creative into the mix. It's scientific, but not a science. Take risks. Seek failure. Build on success.
Future, creative rounds can focus on seasons, events, and special offers -- even audiences and long-tail offers.
Ongoing measurement and analytics followed by optimization and codified learning combine to continue driving performance.
Build the library beyond categories to include banner types: expandable, video, static, etc. And have enough that you don't wear out any one high-performing piece of creative.
If you maintain the rigor and vision and take some creative risks, you can develop and grow a powerful library of banner ads that can outperform industry standards and drive your brands.
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