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This may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not: User experience is the biggest opportunity in front of us when it comes to advertising and the internet. Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed the rise of a new medium that allows for nearly limitless new ways to entertain, inspire, inform and serve people. The Internet has made it possible for everyone to be a part of creator and critic, performer and audience, individual and community at the same time.
However, user experience is also a huge crisis in the marketing and media industries of our time.
Our insane fascination with new technology and our desire to keep costs as low as possible has led to a form of consumer abuse in digital advertising. Frustrated consumers responded by adopting ad-blocking software at an alarming rate. By ignoring the fundamental tenet of the internet—that consumers have control—we have made advertising an outcast to the consumers we want to reach.
That’s because when we look at the tools we have at our disposal, too many tools define what we do in creativity — simply because they exist.
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Creative techniques have evolved because things tend to get vanilla and boring. Animated ads come from underperforming static ads. Then from the animated ad, you can get rich media with video and audio. Then there are high-impact playable ads. But while technology has become more sophisticated, the consumer experience isn’t necessarily getting better — and in many cases, it’s getting worse.
All of this starts where we can do something with technology. Creative technology has advanced to the point where it allows for faster creation and bigger ideas, but it has not yet advanced to the point where it can replace creative professionals or human creativity. Worse yet, technology has defined what we do, not what we should do.
During this year’s Super Bowl, a lot of money Millions of dollars are spent creating interesting ads, let alone running them. However, the most successful ads are the simplest ones: A QR code bounces on the screen. why? Because it’s different, it looks nothing like the other typical Super Bowl ideas, and it cuts out all the noise straight away. The Coinbase ad wasn’t even a very targeted purchase – but the fact that it was different and new made it work.
Coinbase advertising is low-tech (a bit ugly, but in a fun retro way) and genius – it takes us back to our roots when advertising is a source of inspiration and joy.One 2017 Nielsen Study Looked at 500 internet ad campaigns and found that when the idea is good, it’s an incredible driver of success: a whopping 89% of digital ads. This is amazing. In the digital industry, however, our story goes completely backwards, and we pay dearly for it.
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Instead of using technology as the necessary enabler for great consumer experience and creativity, too many of us are putting it first, finding more and more ways to automate marketing decisions, drive down prices, extract data and increase intrusion sexuality – while ignoring the user experience and what consumers want.
- Don’t overly spoil the user experience. Your creative and message should be disruptive, but if your placement creates a negative experience, you risk creating a negative association for your brand. Consider the context in which your ad will be placed and the purpose of the user there. Native ads are a great tool; contextual targeting ensures that your ad isn’t inappropriate in its placement.
- Offer something unique. Your consumers are people. Think about who they are and what they value. Employ creative and authentic messages to your brand to reach the right audience. Use the interactivity of high-impact ideas, or humor where appropriate.
- Consider how you apply creative advertising techniques. Creative professionals know that you don’t just have access to ad tech just because you can — sound strategy and smart design have to lead. They can use these tools effectively by understanding when and how to effectively represent the brand with the latest tools.
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This underscores what I believe to be some of the basic rules for creating great ideas in a world teeming with technology but inhabited by real people:
- A consumer is not a set of data points. They are creatures with intelligence, emotions, ideas, desires and needs that must be understood in order to be served.
- Platforms are always changing. Social media, mobile devices, connected TVs – technology is always evolving, and our creativity must evolve with it. But it has to start with consumers first, not just the possibilities of technology.
- Technology is critical to meeting the higher expectations of new audiences. But technology should support creativity, not define it.
We need to go back to basics and put the user experience first—a good reminder of this year’s best-performing Super Bowl ad. If it’s correct, you can do something very simple. A good and well-executed idea combined with an intelligent media strategy can yield results and lead to successful campaigns, especially when combined with all the bells and whistles that ad tech has to offer.
Now let’s get to work.
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