Ads fail all the time. How do brands minimise the impact of it happening to them? 

Chris Bunyan, Product Strategy Director

Four years and just getting started…

Ben Leet, CEO

Marketers are always under pressure to make advertising work. Could I have started with a more obvious point? Probably not. This pressure for effectiveness can mean investing billions of dollars to squeeze growth out of a very crowded market, and help is needed to realise that investment.  

Another obvious point is that creating effective advertising is really difficult, be it the creative itself, or the media plan – creative and media agencies exist and are successful because it’s such a specialist area, needing focus and dedication. But, amongst all the award-winning ads, there are still so many distinctly average campaigns that had limited ROI. 

There are some common factors that lead to average, ineffective advertising – but what are they, and how can we stop them happening? 

Poor strategy 

Knowing your target audience is vital as it’s the cornerstone to creating a strategy that works. Advertising is supposed to communicate something, so there has to be some meaning there – who is going to buy this? What do we want to communicate about our brand? Do we need to convert light users? Are we purely interested in brand loyalty? Or do we just want to A/B test a great idea to make sure it performs well against an average of average ads? 

Poor creative 

Poor strategy inevitably means poor creative, no matter how good the art director or copywriter is. The creative directors, planners and marketers might all believe that they have a good creative idea that will deliver against their strategy, yet it quietly fails once it reaches the general public. The chance of this happening increases when there is no time in the process to run a pre-test. Which happens way more often than it should.  

Poor planning   

You may have the most effective creative in the world, but if it doesn’t reach your intended audience its effectiveness diminishes very quickly. Media planning is there to help, ensuring that the right people see your ad at the right time. This cannot help to correct poor strategy or creative, but understanding that all 3 are working is vital in delivering good advertising. 

How to mitigate risk 

This is all very well and good, but it’s painfully obvious too. Nobody has the aim of creating bad advertising or a weak strategy. It’s all about mitigating risk instead. We do this with data. 

Good advertising is supported by data. There are visionaries out there who simply knew what people want (how many times have you heard people reference Henry Ford and Steve Jobs?), but us mere mortals need data – either to help us come up with ideas, or to support the ideas we have. This helps us to deal with some of the risk when investing in advertising. But so often, the data is just too slow to be effective.  

The power of always-on campaign measurement 

Always-on tracking works whilst the campaign is in-flight, giving brands real-time answers on whether their campaign is meeting its strategic objectives, and if not, why not. It can allow for dynamic decision making, including course correcting on the creative execution, or the media laydown to help drive better performance from the campaign. It’s one of the ways that Delineate, through our Proximity® platform, generates significant return on measurement for our clients. 

In a perfect world, every campaign would be exceptional and there would be no need to measure it at all. But if that’s not the case, why would you take the risk and wait on the results until it’s too late to do anything about it? 



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