Your Sucky Creative is Ruining Your Digital Campaign

By David Berry: Modern advertising technology has made it easier than ever to reach the right users at the right time. It's crazy - and it's now getting extra creepy - just how much advertisers can know about who they're targeting.

But with the technology comes a host of professional risks that may not seem obvious at first. Like getting so caught up in the quality of the targeting, lookalike audiences, conversion tracking, etc. that you almost forget the most important part - none of it matters if you have sucky ads.

Look at your Facebook News Feed. Or the pre-roll ads you're served on YouTube. Sure, they might have all the ad tech in the world behind them, but is stock imagery really 'sticky'? Is B-roll that you borrowed from your TV commercial really going to 'stop thumbs'? The answer is no.

Case in point. Here are the first four promoted posts I could find in my newsfeed:

Anything stick out to you? No? Exactly. Every single one of them is a stock image. And - ironically, given my profession - nearly all are targeted to me by expert digital marketers.

The upside? They've targeted the right person. These ads are relevant to me. The downside? They're really effing boring. They're all stock images. And there is nothing captivating about a single one of them. And I'm not going to click on them. Why? Because they're trying to sell me something to enhance my digital marketing skills, but they've done a poor job of it on their own. And ultimately, that's a wasted dollar.

On the flip side, here are four ads I was just served that I do like.

Why? Let's take them one by one. The first ad - in case you can't read it. The first one is slightly copy heavy, but it has a clear bait question in the copy underneath the image - "Struggling with how to sell from stage?" And then right there on the image, it shows you a script that it has promised to ship you for free. It looks real, and it offers a freebie. That's something I want to click.

The second ad has a strong, statement making visual of a marketer just begging someone to pay attention to them. That's something a lot of struggling marketers could identify with. If an ad makes you say "man, I feel that way too," then you're hooked.

The third and fourth are much simpler - just show the product, and as much of it as possible. Not the sexiest stuff in the world, but far more compelling than just showing a stock photo of a handsome couple, for example. Plus, it is an honest gateway to what I'll see when I click. There's no clickbait, just a clear, compelling message about what I can expect. That's an ad that feels like it can be trusted.

So the next time someone says "but our campaign isn't working!" make sure you've considered whether or not it's worth clicking on at all. You might have great content on the other side of that click, but you'll never earn the right to show it if your creative sucks.