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3 Add-Ons to Enhance Your Online Ads

  |  February 21, 2013   |  Comments

Consumers have come to expect a lot from today's digital ads. It befits advertisers to do all they can to ensure that their messages leave an impression.

So much of a media buyer's time goes into determining which ad units are best suited to a campaign. Should it be Promoted Tweets or Facebook Ads? A video overlay or a rich-media banner? The options are virtually endless.

As critical as finding the right format may be, there's an aspect of the process that's sometimes overlooked. We'll call this the addition of the "add-on." When you've devised a flawless media plan, it's time to take a step back and ask: What can I do about enhancing these ads? How can I make them more interactive? How can I make sure they're engaging?

Consumers have come to expect a lot from today's digital ads. It befits advertisers to do all they can to ensure that their messages leave an impression.

It's easier than you think.

1. Enhance Promoted Tweets with Vine. Many brands have found that including images on Twitter can improve user engagement. Consumers are predisposed to respond to imagery and visual cues, and Twitter isn't so overrun with them yet that they're likely to be overlooked. To date the strategy of choice has been enhancing Promoted Tweets with links to photography or branded videos, because posts will automatically expand to accommodate these within the user's timeline. This allows consumers to sneak a peek without leaving Twitter, and helps to pre-qualify clicks for brands.

The launch of Vine, Twitter's video-sharing app, provides a new alternative for brands looking to enhance their Promoted Tweets. Already advertisers are experimenting with ways to stock their six-second clip. Online retailer Threadless has used Vine to take viewers behind-the-scenes at its unique, graffiti-covered warehouse. Gap Canada has used it to give fans a glimpse into the evolution of Gap jean styles.

Nabisco Wheat Thins used Vine and its product to spell out a Super Bowl-related message, while Red Vines candy leveraged the Vine name in a video of its various products. As Vine videos can be produced on the fly, brands can be responsive to current events and cultural trends. There's no wrong approach, and plenty of potential for creativity.

wheat-thins-vine

2. Add clickable buttons to video ads. As much as the presence of video can enhance ads online, there are ways to make video even more effective. One of them is to make the clips clickable. Adding clickable elements to a video ad makes the medium more interactive. Consumers are encouraged to take action on the spot, when the effect of the video is strongest.

Although there are multiple ad technology companies offering features in this vein, one recently launched a collection of three new ad formats designed to capitalize on video clickability. Real Media Group (part of 24/7 Media) now offers a retractable social media slide bar, a media playlist, and a call-to-action button.

thor-media-playlist

With these tools brands can promote their various social media accounts, provide viewers with access to additional media assets (like movie trailers and multiple TV spots), and link to further product information (such as a dealer finder for an auto brand or an online store for a retailer). It's branding and direct response combined into one powerful media instrument.

3. Include the right hashtag. The Super Bowl showed us that the use of hashtags doesn't always go as planned. That doesn't mean you should shun Twitter and vow never to use one again. Approximately half of the TV spots that aired during this year's event included a hashtag, and brands have had great success with wielding them. In our current social media economy they may well represent the single most effective way to steer a conversation about your brand online.

It's important to choose a hashtag with staying power as opposed to one with limited campaign relevance. Just as ads should be consistent to keep campaigns cohesive, your ads should revisit your chosen hashtag over time. Some experts tout the importance of using a limited number of hashtags, but it all depends on your strategy and your brand's dedication to the social community. Volvo, for example, has numerous hashtags in rotation, including #SwedeSpeak (which relates to a monthly Twitter chat for fans) and #VolvoFacts (designed to help the brand distribute information about its heritage). Recognizing that this could get confusing, the automaker features a legend on its brand site to help users navigate them.

volvo-hashtag

You can add features to your web browser, new hardware to your gaming console, sprinkles to your ice cream cone. Just don't forget to add-on to your ads.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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