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How to Create Engaging Ads: Good, Better, and Best Practices

  |  September 13, 2013   |  Comments

Putting engagement to work for your brand on mobile video.

It's no secret that mobile devices offer brand marketers the opportunity to engage with consumers on a highly personal device. Commanding mobile users' attention at home and on the go, throughout the day and during primetime, smartphones and tablets provide advertisers with the fullscreen, undivided immersion they need to execute effective and compelling campaigns. The key for mobile marketers is to use engagement to hook consumers and generate increased enthusiasm for the brand, converting general interest into sales and brand buyers into brand fanatics.

When it comes to engagement, there are good, better, and best practices when creating mobile campaigns. On the engagement best practices continuum, any form of engagement is better than none, but the best engagement is deeply integrated into the ad creative, native, and offers a clear benefit to the consumer who is bold enough to click through for more. These are the three levels of engagement:

Level 1: After-the-Fact Engagement

After-the-fact engagement looks like this: a made-for-TV advertisement plays as a 30-second mobile video or a shortened 15-second version using similar content. Either throughout the video or at the end using an end card, the brand provides a simple call-to-action like "Tap to View Website," encouraging the consumer to click through to learn more. While this particular ad execution provides easier access to engagement than, say print or analog alternatives, the call-to-action is often too inconspicuous to merit stellar engagement rates (anything over 2 to 3 percent).

Level 2: Branded, Relevant Engagement

Branded engagement looks similar to after-the-fact engagement, but instead offers a branded, highly relevant call-to-action. The mobile video or display creative may look quite similar to its TV or print counterparts, but engagement is a vital and well-thought-out part of the ad experience. Displaying a branded button throughout the video and/or a branded end card after the video winds down, mobile marketers remind consumers who they're engaging with and why. Instead of simply suggesting users tap to a website for the sake of tapping to a website, the call-to-action suggests users do something tangible and immediate, like book their next trip, watch the full trailer, buy movie tickets, or compare and explore product details.

Level 3: Integrated Engagement Offering a Clear Benefit

The most engaging mobile ads are those designed for the mobile experience. When it comes to rich media, these ads often take the form of games, integrating branded content into fun activities that pull the consumer into the brand's universe for minutes at a time. Especially good branded games subtly encourage users to explore more aspects of the product or brand experience without being overtly promotional.

Integrated engagement on mobile video ads is slightly trickier. The best examples include video creative that mimics the publisher's content and acknowledges that the video is being watched on a mobile device.

A great example of integrated engagement from the online world is the Capital One Venture Card ads on Hulu. Imitating Hulu's "ad selector" feature, Alec Baldwin stands in front of Hulu's "Which ad experience do you prefer?" screen. Choosing scuba, the screen behind him switches to an envy-worthy underwater scene, illustrating that Capital One has "double miles you can actually use." This particular ad is native, integrated, but not necessarily click-worthy, especially for the lean-back Hulu watcher who is nowhere near her keyboard and mouse.

In a lean-forward mobile environment, this ad along with a clear call-to-action like "see where double miles could take you" and a designated landing page would be a perfect example of level three engagement - integrated and offering a clear benefit to the consumer through interaction.

While engagement is merely one of many metrics for determining mobile campaign success, it is a hugely effective way for marketers to draw consumers into their brands. For some brands, level one "after-the-fact" engagement may be enough, but it behooves most to think about designing ad campaigns around the engagement experience, rather than leaving it as an afterthought.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.



Paul Bremer

Paul is an accomplished and well-respected expert in digital media, bringing nearly 20 years of successful digital advertising sales and management to his role as general manager of Rhythm, the mobile division of blinkx.

In 2008, before joining Rhythm, Paul co-founded Inflection Point Media, a media company that helps marketers reach small and medium-sized business decision makers.

In addition to a series of management and sales positions with WebMD, Lycos, and The Wall Street Journal, Paul also directed national sales teams at Internet Broadcasting, where he oversaw sales initiatives across IB's more than 80 TV station partner sites. He also led sales efforts for NBCOlympics.com for the 2004 and 2006 Olympic Games, where he established relationships with blue chip advertisers that led to record-breaking revenue and first-time profitability for the sites.

Paul is also a co-founding board member of two charities, The Tom Deierlein Foundation that works to improve the lives of Iraqi children and the Rough Riders Foundation that supports better education for underprivileged youth. He earned a B.S. in History and Diplomacy from Georgetown University. He and his wife, Laura, live in Connecticut with their three children.

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