2-D vs. 3-D Campaigns

As on online media professional, I pay special attention to the major brand ads I see flashing, popping, streaming, and inserting themselves into my online experience. The difference between 2-D and 3-D campaigns becomes very clear through this. The 2-D creative unit is offline creative that was simply resized to fit into the banner space. The 3-D unit is creative that was either conceived or redesigned to take advantage of the data capture, meaningful brand interaction, and customer analytic possibilities online media have to offer.

It’s really the difference between campaigns that are simply trying to get you to think, feel, or know something in which a click might be an added benefit and campaigns that accomplish all that plus encourage some sort of measurable desired behavior that escalates purchase intent or moves prospects down the sales funnel.

As an online media professional for a strictly online agency, I’m sometimes partnered precariously with offline agencies that wish to add an online component to a client’s campaign. In these situations, we’re asked to apply the performance-driven ethos expected for an interactive campaign. Our media buys are aggressively negotiated with myriad value-added placements and cancellation clauses, and we apply all the banner-serving and campaign-tracking technology that enables end-to-end tracking and analysis.

Here’s the rub: Very often we, as the online media agency, somehow assume 100 percent responsibility for the campaign’s success with zero influence on the creative that’s presented throughout the campaign we’re managing. Frequently, the ads have no benefit or offer statements to encourage clicks or interaction, and the pages they send traffic to have no clearly defined actions for users to engage in. It’s like people forgot that even the best media plans can only deliver your ad to the right audience, and that it’s the ad (or creative) that generates the click and resulting actions.

More challenging is the fact that the online campaign often directly mirrors what’s running offline. Different banner versions are actually so similar that if one tanks, they’ll all tank. How do you optimize the creative running in a campaign if all the banners essentially look the same, offer nothing of immediate value, and, as a result, have no CTR (define)?

You can’t.

I hear a lot of vocalization about online’s efficiency at raising brand awareness, and I totally agree. No one will love it more than I when the client side starts to exclusively apply brand awareness metrics to online campaign success. For those clients and agencies that don’t mind if their online campaign click and action rates mirror those of highway billboards, this column may be not have much relevance. But I have yet to work with a client who totally ignored the click and action results of its online campaigns and accepts fully the notion that branding made it all worthwhile.

For those interested in results that go beyond the impression, let us media people have a place at the creative table. After all, we’re the ones tracking your creative results. We’ve learned a thing or two in the last decade.

Here are some suggestions from the online media side of the house that can help offline creatives apply some interactive 3-D logic to online concepts:

  • Be diverse. Without minimizing the importance of branding, remember to balance brand and campaign consistency with the need to have a wide variety of highly distinct banner concepts. The bigger the difference in your banner executions the better, if you’re trying to find the jewels that will deliver the highest click rates.

  • Be valuable. Two elements most influence clicks: benefits and calls to action. Online creative must say, “This is how we can help you,” and “Here’s something of value for you right now.” Adding this type of value-focused immediacy can do wonders for results and ROI (define).
  • Be quick. Skip the long lead-in and start with the offer. If your ad’s offer or call to action is five frames and 20 seconds down the ad sequence, there’s very little chance the user will hang around for a payoff.
  • Be linear. Ensure landing pages are highly focused and continue to build on the benefit statements begun in your banners. Deliver instantly on the offers in your calls to action.
  • Be measurably interactive. Don’t let clients tell you it’s a brand-building campaign if they’re judging success by the CPA (define). List the action metrics that will make or break your campaign’s success, then plan banners and landing pages around driving those actions.

Always invite the online media team to creative kickoff meetings, and start creative briefs and kickoff meetings with these five pointers. Chances are you’ll end up with a far more dimensional campaign that creates results that will make your clients smile when they see the tracking reports.

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