Give Your Audience a Personalized Message

One way to spot good online creative is to see whether it “personalizes” the message. Does it “touch a nerve” with your target audience (without pressing down on it too hard)? Does it push the medium by taking what you know about the viewer and conveying it in the message itself?

Most people would be appalled if they saw a banner that said, “Hey, John, since today is your birthday and you just bought a book about XYZ, we think you would also love this video about XYZ.” That, of course, would set off privacy alarms and flood your servers with a backlash of emails.

But what if you could personalize the message without invading the user’s privacy? This can be done across all forms of online media emails, banners, sponsorships, etc. Here are a few examples:

  • A banner that “knows” what you just typed into a search box. If you type in “football,” an ad pops up that says “Looking to buy a football? Check out the selection at” No matter what you type in, it says “Looking to buy _________? Check out the selection at”

  • Some email marketing companies have the ability to retarget email ads. What if you were able to send a second message to the people who received your email and visited your site but didn’t register? It could say “We noticed you came to our site and left. Here’s a free $20 gift for you to reconsider registration.”
  • A banner ad that is targeted to, say, people with Texas zip codes that says “Cheapest Airfares to Dallas.”
  • An email ad that delivers different messages to .edu addresses than to .com addresses.
  • A rich media banner that includes a search box, allowing users to personalize their experience. They input keywords, hit “submit,” and go directly to the area of your site that’s relevant to them.

The key to personalizing the message starts with the creative concepting phase. Currently, there is a metamorphosis occurring in the traditional method of creative brainstorming. It doesn’t just start and end with the creative team as it once did. Now, several parties get involved in coming up with a good concept.

For starters, the online media planners are a great source for ideas. They know about the latest targeting methods (keywords, SIC codes, geo-targeting) and the latest ad serving technologies (rich media, PalmPilots, cell phones). They understand the target audience because they’re choosing the sites, and they know what kinds of ads work best on those sites.

Then there’s your programmer, who is the barometer of just how far you can “push the medium” and still make the technology work. You’d be surprised how creative the average type A programmer can be if given a challenge.

And don’t forget the account executives (AEs). They know the client best and what kind of creative will be well received by the client. They have a keen insight into the client’s needs and target audience.

The next time you concept an online ad, instead of just cutting a work order and dropping it off with the creative department, try putting your creative team, your media folks, your AEs, and, heck, even your client in a room together for one giant brainstorming session.

The result instead of getting substandard banners that rotate your message like a billboard you pass on the highway, you’ll get creative that reaches out, grabs your audience, and speaks to your audience in a personalized, targeted way.

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