Best practices for creative effectiveness

Analysis of more than 13,000 ads reveals the traits that can help your creative achieve maximum impact.
18 May 2022
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Brands and marketers count on effective advertising to both resonate with consumers and help achieve business objectives. It's easier said than done. However, marketers can set themselves up for success by examining those that are leading the way.

Kantar continuously tests advertising creative in order to help clients develop efficient and successful campaigns. As part of Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards, we tested over 13,000 ads across 75 markets. We found several trends in the ads that ranked highest among consumers and have put together best practices to keep in mind when conceptualizing and creating your campaigns  in the U.S. and Canada.

Digital tactics thrive across media

As digital media becomes the established standard, new creative trends are developing, and offline channels are taking a cue from their online counterparts. Advertisers on traditional media have begun utilizing creative styles that we previously only saw on digital advertising.

Many TV ads are adopting styles like tight editing to music that is often used in social media platforms like Tik Tok, or having actors break the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera to engage viewers.

This infusion of digital advertising techniques with traditional formats creates new possibilities and can help brands connect with new audience segments. 

While TV ads are adopting some digital strategies, one trait that has remained almost exclusively an online advertising technique is the use of very short, succinct ads. An effective ad can come in any length, but we have found this style can be successful with consumers when executed correctly. 

For advertisers who aim to make an impact within just a few seconds, we see much faster, tighter editing. This approach is effective when the creative uses visual brand cues, recognizable spokespeople, and identifiable music  or slogans . Kantar’s Link database finds that using a trusted, known celebrity across a campaign can bring attention to a brand. Our Link Database also shows that using the right music in an ad can be an incredibly powerful tool in connecting with consumers, and lack thereof can decrease enjoyment and brand affinity. 

Brands can tell a story effectively in any ad length, but to stand out in a just a few seconds, every detail matters. Our ad testing work with Audi proved this when a 30-second cut down of their underperforming 60-second ad improved brand impact and contributed to their best sales year.

Tapping into emotions is key to effective advertising

When it comes to resonating with consumers, connecting on an emotional level is crucial. applying a creative strategy in advertising that tugs at the heartstrings or makes viewers laugh has long been a staple in advertising. 

Despite this fact, the last twenty years have seen a steady decline in the use of humor in advertising--perhaps driven by,--the boom of purpose advertising which caused some advertisers to shift to a more serious tone. Many advertisers also shied away from using humor during the pandemic. However, Kantar’s AdReaction study shows that humor is the most powerful enhancer of ad receptivity across all generations, making it a powerful tool to help engage your audience and drive advertising effectiveness. 

To do this effectively, we found the element of surprise, being relatable, and the use of comedic characters do the trick with consumers, but it’s also important to navigate cultural conflict confidently and use smart solutions to test, predict, and understand potential responses to ads. 

Another tactic that can be used to tap into emotions are product demos. While the use of product demos don’t necessarily make you think of hitting on an emotional level, we have found that when it feels authentic, natural and maintains the flow of the ad, demos can be highly effective at creating empathy with consumers and this can lead to stronger advertising performance. 

Indeed, among thousands of ads we tested globally, we found that those incorporating product benefits are more persuasive, with a ten-point increase in persuasion. Further, we see a ten-point increase in brand affinity when showing the product in use or consumption. Clearly these tactics are inextricably linked to advertising effectiveness.

Brands that use demos as part of their advertising strategy successfully show that they are there to advise, support and celebrate consumers. With new advertising techniques and more creative approaches to embed the product into the storyline, the product demo can be very successful  provided it is executed correctly.

Brand building – a global view

Building a global brand is no easy task, and creative plays a huge role in creating a brand’s image. Many brands want to build a consistent perception among viewers globally, but achieving it with the same creative copy across markets can be a challenge. Unfortunately, it is often the case that most ads simply do not travel well. This puts the onus on marketers and creative agencies to understand their audiences and make creative choices that are effective locally, while supporting the global brand vision. It’s all about using a creative strategy in advertising that serves both global and local needs.

The same holds true when creating national versus local ads across North America. An ad that is well perceived in the northeast, may get a very different reaction in the southwest. Whether building out a national campaign, or hypertargeting on a local level, brands must adhere to their DNA using similar creative across channels and markets to create a consistent and cohesive vision that can be just as easily executed on digital advertising as TV advertising.

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards prove that agencies and clients are supremely adaptable to a changing world: they continue to apply a creative strategy in advertising and embrace new media formats and channels which are fast evolving. To learn more about the most effective advertising and view the winners of the 2021 Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards, watch our webinar on demand now.   

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