What is the Perfect Ad?

August 9, 2017 — by MediaMath    

What is the perfect ad? I’ve set myself up for a tough one here! Let’s suspend reality for a moment and get comfy. This one’s gonna get a little deep…

You’re reading the MediaMath blog, so it’s safe to assume you are into digital marketing, unless you’re reading this because I begged you to (hi friend!) But let’s assume you have been working in marketing for some time and have come to terms with all of the industry slang and acronyms and you’re up on all of the latest bells and whistles that we can feel good about.

You might ask yourself why are we here, and why are so many people spending so much time and money on making advertising better? And what for that matter does better even mean? Selling more stuff is the goal, right? So, the best ad sells the most stuff.

Is it that simple? If a banner ad was served 1,000 times, and 1,000 different people clicked it and bought the product, then that would be perfect, right? If you bought 1,000 impressions and sold 1,000 products. You’d say “Yes – Pete, that sounds pretty freaking perfect. So now we have a definition of perfect; an ad that has zero waste. Every impression generates a business outcome.

Great, now how do we make that ad?

Well, keep suspending belief with me a little longer. Let’s say we’re trying to get 1,000 different people to buy a product from our ad. This ad would need to be something special, we would need to know a lot about these people so we don’t waste any impressions.

Which 1,000 people should see this ad? Since we have no room for error, we need to be confident about the following:

  1. We need to make sure this person needs or wants the product.
  2. We need to make sure this person is ready and willing to buy this product.
  3. We need to make sure this person actually sees our ad.
  4. The ad needs to provide some form of value to the person.
  5. And finally, we need to make sure the ads message resonates with this person.

Sound familiar? For those smart marketers out there, I’m sure you already understand the adage of right person, right time, right place, right message, right blah blah blah.

But it’s safe to say, that if we managed to check the box on all five of the above, the person would buy the product.

The exciting thing for me about all of this, is that every one of those five things is totally doable! It’s hard as hell, especially at any form of scale, but we live in a world where technology is so awesome that we can make a theoretically perfect ad. Here’s how:

  1. We need to make sure this person needs or wants the product
    Data about this person, pulled from a magnitude of available sources, can tell us if this person is interested in a specific product.
  2. We need to make sure that this person is ready and willing to buy this product
    Wanting or needing something isn’t enough. We need to be sure that this person has the means and is ready to purchase. Again, much smarter people than me are able to look at available data to make this assumption.
  3. We need to make sure this person actually sees our ad
    Anyone else love the word viewability? Feels so deliciously made up to solve a self-inflicted problem. But the reality is that our theoretical consumer could be on any device looking at any number of different types of content. She could be distracted, working on multiple things at once, and on multiple devices at once. So, we need to make sure that she sees it. This is arguably the hardest of the five and the most important as we could put all of this work into our ad, and it doesn’t get seen! Just think, our poor little ad spent its whole life working up to this moment, researching and training for its performance, only to do its show completely alone. This makes me irrationally sad. How do we make sure it’s seen!? Well – that’s where tech comes in, and we have some ways to go, but great progress in cross-device targeting, viewability (yum) and the other 300+ ad tech solutions that are out there to solve for this play their part, and eventually it’ll get there.
  4. The ad needs to provide some form of value
    OK, our brave little ad has been seen! The person is interested in the product and ready to buy, but the ad needs to provide some type of value, otherwise the person would have just gone and bought the product already. Maybe it’s a discount, or promoting a new feature they were unaware of that pushed them over the edge, or maybe it was seeing the product being used by a celebrity they love, or it made an emotional connection with them they hadn’t had before. Whatever it is, there has to be value.
  5. And finally, we need to make sure the ads message resonates with this person
    In addition to value, the messaging needs to speak to them directly. This is where creative comes in. (Sorry it took so long.) But this is the part that can make or break our little ad’s chance of being perfect. Don’t F it up! We have them on the hook, just seal the deal. You may have a product that an old lady and a young boy both want, but unless it is communicated correctly the ad will fail. Remember we’re going for a perfect ad!

So, to check yes against all five of these we need the actual creative asset to do a lot. It needs to be specific to the person viewing it. You could make 1,000 different ads and target them to 1,000 different people or you can make the ad dynamic!

Awesome, right? So why aren’t all ads dynamic!?

In part two we will explore what is possible with Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) today, some of the reasons why it isn’t used more and what the future could look like in Part two of What is the Perfect Ad?