I’ll get right to the point; we live in an age of noise. From the moment you wake up, to right before you close your eyes and shut down for the night, you are a target. From marketing firms to ad buyers to local businesses, everyone is vying for your attention like a pack of slathering hyenas (or maybe a bunch of cute attention deprived puppies if this image is more pleasant). In the U.S., digital ad buying hit 129 billion dollars in 2019, surpassing all offline advertising for the first time with online media buys set to generate $172 billion in revenue by 2021. So, if you’re in any way connected to the internet, these entities have you in their crosshairs.
So, how exactly do these companies, with vast amounts of competition for your attention, break through all the noise? The answer to this question is the “Holy Grail” to online advertisers. And, as technology advances, so do the marketing techniques. While most online strategies focus on tracking and targeting using a variety of technological black magic, one old school strategy remains as relevant now as it did in the stone age: imagery.
As the Creative Director at Diamond Media Solutions, I am here to make sure the product individuals see is effective and creates a bond of trust between the consumer and the advertiser. Many in the industry may tell you the vehicle for an effective campaign would be the platform in which the user is seeing the message, but I disagree. I believe creative is the vehicle, while the platform is the road. If a user is bombarded with garish, confusing, or just plain annoying messaging, the campaign will fail every time. Not only does bad creative just add useless noise to the din of online advertising, it wastes everyone’s time and money (ultimately the cardinal sin for any business). I want to go over a few ways I approach this problem in relation to Creative as a SERVICE and why it’s important.
Branding is the identity of the business trying to get your attention. It’s like online dating; no one wants to get involved with the socially awkward, unattractive, stage-5 clinger that stalks them around the internet. This is why branding is so important in building trust between the advertiser and the individual. Once the business has attractive branding that exudes trust and integrity, then we can move onto the more difficult part: the messaging.
Let’s face it, you can only cram so much information in such a small space. This has been a sticking point since the beginning of display advertising. Of course, many advertisers will insist that maybe they’ll reach just the right person if they include messages for every person in existence. While this may have been effective in the past, new approaches to targeted direct mail and online advertising mean it’s easier than ever to hone your message clearly and concisely to the right consumer. So, please stop yelling into the void. It’s noisy enough already.
This is the fun part (at least for us creatives). So, we have a brand that builds trust and a clear message. Now, how does one present this information to the viewer? Your advertising campaign lives or dies by the quality of the creative. Let’s go over some typical objectives art directors face when presenting a message on behalf of the advertiser:
- What kind of emotional response do we want to achieve from the viewer?
- Is the artwork used supporting the message?
- Is the presentation enough to get noticed by the viewer?
- Is there anything we can do to amplify the message and get the attention of the viewer?
- Are there any techniques that haven’t been used before?
With these questions in mind, the creative process can proceed. So many advertising campaigns get thrown together in haste without even considering questions like these and the results end up speaking for themselves (spoiler alert: they’re not good). With a strong creative department that understands these problems from beginning to end, about 90% of the work involved in creating a successful campaign is done for you. Experience is important and it totally matters. (Since I started at Diamond Media Solutions over 15 years ago, I’ve seen the face of marketing evolve and change and have made it my mission to adapt our creative department and the medium to its limits).
Creative as a service
Trusting your brand to a second party is a major exercise in trust. It’s important to consider just what consumers are seeing as an extension of your business. Bad creative, messy messaging, and poor execution can damage your brand in multiple ways; therefore, it is incredibly important to consider a design firm or marketing company that focuses on their artwork as well as results. Consider Diamond Media Solutions for your marketing and branding needs. I personally welcome the challenge and I’m here for it.
Keith Stewart is the Creative Director for Diamond Media Solutions.