Marketers Are Doing Banner Ads All Wrong

by Todd Lilly, Senior Digital Producer

Retargeting Ads: Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em

It all started out so innocently. You liked the crazy cool shoes on Facebook or you did a quick search to see how much the “must-have” toy is that your kid mentions every single time “that” commercial airs.

Time passes. And then it hits. And hits again. Over and over again — for the next 30 days. Those pesky retargeting ads. Acting as if they are your best friend — just dropping you a friendly reminder that you may have “forgotten” to hit that order button during checkout.

Heck, maybe you actually got dressed the next morning, raced to the store at 9 am and bought the shoes or the toy. But, the banner doesn’t seem to care, does it? It’s relentless. And worse off, what started as a smart, intuitive utility has turned into the complete opposite.

The brand, presenting itself in the form of a banner is truly oblivious to the situation. It’s doesn’t know whether you bought it, can’t afford it, found something better, or the whim just passed.

 

But, What If The Banner Asked You A Simple Question?

Something like — “You still interested?” and offered the user a choice — “Yes” or “No” at the bottom of the banner.

Why? It’s beautifully curious. It’s not pushy, aggressive or presumptuous. It solicits feedback and implies that the brand respects you enough to make sure it’s staying relevant. That’s what makes digital so special. Anything less than this is what we affectionately refer to as “digital laziness.”

Let’s empower users to start conversations, give us feedback and make us smarter, more informed and intuitive retailers/brands/marketers. After all, isn’t it better to ask the question than to just assume? What’s that saying about making assumptions (don’t make me say it — because, you’re likely answering it in your head as you read this).

 

Elementary, My Dear Watson

This is not just theoretical, pie-in-the-sky thinking. It’s already in motion and it’s getting increasingly more sophisticated. In October, The Weather Company and IBM were the first to start serving display ads created by Watson, offering contextual relevance for users based on individual location, as well as additional info gathered through user interactions. During an interview with AdWeek, Jeremy Steinberg, IBM’s global head of sales for The Weather Company, stated: “Watson will be able to understand what a user is asking for, think about the answer and then provide experiences related to the brand that are actually useful for the consumer.”

“We really believe that this is the new frontier in advertising,” Steinberg said. “Watson listens, thinks, responds.”

 

Getting To Know Your Customers

Addressability is a hot buzzword these days, yet in practice it is still very theoretical and not fully baked into the consumer journey. Perhaps conversational banners have the potential to fast-track addressability and true personalization into digital platforms immediately.

So, when it comes to life in the digital space let’s not get lazy, complacent or rest on our laurels. Let’s challenge ourselves as marketers and brand ambassadors to think about using the digital platform for what truly makes it unique and special — facilitating conversations. The beauty of digital is the ability to spark, feed and nurture a dialog with consumers.

Our customers will thank us.

And maybe — just maybe — users will start looking forward to seeing the “getting-to-know-you” banner of the future. A banner that doesn’t creep us out, isn’t so pushy or clueless, and can actually make our lives better in the process.

 

Starting The Conversation

Think about the first branded message as being a conversation starter that answers the “who” and the “what.” As you hook your audience and pique their curiosity, offer creative messaging that answers the “how” and “when” that guides them farther through the purchase funnel. And when they are fully engaged, help them answer “where” to purchase it.

So while addressable advertising is cool, exciting and, no doubt, the future — it’s just the start to a conversation to be had.

 

Speaking of which, we can’t close this out without asking you what you think (we have to practice what we preach, right?).

So, we want to know — do you think you’re currently harnessing the beauty of what makes digital truly unique? 

Gaby Sosa
Gsosa@dieste.com