Advertising has long been considered an art form, with awards celebrating compelling and iconic ads in a range of formats. Part of the allure in advertising has always been in part the mystery of why some advertisements become the gold standard while others fall flat - but when it comes to your business, that mystery is a liability.
Fortunately, advances in data and technology can bring more clarity to which ads will be effective, giving you a much clearer path to success than advertisers who came before you.
The Risky History of Advertising
Advertising has a surprisingly long history, dating back to the first print advertisement in 1472 and the first newspaper ad in 1704. Over the years, the industry evolved with the creation of promotional billboards, the establishment of advertising agencies, the first direct mail promotions, and radio advertisements.
The owners of these early ads bought, created and published them without having any indication of whether or not they would see any sales as a result. All that brands and agencies could do is design copy they believed would be effective and hope that they saw a positive return on their investment. Advertising was very much a gamble.
That just began to change in the 1930s, as copywriter John Caples championed testing of ads, from the headline to that final persuasive word of copy. His efforts to bring a more scientific approach to the art of advertising was a major step toward making a seemingly unpredictable industry one that could be better qualified. Although it was just the beginning, Caples' techniques held the promise of removing some of the mystery from creating an advertisement that effectively brought in more sales.
With the advent of television advertisements, the number, and variety of ads reaching consumers only increased. Some, like Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad, were destined to be iconic moments in the advertising industry, while others launched taglines that have stood the test of time, such as Nike's "Just Do It." The vast majority were far less successful and had already been forgotten - and still, there was no accurate way to predict which ads would succeed and which would fail.
The invention of the internet brought with it new opportunities for advertisers, or, as banner ads and pop-ups would come to be seen, new ways to annoy users of the web. Behind the somewhat deceptive design of the early internet ads was something beneficial to both advertisers and consumers.
Pay-per-click (PPC) technology offered new information on just how many website visitors found a particular ad enticing enough to click, providing new data for advertisers. But what PPC data couldn't tell brands and agencies was precisely why those potential customers made those clicks.
A More Intelligent Way to Advertise
That's not the end of the story when it comes to the ad industry's evolution. Evolving with the rapid pace of technology, today's ads hold the promise - and the power - of effectively knowing which ads will convert viewers to buyers, as well as just what makes those ads successful, down to the smallest details.
Imagine crafting your next advertising campaign with full confidence that it will be successful, knowing that every element, from the words to the colors, has been optimized for your intended audience.
Imagine comparing different ad versions and knowing which will perform the best even before you hit "publish." Imagine being able to continuously refine your ads, staying on top of trends and deteriorating campaigns so that the advertisements you send out will always be the most effective ones.
This is the promise on which smart ads deliver.
What are Smart Ads?
On the outside - to your target audience - smart ads will look very much like regular advertisements, except that these ads do a far better job of delivering the right message in the right format to the right lead at the right time. Using the latest developments in artificial intelligence and automation, smart ads turn the ambiguous and highly subjective process of advertising into one that is surprisingly predictable and far more efficient.
Very few are taking advantage of these technologies to lift the cloud of advertising's subjectivity with real data and intelligent systems. A recent survey of marketers by Wakefield Research revealed that while 77 percent of marketers were convinced that AI is a critical trend in the industry, 90 percent said that they weren't currently using it. That means the vast majority of marketers are still approaching advertising from a reactive perspective - making changes to design and content after an ad has been published and campaign data has come back in.
You might be part of that group, knowing that there are tools available for crafting more effective ads but not sure where to start removing the guesswork from your campaigns. With smart advertisements, you can employ a highly data-driven approach that uses AI-powered machine learning to organize and evaluate large volumes of data. The valuable data from these insights can the be used to power predictive analysis that assists with every stage of advertising, from creative ideation and design to selection and campaign optimization.
The Four Keys to Smarter Ads
While that may sound more complicated than your current campaign creation process, it's the technology that does all of the hard work. Smarter ads make it easier for you to publish ads that you know will convert visitors to loyal customers, while automation tools make more efficient use of your time. When it comes to crafting truly intelligent campaigns, there are four critical components to understand: data, AI or machine learning, automation and creative relevance.
The backbone of any intelligent ad campaign is the data that you feed into the process at the very beginning. A larger body of information to work with may give you a better chance to pull out insights that will help you craft compelling ads. However, the quantity of information alone is not sufficient to ensure your success, quality of data is critical to effectively using intelligent advertising. Beginning with faulty or incomplete data can introduce bias or errors into the process that will plague your campaigns from start to finish.
Today's technology makes it easier not only to collect a wealth of information but also to ensure that it accurately reflects on your target audience, industry, and ad campaigns. As that amount of data available to you and other marketers continues to grow, properly analyzing that data grows even more important.
According to Marketing Week's research, although only 30 percent of marketers believe advertising has become more important in their marketing efforts, 79 percent stated that data analysis has taken on more prominence. Artificial Intelligence both provides those valuable insights and applies them to your advertising campaigns.
Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
Machine learning is a specific category of artificial intelligence that involves computer programs using algorithms to continue to learn and advance on their own when presented with new data. These computer programs can then apply these insights to new situations and for making predictions. These predictions are especially useful when it comes to creating ads in which you can have confidence.
In particular, insights and performance estimates offered by machine learning can help you meet that ultimate marketing goal of right message, right time, right person. Marketers who use predictive analytics are twice as likely to accurately identify their high-value customers and to target them with the right message. Machine learning can also provide ongoing insights, allowing you to stay on top of changes in your core audience and ad performance and continuously refine your campaigns to stay relevant.
Another recent development in information and advertising technology, automation has influenced several aspects of the advertising process. Programmatic systems apply algorithms to make real-time bids on ad inventory for you, using your settings (and data insights) to display your ads to the right customers on the right websites.
Compared to manual bidding on ad space, this automation is a clear time-saving tool. It also has two other advantages that make your campaigns more effective: better targeting and lower overall advertising cost.
The power of automation is much more precise in selecting the right places to display ads than one individual could be. And programmatic ad bidding means less of your advertising budget is spent on underperforming ads.
Smarter advertising is not just about a better understanding and targeting of your core audience. It also involves ensuring that your ads have creative relevance for the customers that you want to reach.
AI and data collection tools can provide insights on the right colors, words, and symbols to use in your ads, putting those details together in a way that speaks to your target leads and encourages sales. Smarter ads also help you continue to refine and improve the effectiveness of each ad campaign.
Smart Ad Benefits
There is a wide range of significant benefits to deploying smart ads as part of your marketing process, starting with lifting the ambiguity around the ads and creative elements that will result in the most conversions.
The use of intelligent tools will save you time at several points in the process, from market and audience research to programmatic ad building and ongoing campaign optimization.
Smart ads also represent a more intelligent use of financial and time resources. As you are only publishing the ads predicted to succeed and deploying them where they will best reach your ideal customers.