Advertising, Creative

3 Urban Legends of Digital Advertising

Written by Tim Edmundson

Oct 12, 2017

Digital advertising has been around for awhile now. And like all things that build up a bit of history, it’s accumulated its own fair share of myths and urban legends. While they aren’t as terrifying as Bloody Mary or the Headless Horseman, they can be just as scary for your campaigns.

Advertising myths and traditional scary stories have one thing in common — they aren’t true. At least we HOPE the scary ones aren’t true — if they are true then that’s absolutely terrifying. But we DEFINITELY know the digital advertising ones are, because we know there’s a better way to run effective and strong-performing campaigns — by using the right tech. Let’s take a look at the top myths and why they just aren’t true.

Myth #1 | You Need a Team of Media Buyers

This is the biggest myth in digital advertising. The story goes you need an army of media buyers to manage your media, assess the value of certain platforms and channels, and then make the high-impact decisions on where your campaigns should run and where your spend should go. And on the surface this makes sense — you need your campaigns to be managed effectively right? The problem is, this is expensive, inefficient, and there’s a better way to manage campaigns — let the computers do it.

“If computers can drive a car, they can probably buy advertising,” said SteelHouse CEO Mark Douglas at Advertising Week 2017, explaining why media buyers are no longer needed. And it’s true, technology has commoditized media buys — algorithms can identify, allocate, and react to campaign performance in real time, completely cutting out the time it takes for a human to identify an issue or trend, work through how to correct it, then enact those corrections.

The SteelHouse Advertising Suite does this automatically — it allocates your budget in real time to whatever channels are performing strongest. It doesn’t require you to input a bid or a target audience, it just finds the best performance available. And this is real performance since it bases its decision on eCPA or ROAS, meaning it only values engagements that lead to conversions. According to ANA, 64% of marketers name a lack of transparency into costs as a top challenge when buying digital advertising. By knowing that your spend is solely being spent to generate revenue, you can rest assured your money is going to the right place.

Myth #2 | You Need to Overwork Your Designers to Keep Up

This story finds its origins in the fact that any campaign worth its salt needs creative in enough sizes to drive performance. And not only do you need enough ad sizes, you need creative variety and the agility required to edit ads to reflect what your campaigns need. And that means constant creative work, designing and redesigning ads, resulting in long lead times.

The solution has been to burden creatives with the manual labor of building out dozens of ad sizes, and then making changes across those sizes every time the campaign called for it. Unfortunately, this is no solution at all — it’s not sustainable, efficient, and puts your ads at risk of causing fatigue among your audience. One in three marketing professionals name a lack of internal resources like time and headcount as a leading cause for digital ad performance.

Thankfully, technology has come to the rescue again and turned this story into the myth it deserves to be. The SteelHouse Advertising Suite automatically optimize ads across 30+ sizes, allowing designers to focus on what they do best — being creative. Without the manual labor of building out countless ad sizes, more focus can be put on the creative process and building ads that are engaging. And with a simple interface that allows for drag and drop ad creation without the need for coding, it removes a huge chunk of the lead time associated with creative development, allowing for easy edits to ads on the fly. So really, give your designers a rest and let them use technology to make their lives easier.

Myth #3 | You Need a Big Production Budget for Video Ads

The last myth we’ll tackle is that you need a large budget to produce and run video ads. This has been the standard thinking for some time — video ads require big budgets and large production teams, so most brands are out of luck, right? Wrong. We’ve touched on this subject before. Thanks to advances in tech, platforms like our Advertising Suite allow you to create video ad content without the need for a ton of resources.

You can do this a couple of ways. The first is taking advantage of any existing video your brand has in its content library. These can be from old projects, commercials, etc. — by recutting them to fit in a six, 15, or 30 second ad, you can give them new life and introduce motion to your digital ads.  For lifestyle-based ads, this is a great, cost effective method that extends the life of already bought-and-paid for content that your brand has laying around.

The second option, which will appeal to brands without existing video content, is by bringing motion to normally static imagery. For example, by showcasing multiple product images in a slideshow, you can introduce motion into your ads. You can also use a visual trick, like panning across a still image of a zoomed in shot of your products, or a landscape. This introduces an eye catching element that will draw your customer’s attention. And with motion in your ad, you stand a much better chance of standing out from the crowded, cluttered ad space.

Don’t Worry, They’re Not Real

Too many marketers still believe these myths to be true. Thankfully, that’s starting to change — technology is allowing more and more brands realize that these old ways of thinking have no place in the modern advertising ecosystem. If you haven’t already, sign up for the Advertising Suite today and put these myths to rest.