Creative 8 Min Read

Make Your Ads Engaging

Written by Tim Edmundson

When it comes to advertising, nothing can be more challenging than grabbing your audience’s attention. It’s why almost every metric is centered around it, and even a low-percentage result can be seen as a win. Finding a sweet spot when it comes to generating engagement can take a lot of trial and error, but thankfully, there are a few ways you can skip the learning curve.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in — whether you’re in automotive, travel, or something  completely dry like finance, ad engagement isn’t determined by your audience, but by the effort put into making them engaging. According to a Celtra study on ad engagement for mobile ads, those dry finance ads actually performed better than other verticals, with a 1.65% engagement rate. Eye-catching ads can serve any industry, as long as the right visual elements are employed, and they’re served at a time and place where users are more prone to engage.

Let’s take a look at some basic tips that will help give your campaigns a boost, from the creative you serve, to when and how you serve it.


Build Eye-Catching Creative

Users are prone to ignore ads on the internet. Think about your personal experience — there’s a good chance you can’t recall the last few ads you saw while browsing, or if you even saw any ads at all. That’s because banner blindness is very real, and afflicts everyone with an internet connection.

You’re fighting against an affliction that keeps users from seeing your ads. And while curing blindness seems like a tall order, there are a few methods you can use to grab audience attention and user engagement — here are a few we recommend.

> Show Your Logo | Ads with prominent logos perform 12% better than those with small or those that blend into the background.

> State Your Promo | Ensure your offer is clear and dominates its space in your ad; whether it’s free shipping, or 25% off, don’t let that message get lost.

> Do the Math | If you’re offering a discount on a specific item, show both the percentage and the actual dollar amount saved. Make the value you’re offering as clear as possible.

> Pick Your Features | Countdown timers create a sense of urgency and the ticking numbers can grab a user’s attention. No one likes to miss out on a deal, use FOMO to your advantage.

> Get Your Ads in Motion | Whether it’s video, animation, or introducing movement into static ads, they’ll benefit from any sort of movement you can add.

Think about that last point anecdotally. Chances are any ads you’ve noticed employed some sort of movement that drew your eye. And speaking statistically, Celtra’s research shows that mobile ads with movement and visual effects perform slightly better than static ads, 1.09% engagement compared to 1.00%. And the lift is higher on larger-format ads where the movement is more pronounced.

Not only does the engagement performance improve, but so does your brand perception among consumers. According to a study in the Journal of Marketing, ads with movement, specifically with a moving product, raise consumer perceptions of novelty. That’s a pretty important thing when you’re trying to stand out from your competitors.


Maximize Engagement by Serving Ads at the Right Time and Place

Once your ads have all the elements needed to capture attention, it’s time to ensure they actually get in front of users by serving them at the right time and place. And that includes seizing opportunities when there’s a higher chance to get the right inventory.

To maximize your ad’s impact, you must approach ad delivery in an intelligent way. Quantcast, for example, warns against a uniform delivery schedule which spaces serving ads evenly across the course of the day. Why? Because the afternoon and evening generally see high levels of inventory, and if you’re spending budget in the mornings, that’s money gone that could be put to better use.

Timing not only affects quality and quantity of inventory, it affects engagement rates as well. Research from Celtra shows that ads perform better, on average, after lunch and in the evening during the workweek, with the morning performing slightly weaker (most likely due to commute time). They also found engagement rises as the week progresses and the weekend gets closer.

Timing really is everything when it comes to your campaign’s performance. It can be a big difference maker when it comes to your overall success. Frustratingly, it also feeds into one of marketers’ greatest weaknesses — actively taking advantage of opportunities when they happen in real time.


Seize Opportunities Through Dynamic Optimization

By analyzing overall trends, as well as your own campaign data, you can find the best time and place to serve your ads. Unfortunately, this is when things get tricky. Campaigns move in real-time, but the optimizations needed to keep your campaign performing can only occur when they’re manually implemented. That means your campaigns will only be as smart as your last optimization, and will miss out on any opportunities that develop in the meantime. Thankfully, technology is coming to the rescue. If adtech is good at one thing, it’s using data intelligently, which has led to the creation algorithms that can tell you when, where, and how to serve your ads.

That leads us to Dynamic Spend Optimization. Affectionately acronymed “DSO,” it uses individual campaign data, as well as billions of data points across the entire SteelHouse network, to decide when and where to serve your ads and spend your budget. And it does it non-stop — there’s no waiting for the next meeting or call to implement changes. It recognizes opportunities and acts on them, giving an edge over a human (who, you know, has to eat, sleep, enjoy weekends, etc.). It doesn’t miss opportunities because it’s always looking for them, and taking action.

Thanks to its relentless, robotic pursuit of ensuring your audience engages with your ads, DSO has been driving strong results. Take, for example, a retargeting campaign for men’s grooming brand Manscaped, in which they drove 87% higher ROAS using DSO when compared to their previous retargeting solution. DSO gave them the ability to take advantage of the moments when their ads would deliver the biggest impact, and their performance is a testament to how effective it was.

Automation has taken hold across many industries, and marketing is no exception. Because data plays such a vital role in advertising, tech that automates and makes that data actionable is a natural evolution for the industry. It’s only a matter of time before advertisers the world over are using DSO to power their campaigns, or something like it.


Make Your Ads Engaging

Whether it’s with the right visual elements, the time and place they’re delivered, or how your ads are served, there are quite a few ways to make your ads engaging. Don’t leave it to chance — follow the advice above, and your ads will be grabbing attention in no time.