Last updated: The future of advertising: Tried & tested rules for effective campaigns

The future of advertising: Tried & tested rules for effective campaigns


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Ad formats change, but humans don’t. Sure, different generations may have different preferences for how they gather information about new products, but that’s all just a change in format. The future of advertising and successful campaigns remains rooted in the same core tenants as always.

What hasn’t changed every in marketing and advertising is that word of mouth recommendation is the most effective way to convince someone to buy your product.

Some may argue that word of mouth is even more important now with influencer advertising so prominent. And sure, influencer advertising certainly has elements of word of mouth, only through a different format and medium, especially when you consider micro-influencer campaigns.

The more things change…

But all of us mere mortals, we have not changed. How we make up our minds has remained relatively consistent since the birth of humanity.

Those ways are thus:

  • Signaling to belong to part of a group or community: Some may call this fear of missing out – FOMO – if they *do not* buy the product.
  • Signaling to reinforce our own ideas of our identity: Perhaps we are rebel or an early adopter or a nonconformist (and therefore a devotee to Apple products).
  • Because we actually need it: For instance, I ran out of toilet paper, and therefore, I need more.

We humans are a social animal, and how well we fit in with our chosen groups and what others think of us are incredibly important to us –– and the products we choose to buy help tell that story.

The future of advertising in 2020, then, isn’t that there will be no advertising, as others have suggested. Instead, it is that good and effective advertising will remain the same.

Let’s recap on some traditional rules to get an understanding of how that will work.

Rules for good advertising in 2020

David Ogilvy’s books may have particular sections that are outdated –– like where you put a discount code or our cultural beliefs / consumer mindset. But he nailed how to format good campaigns and headlines with rules that do not change because humans do not change.

Ogilvy’s rules for writing good ads:

  1. The headline is the “ticket on the meat.” Use it to flag down the readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising.
  2. Every headline should appeal to the reader’s self-interest. It should promise a benefit.
  3. Always try to inject news into your headlines because the consumer is always on the lookout for new products, new ways to use an old product, or new improvements in an old product.
  4. Headlines can be strengthened by emotional words, even if they are cliches. Don’t turn your nose up at them. There’s a reason you see so many people using them. They work.
  5. Five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy, so it is important that these glancers at least be told what brand is advertising.
  6. Include your selling promise in the headline, even if it makes the headline long.
  7. People are more likely to read your body copy if your headline arouses curiosity.
  8. Never write tricky headlines (puns, literary allusions, obscurities). People scan ads. They don’t have time to think on yours.
  9. Research shows that it is dangerous to use negatives in headlines. “Our salt contains no arsenic,” is often read the same as, “Our salt contains arsenic.”

Now, these rules can be broken (and some of the best advertisements indeed break them), but only when the entire campaign is built around a good idea. Otherwise, these rules stand.

Rules for writing good digital ads in 2020

In fact, today, with Facebook advertising costs on the rise, they may apply even more. Andrew Faris, a digital marketing expert who has been in the trenches (not just prophesying about them), recently offered up similar Oglivy advice for the social media advertising era:

Here are his 3 key takeaways from the thread:

  1. The product is the hero in the images.
  2. The headline does a ton of work.“Great advertising starts with the product as the hero and an attention-grabbing headline. When advertisers are producing assets, designing, and writing ads, it starts there: show me the product clearly and give me an enticing headline.”
  3. The long copy sells (Oglivy was a huge believer in this!).“Let me stop you before you ask: no, I’m not saying “long copy sells, so make your copy longer.”

What I’m saying is: after the hero product image and the attention-grabbing headline, the advertiser has to sell the product. And here is where social ad formats create options.”

Faris’s options for this are:

  • A longform sales lander
  • The PDP
  • The copy on the post itself
  • Video in the ad

Here is his example of this:

The future of advertising is the past

Better stated, the future of advertising is understanding people, and why they buy.

Of course you also need to understand the formats you have to work with –– whether that is a newspaper or a magazine, Facebook, or TikTok. The same rules apply; the format is what has changed.

And always remember: “It is a sin to bore your fellow creatures.”

Every digital moment matters.
Are you making the most of them?

1,000 business leaders dish on how to stand out from the crowd with a great CX. Get the details HERE. 

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