What does an Ad even do? | April 26, 2022
Do we ever stop to ask ourselves the question, what does an ad even do? Well, of course you’re going to say it helps me grow my business and build my brand. Sure, maybe that’s the case in aggregate, but what does an individual ad actually do to the person who reads it and what is the range of possibilities? Let’s find out.
One of the first things an ad can do is share knowledge. It can inform the reader about your product. Even before that, it can spread awareness of your brand itself. If people don’t know a company exists, they can never buy from it. If they don’t know a product exists, they can never buy that product. So ads can promote public awareness of both the brand and its products. This is why even the best-known companies continue to run awareness ads.
Imagine if Apple came up with a great new iPhone which they called the iPhone Super Slim, and they priced it amazingly low. Now, if nobody knew about it, how many sales are they going to make?
Not many, right? Obviously, a marketing-savvy company like Apple would never let this happen. Apple spends billions on advertising and even then there’ll still be some folks who say, “Oh wow, I didn’t know there’s a new iPhone and it looks really great.”
Advertising can help inform consumers about your company or your product, or both. And advertising will move consumers to a heightened level of knowledge. In other words, advertising informs the market!
Imagine if Apple came up with a great new iPhone known as the iPhone Super Slim, at an amazingly low price, but people didn’t know a thing about it. How many people are going to rush out to buy it?
The next effect an ad can watch on somebody who is watching is remind them. People almost never make a decision to purchase something upon first interaction with it for various reasons:
- Trust: The product hasn’t established that vital trust factor in the minds of its target market. This is either because it’s the first time people have seen the product or it’s because the product benefits haven’t become clear in their minds yet.
- Interest: They’re not interested in the product either because they don’t know about a key feature or they don’t yet see how this feature would benefit them.
- Psychological: They are not yet mentally ready to make the purchase because they haven’t spent enough time chewing over the decision. They need more time to convince themselves to buy that new laptop.
- Financial: They’re waiting for additional funds to make the purchase or they’re waiting for a discount to be announced.
- Time of day: Some keen buyers will not purchase the first time they see your product because they’re at work or they don’t have enough time to complete the purchase right away.
- Occasion: Others like your product but they plan to purchase it later, say, for a birthday or anniversary coming up in 2 months.
These are some of the reasons why people who have the potential of eventually being customers did not make a purchase the first time they interacted with your brand or your advertising. Given that we humans are forgetful, especially in this day and age where there is so much noise in our everyday lives, your ads help remind people about your product and its benefits.
Ads increase the likelihood of consumers being aware of your product when the decision factors align for them. A purchase happens when desire intersects with ability to purchase.
So perhaps somebody is considering the product you’re selling, and she already thinks it’s a great idea. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee she will buy your product. She could still go to a competitor. Today she might have liked the latest phone from Apple, but tomorrow she might go with Samsung after all… because she saw a Samsung promotion.
To minimize that risk, you can run visibility ads that continue to highlight the key features of your product. Those ads can be instrumental in convincing the customer to choose your product. It’s the reason why huge companies continue to compete for visibility with features or promotions that are sometimes relatively meaningless. Such as “world’s thinnest phone” when it’s only thinner by 1mm from the next phone. When companies run visibility ads, whether they’re about the features of their product lines, or the benefits, it can make for great advertising and it can provide additional fuel to convince potential buyers.
Finally, let’s say somebody is convinced that your product is the way to go and he has the ability to make the purchase. Even so, he might still need a little extra motivation to get him over the line.
It could be a slight discount, a promotional offer, a new color option, a limited time offer, etc. Your ad would provide that little extra nudge. Your ad could be the catalyst to bridge the gap between his desire and actually making the purchase.
When we better understand the people we’re selling to...
Understanding what occurs at a granular level when real people see our ads is key towards driving a successful advertising strategy. Knowing the range of reactions that ads can trigger can help businesses make smart decisions about the content and purpose of each ad.
It’s important to ask “what are we trying to achieve with this ad?”
An ad or a piece of written content can be useful for one or more of the goals we’ve discussed. But note this. Any piece of content that doesn’t hit at least ONE of these goals is unlikely to be successful at all.
Understanding the reasons why customers don’t buy the first time they see your promotions can help in developing business value propositions that inform effective content.
It can also aid in developing an audience pipeline strategy.
At the end of the day, with all the complexity of ads and all the different means and methods of ad delivery, it’s easy to lose sight of one important reality. And what’s that, you ask? That on the receiving end of every ad is a person. A real live human being, with all their emotions and all their reasons for buying (or not buying) things. Remembering this is vital whenever you’re putting together an effective advertising strategy.