If your ad engagement rates are low, consider this: at least 86% of TV watchers are completely skipping ads. More consumers are getting ad-free tv through streaming and ad-blocking software is doubling year-over-year. So what does this mean for advertisers? You’ll have to get creative. First off, forget TV commercials when it comes to advertising. Advertise on YouTube instead. Placing an add at the beginning of a YouTube video is more likely to engage your consumer for a few reasons. One: They actively searched for the content they’re watching, meaning they are more engaged. Two: They are actively looking at their screens, whereas with TV, the TV is used as background noise. Three: Ads can be better tailored to the user by utilizing analytics and cookies on YouTube’s part. I often get so sucked into the ads that come before the YouTube video that I forget to skip them (looking at you Masterclass). This isn’t just because my eyes are on the screen, but also because I am interested in the story the advert is selling me (more to come on storytelling, below).

If you want to advertise outside of YouTube, consider using Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality is a new frontier for communications professionals. Snapchat has created a feature where they have sponsored content filters and songs. For example, a few summers ago they had a Lana Del Rey filter which would add a flower crown to your head and play a song from her newest album. Maybelline also partners with Snapchat to promote new make-up looks by applying a simulation of the look to the users face. These are subtle and fun ads. By incorporating the consumer into the ad, it becomes an “ad-tivity” making it more fun. Even TikTok has found a way to have users tag a sponsor and be featured in the main page. The blurring of lines between entertainment and advertising has been coming for years via product placements and celebrity endorsements. Ads that can slyly integrate themselves and become a form of entertainment are winning the advertising space right now.  

Most importantly, make the ads fun. The best example of entertaining advertisements are the Super Bowl. Both sports fans and non-sports fans alike watch the Super Bowl and look forward to the ads. This is because these ads are worthy to be seen. They make us laugh, make us cry, they raise awareness. If we could make digital ads worthy to be seen instead of lazy graphics that consumers try to close out of immediately, advertisers could justify them.

However, before an advertiser can consider the aforementioned options for advertising, they need to have two things down-packed first: A community around their brand and the ability to storytell. Consumers want to feel as though they are members of the brands they love. They want to feel as though the brand aligns with their values and that the community around the brand welcomes them. By creating ad-tivities for your consumers, you cement the feeling of community around the brand. Secondly, the ability to storytell is the basis for any and all good advertising. Remember when I said Superbowl adverts made us laugh, cry, and reminisce and you nodded your head in agreement? That is because storytelling is the very basis of Superbowl ads. You don’t need to have the cash to run Superbowl ads, you just need to have the ability to tell a captivating story about your brand. Without a good story, the adverts will fall flat, no matter how meticulously placed. When we can make the consumer feel both engaged via community and engaged via emotion, we have successfully created a good ad. Now, put that engaging ad right where the consumers eyes are: on their smartphone using ad-tivities.