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Creating engaging retail ads that get more clicks

Whether walking down the street or scrolling through a newsfeed, consumers see countless amounts of ads daily. 

Retailers are increasingly struggling to cut through this noise, as consumers have become accustomed to ignoring ads with “banner blindness” or outright blocking them with software. To grow a retail business, marketers must diversify the methods and visuals they use to engage their audience. 

While some brands may rely solely on brainstorming sessions to develop what they think might be the most effective tagline, copy or visual, this can be a time-consuming process and may result in a costly mistake. 

Paul Roetzer, the founder of The Marketing AI Institute, summarized this well when he said: “To succeed, marketers need to remove their biases. In 2021, we’ll see less reliance on human intuition and a greater reliance on data. Data will predict what drives efficiency. Blend those findings with your creative intuition.”

I agree, and at Pattern89, we use predictive artificial intelligence (AI) to help drive efficiency. Here is what the data has to say about creating more engaging digital ads. 

Audiences will begin to prefer video-based ads 
In 2021, we predict video ads will start outperforming image ads more consistently. But this is a new development, as image-based ads have traditionally performed better with a lower cost per thousand impressions (CPM). 

If you aren’t already running video ads, consider this: in a newsfeed full of static visuals or text, videos create dynamic, eye-catching moments that can illustrate your brand’s personality as much as your products. While video ads do cost more, we’re seeing an uptick in total spend on videos — more advertisers are incorporating video ads into their strategies — and an 18% decrease in CPMs. 

To build out your video strategy, try the following:

●    Run your ads in Facebook or Instagram Stories. This channel has the lowest CPM compared to alternative video placements, like the respective newsfeeds. Videos in Stories have also been consistently rising in CTR. 
●    Keep them short: top-performing video ads run between 35-45 seconds.
●    Or keep them long: if you can’t fit everything into 45 seconds or less, go longer than a minute. Pattern89 data shows top-performing lengthy ads were between 2.5 to three minutes long. 

Rethink click-worthy visuals and copy 
Regardless of what you’re selling, COVID-19 has infiltrated many aspects of our day-to-day lives, including the visuals we see in ads. 

For example, while large-scale crowds or people huddled together may have been harmless in 2019, the sentiment around this can range from outdated to harmful. In general, our data is showing people-related tags are trending downward. However, you might be surprised to hear the pandemic didn’t start this: groups of people, whether adults, children or seniors, have been trending downward in popularity for years now. 

So, what works? The visuals with a lower cost per click illustrate leisure activities. 

The pandemic also impacted ad copy. Last year we tracked the word “fear” and “home” and discovered “fear” surged in CTRs in February, October and November, while “home” as a keyword skyrocketed in overall CTRs for December. And, like videos: pursue a “less is more” approach. Ideal body copy is between 40-60 characters long and should include an exclamation point. One example: our data shows while “Get Offer” isn’t used often in ads, this phrase is concise, clear and clickable — generating the highest CTR on Facebook ads! 

Emoji’s can also add a pop of color and emotion. The sparkle and black heart emojis are trending in use and engagement, whereas the star and high voltage emojis are decreasing engagement.  

We’re longing for something different in 2021
Marketing in 2021 is about finding the cure for the loneliness we’re all feeling. While 2020 may have been a year of isolation, I believe we’re working toward a brighter future, including more self-care, friendship and family. These ideals can be the focal point of creative in 2021, and by using the format or ad copy that works best for our unique moment in history, retailers can share an engaging — and click-worthy! — story that doesn't take us back into the past, but instead leads us toward a better future. 

R. J. Talyor is CEO and founder of Pattern89.

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