How to Create an Ad that Stands Out

How to Create an Ad that Stands Out

Most Small and medium-sized business (SMB) find it nearly impossible to stand out in their digital advertising. The digital ad environment has entered a hyper-competitive state. There are ads taking up 15 percent of nearly every screen at all times. Your ad doesn’t just compete with other advertisers on the same channel, or even the same screen. It competes with the ads on different tabs, screens, channels, etc. So how do you create an ad that stands out and resonates? The answer is simple: break the cycle.

There are two types of successful advertisements: subversive and artistic. The artistic advertisements are ones that connect with viewers on an emotional level. They make their audience feel something that they otherwise wouldn’t have felt that day. They don’t try to sell you something. They tell you a story. Take a look at this ad for the new Microsoft Surface Studio:

These artistic ads are high quality from start to finish. Unfortunately for you, they require massive teams of expensive individuals and long timelines to create. These types of ads are mostly out of reach for SMBs due to the cost and talent required to create them. So now we move on to the most effective SMB advertising technique: subversion. 

Subversive ads aim to break the cycle. They purposefully go against viewer expectations of what an advertisement should be. After seeing hundreds of ads a day that all follow the same formula, subversive ads are a breath of fresh air to their audience. Take a look at an ad from Newcastle Brown Ale’s Super Bowl campaign:

So when I said Super Bowl advertising campaign, you may have thought that this ad cost millions for Newcastle to produce. In fact, they never aired a single ad during the Super Bowl. Their entire advertising campaign subverted expectations in a way that made audiences in on the joke. You watched it and immediately recognized that this wasn’t one of the usual Super Bowl ads. It’s funny, quirky, and speaks to the audience on a human level. It makes fun of itself and its competitors. By doing so, Newcastle was able to reach Super Bowl Ad-level impressions and reach without spending the millions to obtain an ad spot. 

Your company can subvert expectations in other ways though. Just look at Cards Against Humanity’s Black Friday sale:

Instead of offering a massive discount on their product, Cards Against Humanity leveraged their brand to create an advertising campaign that made them $71,080 in pure profit while netting massive impressions due to the news articles and blogs about their “sale.” Not only did they make money with no cost, but they bolstered their brand identity and allowed their company to be mentioned in countless articles. The company even promoted engagement from their customers by retweeting tweets that thanked Cards Against Humanity for their speedy shipment of nothing. 

So how can your SMB create a great ad? Be subversive. Most of the people who see your ad aren’t going to pay attention to it and some were going to buy your product or service anyway. So why not focus on creating something that catches the attention of those who wouldn’t normally pay attention? Subversive ads break their audience out of their daily rut and cause them to truly pay attention to an advertisement. Not only do you achieve greater engagement, but you make your company stand out among the competition. 

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