Should Your Mobile Ads Entertain Or Inform? Why Not Both?

Americans buy books that claim John F. Kennedy’s assassination was perpetrated by a league of shadowy forces.

Flip on Animal Planet, and you can watch a show about the search for Bigfoot.

The 9/11 Commission’s report to some is a 571-page lie.

Vaccines cause autism. Breast implants cause autoimmune disease. President Obama was born on foreign soil.

The claims all have two things in common: they have been proven false, and yet significant numbers of Americans believe them anyway.

Adobe recently released a study that explains why bogus news, history and science still find an audience. Apparently, 25 percent of us would rather be entertained than consume accurate information.

If you’re in marketing and trying to cope with the rise of ad blockers keeping your message from your consumers, lousy digital advertising options that lead them to block ads in the first place, and paralysis about how to embrace mobile, don’t despair at this revelation.

Instead, focus on making your advertising do both: entertain and accurately inform.

Campaigns built on a foundation comprised of a relevant, differentiated value proposition, that translate that value into a message that satisfies both the heart and mind, find their home in ad units that won’t intrude or interfere, and that target the right audience are both possible and far more likely to succeed.

I don’t mean to make this sound easy. The cocktail I’ve just described can elude even seasoned marketers at savvy, marketing-driven companies. If you’re looking for something to tackle first, simply consider the fact that only 75 percent of your consumers crave accuracy over entertainment and make sure that your advertising tells them a story they want to hear. Attach that story to ad units that they won’t want to overlook, that will find them while they are on their smartphones, and that will reach customers who welcome hearing from you.

What would such an advertising campaign look like? Here’s a brief checklist.

  • The younger your target audience, the more mobile it must be. Make it hum on smartphones.

  • Make your campaign tell a story.

  • Nothing tells a story like video. Or, channel your inner Ken Burns and mix video and static imagery.

  • Tap into your own customer data – purchase history, email lists, and website visitors, for example – to make sure you find and target consumers who resemble those who already have demonstrated an interest in your brand or business.

  • While you’re focusing on relevant customers, make sure you have the chance to scale when the campaign takes off.

  • Hitch your creative to ad units that customers won’t want to “swipe to the left.”

I’ve used this space to extol brands that entertain and inform. I’m looking at you, Dove and Dick’s Sporting Goods. (If you’ve read this far, reward yourself and click on these links. You’ll two superb examples of lovingly produced video true stories.) They obviously know that their audience wants to feel. This knowledge isn’t the product of some proprietary research or insight.

They simply recognize our humanity.

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