Choosing The Best Ad Format to Increase Engagement

Digital advertising is a critical part of any savvy marketer’s media mix. Simply put, digital advertising is anything a potential customer sees on a screen, whether you have a presence on Google Ads, trade website banner ads, page takeovers, social media or email marketing.

On average, people in the United States spend more than 10 hours a day in front of a screen. As online content continues to proliferate, along with visuals that seek to grab and hold your attention, it can be more and more difficult to have your creative stand out. Marketers must consider how to capture attention and increase click-throughs in an increasingly crowded and competitive field.

Unfortunately, there is no “one rule” for B2B digital advertising performance – ad engagement is highly-specific to the media on which it appears. On social media, animated content outperforms static content almost 2-to-1. Conversely, in some very recent studies, static ads actually outperform animated ads in website layouts (like trade publications), likely due to users gravitating to clean and simple content in a busy and cluttered layout. This can be an especially difficult challenge in B2B digital advertising, where often there are complex differentiators in products/service (ie. a lot to say).

While video is often a go-to option for engagement and visibility, allowing marketers to deliver a lot of information in B2B digital advertising material, recent trends also show increased engagement in interactive content – such as HTML 5. This format allows marketers to create digital ad materials that actually let a user interact with the media – affecting the content that is displayed.

One key consideration before you set out to develop new creative B2B digital advertising campaigns, is knowing exactly what formats your media placements support. For example, many industrial companies and manufacturers place ads in digital trade publications – such as eNewsletters and websites. Often these media only support specific file formats and have size limitations – many of which prevent video or interactive content from being an option.

When preparing your next B2B digital advertising campaign, and planning for cost-effective ad material development, consider these common ad types:

HTML 5 Banner Ads:

A number of years ago Apple made the decision to not support .swf files on all iOS browsers and, initially, this seemed to have killed the animated banner ad. But now, a new format for moving banner ads has taken root: the HTML 5 format. An HTML 5 package allows advertisers to make ad units that operate as mini, fully-coded websites, including HTML, CSS and JavaScript, that will create your layout and motion graphics. While this takes advanced knowledge to properly code and create the digital materials, as well as to ensure the ad content will comply with media requirements – so it will work when supplied to the third-party media -the increase in ad engagement and CTR, in many instances, is notable. This ad content is often highly brand-relevant for B2B companies, looking to display their technology-forward company image in a visual way. HTML 5 also supports a wide array of customizations, interactive functions, video, and more. The production costs – and planning costs – are higher for these ad types. But, given the high cost of media buys, and the fact that increasing customer touchpoints is key in modern B2B digital advertising initiatives, the value of these ad formats goes well beyond a simple CTR metric.

Social Media Templates:

Social media sites have improved their support of interactive graphics formats – take Facebook’s extensive variety of templates, as well as LinkedIn’s expanded support of video content in 2017. In a platform where you need to capture users attention quickly, and where large areas of the viewable layout remain as static/flat text, interactive graphics can help improve B2B digital advertising results.

As part of its robust marketing platform, Facebook has developed a number of tools for advertisers to enable. These not only support the upload of a variety of finished creative types, but also allow digital advertising to be developed right within the Facebook system. One can upload a company logo, a series of still photos and write custom text, and the Facebook Ad platform will create an animated slideshow ad unit for Facebook and Instagram.

With a number of different, pre-made templates available, B2B digital advertisers can develop interactive content using static sources. For example, the ad template shown below can be very effective, especially if your budget can’t support a costly custom video or an elaborate B2B digital advertising development effort.

Video in B2B Digital Advertising:

Video has long been a go-to source for highly-engaging, highly-informative visual content. While some statistics released in 2018 over-hyped the value of video in B2B digital advertising content, video still can definitely be an effective tool to increase engagement.

There are a wide variety of production considerations to evaluate when creating video – for example, how many applications it will have – as well as the lower resolution requirements of many digital advertising platforms that can allow for less costly video shooting. As opposed to a high-end company overview video, a 15-second Facebook spot can often be filmed inexpensively, with in-house editing, suitable for use across desktop and mobile platforms. Obviously, a good strategy should be in place to effectively and strategically create video marketing content. (Stifel Marcin can help there too) 😉

New technologies and software have made creating and embedding video easier as well. With Premier and After Effects included in the Adobe Creative Cloud, anyone with an Adobe subscription has access to the same software used by video professionals. Now, Google Web Designer can embed a video hosted on YouTube. You can also upload video directly to Facebook to use as your creative. Video has seen an increased presence, not only in traditional banner ads of all sizes, but in large screen takeovers, environments where you have a user’s undivided attention. This is an example of a video we created for our own digital marketing campaign:

It’s important to consider size limitations of video. Even a small video ad will likely be more than 15mgs, which is well-beyond the limitation of most B2B digital advertising trade media placements. A complete review of the placement options can help determine the ROI on video and video ad content development. Leveraging video across a number of applications greatly reduces the per-piece cost and helps build an effective plan.

Smart B2B Digital Advertising Services

If you are looking to launch a new digital marketing campaign, or increase the effectiveness of your current strategy, we’re here to help. With almost two decades of B2B digital advertising experience, we’ve got the knowledge, tools and techniques that can help you break through the visual clutter, so your messaging and placements work to deliver results. Contact us to discuss your B2B digital advertising needs, and learn how Stifel Marcin can help you Power Up Your Marketing.