What Would Phil Say About Digital Ads?

 Michael Bali

Michael Bali / Copywriter

Despite its promise of revolutionizing media, online advertising still feels perceptively the same – a Groundhog Day of advertising, if you will. Agencies focus predominantly on writing better banner ads, even though a third of users find them annoying. For digital ads to avoid being repetitive or irritating, and for users to not feel overwhelmed by the been-there, seen-that “adpathy”, consumers need to want to retell those stories. Digital isn’t only a new channel for advertising, it’s a new way of life1, and agencies need to write their messages to take full advantage of the medium.

Just as generals always fight the last war, agencies typically write for previous formats. As radio supplanted print, announcers simply read copy from print ads; at the dawn of television, TV spots were nothing more than visualized radio scripts; and so on.

This is especially evident in the build-up to the Super Bowl, where YouTube uploads of TV ads rake up millions of views – and substitute for true interactive messaging. The core component of any digital storytelling is user content. Content on social media can be rich and deepby involving users at any, or even every, stage of the development and release of a product. When customers create their own content the stories are personal, build trust, and make for great, uniquely digital brand campaigns. Two thirds of us live online social lives, and we want brands to help us tell our stories.

For digital to succeed, AdAge suggests addressing the 360-view of consumers through transparent Big Data analysis to discover their needs and desires. This refines multi-platform advertising by showing users the ads they want when, and on which device, they want them. But this is only a tactic; strategy has to be built around strong narratives.

By focusing on intrinsic interactivity, digital ads invite the users to promote and advertise; to enjoy and become part of the process.

What do you think? Which digital ads work for you? Leave a comment below.




1Sullivan, L., & Boches, E. (2016). Digital Isn’t a Medium, It’s a Way of Life: Ads, media, content, and customers – they’ve all gone digital. In Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads (pp. 171-181). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

2Aaker, D. (2014). Digital – A Critical Brand-Building Tool. In Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles That Drive Success (pp. 106-116). New York: Morgan James Publishing.

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