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What happened to all the good ads?

It’s 2024, we’re all either addicted to TikTok, no stranger to doom scrolling on Instagram, or we’re Facebook junkies - which means, by proxy, we see A LOT of ads. 

There is so much ad noise out there, I truly can’t remember the last time an ad actually made me want to actually buy something, can you? This is probably why most brands choose to advertise through influencers, but even those are so frequent now it's starting to feel forced. 

What’s interesting is HubSpot posted an excellent article in September of last year, on “The 18 most creative ads”, and although the article is from 2023, the most recent ad listed was from five years ago. A lot of them listed are from the pre-2000’s. 

The 18 most creative ads according to Hubspot

Which tells me that these days, they just aren’t making ads like they used to. 

We don’t want to discredit all ads of course. 

Some brands do still have this strategy down to a science. Aviation Gin and Betty Booze make great ads, and they prove that video ads aren’t just reserved for TV, or YouTube. Their video ads posted to Instagram are clever and funny, and they make you want to become a customer. Granted we know Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are also in the ads, which certainly helps, but they’ve brought back a certain ad art form that feels like it’s been lost. 

For that reason, we want to help bring it back. In this post we’re going to try to help agencies and brands create ads that resonate with audiences again, and belong on HubSpots “most creative ads” list. 

You see, the best ads create a win-win-win situation: the agency that creates the ad proves their value to the client, the brand featured in the commercial gets more customers, and we (the social media addicts) see fewer “garbage” ads. 

The basis of any good ad

For the basis of any ad, you should start with the audience, as all good things in marketing do. 

You should have a deep understanding of an audience before you create an ad for them. But some people have a different idea of how to go about “understanding” an audience.

We found this quote online “To better understand your audience, learn about their demographic traits, such as age, gender, and employment status, as these help determine their interests, needs, and goals.” …and we couldn’t disagree more.

Demographics don’t help us better understand audiences.

Demographics don’t always work - King Charles and Ozzy Osbourne personas

But do you know what does? Insights into their interests and behaviors. 

To make a good ad, you must be able to answer questions like “Who is the audience? (in detail!)” “What do they love”, “How do they feel and behave”, and “What interests them most?”. All of these details are what help you come up with an idea for an unforgettable ad. 

Audience analysis

For example's sake, let’s analyze the meal kit delivery brand Blue Apron’s audience and uncover their interests and behaviors.

Blue Apron’s audience - Audiense Insights

Blue Apron’s audience - Reality TV segment - Audiense insights

Already we can see that the largest segment (or portion) of their audience is interested in Reality TV. Let’s tap into that. 

In terms of their interests, the data tells us that they love reality shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

 Blue Apron’s audience - media consumption image - Audiense insights

It makes sense then that they follow a lot of the women and men who were on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. 

 Blue Apron’s audience - influencers - Audiense Insights

Behaviourally speaking, this audience is very social, and they enjoy being in the company of others because they crave connectedness.

 Blue Apron’s audience - Personality Insights - Audiense Insights

These might seem like simple insights (one defining interest and one defining behavior), but sometimes that's all you need to spark an idea for an unforgettable commercial. 

Applying the insights 

Using these insights we came up with our own idea for an ad. 

Picture this: You hire a woman who was on a previous Bachelor season (maybe the most recent one), and was “voted” off the show by the Bachelor aka dumped on national television. 

In the commercial, you show this woman making her favorite “’breakup meal/comfort food” recipe from Blue Apron. This could be a very quick instructional cooking video done by her. When she’s done making the meal you see her take the “dish” and serve it to a table filled with other women who were on The Bachelor but were also dumped that season, and they all eat together. 

This commercial speaks to a main interest and behavior: 

  • It speaks to their love of Reality TV
  • it weaves in the product Blue Apron, and it makes a joke at the fact that this woman was dumped and needs “comfort food”
  • then it shows her serving it to her fellow Bachelor cast mates: implying Blue Apron is meant to be shared with friends, so speaking to this audience’s behavior of loving to be social and among friends

Can we guarantee this commercial will make it on HubSpot’s “most creative ads” list? No, but we’re showing how easy it can be to tap into what an audience loves and to turn that into something creative and memorable, in the form of a commercial. We even threw humor in there for extra brownie points. 

That’s how agencies should be approaching commercials, so we (the audience) see more ads that we relate to and find interesting or funny. 

Sign up for Audiense, and make good ads again. 

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