We’ve (Unfortunately) Entered an Age of Ugly Social Media Ads

Too many brands design spots that don’t make sense for platforms

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Social ads have become the same billboard you see every few miles of highway, that strange repetitive advertisement you see while streaming your favorite shows.

While these paid ads are supposed to convince consumers to stop scrolling and learn about a certain product, companies are still wasting valuable time and money by using tired content and skipping comprehensive targeting of niche audiences on platforms. The user experience is vital to the success of brands on social media, and those sticking to poorly developed, scattershot advertisements of old are not only negatively impacting their sales but also obstructing the social media experience as a whole.

A phone is the first thing consumers look at when they roll over in the morning. Specifically, their social feeds are their first point of information in their daily routines. Successful creative must enhance the experience of the platform on which it inhabits. Unfortunately, many brands are either chopping up a larger campaign and hoping it makes an impact on social as an afterthought. Or worse, they’re creating a whiplash in the content creation space by simply taking advantage of free in-platform creation interfaces and making a repeat experience of our grandparent’s Sunday circular.

We have entered an age of ugly art

With the ability to work with agencies that truly understand the value of social and invest accordingly, the results of your social-first creative campaign should both positively impact your audience and your bottom line.

On all social media platforms, consumers are scrolling through their feeds, ignoring lackluster, poorly targeted and, frankly, boring content developed through stagnant platform-owned graphic user interface or less-eager creatives. When analytics can report which conversations, types of animation, art and even colors your audience is already engaging with in their feeds, why are dim advertisements still even in consideration by brands?

These trends have resulted in a failure to stop the scroll, even as social media piles on ads for frequent browsers. How can you compete for double-tap superiority when users are now experiencing back-to-back advertisements?

How do brands stick out with their creative?

Ads now appear at all touchpoints of social media, so it’s more important than ever to be relevant to your target audience. Simply being on the feed won’t get you that deep-seated engagement, brand loyalty or more followers. On the device, your competition is also more than rival brands. It includes consumers’ family and friends, viral challenge posts and other corporate accounts that may not compete with your brand directly but are still fighting for screen time. You must interest and excite the consumer or they’ll have no problem scrolling right past your posts.

Additionally, there is a flood of advertisements that are shining a very distracting and unwelcoming message. But while traditional creative talks at potential customers, it’s the intent of social media to engage the consumer in meaningful conversations and interactions. Consumers don’t simply want to see an ad; they want to see an authentic representation of a brand. Build the relationship before pushing a purchase.

Navigating the sea of sameness

Just because your content is viewed through social media, your work shouldn’t be approached with a cheap or fast mentality. Social requires the same art direction, creative copywriting and attention to audiences’ interests that large campaigns need—even more so because your consumers can and will directly talk back. It’s all about the perfect mix of authentic, inspirational and branded content, all released at the right time. Of course, standing out is important, but it won’t be meaningful if you take shortcuts.

Simply revamping or cutting television or online ads to fit into the social space will not result in meaningful engagement. Highly visual, custom art is the growing trend among social media. Finding your brand’s tone of voice is necessary to provide an experience that doesn’t make consumers feel like they’re engaging with a robot.

These campaigns should not be developed for consumers to simply watch. You must have engaging conversations; the audience needs to talk back. Starting a social-specific campaign from scratch and maintaining ideal social length and ratio perspectives will help build that conversation strength. Remember, even with an audience looking for stronger content, a five-minute blockbuster-level production is not necessary or particularly exciting for social. Know your platform and its audience.

Stand out, get creative and understand what your target audience really wants to see to help us escape this awful trend of poorly developed social media advertisements.