Advertising on Experimental & Emerging Digital Channels

Andres Levinton
Andres Levinton8 min read

Developing a strong digital marketing strategy requires a lot of work to ensure marketing campaigns are successful. One of the key success metrics of any digital marketing campaign is growth in brand awareness. This requires having the right channel mix and of course, beautiful creative and designs

Once you’ve developed some solid creative and tested it to make sure it performs, you may find yourself in a groove that’s yielding results. That groove may live on Instagram or YouTube or Facebook. With some consistency and a solid creative refresh rate, you will likely see some successes you can be proud of.

This is a great outcome, but it can lead to complacency and eventually decline.

The reality is that digital advertising channels aren’t static. Just as everyone was beginning to think no one could beat Instagram at capturing the world’s attention with bite-sized videos, TikTok emerged and offered a younger audience something different.

As a growth marketer, it’s your job to keep up with new (or less explored) channels that best serve your target audience. That may not mean scrambling to develop a TikTok advertising strategy, no matter how much pressure you’re facing from leadership who want to have a presence on the platform.

If your audience is younger, then yes, you may want to start testing ad creative on TikTok or Snapchat. But suppose your audience is a bit older and you’ve discovered they are a particularly inquisitive bunch. In that case, you may want to leverage Quora advertising instead––especially if your marketing strategy is focused on educating audiences. If your audience is particularly fond of uncovering the obscurities of the internet, Reddit advertising may be your best bet.

Here are just a few of many digital marketing channels you may want to consider for your 2022 ad strategy:

  • Outbrain and Taboola
  • AdRoll (for e-commerce)
  • BuySellAds (for developers, designers and niche tech audiences)
  • Tumblr
  • Gmail
  • IAB
  • BookBub (to reach new readers)
  • Foursquare (for brick and mortar businesses)
  • Revcontent

There are so many emerging marketing channels to test and explore. So, don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket. Allocate some spend to testing new ad strategies—you might just strike gold in a place you’d never considered before.

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How to Shift Ad Design from Established Platforms to Emerging Platforms

We’re going to give you some guidance on how to advertise on four of the most popular emerging channels:

  1. TikTok
  2. Snapchat
  3. Reddit
  4. Quora

Here’s a great way to think about posting content from established platforms on emerging platforms such as TikTok or Snapchat: don’t.

“The medium is the message”––and different platforms require different creative approaches. We encourage you to think carefully and take the time to understand each platform before copy and pasting the same creative you’ve found success with on major channels.

My one piece of advice to marketers is to apply an element of fearlessness to your work. Sometimes you won’t know if something is going to work, because it’s the first time it’s been done. Encourage your creative team to push the boundaries. If you’re always running the tried and true path, you may be limiting your success.
Cameron Frantz, Design Manager at Snap Inc.

How to Create an Ad Design Feedback Loop Between Channels

TikTok and Snapchat

While you may not be able to port your existing creative to new channels and see success, that doesn’t mean you need to disregard the audience insights you gained from traditional channels.

If you’re looking for the basis of a TikTok or Snapchat advertising strategy, for example, here’s where we recommend you begin your ad creative analysis for inspiration:

  1. Isolate your top five most successful ads on existing channels.
  2. Within those ad sets, check results within your youngest segment. We recommend segmenting by 13–15, 16–18, then 18–21. (A 13-year-old and a 16-year-old, for instance, will be interested in very different things!) Just keep in mind that you may not be able to isolate younger age groups on some channels, such as YouTube.
  3. Compare each segment to your overall average clickthrough rate. Note whether or not any segments outperformed or came close to your baseline CTR.
  4. If all your CTRs within these age groups underperformed, consider starting from scratch with your creative. But if you did see some success within a particular age group, you have a foundation from which to adapt your creative for TikTok or Snapchat.

Once you’ve created a feedback loop between channels and have perhaps seen some success advertising on TikTok or Snapchat, you can reverse the process and apply new insights from emerging social media marketing channels to your traditional ones.

Reddit

If you want to test ads on Reddit, remember this:

  • You’ll need to perform extensive research on relevant subreddits for your brand. Reddit lacks naming conventions for subreddits, meaning titles could indicate one thing only to be about something completely different. Don’t try to take shortcuts. If you do, your ad could end up in a subreddit about marijuana when you meant to target people interested in plants.
  • The Reddit community isn’t “sales-ready.” The community is notoriously resistant to advertising. Focus on providing value through education over selling products. Reddit is best used for a top-of-funnel strategy.

Optimizing your ad design for a new platform starts with one thing: exhaustive research on the platform’s audience, behavioral quirks and code of conduct for advertisers.

So you’re not going in blind when you start to design your creative, here’s where we recommend you begin your research:

  1. Spend time on Reddit for at least a month before you decide to advertise. Make a list of relevant topics and become a valuable contributor to those subreddits. Learn the rules of conduct and respect the etiquette of the community. You can use a tool like Redditlist to help you uncover relevant subreddits.
  2. Use a tool like SEMrush to discover what other advertisers are doing on Reddit. Make a note of common indicators of success, such as CTA wording or headline copy.
  3. Map your most successful Facebook or LinkedIn posts to educational content. For example, suppose one of your most successful Facebook ads encouraged people to sign up for a free trial of a chatbot service. In that case, your educational topic may be “how to write conversational copy for chatbots.”
  4. Find subreddits for each educational topic. You’ll want to make sure each subreddit is large enough for significant reach but niche enough to target users who are interested in your offer.
  5. Now, and only now, are you ready to start testing ad creative on Reddit. The ad design and copy will depend on the information you gathered, but check out this ad by AARP as an example.

Credit: Effective Spend

AARP chooses commonly used language on Reddit as the basis of its ad, and it doesn’t get cute about the company’s value. They list their benefits in one short list within a sentence. Reddit users want advertisers to get to the point, so be as direct as possible within your design and copy.

Every step after your initial research should be to test, test, test. Reddit is the wild west of social media platforms on purpose, and your ads won’t find their groove without a lot of trial and error. Wear your Reddit ad failures like a badge of honor.

Quora

Quora is one of the largest Q&A sites on the internet. It’s also where some thought leaders found their audiences in the early days of the platform as expert sources of information. Ask Google a question, and sometimes Quora is where you’ll end up for the answer.

But what does this mean for advertisers? Well, if your marketing strategy is focused on education and you want to expand beyond LinkedIn ads, Quora advertising is where you may want to go next.

Similar to Reddit, we recommend learning the rules of the road before you take your ads out for a test drive.

Here’s where you can start with your experimentation:

  1. Craft your personal Quora bio carefully. Every time you answer a question on Quora, readers can see the first 50 characters of your bio. Take the opportunity to describe your value proposition through a lens of education rather than lead generation.
  2. Follow relevant topics for your brand and note which questions receive the most traction within each subject.
  3. Follow thought leaders in your field and note their most successful posts.
  4. Build organic authority by setting aside time every week to answer questions within your area of expertise. You’ll want to generate reactions to get a sense of how an ad would perform and the language most commonly used by readers.
  5. Make a list of your most successful LinkedIn ads. Note any overlap in topics and subjects for which your Quora audience requires an education.

After you run through steps one to five, you’ll have a solid foundation from which to test your Quora ads against your LinkedIn or Facebook ads.

However, keep in mind that on mobile, your ad image will come second to your headline, description copy, and your CTA. This is how a Quora ad differs greatly from other platforms — your copy comes before your chosen image.

Credit: Business 2 Community

Recommendation: Quora is a Q&A channel, so make sure your copy answers a question for your audience.

Finally, here are some performance benchmarks for Quora from HubSpot’s Q1 2020 Paid Media Benchmark Report to give you a sense of what you can expect:

  • CPC: $0.92
  • CPM: $9.19
  • CTR: 1.05%

How Platform-Specific Design Elements Influence Ad Creative on Emerging Advertising Channels

If you thought Instagram users had short attention spans, just wait until you start advertising on TikTok or Snapchat. You’ll find that content on both of these platforms often feature the following creative elements to keep Snapchat users and Tiktok users engaged:

  • Multiple clips that transition quickly
  • Unique filters and lenses
  • Fun stickers and icons
  • Music that amplifies each clip
  • Speedy or slow-motion clips
  • Text animation
  • Augmented reality (AR)

Many of the elements on TikTok and Snapchat don’t even exist on Instagram or YouTube.

Recommendation: Shoot your TikTok and Snapchat ads as a vertical video! Audiences on emerging platforms can smell it if you’ve cropped your video ads to try to fit the vertical parameters.

Experimental or emerging advertising channels often use new technology, such as AR and VR, to differentiate themselves from standard channels. We recommend leveraging these technologies to maximize your ad spend on these channels. Otherwise, your creative may fall flat with audiences who have come to expect a certain standard of creativity on these platforms.

At Snap, we’ve seen campaigns be successful due to the use of new technology. Game of Thrones, for example, used landmark technology to develop a lens that mapped a dragon to the top of New York’s Flatiron Building. It was a great example of a successful campaign that marries a cool concept with new technology.
Cameron Frantz, Design Manager at Snap Inc.

Credit: Variety

Digital Advertising is Constantly Evolving – and Your Ad Strategy Should be Too

The best way to win on emerging advertising channels is to embrace uncertainty. Lean in, get scrappy and try new things. Use these experimental channels as your creative testing ground, and try not to focus on ROAS right away. Remember: you’re on these platforms to discover new things about new audiences, so learn first and optimize later. And don’t forget to download our complete Digital Ad Design Guide to get more expert insights.

This post is part of a much larger guide to Digital Ad Design. So if you are looking to boost your ad performance, download our free guide today to find out all the tips and tricks.

The Definitive Guide to Digital Ad Design

Get industry best practices and case studies for advertising on: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Amazon and more.

Get the guide
Published: Jan 6, 2022
Andres Levinton
Written by
Andres Levinton
Andres Levinton is a Performance Marketer at Superside. Besides advocating for quality design at scale, he spends his time playing bossa-nova, searching for waves and cooking Argentinean asados.

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