Using Advertising Science to Build Your Brand


Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed an emergence of digital brands that have built their business on the back of Google—a phenomenon that makes sense, given the breadth of Google’s advertising offerings, their targeting capabilities and attribution system, and the way they benefit as something of a walled garden in an increasingly cookie-less world. But there’s a catch: Google doesn’t have the best tools to advertise in ways that build your brand.

Fortunately, there are three tried-and-true ways you can ensure your advertising has an impact. In this guide you’ll find a guide on how to:

–       Make great emotionally-resonate creative that is rooted in insights

–       Understand the importance of picking moments in the customer’s journey

–       Importance of buying advertising in high-attention placements

–       Learn how to balance short-term revenue with long-term brand goals

Lead with great creative

Leveraging brand marketing at scale in today’s world is complex, and from the get-go, it’s important to understand that no amount of targeted media advertising is going to overcome a bad piece of creative. Getting the creative right will give you the chance to use your brand marketing investment effectively to build your brand and raise awareness.

When you do, be sure to take an iterative approach. Media dollars are often wasted, but you can prevent that outcome if you are willing to test and adjust your media investments. I saw this working with clients across a range of media budgets during my days running performance digital media at Media Assembly.

Know your category entry points

Without question, the primary goal of a little-known brand should be to boost unaided awareness. But awareness of what? Too often, brands focus on simply increasing their name recognition. The magic happens when you ask the question, “what do you want consumers to know about you?”

Identify what’s happening at each step in the customer’s decision-making journey to understand what they are doing, what they are thinking, where they are physically, who they are talking to, and most critically, what they are feeling. 

All these moments in the customer journey are mapped out by Byron Sharpe and Jenni Romaniuk in the book How Brands Grow: Part 2 and are called “Category Entry Points” – also known as the occasions that a brand comes to mind for consumers. An example for our customers at ZenBusiness, a startup that equips entrepreneurs with a complete set of services to simplify forming and running their own businesses, is the exciting “aha” or lightbulb moment when someone has the idea to start their own business. If you’re able to identify category entry points like these, then you can build and evolve your brand marketing campaign to create a long-term memory connection with your customer at the appropriate stages in their journey to purchase.

Using insights to inform emotionally-resonate creative

Identifying a powerful insight—defined by Kellogg School of Management Professor Derek Rucker in the book Advertising Strategy: A Strategist’s Guidebook as meaningful, human, and truthful—is a required foundational step for developing creative that creates an emotional connection.  I spent years in my media agency life worrying about what insight should be used as the foundation for this or that campaign because I knew that the wrong insight could just as easily derail a campaign as the right one could guarantee success.

Creative that creates a strong emotional connection and is seen in media moments when the person watching is highly attentive can help to develop “brand salience,” which the likelihood that a brand will be noticed or come to mind when making buying decisions in the future.

Buying advertising in high-attention placements

This phenomenon is echoed by the rest of Google’s advertising options, including YouTube. Think of all the different things that grab your attention while watching a YouTube video: the comments, suggested videos, likes, subscribers, and more. The actual video only takes up about 30 percent of the screen.

Karen Nelson-Fields in her book The Attention Economy and How Media Works: Simple Truths for Marketers explains that there is a direct connection between the percentage of the screen your advertisement covers and the viewer’s ability to remember it in the future. It’s important to remember that YouTube has an interesting ability to drive some great short-term results given how easy it is to control the advertising and measure its effectiveness. However, Karen found that someone’s memory of a YouTube advertisement goes away after about seven days—so again, you’re left with the same problem.

Balancing revenue and brand goals

As a marketer, what should you do? You must be clear with yourself, your management team, and your board about your advertising goals—and track your progress. In The Long and the Short of It: Balancing Short and Long‑Term Marketing Strategies, authors Les Binet and Peter Field write about the importance of having a balanced scorecard when measuring brand marketing campaign effectiveness.

To measure sales, use Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA) modeling when measuring addressable channels, such as digital, streaming video, and podcast and consider adding in Media Mix Modeling (MMM) to measure across all channels, which would also include terrestrial radio and out of home.  To measure brand, launch a brand tracker that minimally tracks unaided awareness, consideration, intent to purchase and the ability for someone to recall your brand when they are prompted with different category entry points.

Ultimately, before you make an advertising buy, it’s important to have a strong sense for the short-term and long-term potential impact of each advertising channel. There is a lot of great research out there about each channel’s ability to drive short-term conversions and long-term memories. The goal should be to combine large brand effects with short-term conversion goals to meet company objectives. The only way to go from no brand spend to large brand budgets is to find a balance of these short-term conversion and long-term brand building goals.

I’m hopeful that you learned some tips and resources on how to make great emotionally-resonate creative that is rooted in insights, understand the importance of picking moments in the customer’s journey, know the reason to buy advertising in high-attention placements, and understand how to balance short-term revenue and long-term brand goals. 

This article first appeared in

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About Author

Ryan Pitylak

Ryan Pitylak is the co-founder and CEO of social and search advertising agency Unique Influence, part of MDC Media Partners.

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