Digital Media Simplified: Part 3 – Differentiate

In Parts 1 (Understanding Data) and 2 (Better Technology, Better Decisions) of our 3-part series “Digital Media Simplified,” we guided you through understanding the vast data and technology available and what you can do with it. In the closing installment of the series, we break down the final, and perhaps most important, key ability: How to differentiate what will make your brand stand out from the noise.



How to Stand Out in a Crowd

There are many ways to stand out in a crowd, but for this exercise we want to focus how to stand out in a crowd the right way.  Hstand out from the crowdere are a few points to consider:

  1. Decide what standing out means for your business
  2. Be different
  3. If you say you’ll do something, follow through and do it
  4. Remind your customers how great they are 


These points are key for a few reasons. If you are not differentiating yourself, you are contributing to banner blindness. You are just another banner ad among the thousands, and consumers have become adept at tuning them out. If you are lucky enough to actually have a banner that is viewable, then getting noticed in the right way is paramount. You may have done a lot of work building an audience and setting up your ad technology stack,  but you end up missing out when it comes time to show the ad.  

You’re not alone, though. This happens a lot.  Brands and advertisers rush the creative process, or want to meet deadlines, or think that they will just improve moving forward.

Instead of doing the same thing time and time again, we suggest that you take a moment and pause.  Ask yourself and your team, “what would be useful to our target audience here, and how should we speak to them? What would be appealing? What have we done in the past that worked or has not worked? If we do pique their interest, what should we show them next?” This may sound time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Master Examples

The best way to show you how to do this is by example:Take the award-winning campaign for The Economist.  As a producer of content they have an opportunity to match contextual and behavioral data to the content they are producing to create a perfect engagement opportunity.  Their idea was to create “on-the-fly” ads based on a story they created, and use a simple layout to engage a reader of similar coverage on other sites.  In this example, they were advertising on Newsweek:

newsweek 1
The article is about NSA surveillance, and The Economist ad breaks through the fourth wall and engages the user in a very simple question. This example is also brilliant because the ad looks native to the website experience, and at first glance, I’m not even aware it’s an ad for The Economist.  Where they really deliver is once you answer the question or just click the ad to find out more, they send you to a page with the article in it’s entirety. It has a similar look and feel to the ad, where they give you a few options if you like what you read: You can sign up for a trial, or just buy a subscription right then and there.  

newsweek 2

You better believe they are retargeting based on the content you read, and your next step in the marketing journey. The look and feel was consistent throughout the entire process from a 3rd party site, to site engagement, and retargeting off-site. This is differentiation at it’s best, while still being true to your brand. Tying together the data to target an appropriate audience, using the technology available, and then paying it off with a great campaign netted The Economist great success and a few awards.  

This is a great example of how when you nail the first 2 key abilities, you can spend the rest of your time thinking about how to remind your users, and potential customers, how great they are. Remind your users how lucky you are to be engaging with them, not how big your advertising budgets are.

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