Both the online and offline advertising markets are heavily saturated, and it’s increasingly difficult for advertisers to stand out in such an environment. For advertisers, creating ads that make consumers sit up and take notice requires focusing on a concept called resonance. Ads that resonate are ads that engage an audience, build brand visibility, and prompt consumers to take action.
What is Resonance, and why is it Important?
According to Nielson, around a third of online advertising campaigns just aren’t effective. They don’t increase brand or product visibility, drive sales, or accomplish any other goals. One reason for this says Randall Beard, president of Nielson Expanded Verticals, is that advertisers don’t understand how to create positive resonance with digital advertising.
Positive resonance is what you get when you and your audience click in a particular kind of way. Your advertising message is one that genuinely appeals to them because it mirrors something they already believe to be true. Resonance isn’t about highlighting the price of an item or the features it offers; often, the most effective resonance advertising doesn’t focus heavily on the product at all.
Simply put, resonance is about engaging your audience by delivering advertising messages that reflect their own interests and values. Why is this so important? Because when your advertising resonates with a consumer, they feel understood. They feel that they share some important values with your company—that you’re just like them—and that makes them more motivated to do business with you.
What Makes Advertising Resonate?
There are many different aspects of advertising that can be developed with resonance in mind. Making advertising resonate starts with choosing the right advertising formats. For example, traditional formats such as TV and print resonate strongly with people across all age groups—even millennials and younger people. However while there’s a resonance gap between traditional and digital forms of advertising, for young people that gap is smaller, so digital formats are more likely to resonate strongly with young people than with those middle-aged and older.
Ads that make an emotional connection are more likely to create resonance with an audience. These ads have relatable characters and themes, use imagery to grab attention, and they tell stories rather than push products.
Different advertising themes tend to resonate with different age groups. For example, ads that focus on health are much more likely to resonate with over-50s than under-30s. And ads with a strongly active and adventurous theme resonate with the millennial crowd, but not so well with older people. On the other hand, some themes are fairly universal; for example, ads that portray realistic situations have a broad appeal
Then there’s localization. It’s vital to understand the preferences and values of your local audience, and this goes for businesses of all sizes. Local businesses may be able to easily tap into what’s important to their customers, but for large national or multinational companies, getting to know what’s important to people in particular areas may be more difficult. For example, according to the Nielson Research Group’s Global Trust in Advertising report, humorous advertising resonates strongly with audiences in Europe and North America, but doesn’t rate anywhere near as highly in Latin America, where health-themed or family-focused ads are much more likely to resonate with audiences.
Making Digital Advertising Resonate
With resonance advertising, your focus is on telling consumers who your company is and what you’re about. Aligning your interests, values, and goals with those of your audience is what’s important, and the products and services you offer are almost secondary. The key to making this work, as with many aspects of advertising, is understanding your audience: who are they, what are their values, and what do they care about?
That’s just half the story, however: it’s also about understanding your own business, its core values, and how you can express those values in a way that resonates with your audience. Ideally, you can find some common ground between your business and your target audience, and then it’s just a matter of using that common ground in your advertising.
Consistency is also key here. Once you have established that common ground and developed an advertising strategy that works, maintaining a consistent image and voice is crucial. Once you’ve connected with your audience in a way that inspires their trust, it is important that the company continues to project a consistent image that aligns with the values, interests, and goals that are shared with the audience.