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How to Create Authentic Ad Content

Jared Atchison
Jared Atchison

In order to get the most out of your advertising, it is critical to spend time thinking about the message you want to get across.

The face of the digital marketing landscape is changing constantly. These interesting changes are shaped by technological and demographic shifts across the globe. 

Today, most people own a smartphone with mobile internet. Social media apps and platforms make it possible for anyone in the world to create content. 

As a result, people, especially the younger generations,  get information from their peers and prefer content from "real" people like themselves. Expensive advertising and branding productions don’t sway audiences as much as they used to. Or at least, they have contenders in the form of influencers. 

The hallmark of influencer marketing is authenticity and relatability. And businesses need to understand this and create ads that reflect what the audience wants. 

After all, there's no place to hide. Your business and products are being discussed on social media, review sites, forums, and other places. As many as 92% of people say that they trust recommendations by peers. And 40% of people say that they've purchased a product because it was recommended by an influencer.

In today's climate, a major mistake that you can make is to rely on advertising tropes without thinking carefully about your message or how it comes across. 

Let's explore some common advertising tropes to avoid so that you can shape a more authentic message in your marketing communication. 

Disguising ads as news

You may have come across news posts or announcements that appear to share some kind of breaking news only to find that it’s simply a type of product advertisement. 

While this method does capture attention and generates emotions like excitement, the feeling of being let down and deceived is harmful to your brand.  

This approach to content is called "native advertising" or advertorials. This type of advertising is also a type of clickbait, a headline formula that has long lost its appeal. 

Make sure that the headlines you use accurately reflect your content and aren't misleading. If you do want to make your headlines catchy, then you can work with a few helpful copywriting techniques like these:

  • Create "how-to" headlines with step-by-step content to help your readers solve a problem

  • Add power words to your titles. Power words can induce emotions ranging from joy and curiosity to the fear of missing out, and greed. This is a proven way to get people to read your ads. 

  • Make headlines following the format "X best ways to achieve your goal" where your audience will know that you have a series of practical tips to help them

With these headline tips, you can avoid creating a negative image that comes with using misleading headlines but still attract attention. 

Overselling your product features

It's important to highlight the features of your product and how your audience can benefit from it. But it's critical that you don't make promises to your audience that oversell what they can do with your product or services. 

This is often the case with individuals and businesses who claim to help their audiences make money online or start new businesses. Some advertisements promise happier lives, personal fulfillment, and other grandiose outcomes. Overselling in this way, unless you have a valid reason that supports your claims, will create a negative impact on your brand image. 

Customers who won't experience your claims could leave negative reviews for your business that impacts how other customers perceive you. 

Doing this is quite different from approaching your marketing from a broader perspective where you focus on values rather than specific outcomes. We’ll cover this in another section of this post. 

Focusing on the story rather than the benefits

When creating an ad campaign, it's easy to get caught up in creativity for creativity's sake. What happens in such cases is that a business ends up creating an ad with a great story and with great production value but fails to reach a goal. 

One example of this is an advertisement by Volkswagen for its VW Lupo car. It created ads centered around a rather frightening baby figure that was supposed to represent the car’s toughness. 

The ad was inventive and generated interest but for all the wrong reasons. It's a case where a brand strays too far from the basics.

The key to making relevant content is to have a clear idea of your customers in mind and what they need. Good advertising always focuses on the benefits your product has to offer. And this is possible when you build a customer persona so that you can approach your marketing from their perspective. 

Remember to balance storytelling and branding in your ads with actionable information. Give your audience a call to action so that they have steps to take once they’ve interacted with your ads.   

Offering free products that aren't really free

Many apps, products, and websites create "free" offerings with the promise that users will be able to achieve important goals with these tools. 

Customers experience frustration when they do take the free tool and find that they can only get limited access and features. If they find that they can access more features only by paying a significant sum of money, they are likely to feel resentment as they could have spent their time and effort on other platforms that actually meet their needs. 

If you do offer "freemium" products, then make it clear from the outset that your users will get limited access or features. Also, be mindful of the price point you're setting if you want to transitions free users to paying customers. 

You need to justify the cost and create a winning proposition for customers to make them willing to move pay for greater convenience and better features.

Highlight the benefits of your offering, give your users a solid discount, and showcase the value of your work. If your paid product is convenient and priced appropriately, users will be happy to take up a subscription or to buy from you. 

Create an authentic message

Many aggressive advertising and marketing techniques don't work so well in the modern marketing landscape. Your audience is savvy and they prefer authentic content and ads. 

Remember, avoid trying to be clever and try to provide value instead. Instead of making video productions for your ads, you'll be better served by making videos that highlight your everyday activities and the real use of your products. 

Look at platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. Influencers today are those who can create short and impactful videos. And it doesn’t matter if their background is their car or a messy bedroom.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't put any effort at all into making advertising content. Rather, focus on practical content, use conversational language, and engage with your audience on social media. 

Do have a broader message behind your ads. I suggest reading "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek as a great resource for understanding what makes people tick. By learning more about your audience and understanding your own business's motivations, you'll be able to create authentic content that wins people over. 

The goal of this article is to highlight that you shouldn’t rely on advertising and marketing formulas that may not have the same effect today as it did before. Social media, the changing demographics, and advancements in technology must guide how your ad development. 

We've looked at a few advertising tropes you should avoid and why. There are many more but you now have a good idea of what to do and what to avoid. 

Focus on sharing a genuine message that represents your business’s and audience’s values and you’re bound to create a connection with your market. 


Image Credit: scyther5/Getty Images
Jared Atchison
Jared Atchison Member
Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.