It’s muscle memory to see an ad and immediately scroll past. If we’re pros at ignoring ads as professionals in the marketing industry, what can we expect of the people we are targeting? Coegi’s director of client service Ali Zadel shares how to build brand authenticity that stops the scroll.
Today’s shopper is looking for authenticity in the products they choose to invest in. If a person loses trust in a brand, they are quick to pivot to a different brand offering a similar product. Brands build trust through producing quality products, living by their value statements, hiring inclusively and more. But there’s more to the story.
Why first impressions matter
The user journey really starts with awareness, and awareness often begins with an ad. The fastest way to break trust before a consumer has even started to consider your product is to give them a bad ad experience. For example, if a user has seen the same ad too many times on TikTok, a channel in which a user should never see the same video twice, they will subliminally or actively develop a poor perception of that brand. How can I trust the quality of a product that can’t even adequately use a major social media platform?
These detailed rationales make sense to us as marketers. A consumer may not think of things like ‘frequency capping’ when seeing an ad, but they inherently know a ‘good ad’ from a ‘bad ad.’ This distinction varies based on the platform they are viewing the ad on. For all brands, the goal should be authenticity. The trick is to understand what authentic content looks like on each platform on which you intend to reach your target audience.
Create authenticity with thoughtful targeting
To understand this concept, let’s look at Reddit, one of the oldest social media platforms. On Reddit, users congregate in communities, or subreddits, to discuss various topics they’re interested in. Reddit’s self-serve advertising platform allows marketers to target by keyword or subreddit. This makes it a rich opportunity for advertisers to reach niche audiences with hyper-targeted content. However, this isn’t the strategy most brands take with paid ads on Reddit.
Marketers looking to spend last-minute dollars or reach a ‘tech-y’ audience often serve ads for mass market products to these niche subreddits. Regardless of the authenticity of the brand or quality of the product, users immediately scroll away, annoyed. An ad for the new Batman movie in a subreddit for expecting parents may as well read “Ignore me!” Advertisers may reach people who would love to see the Batman movie, but it’s not relevant to the feed of content they are consuming, and is therefore a nuisance. This same ad in the r/movies or r/DC_Cinematic subreddits would reach users who are interested and already reading relatable content. With a simple targeting change, brands can underscore their authenticity without even needing a tailored ad for the platform and yield better marketing performance.
Build trust by adjusting to platform expectations
A newer platform that all marketers know about, but few have managed to ‘get right,’ is TikTok. Like Reddit, consumers turn to TikTok for authentic product recommendations and hyper-relatable user content. TikTok gives real where Instagram gives fake. The ‘For You’ Page (FYP) gives hyper-tailored content where the Facebook Timeline gives overwhelmingly broad. On TikTok, the desired user experience is hypocritical. People are looking for unexpected content, the thrill of discovering something new. However, they’re also looking for a reliable experience, a tailored content feed that is ‘just the right fit.’ How can brands craft an ad that is authentic to both experiences? Unfortunately, the trick isn’t as simple as targeting.
TikTok’s self-serve demand-side platform has few niche targeting capabilities, so marketers must be comfortable with reaching a larger audience and instead should narrow their attention on the creative, creating a moment that feels welcomed and impactful. However, these paid ads should match the trends and style of the user-generated content (UGC) on the app, not creating something that is disruptive for the sake of being disruptive. Beginners in this space should experiment with using popular sounds or trends that will feel native to the platform.
Leveling up in authenticity will look different for every brand. The key is to get familiar with each media channel or platform and understand what will convince a user to stay instead of swiping. Authenticity is often less about your brand’s ethos and more about your consumer: where and how you reach them. It is not a fixed characteristic, but instead a fluid variable that needs strategic adjustments, while aligning with your brand’s core ideology.