Ask anyone if they have intentionally clicked on an ad on the internet, and the answer you’ll get is probably “no.”
The average click-through-rate on display ads in the US is just 0.06%, according to Google. But many creative digital marketing campaigns do manage to break the mould.
To celebrate digital ad creativity and effectiveness, US trade body the Interactive Advertising Bureau has released its second annual “Global Insights Report: What Works and Why.”
The study looks at 24 award-winning campaigns from around the globe, from brands such as Heineken, Puma, Volkswagen, and more. Each of the report’s case studies includes commentary from big-name agency and brand marketers.
Take a look at nine of the best digital ads of 2015, and find out why they worked so well.
COCA-COLA: 'AMERICA IS BEAUTIFUL.' This ad was Coca-Cola's Super Bowl commercial, and the title became the top-trending topic on Facebook during and two days after the big game as the internet exploded with both positive and negative reaction on seeing 'America the Beautiful' sung in several different languages. Coke used digital to steer the conversation towards inclusiveness by sending personalised versions of the video (LGBT, Native American, parents, among others) to people based on their Facebook data.
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'Coke stands for happiness, but that doesn't mean everything it does is always bubbly and fun. Happiness can also come from resolving tough issues. Taking something as iconic as the song 'America the Beautiful' and singing it in several different languages is strongly provocative, and created significant controversy in social media,' said David Roman, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Lenovo.
'But it's also a perfect reflection of Coke and the U.S. as a multicultural and multilingual society. It's a perfect balance -- bravery, beauty, on-brand and well-targeted. This execution wouldn't have worked anywhere else in the world. Best of all, the people who complained about it, aren't Coke's target consumer anyway,' he added.
RIP CURL: 'SEARCH GPS.' This Australian campaign saw the brand make a smartwatch that measured users' surfing activity, and allowed them to share it with their friends, as well as following their peers and pros. 30,000 pre-orders of the watch were sold in the first week of launch.
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'The Rip Curl GPS brings to surfers the functionality of Fuelbands and Fitbits, but adds to that training and data visualisation element the ability to follow your heroes, learn about new breaks, and get real insight into your surfing behaviour,' said Mike Zeederberg, managing director of Zuni and chair of judges for the IAB Creative Showcase.
'For Rip Curl as a brand, the project repositioned it as a forward-thinker delivering for its key target audience, as well as opening up new revenue streams. The campaign also shows how proactive agency activity focused on customer needs can often be a big win for both the brand and the agency involved,' he added.
DUREX: 'TURN OFF TO TURN ON.' The campaign included a series of Facebook posts, and a short film designed to encourage people to turn off their devices and 'reboot (their) relationships.' The videos were viewed more than 85 million times across 56 countries, and the campaign generated positive sentiment 97.8% of the time.
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Simon Gill, chief creative officer UK & MENA at DigitasLBI, said: 'Both the scale and simplicity of this campaign are impressive. Shunning the obvious 'naughty' approach, this piece uses a very observable trend and its offending channels to nudge our new bedroom habits back to fun. The connection with Earth Hour gave it added international appeal and focus. And the results speak for themselves.'
GILLETTE: 'SCANDAL SHAVE.' This Chinese campaign began when a 'private' video surfaced on the internet of actress Gao Yuanyuan helping a man shave. It was immediately picked up by national news outlets, who discussed Yuanyuan's 'good-girl gone bad' image change. Gillette seized the opportunity, hiring the actress as its first ever female spokeswoman, and then launching a contest for a winner to be shaved by Yuanyuan. The campaign reached 237 million people in two weeks and contributed to the highest sales in Gillette's history for two consecutive months.
Peter Shen, chief creative officer at Cheil Opentide Beijing, said: 'China has always been a market where social networking communications are thriving. With consumer habits shifting from 'basic living requirements' to 'personalisation,' it's quite effective to influence consumers with celebrities. Scandal Shave seamlessly integrates celebrity, entertainment, product benefit and SNS platform, making it possible for Gillette to sell three million razors in four weeks. More importantly, this Scandal Shave campaign re-activated the brand.'
HONDA: 'SOUND OF HONDA.' The automaker used the driving data recorded when racing driver Aryton Senna recorded the world's fastest lap in a McLaren Honda in 1989 to bring the moment back to life decades later. The brand used LED lights and lasers to track the car's movements around the track and the engine sounds were recreated for an online video, which became the most-watched YouTube video by an automobile company in Japan's history.
'Simply using data collected about 24-years ago, Honda recreated a historic experience and the excitement of that particular race. The work really highlights the technology and innovation of the engine, and it captures the spirit of the Formula One race,' said Tim Cheng, chief creative officer at DDB Group Shanghai.
HEINEKEN: '#SHARETHESOFA.' The drinks-maker launched a second-screen show #ShareTheSofa across Twitter and Vine, letting fans watch big games alongside soccer legends and use the hashtag to ask them questions. The campaign earned 1.2 billion media impressions across 94 countries and it helped sell beer -- purchase intent for the brand went up 7% over the period.
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Guido Surci, chief strategy and innovation officer at Havas Media Group Italy, said: '#ShareTheSofa demonstrates how campaign development should work. It starts from a relevant insight: Double screening is continuously growing and is most popular among lone TV watchers. Creativity is strategic: This is the first real-time football show designed for the second screen. Execution is high quality: The show featured football celebrities and brilliant characters. Then all of these pieces are strongly linked to brand values and the context of consumption.'
He added: 'This perfect recipe lived up to expectation, delivering high levels of social engagement and business results that further leverage a stellar brand asset like the Champions League sponsorship.'
PEPSI: '#ANADJECTIVEFORMESSI.' This campaign for Pepsico Argentina built on a premise that there is not a single adjective in the Spanish language suitable for national soccer star Leo Messi. Using the hashtag #unadjetivoparamessi (one adjective for Messi,) Pepsi asked soccer fans to suggest their perfect word to describe the Barcelona player. Some 11,000 fans took part and the Spanish Royal Academy approved the winner -- 'immessionate' -- to be included in the dictionary. The campaign earned $10.5 million in earned media.
Mariano Dorfman, vice president at Creativo Icolic, said: 'In Argentina, football is a passion, and even more so when talking about the sport's main idol. With this in mind, Pepsi was able to capture perfect insight built from the wonder and awe that makes us watch the best player in the world. This, plus the power of social networks, generated a campaign with real action, a viral campaign that made a great impact in the press as well.'
BECK'S: 'BECKS'SPERIMENT.' As the name of the campaign suggests, Beck's conducted an experiment: Will men keep their girlfriends in a shop for 60 minutes in exchange for a van full of beer? The brand identified its 'victims' on Facebook -- the most active fans on Croatian fashion designer LeiLou by Alex Dojcinovic's Facebook page were invited to attend the store with their husbands and boyfriends. A hidden camera captured the men's antics, and the resulting video attracted 150,000 views on YouTube and 140,000 views on Facebook.
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Gjuro Korac, creative director at Nivas, said: 'In a very saturated beer market, the campaign manages to find an inspired way to extend the brand values and play on the creativity of the users, resulting in an insightful and relatable video. The stunt gained instant traction with the target group, proving the concept was a hit. The story's successful extension in social channels, and the consequent engagement, all played nicely in extending the brand message through all digital channels.'
SAMSUNG: 'POWER SLEEP.' Samsung gave people in Austria the chance to help cure cancer while they slept, by developing an app that sent small processing tasks to users' mobiles during the night, with the results sent back to researchers at the University of Vienna. The app ranked number 1 in Austria, number 2 in Canada, number 3 in the UK, and number 4 in the US in Google Play. It also encouraged 180,000 people to donate 1 million megabytes to the cause.
Stefan Rasch, managing director at Screenagers and IAB board member, said: 'The work is surprisingly simple, and most of all, really useful. It is a great way of communicating the brand's benefits by creating value for society. Instead of a traditional campaign, the agency developed a piece of software that not only positions the brand as a technological pioneer and creative innovator, but also contributes to people's lives. It engages the user by giving him the opportunity to utilise technology -- not just for himself, but also for a greater good.'
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