Creative does the heavy lifting in traditional advertising. So why not for social ads?

A bit of a history lesson.

When advertising first went on television, simply being there was enough to guarantee success.

Just being on air – no matter what you said – guaranteed a massive sales boost.

The creative product itself was heavily influenced by the primary advertising channels that came before it. Radio, and to a lesser extent theatre.

This meant that for a long time there was a formula that typified a tv ad.

It took a while for television advertising to find its feet as it’s own creative beast. But when it did, the creative arms race was on.

Despite being around for more than a decade, the creative side of Facebook advertising and other social media is still in its infancy. There is a lot of variety of the way messages are expressed, but within that lies a formula that successful brands adhere to.

And there are some good reasons for that formula. Social advertising is a game where attention is not guaranteed. A simple flick of the thumb consigns your ad to history.

Getting eyeballs to linger longer than a blink of an eye demands strategies that tend to structure themselves into a formula.

For example, in the typical video ad you’ll find that in the first three seconds you’ll know the name of the product and the key value proposition. Completely makes sense for the demands of the medium. It’s hard to make a creative argument to subvert it in some way.

From that point you’ll be presented with a series of spoken bullet points that build the argument. Possible objections are dealt with. You get shown the product in use.

Bada Bing. Bada Boom. Click here to buy. It’s a catalogue ad brought to life.

Sometimes, the previous medium of television exerts its influence on social media creative. We’ll see versions, derivations and snippets of major film campaigns in the feed. This also makes sense. We are multi-pronged consumers and streamlining the campaign message across different media is a no-brainer.

That’s the game as it stands.

But opportunity is wiping its feet on the doormat for creative practitioners. For a long time, simply being in the right Facebook feed was more important than the creative product.

The killer advantage of Facebook is targeting and data. It hasn’t opened new creative opportunities by itself per se. But it will. And it’s up to us to get better and better at it.

Right now, advertising in social is so ubiquitous that the battle ground is getting more intense.

Simply being there is not enough.

It’s time for all creatives – designers, writers, film-makers and animators – to crack their knuckles and make their clients stand out in new ways.

Here’s an example.

Yes, it is part of a through-the-line campaign and this is the social element of it. But it was obviously made bespoke for the medium and breaks the formula in such a compelling way.

The next few years will be utterly fascinating in the way businesses and brands engage with social media. 

It’s a creative playground with never seen before cutting edge analytical tools. True creativity will be rewarded.

It’s going to fun.