Your ad may be cool. But is it customer-centric?

This post was written by Amazon Media Group.


Video. Audio. Motion. Interaction. New devices and innovative software have given advertisers a wider palette to work with and a captive audience ever more in thrall to their phones and tablets. And many agencies are leaping to offer their clients these new advertising experiences. After all, it’s a way to distinguish yourself from the pack and show off your team’s creative chops.

But just because you can do it, should you? There are times when the answer is no.

“It’s important to think about context,” says Mark Renshaw, global chief platforms and partnerships officer for Leo Burnett/Arc. His agency has joined Amazon’s Trusted Creative Partner Program, which educates agencies on the company’s ad design and policies so they can deliver more effective creative for their clients across Amazon’s digital properties.

“You don’t always know where people are in the buying process when they encounter your ad, so it’s important the ad is less disruptive and more helpful during the shopping journey,” he says.

If the customer isn’t in the right frame of mind to experience your ad—no matter how flashy or cutting-edge it is—it could backfire and create a negative experience with your brand. Anticipating every scenario isn’t possible, of course, but taking a more customer-centric approach can change a customer’s mindset. Smart, simple, functional ads can complement or enhance someone’s digital experience. And that’s impactful.

Let’s look at three key tenets of customer-centric advertising.


It sounds obvious, but it’s often overlooked: be mindful of where your ad will appear. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. “Even when an ad is targeted to a specific audience segment, you still don’t always know who’s going to see it,” says Renshaw. “So, we’re always thinking, ‘How can we add value to people visiting Amazon for different reasons?’ Maybe it’s to to get smarter, buy a product or simply to enjoy content. Whatever the case, the ad needs to help each person complete his or her task effectively. This mindset preserves the overall Amazon customer experience.”

It’s also important to consider whether your ad will be consistent with the tone of the site on which it’s appearing or annoyingly conspicuous. For example, many digital ads still “shout” at consumers, even when the ad contains no audio content. Auto-play videos and other rich-media effects can be a turnoff if at odds with their digital surroundings; even something as seemingly innocuous as an exclamation point can grow wearying with overuse. Your ads don’t have to compete in this arms race.


Ask yourself one simple question: Will your audience understand why they’re seeing your ad? More than one household member may use a given device. Targeting the right keywords, products, or interest categories is crucial to making sure your ad reaches those most likely to be in the market for the product—and maybe even ready to buy it right then and there.


Does a customer have to guess at the nature of an offer? That sounds like work.

“Be specific,” advises Renshaw. “If you’re offering a discount but the customer has to meet a certain threshold to get that discount, don’t omit that information from the ad or try to bury it in fine print. No one likes to feel like they’re getting a bait-and-switch. The online experience is all about trust.”

Also don’t assume your audience knows the product. After all, your ad might be their first encounter with it. What’s more, media items in particular are often marketed in an array of formats. For example, is your product an animated movie, a mobile game, or an audiobook?

If the imagery is vague and the copy just reads, “Play now,” the customer won’t know where you are taking them. Sacrificing utility or detail for aesthetics can be a costly tradeoff.

Let empathy be your guide

A customer-centric ad speaks to the consumer at the right time and with a relevant message. It informs and engages without making unwelcome advances on the customer’s device or shopping experience. And it announces itself clearly and concisely, never cloaking its message or leaving customers unsure what will happen once they click.

So while we should push the envelope and continue innovating with advertising, it’s equally important to be judicious. “By all means, create an ad with purpose that looks great and uses new technology in clever ways,” says Renshaw.

“But never forget that every communication should meet a need and ultimately drive action. The needs of someone buying shampoo will be very different from that of someone making a more involved purchase such as a TV. Are helping or hindering the shopping process? Or, are you delivering something of value that will be appreciated?”

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