When the way users consume media shifts, the way we plan for, think about, and create advertising must shift as well. This is necessary in order to ensure effective advertising, optimized towards the end users’ experience. One of the biggest examples of this is television.

In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, television became more and more popular, and for the first time, almost every household in America had a screen. As a result, television revolutionized advertising, and advertising had to adjust for and adapt to television.

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“The golden age of TV advertising flourished when creative masters embraced the possibilities of a new medium where, for the first time ever, every household had a screen.”

– Mark Rabkin, VP, Core Ads, Facebook

With mobile phones and laptops, we’ve experienced the same tectonic shift in media consumption.

“Today, television is still a powerful medium where great creative work takes place. But now, it’s in direct competition with mobile, a medium defined by the fact that beyond every household, every person has a screen, on their person, at all times.”

– Mark Rabkin, VP, Core Ads, Facebook

Because of this, marketing spends are shifting from TV to digital, and this gap is expected to continue to grow over the next couple of years.


Many marketing teams, however, have had a hard time shifting away from tv-first campaign concepting and planning. There are so many instances where brands take an asset meant for TV or even print ads and dump it on social or digital channels. I’d show you, but it pains me physically to look at some of them.


Going Digital-First: Three Principles

On TV, our campaign narrative is told in 30-second spots where there is an assumed attention span for the full time. But…

“Smartphones and Laptops are not tiny televisions.”

– Mark Rabkin, VP, Core Ads, Facebook

Just as Google introduced Mobile-First interactive development in 2010, we too must shift our thinking to account for this dramatic change in user interaction.

Now, we must consider our digital user. On digital, users can choose what they want to focus on. They choose where and when they want to focus on it. We have to earn the audience’s attention before they scroll away.

This means that at the point of conception, when campaign ideation is happening, we should be thinking about digital. Why? Content created for mobile and digital platforms performs better than content optimized towards those platforms.

Credit: Facebook’s Marketing Science and MetrixLab 


So let’s dig a little deeper. Below are three guiding principles to creating digital-first content (and examples of who’s doing it right).


1) Speed: Say Goodbye to 30-Second Spots

So far, no mobile platform or channel can support 30-second spots the way TV once provided. Digital and social users have a much shorter attention span, so branding needs to appear almost immediately to optimize for recall, and being able to capture users’ attention and communicate a message quickly is essential.

Example – Amazon broke away from traditional 30-second ads and created over 100 ten-second spots optimized towards digital and social environments. These ads were inspired by real user stories, some of them gleaned from the more than 43,000 customer reviews of the product on Amazon.

Example – Geico’s “Unskippable” ads won AdAge’s 2016 Campaign of the Year. Why? They’re pretty brilliant. Youtube has 15-20 second unskippable ads, and longer form skippable ads that allow you to skip them after 5 seconds of viewing. To play off of this user behavior of pressing skip, Geico made ads that “end” before you can skip them. 


2) Choice: Go Omni-Channel (or Bust)

Users can choose what to watch and where to watch at any time. Cross-platform campaigns give users the ability to choose where they want to engage with advertising. To support this, a Nielsen and Facebook study found that social and TV cross-platform campaigns, improve targeting accuracy and increase reach.

Example – Deadpool’s marketing campaigns, for both movies, have been some of the most over-the-top, in-your-face ridiculous campaigns I’ve seen to date. The awareness-driven approach aimed to break the 4th wall and use the movie’s dark, raunchy, pop culture-driven humor to takeover as many channels as possible – OOH ads, digital channels, and even the unexpected.


“This reaffirmed my faith in social media. There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not social media can really open a movie…and this proves it can.” – Marc Weinstock, president-domestic marketing, 20th Century Fox




3) Relevance: Personalize Personalize Personalize.

Digital advertising can provide us with broader reach capabilities and more precise targeting, as well as a vast portfolio of ways to engage our target audiences. It is agile, ever-optimizing, and distinctly different in its audience’s requirements and expectations. As a result, users expect ads served to be personalized or relevant to their interest, and they expect this content to fit in with the channel or platform it’s on.

Utilizing the capabilities on digital to better segment and target audiences, there are many ways to personalize content and create relevance. We can personalize content based on interest, age, location, education level, marital status, number of kids, food and beverage preferences, HHI, and more. Further, using a combination of these statistics, we can target and personalize content to people likely to take the desired action (e.g. buy a car or sign up for a food service).

Example – “The Friendly Pre-Roll Campaign” was launched by Netflix to build excitement around the re-release of Friends. They used clips from all ten seasons of shows and tagged them to relevant Youtube videos, creating a ton of buzz for the show internationally.

Example – Angry Orchard is the category leader in hard cider, yet cider still has a lot of opportunity for growth due to lack of awareness of cider overall among drinkers in the U.S. ISL’s goal is to use social media to strategically target untapped craft beer and wine drinkers — and bring them through a consumer funnel to generate awareness of Angry Orchard hard cider, encourage trial, and ultimately grow our loyal fan base.

When we target wine drinkers, we build content personalized to them, that celebrates their holidays, their activities, and even uses their language.






This has resulted in an increase in click-through, engagement, and view rate, and increased cost efficiencies across CPM, CPC, and CPE optimized posts.


To Sum It Up

Digital is becoming increasingly important to marketing strategy, creative, and planning. When building campaigns consider digital platforms and users right away, ensuring your campaign takes into account digital user’s demands of Speed, Choice, and Relevance.

Need help with this? Drop us a line. Lauren@isl.co