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What are conversational display ads?

Aug. 17, 2022 | by Raita Ampuja
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... and how do they differ from the traditional static banners we’re already so familiar with?

Long story short: one is just an image – usually of a product and a text telling you to “buy this product” – that you may or may not click on, and the other is something you can interact with through a conversation.

In many ways it’s all a question of direction: With a regular ad, you’re using the ad as a vehicle to get people to a website to consume content, whereas with conversational advertising, we’re using the website as a vehicle to fill the ad with content. The reason being that it’s within the ad itself that we want people to be engaged, because that’s where they actually are.

The steps toward conversational

Static ads will oftentimes only have one singular message, so if a bank wanted to use banner ads in their marketing, they would need separate ads for their different products and services. That means: one ad for loans, one ad for insurance, one ad for funds and equities etc., and then hope the right ad hits the right person at the right time.

With conversational advertising we can group all these together to let the consumer choose which one is relevant to them.

So, if the consumer is in the process of changing their insurance, the ad might ask a question like: “what’s on your mind these days?” And give options like: “What if my new car got stolen”, “How to get money without working” or “The baby is gonna need its own room!”

Based on the choice the consumer makes, the ad would lead them to the relevant landing page where they’d get the information they need

Creativity cannot be ignored

There are endless ways to approach a conversation. Some of the best, interactive approaches include...

  • Quizzes. Quizzes can be related to the advertised product or engage with other related topics or seasonality
  • Polls. People love telling their opinions.
  • Personality tests. These tests attract attention, while giving a great opportunity for product recommendations.
  • You can also use educational approach for PSAs or to educate consumers about your products or services.

The effectiveness of conversational ads is measured by how engaged people actually were with the ad itself: how many people continued the conversation, how many people finished the conversation or how many people ended up converting to that goal you had in mind.

What we’re seeing across practically all campaigns, is that the time a consumer spends in a conversational banner is magnitudes better than that they spend on a regular display banner. (And in this day in age, where time and attention is almost like currency: How can we measure the value of the time a person spends interacting with a brand?)

What this means for a brand, if their KPI is clicks to landing page, is longer dwell time, lower bounce rate and more qualified clicks. 

The joker here is: It can be really easy, when looking at a conversational ad from afar, to think that “this is just about questions and answers, so I’ll just create a manual chatbot and call it a day”, but what you cannot get around is the need for creativity.

"Because creativity is how you make interesting content, and when you’re creating a conversation, something so genuinely human, it must be interesting on each and every level. Therefore, creativity is everything."

Fabian Bjørne-Larsen | Head of Creative, Cavai

The most important thing conversational advertising does is moving away from just having flashy images fighting for attention. The goal is to create that one-on-one interaction, to be human and natural, and not least: to keep it interesting, because we don’t just want to draw the eye in: We want – we need – the person to be present.

by Raita Ampuja