Advertising Archives - CRAFT Media | Digital

Mastering the A,B’s

To successfully execute a digital advertising campaign, you must first master the ABCs of digital advertising.  Generating valuable insights and delivering the best results for ad campaigns starts with testing your messages, images, and target audiences.

A common practice in marketing is A/B testing, which strategically tests two variables against each other. Applying this practice to advertising is not new. In Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy discusses the value in testing: “When in doubt as to which of two illustrations to use, test their relative pulling power by split-running them in a newspaper.”

An advantage digital advertising offers is the real-time results that can be learned from each landing page or ad during the campaign. At any given moment, ad buyers can see what ads are performing best and then allocate additional budget to them. Today, you no longer have to wait for readers to use the coupons in newspaper ads to understand which messages, images, or platforms are most effective. Ad buyers can see what ads are working and, if necessary, have design teams make additional changes to ads to further improve performance.

Making iterative improvements to ads is the surest way to maximize the results of your campaign. For example, CRAFT recently ran a campaign for a local business looking to generate leads. We began with two landing pages, and the only difference between the pages were the Call to Action (CTA). After a week, the results confirmed CTA (A) was more successful at converting people than CTA (B). Once we understood which CTA worked best, we then tested two images. Again, after a week (the time necessary, in this instance, to generate statistically significant information), we used the data to determine the best performing image and then paired it with the best performing CTA.

With data-driven creative and additional A/B testing for the landing page, CRAFT was able to drive down the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) from almost $100 to under $20.  This dramatic decrease in the CPA was a result of CRAFT managing our client’s ad buy to ensure we could generate the correct data to make an informed decision.  The reduction can also be attributed to testing various elements on the landing page such as the image, CTA, and even button colors and placement. With the results, CRAFT utilized the data to make informed decisions which eliminated instinct-based outcomes.

A/B testing is not a new technique, but it has yet to become fully utilized in digital advertising campaigns. Testing various elements of your ads and/or landing page provides valuable information that should direct all of your advertising decisions. A/B testing requires significant time, budget, and a team with direct access to advertising data. It also requires the knowledge to understand the data in order to make actionable decisions. In every campaign, CRAFT relies on data to make informed decisions, which can help us drive down the CPA by 80% in some instances.

When running a digital advertising campaign, focus on the ABCs — that way, even your “failures” can ultimately lead to greater success.

In politics, there are “truths” that exist — until they are refuted by actual facts. These “truths” are a result of promises from candidates or previous experiences. Examples of these include: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” and “Republicans trail Democrats when it comes to digital campaigning.”

The first has already been debunked. This election year, expect the second to be disproved.

While Republicans had ceded digital supremacy in previous elections, the gap has closed, and Republicans no longer trail Democrats on the technology front. In Darren Samuelsohn’s recent POLITICO article, “The Battle for Digital Supremacy,” CRAFT Partner, Matthew Dybwad, highlighted this by pointing out: “There are no tools absent in the toolbox on our side…At this point, it’s really about smart use and it’s not about clamoring for the shiny object that we don’t have.”

His analysis is spot on. The parties are no longer separated with regard to access to technology. As we move into 2014 and beyond, it will be savvy use of digital technology that will influence elections and help smart campaigns win before they even get to November.

CRAFT has been at the forefront of closing the technology gap. Last year, we launched our own Agency Trading Desk, CRAFT Levers, that provides clients direct access to premium display, social, and video inventory across the internet. This direct access means our advertising experts are in total control of each campaign, making optimization decisions based on real-time data, and ensuring our clients’ campaigns are reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time.

CRAFT stays ahead of the curve by powering our campaigns with the best data available. This includes a new agreement with Data Trust that provides CRAFT with access to key Republican Party voter segments in competitive districts across the country. CRAFT Levers identifies and targets key audience segments with persuasion and GOTV messaging, positioning our clients for efficient and effective voter engagement needed to win in November.

The truth is: the digital gap is closed. The new battlefront centers on how campaigns will deploy data to effectively leverage digital technology to reach the right audiences, with the most persuasive message. It is imperative that Republicans make the most of these powerful tools at our disposable. As we’ve seen in the past, failing to effectively identify, target, and engage key audiences online leads to campaign losses on Election Day.

To learn more about CRAFT’s efforts and Levers, please visit:

CRAFTing the Brand


According to Forbes, the three most valuable brands in the world are Apple, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. There aren’t many names on the Forbes list of top one-hundred brands that don’t evoke a mental image: logo, advertisement or experiential memory of one of their products.

It is not a coincidence that the names in this list are immediately discernible in today’s sea of competition. It is the cumulative result of how their brands are communicated: audience research and heedful positioning guided by thoughtful design.

The definition of branding has evolved over past centuries from literal livestock branding, to nomenclature as a means of differentiation among competitors, to the broad sense of how the audience perceives it.  Michael Eisner, former CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1984-2005 likened branding to the idea of the individual. “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.”

The elements of a brand have evolved to encompass messaging, various visual media, and sensory components that explain the brand as well as differentiate for consumers. Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person living in a city sees more than twice as many ad messages a day than they did 30 years ago; brand differentiation has become a vital task.

Design, like audience research and messaging, is essential to brand development, visibility, recognition, and positioning.


Establishing the look of the logo is only step one. Developing an identity system and adhering to it religiously through a visual standards guide are equally as important in maintaining the brand’s messaging perception through advertising and social media. Brand consistency and attention to detail help build recognition and reinforce trust in the brand.

CRAFT is cognizant of the value of the brand and how it engages with its audience. CRAFT observes from every angle and anticipates audience perception through research driven data and design contoured to evoke distinctive emotive responses and psychological traits. Our expertise relies on a holistic strategy to branding, considering all aspects of messaging and mediums in communicating to audiences. This is how CRAFT helps clients find success, time and again.

Determining optimal solutions at inception are necessary investments in establishing consistency. As trust is built, it is crucial to monitor and maintain the brand’s entity at it grows and evolves. BRANDING: If you CRAFT and cultivate it, they will come.


Emotional Ads

CRAFT| Media/Digital Partner Brian Donahue discussing the impact of culture and emotion in two classic political ads on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

Watch the ads discussed here:

1952 Eisenhower Political Ad – “I Like Ike”

1964 LBJ Political Attack Ad – “Daisy”

Testimonial Ads

Brian Donahue discusses the validating effect of real people telling real stories about candidates in testimonial ads — an important development this cycle.


The Cannes Lions recently announced their winners, ranging from Volvo’s genius “The Epic Split” commercial to Harvey Nichol’s hilarious “Sorry I spent it on myself” campaign. While all unique, each winner shares a distinct trait – they all cater to the specific tastes of the Internet.

The Internet is a tricky beast. Its users can smell phony all over brands and organizations that adopt older Internet memes, such as Turkish Airlines/Kobe Bryant uninspired selfie spot and Friskies sponsoring Grumpy Cat. It often rewards creativity, irony, and/or universal appeal and dislikes when brands try to “fit in” or claim memes for marketing.

This is not a new dynamic. Since the days of Ogilvy, ad agencies have worked tirelessly to create inventive, fresh content that is crafted specifically to consumers without feeling like advertising. While tastes, attitudes, and media platforms have changed, the goal is still the same. Just in the past few decades, people have become more educated, more impatient, and more difficult to impress. Therefore, the Internet is a window to our changing culture.

A brand’s creative triumph on the Internet can be seen as a paradox, particularly when it comes to video content. By not tilting at the tempting meme windmills, at most giving a nod to ironic or awkward humor, brands can win at the Internet game. Users want content that entertains them, is sharable, and is artistic/clever enough to make them feel like they are making a smart choice when they like ad content.

Volvo’s “The Epic Split” is a perfect example of this model.

The 60-second spot features martial artist and B-movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme and his famous flexibility to show off the smoothness of their Dynamic Steering. Oddly mesmerizing, the commercial is Internet gold. JCVD is another 80s icon whose over-the-top persona both on and off-screen have made him an Internet darling. Fittingly set to Enya’s “Only Time,” the ethereal, adult contemporary hit only adds to the ironic humor factor. Simple, sharable, and stunning, the spot currently has over 73 million views on YouTube and earned Volvo a coveted Golden Lion.

Following these “Internet rules” might be difficult for many political ad campaigns, as they often do not have the luxury of time or funding similar to some of the Cannes winners. However, there have been glimmers of this in recent political commercials. Brett Smiley, a Democratic candidate for Mayor of Providence, launched a clever ad that caused waves on both Internet aggregators and major news sources.

In the ad, Smiley speaks of his early road to candidacy all through the Futura font filled filming style made famous by director Wes Anderson. This is the perfect example of a candidate breaking the mold of political commercials. The creative team who fashioned this campaign gem made something memorable, particularly to the younger, Wes Anderson film going constituency to whom Smiley is targeting.

Political advertising has a reputation for feeling hackneyed and amateurish, which is unfortunate but also promising for forward thinking clients. The solution may lie in hiring the right creative team, one that is paying close attention to trends and understands what grabs audiences better than a busy candidate or organization would care to know.

CRAFT is one such agency. Young, dynamic, and fearless, CRAFT has garnered national attention and earned numerous Pollie and Telly Awards for its inventive ad campaigns. Our most recent success is the debut ad for Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio. Called “Groundbreaking” by the Wall Street Journal and “First of its kind” by CNN, CRAFT presented DeMaio as a “New Generation Republican,” bringing a fresh and positive message into the 2014 Congressional election. Another triumph is the 2012 Congressional campaign for Mia Love, where CRAFT fashioned a compelling narrative which not only won two Telly Awards and six Pollie Awards, but also earned over $1 million for Love’s campaign. CRAFT combines political expertise with creative finesse rarely seen in most public relation firms and ad agencies. Winning hearts on the Internet is more important than ever, and CRAFT understands that.

G.O.P.: Getting Out Paced?

Recently, I had the honor to deliver the keynote at the first Tech Roanoke Conference.*

Winning politics in the digital space is a matter of hot debate. Some say the Left dominates while the GOP is playing catch up. But we’re not playing anymore. While there is always more to learn, the fact is that the tools, tactics, and technology of modern digital politics have leveled the playing field.

To prove this I presented a case study of a candidate who had one of the most effective digital campaigns in politics. When people make this evaluation, they usually focus on one particular candidate and one particular story, don’t they? Let’s take a look, see if you can guess who I’m talking about…

This candidate started out as a little known force in politics, focused on leading at the community level. This candidate represented a new look and a new direction for their party. Once the campaign got going though, this candidate became a household name, raising $5 for every $1 spent on their digital campaign and raking in boatloads of cash on money bombs and other digital campaigns, but really rising to prominence with a speaking opportunity at the national convention.

I think you all know who I’m talking about, and that candidate is…

…not Barack Obama.

This is actually the story of Mia Love, who became a darling of the Republican party and a national star, raised over $1 Million online from every state in the union, and actually won on election night. The final tally put her behind by several hundred votes, but Love will likely coast to election this cycle based in large part on the success of her last campaign.


My message then to the Roanoke Conference was this: you don’t have to be Barack Obama to be successful online, Democrats don’t own the Internet, and frankly I’m tired of people trying to convince all of us that we’re behind and constantly playing catch up.

This is just one example of a CRAFT campaign that leveraged readily available tactics, tools and technology to wage an effective digital campaign. Catching up should not be our focus. Our focus should be moving messages that appeal to emotion and resonate with voters. Our focus should be cultivating a culture of designers, coders, and communicators that understand and embrace digital channels. Our focus should be seamless integration that brings digital, media, and traditional channels together to multiply the effects of each.

Understanding and using technology levels the playing field. Big campaigns can come from small budgets. Stop worrying about who has done it better. Go out there and do it better.


*Tech Roanoke is a newly formed organization that brings together individuals passionate about politics and technology. In a partnership with the Roanoke Conference the organization launched its first training and networking event where attendees can learn about and share their insights on the next wave of political and technological change.

The Creativity Behind the CRAFT

Thirteen milliseconds. According to MIT, that is how long it takes the human brain to process visual content. This statistic is not lost on marketers who aim to immediately engage consumers. Suddenly overwhelmed with visuals, good design is what helps consumers sort through the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the rush to meet deadlines, creativity often takes a backseat. However, smart companies know creativity and good design cannot be compromised in the interest of time. In fact, adopting a design-centric marketing strategy can significantly improve a company’s bottom line. Research shows that companies who invest in design, like Apple and Coca-Cola, have a clear advantage. After all, promotion and brand recognition are built on images. Overall, when companies emphasize creativity to create visual content they can control how consumers perceive the brand and increase engagement.

In a tightly controlled industry like politics, embracing creativity is what makes CRAFT’s campaigns unique. We believe in the power of storytelling and images to stun, persuade and capture the audience’s imagination. This is why CRAFT harnesses the power of creativity to deliver messages and inspire action. In politics, this translates to votes and engagement. Similarly, in public affairs this means controlling the message to build reputation, recognition, and manage crises. Take this creative-centric strategy with our integrated channels approach to media and you have a well-CRAFTed campaign.

CRAFT’s Media Portfolio

CRAFT’s Digital Portfolio

There is a growing practice in the digital space called “programmatic advertising.” It’s all the rage and more companies are doing it everyday. But few people know exactly what it is. Much like the latest celebrity diets, people are subscribing to the practice of programmatic advertising but don’t entirely understand what it is or how it works. Unlike the latest celebrity diet though, programmatic advertising is here to stay and it will change the way we advertise online.

Simply put, programmatic advertising is the automation of ad buying. Now ads can be purchased in real time, the same way hotel reservations can be made online instead of going through a concierge or travel agent. The streamlined process increases efficiency and reduces the cost of ads.

This allows advertisers to focus on more specifically tailored audiences, instead of simply trying to reach as many people as possible for the least cost. Agency resources can then be directed to facilitating creativity and personalized interaction. Therefore, businesses can seamlessly integrate their message into their target audiences’ online behavior.

CRAFT embraced programmatic buying early, launching our own agency trading desk, CRAFT Levers. Now CRAFT bypasses traditional ad networks and directly accesses the inventory, data, transparency, and insights available through industry-leading Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), including Google’s Bid Manager, AOL’s AOP, BrightRoll, MediaMath, AdRoll, and others.

Buying directly has two key benefits; first, it increases transparency, knowing when and where our ads run reduces potential fraud; second, a greater percentage of the budget goes to actual ad placement and not ad network overhead, giving our clients more bang for their buck. Thus, CRAFT advertising specialists can use a larger percentage of our clients’ budgets to leverage more accurate real-time data to improve results, ensuring the right ads reach the right people, at the right time.

Online Content: Less is More

CRAFT_ContentLength Think of all the distractions you experience when surfing the Internet: multiple tabs and windows, ads on every sidebar, videos appearing at every new page visit. So how do you grab and keep the attention of your online audiences? Besides inspiring creative, at CRAFT we focus on the psychology of the mind. We look through the lens of a content consumer to learn when, where, why and how long users look at content. That’s the basis for Buffer blogger, Kevan Lee’s post, “The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research.”

So what does this mean for your social content? For each social sharing platform, sweet spots exist that will garner higher engagement from your audience. That’s where you want to be. Each audience is different, and each member has different content expectations. But human nature dictates that your audience will immediately judge your content by its length to determine if they want to engage.

We get it — content writers are humans too, so to help remember optimal content lengths across platforms, we created a cheat sheet.

Print it out, share it with your friends, keep it handy, and successfully engage your audience.

Strike the heart, not the head.

That’s the essence of a recent examination into a growing advertising trend Fast Company swiftly dubbed “sadvertising.”

It doesn’t take much guessing to grasp the meaning of the term; it’s a reference to the shift in advertising towards long-form, emotional, storytelling narratives.

Think about it. Perhaps the most anticipated Super Bowl ad this year wasn’t about an impromptu goat purchase gone wrong. It was a goose bump inducing spot about the friendship between puppy and horse.

This trend is about creating storylines that people want to watch, not feel forced to endure.

It’s about telling relatable narratives that make people say, “Hey, that could happen to me, and if it does, that brand will be there for me.”

Enter Guinness.

That sentiment of brand trust transcends commercial branding. It’s made its way into one of this cycle’s most heralded political ads.

The notion of pursuing emotional connections with viewers and users is nothing new to CRAFT. We’ve long pushed our clients to create meaningful, shareable content; content that inspires and pushes traditional norms and boundaries. Because when content makes you feel good, you want to tell the world.

CRAFT recently hosted a two-panel discussion, CRAFTing Creative, centered on the intersection of creative and politics. Arising from the conversation was an idea that people don’t always remember exactly what you say, but they do remember how you make them feel.

This lies at the very root of “sadvertising.” Emotional ads don’t necessarily make you run out the door to buy a bar of soap or vote for a candidate, but when the time comes to make a purchase or cast a ballot, you’ll remember how you felt watching that spot.

Despite the elegant play on words, CRAFT Partner Brian Donahue is weary of the term “sadvertising,” (rather preferring sentimentising) fearing the insistence that a story must be sad to elicit an emotional response:

“In politics, we must be equipped to hit all emotions on the sentiment scale.”

Humorous reactions can stimulate equal levels of brand trust, a pillar we touted by parodying the notorious “Dollar Shave Club” commercial.

Now, here’s the catch. According to PJ Pereira, chief creative officer at Pereira & O’Dell, “there’s nothing more dangerous in advertising than following a trend.” In his experience, “any time you see a trend…it’s about to die.”

So we leave it to you — Is “sadvertising” the flavor of the day, or here to stay?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.