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AdWorld: 5 Key Takeaways for Marketers

AdWorld is an online conference for marketers and advertisers, featuring top dogs as presenters of up-to-date industry knowledge. It presents trends, creative guidelines, strategic and other marketing guidance.

Case studies galore, early 2022 has proven several ideas presented in AdWorld on the trajectory of marketing to be true and useful to know - from AI copywriting to paid creative frontiers, here's a summary of what caught my attention as an attendee.

AdWorld Logotype

Copywriters replaced by AI

If you've done any copywriting work and Googled into how to jazz it up with SEO, you'll be getting ads about AI copywriting assistance.

Since the advent of pandemic measures, an increasing percentage of businesses have taken their operations online. This increased competition for search engine rankings and put an emphasis on the value of content creation for purposes related to Search Engine Optimisation.

Every start-up needs SEO copy in volume, and copywriters have been redlining their work output for e-commerce. But writing a strong copy at the volume necessary to compete in the marketplace is a costly endeavour for most small businesses.

New copywriting process.

AI copywriting software works as an entry-mid level human copywriter who doesn't have any sense of style or knowledge about brand tones. Typically, these tools are used as assistants - the copywriter generates copy with the AI, adjusts the tone & style, adds the missing bits and parses the copy one more time to check for grammar errors.

To cover the SEO bit, the AI is adjusted to predict text tag location, inserting relevant links and specified keywords into the draft version of the text. The human copywriters' role is to review the final copy and manage its release.

Limited algorithm.

With AI copywriting tools becoming more approachable for the average copywriter, the copywriting algorithms receive increasing levels of usage data which feed into the mechanics of this kind of software. This is why it is reasonable to think that even the most mediocre copywriter will be able to produce a decent copy at a fraction of the price paid for a top-performing human copywriter.

It does seem like AI copywriting will plateau due to its limitations to judge tone and style - critical human oversight is essential and there doesn't seem to be any hearsay regarding the capability of machine learning algorithms to fully tackle this issue.

SEO spam.

If the web starts being spammed by extreme volumes of AI-generated text for SEO, the search engines will be forced to moderate their search algorithms to restore the value of SEO content.

It's either moderation or a complete devaluation of their bread and butter to establish SEO ranking - site crawlers that consider the text, link, load speed and media quality when determining the ranking score of any given website.

This change is likely to raise parameters that will help identify genuine human-written copy and evaluate it with a better score that determines the search ranking of the host page.

The emergence of AI copywriting tools may sound eery because it introduces a threat to copywriting as a profession. Despite that, I'm confident that great copywriting skills and human creativity will always remain valuable in business and AI tools will only serve as support and not a full replacement. As long as we're writing the text for humans and not machines.

Continued SEA dominance.

What is the most valuable and cost-effective method of advertising? There hasn't been any change in this aspect of digital marketing for the past 5 years - search engine advertising (SEA) through Google, Meta and TikTok platforms is the primary revenue channel for a large portion of online businesses.

However, SEA is not without its limitations and barriers to entry. The main notions expressed in AdWorld regarding the present state of SEA was UI accessibility to the average user and acquisition of reliable user or traffic data.

UI accessibility

When it comes to UI, we're mainly talking about what it takes for an advertiser to make a profit from search ads using the Google Ad Manager and/or Facebook Ads. The two advertising platforms are working towards eliminating the middleman - ad agencies and marketing professionals who have full knowledge of running ads on behalf of their clients. This is done by simplifying the process of setting up the ads so that the non-expert user can create and manage ads easily.

In 2022, there is still a necessity to advertise on the three main SEA platforms for most digital businesses. The problems that marketers and business owners encounter are the UI being outdated, A/B testing requiring expert knowledge and the threat towards the dwindling reliability of ad targeting.

On Meta and Google, there is a high chance for your account to get closed for no reason and with no reliable customer service to resolve the situation. The same applies to TikTok, although being the newest platform, their UI and ad management capabilities are more limited, leaving less room for errors and more for automation that works in favour of the average ad user.

Reliability of targeting data

Targeted digital ads rely on accurate user/traffic data. This data is collected through user input on platforms, such as Meta and TikTok, and then by tracking incoming traffic to the sales page.

For Google Ads, collecting and managing data with Google Analytics to have an effective Pay-Per-Click campaign. It uses the same principle as Facebook Pixel, and, judging from the latest news, these kinds of data acquisition tools may go extinct, starting from the EU.

This is why one of the most popular discussions raised in the many AdWorld chat rooms was on the future of paid advertising in the absence of user data reliability. What happens when the EU de facto bans all tracking on desktop, just like Apple did with iOS devices?

While no such change is obviously imminent, data collection is still relevant for the average advertiser. There is still a need for some technical knowledge on web development and how to analyze data, which bolsters the need to eliminate the middleman to increase the number of advertisers on the platforms.

Another popular prediction was that no guesswork regarding user data collection was necessary, since it is very likely that Web 3.0 would emerge as the wild west of advertising, presenting a decentralised and unregulated environment where old data analysis tools become irrelevant.

Creative frontier.

Coming to AdWorld 2021 to find valuable info on how to maximise conversion rates through ad visuals, I had nuggets of knowledge from my own experience as a digital marketer. But, as most marketers, I've encountered brick walls with some of my key visuals when it came to ensuring high conversion rates for clients. So are there any key visual tricks to increasing the performance of paid ads?

Content is (still) king.

Content is king and this applies to all PPC campaigns. Daniel Hipke tells us about his principles when creating a paid campaign.

Hipke pays 50% of his attention to the product, landing page and offer, 40% to the creatives and only 10% to the technique and targeting – which is a good reminder against spending too much time thinking about technicalities, forgetting that it is humans who are going to see the campaign and not the algorithms.

A/B testing tricks.

During AdWorld, I listened to a talk that described the primary key visual (KV) element to test in 2022 - minimal animation of a static visual. That is typically produced as a GIF, ensuring speedy load times on mobile devices.

Just like this:

Let's say you create a static image, a video. A minimal animation would be something in-between - make the text glow, change colour, be underlined - introduce the kind of movement you would see in a .gif rather than telling a story with a complex video.

AdWorld creatives focused on colour and motion as the primary subjects to consider in animated KV's. The motion and colour must be differentiated from the UI of the platform itself. For example, on Facebook, never use the colour blue or non-abrupt animations, because your ad will be ignored as a native element of the UI.

Augmented Reality as the new creative frontier.

Marketers are going on a diet.

The whole iOS14 ordeal was a disaster for digital marketers and businesses who specialised entirely on Facebook. At least we'll always have cookies, right? Right?!

Nick Shackleford explains that the cookie war between Apple in Facebook is in fact, like all wars, a conflict over money, even though Apple likes to disguise it as taking care of their users' privacy.

iOS, through its new options in the AppStore and as part of its device ecosystem now explicitly asks its users "do you wish to be followed?" And the average users, imagining some government ninjas following their every PornHub bookmarks, tends to accept the invitation to nuke all unwanted surveillance. This was a delightful change of pace from Apple for the tech-savvy who have always invested in their internet privacy and safety.

These new privacy and quality principles seemingly act as building blocks for something bigger to come imminently. According to Shackleford, Apple will likely create its own, Amazon-like advertising platform.

The newest change in Apple devices puts the whole ad tracking upside down – the data is not up to date anymore and we can’t do a real-time optimization anymore, as the newest stable data we have is the one we collected 72 hours ago.

"What can we do?" asks Shackleford, - "There are three imperfect solutions – invest in in-house copywriters, diversify your platforms and do what you can to get to know your customer."

Marketing is like dating.

Alexandra Cattoni in her speech titled The Wheel of Persuasion: How to Build Trust, Create Believability & Inspire Action said that marketing is like dating – you need to engage before getting married.

No one is going to marry you after the first swipe, and many fresh brands make this mistake. They're excited and confident about their new baby and think that their mojo is more contagious than it really is.

They see a problem and then they are all about "me", without really paying attention to the target audience. Alessandra Cattoni lists six elements of her "Six P” to raise your marketing dating life from the dead:

Problem – There is a prospect who has a problem – back pain.

Pain – What does the person feel? The problem is not necessarily the pain – the pain may be a frustration (he can’t go to the gym!) or sadness (he can’t lift his daughter!) – make sure he knows you understand his pain!

Prescription – This is when you suggest a solution – “Have you tried yoga?”

Pivot – Your potential client is wondering why should they listen to you, so this is the right moment to reveal your qualifications (“I'm a yoga instructor and I've had multiple clients with back pain - yoga worked for them and I'm confident it will work for you”).

Positioning – Your prospect has probably tried different solutions and here you position yourself against them – the hard mattress and prescription drugs didn’t help. Yoga is still a viable option.

Product – This is when you land with your product on a perfectly prepared spot, in your prospect’s mind – he is free from doubts and feels understood – “We have this yoga app that has one chapter dedicated to those with back pains, you should try it”.

AdWorld 2022

AdWorld happens in Spring and Autumn, and I recommend the conference for any marketer who wants to catch up with the latest industry knowledge.

In 2022, we're going into Web 3.0, NFT's, Crypto, VR and AR If you want to get some early insight, here's my blog about AR.

let's misbehave,



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