What makes an ad memorable?

Fast! Think of the last ad you’ve seen online! Why did you remember it? Is there a way to make an ad memorable? Is there a pattern? These are some questions that we stumbled upon in our latest project.

We’re a digital agency that likes to do fun and useful things in their spare time. One of our latest challenge is building Top Ads, an app that curates the most amazing video ads on the internet. We wanted to better understand the commercial viewing habits of our audience so we shared a questionnaire with them.

One of the questions in the survey was: What is the last video ad you’ve searched and seen online?

We analysed the answers of this question and it struck us: all the videos they shared in the answers had some common characteristics. Is there something we can learn, to make our content curation efforts more effective?

Long story short here’s what we discovered.

1. Some people remember the brand

Sample answers from the questionnaire:
Cheerios campaign , Heineken ad, Gilette rio, coca-cola, A Macbook 2015 ad, Toyota cars, Samsung charm commercial.

Big brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, Gillette, have been around for a while and are already established as market leaders. They have big creative agencies behind them and a big enough budget to be unavoidable. From an awareness perspective they achieve their objectives.

Lesson for Top Ads: make a category with big brands and offer the ability to search by brand.

Lesson for advertising fans: Big budget counts. Big brands matter.

2. Some people remember the brand and the ambassadors

Sample answers from the questionnaire:
Rule yourself from Under Armour with Michael Phelps, under armour tom brady, Art Of Villainy With Tom Hiddleston — Jaguar Ad

First of all, hats down to Under Armour and Jaguar. They made amazing brand ambassador campaigns. These kind of ads work because there’s a true partnership between the brand and the brand ambassador. Each of them plays on its strengths to create something truly unique.

We also like it because the partnership is believable. You can imagine Tom Hiddleston driving a Jaguar and Tom Brady wearing Under Armour at his next workout. Brand ambassadorship works when they are true fans and not only paid for it.

And ohh… that sexy Tom Hiddleston voice…

Lesson for Top Ads: A category for famous people? Maybe.

Lesson for advertising fans: If possible have a brand ambassador. If not create a believable character.

3. Most of the people remember a story

Sample answers from the questionnaire:
#thankyoumom video for the Rio Olympics, Always “Like a girl” campaign, First date — Hyundai, Heineken — The odyssey, Budweiser snowball fight, EDEKA Weihnachtsclip — #heimkommen, The one with a bad panda bear.

We are hardwired to remember stories. When we experience a story the brain places us inside the narrative and triggers the feelings and the senses experienced by the character.

Emotional campaigns like “#thankyoumom”, “Like a Girl” and funny ones like “First Date” and “The odyssey” offer us a simple story that we can relate with. They are designed to trigger specific emotions.

But why? Because this way they make a connection between your feelings and the product, service or brand they are advertising for.

Lesson for Top Ads: Categorise ads around main feelings.

Lesson for advertising fans: Story matters. Make it simple but powerful.

Wrap-up. What makes an ad memorable

  1. Story. Build on an insight, decide on a feeling, craft an amazing story.
  2. Brand ambassadors. Partnership is key. It has to be believable.
  3. Brand. Having an established brand and a huge advertising budget helps.

Hit us with a heart 💚 or better yet check our iOS app, Top Ads.