Go online anytime of the day and you will see ads popping up in front of you and to the sides trying to get your attention. Many of those ads are placed by software programs that are just looking for open space to place them in but majority of the time the ads are either loud, annoying, or packed with too much information. The common response most people have to those ads are to close them out or mute them if they have made it hard to find the close button which is more of a reason not to listen to their ad. For me, the best solution is to simply turn off the speakers to my computer if the advertiser has made it difficult to close or mute their ad.
The surprising thing though about ads is that sometimes there are those that catch the attention of people because it gives them enough information in a very short period of time, many of which don’t even use words, to tell us what we need to know about the product or service. Those are the ads people want to see because it lets them get back to what they were doing quicker.
The Design of Simple
Apple is known for starting such a revolutionary way of advertising. When Apple ads started coming out after Steve Jobs came back, you could tell who was in charge because he made sure that enough information about his products were conveyed with as little wording as possible, most of the time with none at all. He always felt that if the product itself is not able to speak for it’s own design then he failed his company but now when you look at Apple ads, you see the look and feel of the product but also get a sense of what it could do. Take a look at some of the ads below that Apple created and think about why they worked.
You can see the fun and usefulness of their product but also their design. Why do you need to explain how much space they hold, or how big they actually are, or how long the battery life is when you can display the fun they bring to your life instead. That is more appealing than words on both sides.
Ads that convey usefulness of a product shows the practicality of a device in use with an app. The keyboard app shows customers what they would be able to get with their iPad if they bought one. They might think that if they can play a keyboard on their iPad then they might also be able to record their music and upload it for others to hear, or they might be able to load it into another program to add more instruments to it. All that ad showed was a finger playing a note but the consumer did all the thinking for them.
So how do you design an ad to tell your customers exactly what they need to know without saying much? You can provide just what needs to be conveyed.
1. Use Visuals more than words
Ads used to be covered with copy because companies thought that the more information you provided to customers the better their decision making process. We know this to not be true now because if you overwhelm a person’s though process with things that are irrelevant to their purchase decision then they will move on to the next product. Why do you need to know the exact size of the batteries it takes or the name of the city in which the processor was built? You don’t.
– An ad that is trying to sell a high end calculator might be better off showing a student working through their homework with no problems because they have their calculator in hand with all their work in front of them.
– A seafood restaurant that wants to advertise that it’s fish is so fresh that it could show a gif image of the back of the restaurant with fishermen throwing in fresh fish straight from their hook into the kitchen and then the chefs preparing it and the waiters serving it all within a few seconds. The whole process is entertaining, interesting to watch and learn from, but also informative about just how fresh their seafood actually is. All without saying a single word.
– Apple did an ad where all it showed was a hand holding up one side of an iPad to show how light and thin it was without saying anything on the ad.
2. Make your Ad Entertaining
The seafood ad is an example of using a looping video to create the illusion of a mini movie where it tells the story of how the restaurant is able to claim the title, “freshest seafood around.” The ad also holds people’s attention because it is not screaming anything, it is not trying to get you to read anything, it is just showing you how they work. Reality TV shows do the same thing, they take ordinary situations and add something to them that make people think what they are watching is interesting and useful. The same goes with this ad, a person who watches it learns how seafood restaurants work.
Lego is known for inspiring people to imagine great things and then building them. That is why their products sell so much now. But their ads simplify that whole thought process in what they are trying to accomplish. if you look at this ad by Lego you will see that it takes a few takes to see what the message is and once you get it, it sticks. You, as the customers, did all the work of convincing yourself of why this product is great and useful to buy.
3. Provide Short pieces of information that people can trust
If you have a complicated computer that needs a lot of explaining then you might be better off showing people why other people enjoy using it so much. A quick Vine video or gif image might be the best way of doing that because if you give people a brochure of what makes this computer so great, you already lost them. The trustworthy information comes about from what people are getting out of using a computer that is actually complicated. Consumers can watch the video and add their own thoughts to what they are seeing
The same can be said of print ads and even online content in blogs, news articles, and anything else. If you provide information in short bit size bites then people will end up getting more out of it because you made it easier for them to get what they were looking for.
Creating simple ads that catch people’s attention is not easy because the natural thing now for people to do when they see an ad is to close it out because it blocks what they are trying to do or is screaming for their attention. Think how an Apple ad would look in all the clutter and see why your attention keeps falling back to it. The next time you are stuck with trying to catch the eye of someone think how simple something would look to make it stand out more and you can test out which one is more effective, the simple ad or the ad with lots of wording and see which one gets more hits.