Digital Advertising

10 Characteristics of Effective Advertising

By Dany Ortiz, on 26 April 2021

As marketers, we spend a lot of time analyzing the details of every advertising campaign we see. But it never hurts to review the basics. Taking a look at the basics of how a campaign works can help generate new ideas and get your creativity flowing.

Whether it's traditional advertising or digital media, the truth is that all advertising campaigns share a number of common characteristics. Let’s examine the 10 most important characteristics of effective ads.

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10 Characteristics of Effective Advertising


What Makes a Good Advertisement?

As consumers, we’ve all seen our fair share of ads that wow us, and ads that, well, flop. So what makes a good advertisement? There are 10 characteristics that make for a strong ad or campaign:

  1. It’s promotional

  2. It’s persuasive

  3. It’s part of an overall marketing strategy

  4. It’s targeted

  5. It’s an investment

  6. It’s original

  7. It’s creative

  8. It’s consistent

  9. It’s personalized

  10. It’s ethical


1. It’s Promotional

At its core, advertising is a form of communication that aims to publicize a product or service and encourage sales. By nature, good advertising is promotional.

While some may refer to advertising as "propaganda", they are in fact two separate concepts that should be distinguished. Propaganda seeks to influence a population's ideology and ways of thinking, while advertising focuses on influencing purchasing habits. A good advertisement is promotional in nature, though this promotion can be more or less subtle.


2. It’s Persuasive

To achieve their main objective (to increase sales of a certain product or service), effective ads must convince consumers that a certain product or service is better than the competition's. Persuasive advertising assures that a product can solve a consumer’s need or improve their life in some way.

Advertising employs a variety of resources such as appealing to consumers' emotions, winning their trust with arguments of authority, or using logical reasons to justify the purchase of a product. Remember those lessons about ethos, pathos, and logos from high school? Effective advertising uses these tools all the time.

This can be seen in all the campaigns that De Beers has launched over the years in which they convinced people that diamond rings were essential to an engagement.


10 Characteristics of Effective Advertising


3. It’s Part Of The Company's Overall Marketing Strategy

The most visible side of advertising is undoubtedly creative features (like TV spots or social media ads), but behind a campaign there is also a lot of strategy. Advertising always responds to a specific marketing objective aligned with the global interests of the brand or company. Thus, a strong advertising strategy should be framed within the general marketing plan, like in Nike's Just Do It campaign.


10 Characteristics of Effective Advertising


4. It’s Targeted

In the past, advertising relied on mass media such as radio and television to reach as wide an audience as possible. Effective advertising in today’s world requires highly targeted and segmented audiences. 

Every brand has a buyer persona or ideal customer profile they are trying to attract. The more focused your advertising is on a particular audience, the more effective it can be. The content of your advertising messages should be specially designed to appeal to the feelings and needs of your audience. Ads do not work if they are not trying to appeal to a specific type of person.



5. It’s an Investment

Advertising campaigns require an investment of time, resources, and of course, money. Generally, the channel issuing the advertisements charges a certain amount in exchange for its dissemination.

A good ad campaign will increase the company's profits, and this should exceed the invested cost. To understand the relationship between costs, advertisers measure the campaign’s ROI (return of investment). A positive ROI indicates that the advertising campaign has been a success.


6. It’s Original

It’s no secret that advertising suffers from market saturation. Consumers are exposed to hundreds of ads a day in different formats, and most don’t even pay attention to them. Therefore, effective advertising stands out from the competition by using unexpected formats and resources. You can grab a user's attention by emphasizing the novelty of your product or service, offering a great deal, or doing something completely out of the box, like Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign.


10 Characteristics of Effective Advertising


7. It’s Creative

Videos that tell stories, shocking images, unforgettable speeches, catchy jingles, etc. Effective ads use creativity to stand out and make a brand immediately identifiable or memorable. The best creative ads manage to surprise users, move them to action, and become instantly memorable, all while remaining faithful to the principles of the brand. A great example of this is Old Spice's viral ad campaign, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.



8. It’s Consistent

Truly great ads stay consistent to the core of the brand and the values associated with it. Generally, a single ad can’t achieve this goal, especially in an environment as saturated as the current one. Therefore, a key aspect of advertising is consistency.

Ideally, each consumer within the target audience should receive enough impact to remember the brand and its message, but not so much that it becomes annoying or saturated. It is also interesting to consider that impacts can be repeated through the same medium (for example, watching the same TV commercial several times) or transmitting the same message by adapting it to different channels (cross-channel or multi-channel advertising).


9. It’s Personalized

Personalization is an increasingly important trend in recent times and it’s getting easier than ever. Truly effective ads are increasingly personalized to the characteristics and needs of a particular user. For example, e-mails with personalized content like the one below by Sephora. These kinds of emails are activated when a user performs a certain action are a great example of how this can be used in advertising. Remarketing is another great use of personalized ads, especially for ecommerce or retail stores.


10 Characteristics of Effective Advertising


10. It’s Ethical

Because of its persuasive power, advertising should be controlled to prevent misleading information or unethical campaigns. While there are several public bodies that regulate the ethical aspect of advertising, it is also essential that advertisers and agencies take responsibility. In the end, honest and clean advertising reflects the values of the advertiser, contributes to improving a brand's image, and is beneficial in the long run.


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Dany Ortiz

Inbound Marketing & Content Strategist en Cyberclick. Experta en marketing online, gestión de contenidos, estrategia en redes sociales, y creación y optimización ​de ​campañas ​en ​social ​ads. _______________________________________________________________________ Inbound Marketing & Content Strategist at Cyberclick. Expert in online marketing, content management, social media strategy, and creation and optimization of campaigns in social ads.