3 Steps to Creating an Effective Ad

Posted by WhatRunsWhere on March 22, 2021

Even small businesses are spending thousands of dollars each month on digital ads. Competitive isn't even the place to start when describing the online ad landscape. It's vicious. An average person can come across thousands of ads in a day, and that's not accounting for the ads they don't see because of ad blockers.

It's vital that you focus on effectiveness when drafting campaigns. Here we're going to dive into three critical steps to ensure that you're cultivating the best exposure, getting the most out of every dollar, and writing copy that converts. 

  1. Assess the Competition

Conducting a full competitive analysis to get to know your competition a little better is good advice. But let's start smaller. Scope out your competition with clear ad analysis to pinpoint where they receive the best exposure and engagements. 

WhatRunsWhere provides in-depth insights into your competitor's ads, including engagements, location, and even ad type saturation across your industry. 



Here Noom and GOLO are the top two ads for Fitness and Weightloss. They use similar tactics but find engagements on different sites and don't seem to compete directly. 


Here Noom uses Suggest.com, a lifestyle website, and achieved nearly 8 million impressions over 17 days. 


GOLO sees activity through Diply.com, a social news and entertainment community. 

What could you draw from this quick peek at ads from two different competitors? Essentially that they're making the biggest splash in lifestyle or entertainment websites and communities. A company could easily use that information to determine the best platforms and mediums for their campaign. You might avoid Diply and Suggest or dive right in as tough competition. 

You can pair WhatRunsWhere with other tools to start to pull apart the development and planning behind the ad. Spyfu, BuzzSumo, and even WordStream have competitor keyword tools. Knowing the keywords associated with the campaign, landing pages, and the copy, you can develop your strategy. 

  1. Set Your Parameters

Don't run a race without knowing where you'll cross the finish line or how you'll make it there. Your parameters might seem like minor details, but they can keep your ad effective by narrowing down your focus. 

  • Budget - An ad can be effective no matter the budget, but your budget may determine where, when, and how often you push your ad. 
  • Types of copy - Determine your ad not only by its placement and function, such as a mid-roll or banner ad, but also by the type of copy. Is it education suggestive, or does it touch on human interest? Consider your competitor's ads and what they're missing. 
  • Customer persona - The more you understand about real-world customer personas, the more effective the ad. Don't just say, "This ad is for women with cats." Outline to include additional but relevant details such as, "This ad targets middle-aged women with multiple cats who prioritize their cat's health by monitoring their diet and litter." 
  • KPIs - Set your target goals but pay careful attention to the metrics you'll use to determine success. Focusing on different KPIs may help you develop a more impactful approach to ad design or deployment. For example, you might prioritize monitoring conversion rates over click-through-rates. That might lead you to opt for educational video ads over social media still-image ads.
  1. Develop Your Content 

Effective ads aren’t just drafted and posted. Everything leading up to this point centered around decisions that would produce an effective ad but now it's time to create it. What type of content will you make? Pre-roll, mid-roll, PPC, Facebook ads, or something else entirely? 

Many businesses will use multiple forms of content across a single campaign and A/B test throughout to monitor effectiveness. A single ad itself will rarely stand alone. You may need to plan a matching landing page. The content of the ad itself is important, but for effective ads, the landing page that appears when users click on the ad needs to be just as effective.

Topics: Advertising (27)


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