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Running Ads on YouTube Shorts: Examples, Specs, & More



Running Ads on YouTube Shorts: Examples, Specs, & More

With platforms like TikTok and Reels reshaping how we consume content, YouTube introduced its own game-changer. Enter: YouTube Shorts. In 2022, the platform rolled out advertising on Shorts, providing businesses with an exciting new channel for quick and impactful storytelling. 

Boasting a staggering 30 billion views per day globally as of 2022, Shorts has become a powerhouse of engagement, offering advertisers a dynamic space to connect with diverse audiences. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of advertising on YouTube Shorts, from swift engagement to global reach and creative freedom. We’ll guide you through the steps of leveraging this short-form revolution to unlock the full potential for your brand in the digital landscape.

What Are YouTube Shorts Ads?

YouTube Shorts Ads are a dynamic advertising feature that caters to the fast-paced world of short-form video content. YouTube Shorts is designed for creating and consuming brief, engaging videos. Shorts Ads allow advertisers to promote their products or services within the YouTube Shorts ecosystem, reaching a vast audience that engages with short-form content. These skippable ads, ranging from 10 to 60 seconds, provide a unique opportunity for businesses to engage with their audience. 

Creators on YouTube Shorts benefit from monetization, and many have reported substantial earnings, sometimes surpassing those on TikTok. For creators with more than 1,000 subscribers and 10 million views within 90 days, a 45% share of ad revenue awaits. While TikTok offers a slightly higher percentage (50%), it’s important to note that this is limited to the top 4% performing videos.

Currently, Shorts Ads and YouTube Select Shorts Lineup reservation are officially available for several kinds of YouTube advertising formats, including Video Reach Campaigns, Video Action Campaigns, App Campaigns for Install, and Discovery campaigns. There is also the exclusive Shorts Select pilot, a program accessible to select advertisers, often facilitated by agencies like Tinuiti. This limited availability adds an element of exclusivity, making Shorts Ads a strategic avenue for advertisers looking to stay ahead in the evolving world of digital marketing.

Why Use YouTube Shorts Ads?

There are a variety of reasons advertisers should look into YouTube Shorts. Let’s dive into a few of the top benefits.

Wide Reach Across Age Groups

YouTube Shorts Ads offer an extensive reach, tapping into a diverse audience spanning various age ranges. With millions of users accessing YouTube regularly, your brand has the potential to connect with a broad demographic, ensuring that your message resonates with a wide spectrum of viewers.

Stable Platform with a Two-Decade Legacy

YouTube’s stability and longevity are unparalleled, having launched nearly two decades ago. The platform provides advertisers with a trustworthy space to showcase their content. This stability contrasts with concerns some advertisers have about the longevity of emerging platforms like TikTok, making YouTube Shorts a reliable and enduring choice.

Cost-Effectiveness and Budget Control

YouTube Shorts Ads present a cost-effective advertising solution with Cost Per Views (CPVs) ranging from 10 to 30 cents, depending on the target audience. Advertisers can set budget caps to ensure precise control over their spending, making Shorts Ads a financially strategic option for businesses of all sizes.

Advanced Ad Targeting Capabilities

The platform’s advanced ad targeting capabilities* empower advertisers to reach their desired audience effectively. With filters, tags, location targeting, and interests, YouTube leverages its vast user data to allow advertisers to tailor their campaigns with precision. This granular targeting ensures that your ads are seen by the right people at the right time.

*Keep in mind that targeting varies based on the product used.

User Data for Targeting

Given the widespread use of YouTube, the platform accumulates vast amounts of user data. This data includes information about what people search for, videos they watch, and topics they engage with. Leveraging this rich dataset enables advertisers to refine their targeting, ensuring their Shorts Ads are delivered to an audience with a genuine interest in their content.

Longer View Time and Cost-Effectiveness

According to AdAge, YouTube Shorts Ads not only provide a cost-effective solution but also boast longer view times compared to TikTok. Users on YouTube are more likely to watch the ads, offering advertisers an extended opportunity to capture their audience’s attention and deliver their message effectively. This combination of longer view times and cost-effectiveness makes YouTube Shorts Ads a compelling choice for advertisers looking to maximize their impact.

YouTube Shorts Ads stand out as a powerful advertising tool, offering wide reach, platform stability, cost-effectiveness, advanced targeting capabilities, and longer view times – all backed by the reputable legacy of YouTube.

Specs for Ads on YouTube Shorts

For optimal performance and seamless integration with YouTube Shorts, it’s recommended to adhere to the following specifications:

  • Orientation: Videos should be in a vertical format with a 9:16 aspect ratio, ensuring a visually engaging experience tailored for Shorts.
  • Resolution: The ideal resolution for your Shorts is 1920 x 1080 pixels, maintaining a high-quality visual presentation.
  • Duration: Shorts Ads can be up to 60 seconds long, providing enough time to convey your message concisely within the short-form video format.
  • Title Length: Keep the title concise, with no more than 100 characters. A brief and captivating title ensures that viewers quickly grasp the essence of your content.
  • Description Length: While Shorts Ads allow for detailed descriptions, it’s recommended to keep them within 5,000 characters. A balance between informativeness and brevity is key.
  • Alternative Square Format: While the primary recommendation is for a vertical orientation, you can also opt for a square format (1080 x 1080 pixels). However, be mindful that this will appear as a square and may provide a different viewing experience for the audience.

It’s worth noting that YouTube Shorts utilizes AI to adjust assets that deviate from these dimensions. However, adhering to these specifications ensures that your Shorts Ads are optimized for the best possible performance and viewer experience.

How to Create Ads for YouTube Shorts

Targeting ads on YouTube Shorts isn’t always as straightforward as it may initially seem – while some advertisers are included in a pilot program that allows them to target ads on YouTube Shorts directly, not everyone has this privilege yet. Below, we will detail the steps required to target an ad on YouTube Shorts, plus some additional guidance if you’re not yet able to target Shorts directly.

1. Sign Into Your Google Ads Account

To access your Google Ads account, go to and click on the “Sign in” button at the top right corner of the homepage. After signing in, you’ll be taken to the Google Ads dashboard where you can manage and create ad campaigns. 

If you don’t have a Google Ads account yet, click “Start now” on the homepage to create one. You’ll just need to sign in with a Google Account, then include some information about your business and advertising goals.

2. Create a Video Campaign

Once you’re in your Google Ads account, click “Create Campaign” and choose either a video action campaign or an app install campaign based on your advertising objective. If there’s an option for “Shorts Ads” under “Efficient Reach,” select it to have your ads appear on Shorts automatically. 

If this option isn’t there, simply pick your campaign goal like sales, leads, or choose to run a campaign without a specific goal. Then, fill in important details such as the campaign’s name, budget, and duration, and set “YouTube Videos” as the ad location.

3. Choose Your Bid Type

When setting up your advertising campaign, it’s essential to understand the different bid types available and how they align with your objectives. Let’s quickly go over each:

  • Cost Per View (CPV) is ideal for video campaigns where the primary goal is to increase video views. This bid type allows you to pay only when someone views your video, making it a cost-effective option for boosting video engagement. 
  • Cost Per Action (CPA) best used for campaigns aimed at driving specific actions, such as sales, sign-ups, or downloads. With CPA bidding, you pay only when the desired action is completed, ensuring your budget is spent on results that directly contribute to your campaign goals. 
  • Cost Per Mille (CPM) is for campaigns focused on increasing brand awareness through impressions. It charges you for every thousand views of your ad, regardless of any action taken, making it useful for broadening your ad’s reach.

For a smoother bidding experience and better campaign results, consider using an automated bidding strategy. This approach auto-adjusts your bids in real-time, aiming to hit your campaign targets—be it more views, actions, or impressions.

4. Set Target Audience

When setting up your campaign on Google properties, it’s wise to utilize a remarketing list if you have one. Remarketing lists are goldmines for reconnecting with users who have previously interacted with your brand, and layering them YouTube’s customer match feature can help you brand new, highly relevant audiences.

If you don’t have a sizable remarketing list yet, that’s okay. Instead, aim to reach your target audience by specifying key demographics like gender, age, and location. Note that the largest demographic on YouTube Shorts skews young and male.

Also, don’t overlook the importance of prioritizing mobile users. This strategy boosts the chances of your ads appearing exclusively on Shorts, tapping into the vast and engaging mobile audience. By combining these tactics, you can refine your targeting strategy to reach the most relevant and responsive audience for your campaigns.

5. Finalize the Campaign and Launch

At this point, it’s a matter of finalizing the details. Upload your video ad to YouTube using the Shorts tab on YouTube Studio while ensuring you’re following the YouTube Shorts ad specs outlined above. Specifically, don’t forget to film or edit your video so it is vertical. You can add up to five videos to your campaign.

When choosing ad format, select the “in-stream skippable ad format” or “Shorts,” if it’s available. Then, add a Final URL pointing to a landing page or other target page associated with your ad. Finally, add a compelling Call to Action (CTA) that inspires people to engage with your ad.

By following these steps, you’ll successfully navigate the process of creating effective and impactful ads for YouTube Shorts, reaching a dynamic audience in the world of short-form video content.

How to Target YouTube Shorts Ads

Creating ads for YouTube Shorts involves leveraging evolving features, and while the landscape is continually changing, here are four methods to target Shorts ads:

1. YouTube Select for Top Performing Videos

YouTube Select allows advertisers to strategically place ads alongside the most popular and brand-safe videos in specific markets like beauty, technology, and sports. This ensures your ads are prominently featured next to top-tier, relevant content within viewers’ Shorts feeds, enhancing visibility and relevance. 

Additionally, YouTube is testing a new feature called First Position on Shorts, which promises that your ad will be the first thing viewers see, grabbing their attention right off the bat. This combination of targeted placement and prime positioning is a powerful way to capture viewer interest and maximize the impact of your advertising efforts on YouTube.

2. Targeting Shorts Explicitly 

Some marketers have the ability to target Shorts explicitly, greatly simplifying ad targeting. This feature began rolling out in November 2023. While it’s not available to everyone yet, it’s expected that more marketers will gradually gain access to the platform.

3. Campaign Setup Tricks for Increased Visibility

If you’re unable to target Shorts outright, you can maximize your visibility on Shorts by employing campaign setup tricks. Create a vertical video and select “Mobile” placements to increase the likelihood of your ad appearing on Shorts. Thankfully, this fix should become irrelevant for most marketers soon – as Shorts continues to grow, YouTube is likely to expand advertising opportunities on the platform.

4. Affinity Targeting

This type of targeting (available beyond just Shorts) allows advertisers to target their ads based on users’ interests and online behavior. Affinity targeting helps advertisers reach a specific audience segment that is likely to be interested in their products or services.

How Much Do Shorts Ads Cost?

The cost of YouTube Shorts Ads can vary, but advertisers typically report spending an average of about 10 cents to 30 cents per view for reach campaigns. It’s important to note that this average cost per view can be influenced by factors such as your bidding strategy. 

Different bidding strategies, such as Cost Per View (CPV), may impact the overall cost of running Shorts Ads. Advertisers should carefully consider their goals, target audience, and budget when determining the most suitable bidding strategy for their YouTube Shorts campaigns.

Best Practices for Your YouTube Shorts Ads

As with any advertising campaign, there are specific best practices to follow to optimize overall performance. Check out our list of best practices to follow when creating your YouTube Shorts ads.

Continually Test and Have a Mixture of Ads

Employ ad groups to test the success of different Shorts ads and optimize your campaigns. Consider adding at least five shorts into a single ad group for effective testing. Try testing different lengths to see what is resonating with your audience. 

Film Your Ads Vertical

Film your ads in a vertical orientation for an optimal Shorts experience. While YouTube accepts horizontal videos for Shorts ads, it’s advisable to avoid this practice. The AI feature may adapt horizontal videos, but it’s not ideal for achieving the best creative results.

Start Targeting with Remarketing Lists

Begin your targeting strategy with remarketing lists. This allows you to reach the most relevant customers from the start. Once you’ve engaged this audience, you can expand your reach to ensure you’re targeting a broader yet still relevant audience.

Use Hooks

Viewers can skip Shorts ads, and their fingers are ready to swipe upward at a moment’s notice. Ensure your ad has a compelling hook to encourage viewers to stop and watch long enough to internalize your message, and don’t start off with a strong promotional slantl. Instead, align the style of your Shorts ad with organic content on the platform to make it seamlessly fit into the Shorts experience. Once you’ve got their attention, strive to communicate a single, clear message about your product to reduce confusion and enhance engagement.

By incorporating these best practices, you can enhance the effectiveness of your YouTube Shorts Ads, optimizing engagement and maximizing the impact of your short-form video content.


YouTube Shorts Ads open doors to creativity, innovation, and a direct pathway to your audience. As short-form video continues to dominate digital spaces, embracing Shorts Ads is not just an option but a strategic imperative for brands aiming to stay ahead in the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing. 

Looking to advertise on YouTube Shorts in 2024? We’d love to help you get started. Contact us today for more information or learn more about our services here.

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Xngage and HawkSearch join forces with a powerful connector



Xngage and HawkSearch join forces with a powerful connector

The bar has been set by the industry leaders in UX and Merchandising, and our customers have stated their claim clearly – “to grow our market share, we must have an enterprise search experience that drives conversions.

Optimizely offers baseline search experiences within our commerce platform, which are designed to help companies get started with organizing and delivering SKUs to customers. These experiences utilize out-of-the-box algorithms and methods for sorting, categorizing, and customizing.

While Optimizely provides a foundation for search experiences, we knew there were users ready to take their search capabilities to the next level. This is where the Xngage and HawkSearch partnership promises to redefine how you approach search-driven experiences within Optimizely Configured Commerce. Our highly experienced partner Xngage has developed a seamless integration connector, a best-in-class accelerator for harnessing the power of HawkSearch.

The powerful partner in search

HawkSearch is known for its expertise in search-driven engagement, AI-powered product discovery, and no-code customizations. With a strong history of serving B2B customers with enterprise-level search solutions, it was a perfect choice to make HawkSearch directly available within Optimizely’s platform.

The expertise of Xngage made this connector a reality enabling Optimizely’s Configured Commerce customers to:

  • Easily plug directly into the HawkSearch service to share your products and their relevant data.
  • Utilize powerful unit of measure conversions, ensuring your customers can find exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Customize sorting and facets to deliver highly relevant results to customers.
  • Craft a personalized user experience with features like auto-complete and the new ‘instant engage’.

Customers can further explore HawkSearch’s capabilities in this on demand webinar and recap, which highlights the benefits and use cases of the Xngage connector for HawkSearch.

A powerful partner in digital growth

Xngage complements Optimizely perfectly, as they deliver robust solutions in the realm of digital content and commerce experiences. The development of the Xngage connector to HawkSearch is a part of their broader mission to empower manufacturers and distributors to serve their customers digitally. This alignment seamlessly fits with Optimizely, making our partnership with Xngage an ideal choice. 

Furthering their goal of digital growth, Xngage offers a range of holistic and complementary professional services, including:

  • User research & user experience design (UX)
  • Enterprise architecture & ERP integration
  • Product information management (PIM)
  • Ecommerce Implementations, and digital growth services.

To learn more about this highly experienced digital commerce partner visit

The future of the partnership

This partnership is just the beginning. Xngage and HawkSearch are committed to working hand in hand to empower you with the tools and insights you need to elevate your ecommerce site. Stay tuned for future blogs, webinars, and resources that will help you make the most of this transformative alliance.

The future of ecommerce search has never looked more promising, and we’re excited to have you on this journey with us.

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Top 3 Strategies for Success



Top 3 Strategies for Success

With the advent of e-commerce, manufacturers have unprecedented opportunities to expand their reach, streamline their operations, and enhance profitability. Amidst this digital revolution, adopting Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) is pivotal in optimizing production processes, quality control, and resource management.

As the lines between traditional brick-and-mortar sales and online commerce continue to blur, manufacturers increasingly realize the need to adapt and thrive in this new digital landscape. This article explores the top 3 strategies manufacturers can employ to succeed in e-commerce.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

MES (Manufacturing Execution System) is specialized application software designed to solve the tasks of synchronization, coordination, analysis, and optimization of production output within any production. MES systems belong to the class of shop floor-level management systems but can also be used for integrated production management at the enterprise as a whole.

MES collects and analyzes production processes, product demand, and inventory data. This allows manufacturers to adapt more quickly to changes in the market, reconfigure production to meet current requirements, and closely monitor trends. As a result, manufacturers can more easily predict and meet customer needs, which helps increase online sales.

MES helps in maintaining accurate inventory records and managing inventory turnover. This avoids overstock or shortages, which can affect a company’s ability to meet online demand and maintain customer service levels.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) enhance transparency and automate operations, reducing human errors and operational costs. Integrating Manufacturing CRM streamlines customer data, allowing manufacturers to tailor products, respond to market changes, and offer competitive prices in online stores. The synergy between MES and CRM creates an agile manufacturing environment, optimizing efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Content Marketing

Kapost’s research shows that companies in the B2B segment that blog get 67% more leads on average than companies that don’t. However, it’s worth remembering that content marketing requires a lot of resources to prepare and regularity in publishing it. This content can be, for example, brand identity and E-commerce logo, articles and videos, webinars, research, and interviews.

The content should help solve a specific problem to create the image of an expert and thus influence the decisions of potential customers. The topics discussed should not be chosen randomly. A little research in Google Trends will help select the main topic, discussion areas in the video, phrases, and words that should be included in the article. Publishing content based on such a prepared analysis allows you to achieve high positions in search engines. It provides a good user experience for customers looking for answers to product/service questions, comprehensively covering the subject matter.

The benefits of this e-commerce strategy are free traffic, increased user confidence, and the creation of an expert image.

Content marketing is a form of promotion that requires patience and time. Its effects will also depend on the quality of thecontent itself, its optimization, and promotion methods. No specific terms can be specified here.

YouTube channels as a form of content marketing

You can discuss your production process and show and test products on your YouTube channel. If someone is looking for information about a product and is unsure which brand to choose, they will likely find your video and maybe make a purchase. Remember to choose a title that matches the search query and prepare a video description with product links. You can send out an email to announce when new videos are released. Whenever you have particularly compelling videos, you could also promote them via texting notifications to drive even more traffic.

Utilize user-generated content and social media

Not utilizing the content that your users generate is a huge issue. This is because it’s not easy to refresh an e-commerce website and keep it alive. But photos and videos taken by real customers are great for this purpose.

Adding a “widget” that connects your online store’s website to its official social media accounts brings significant benefits. These include revitalizing your social media accounts, increasing your credibility as a manufacturer, inspiring other customers to buy, and encouraging repeat purchases.

Snapchat Planets

Snapchat’s “Planets” feature provides a unique and interactive way to engage with your e-commerce store’s audience. Here are some creative ideas on how to leverage Snapchat Planets to create engaging content:

  • Virtual Store Tours: Use the AR feature to create a virtual tour of your store. Each planet can represent different sections or categories of your store. For instance, one planet could showcase your latest collection, another could highlight bestsellers, and another could offer exclusive deals.
  • Product Launches: Announce new product launches by creating a cosmic journey. Users can travel from one planet to another, each unveiling a new product with engaging visuals and detailed descriptions. This creates a sense of excitement and discovery around new arrivals.
  • Interactive Shopping Experience: Create interactive shopping experiences where users can explore products in a fun and engaging way. For example, users can navigate through different planets to find hidden discounts or special offers, making shopping more interactive and rewarding.
  • Customer Rewards and Loyalty Programs: Develop a loyalty program where users earn points or rewards by exploring different planets. Each planet can offer unique rewards, such as discounts, free samples, or exclusive access to new collections. This gamifies the shopping experience and encourages repeat visits.
  • Themed Campaigns: Align your marketing campaigns with planetary themes. For instance, during holiday seasons, you can create a holiday-themed planet where users can find special holiday deals, gift ideas, and festive content.

By leveraging Snapchat Planets, you can transform your e-commerce store’s content into a captivating and interactive experience that keeps your audience engaged, entertained, and coming back for more.

Use newsletters to captivate your target audience

Newsletters can strengthen the connection with the consumer and demonstrate that shopping with you is safe and profitable. Remember that the more personalized the message, the more effective it will be. It should contain a call to action (CTA), such as a button that redirects to products.

Don’t forget to put a box to check for consent to process personal data when subscribing to the newsletter. Also, add an option to unsubscribe from the newsletter in each email.

A regular email account is not adapted for the newsletter, so do not use your everyday email address. This way, you risk being blacklisted by spam filters. The benefits of newsletters are optimizing advertising costs, increasing loyal audiences from different channels, and building mutually beneficial relationships with partners.

Print and PDF Channel

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In the digital landscape, the significance of Print and PDF channels cannot be underestimated for manufacturers engaging in e- commerce. The tactile experience of print offers unique psychological advantages, enhancing comprehension and retention, which are vital for technical manuals and complex product details. PDFs merge this benefit with digital accessibility, ensuring wide reach while maintaining format integrity. This dual-channel approach not only caters to diverse consumer preferences but also bolsters marketing efforts, making technical content more engaging and understandable. Utilizing catalog software further streamlines the integration of Print and PDF channels into e-commerce strategies, enhancing product presentation and distribution efficiency.

Contextual advertising: Google Ads

1716522964 713 Top 3 Strategies for Success

If you want the advertising you invest in to have an immediate effect, it’s worth turning to Google Ads. Google displays paid ads in search results and on Google’s network of partners (on-site ads in the form of banners).

You bid when you search for a keyword for which advertisers have set up a campaign. The search engine determines who will appear in the search results and at what position. When assigning bids, the quality of the landing page, the quality of the ads, and the stated maximum bid per click are all considered.

To start setting up your campaign, simply login to your Google Ads account. Using the service is free, and you’ll find plenty of online tutorials on creating a campaign. However, you may find that it won’t generate valuable traffic if you don’t set it up optimally. Your budget will be wasted on clicks that won’t lead to conversions. This is why most companies resort to the help of agencies, including specialized agencies.

There is probably no industry in which Google Ads campaigns cannot be used. However, advertising can be moderately profitable if there is a lot of competition in the industry and margins are low.

The benefits of this e-commerce strategy are large audience reach, the ability to get the target audience as accurately as possible, and very detailed statistics on results.

The effect of launching a campaign should appear almost immediately. A properly set up campaign will increase traffic to the website. By systematically optimizing the campaign, you can achieve much better results.

You also can use paid Facebook Ads post promotion. It is important to pinpoint your target group, but how do you do it? A popular way is to draw up a customer portrait, that is, to make a collective image of your customer.

This considers age, gender, income level, location, interests and hobbies, and online behavior. Such a person will display a group interested in your services or goods.

Implement personalized product selections

Recommended product block and cross-selling are very powerful internet marketing strategies. In addition to the recommended product block, which shows the analogs of the product being viewed, it is worth paying attention to the website’s functionality.

As a rule, the products in the “You may also like” block are selected based on the pages previously viewed by the customer, his previous purchases on the website, as well as what was purchased by other customers with similar tastes. If this functionality is implemented technically sound, it can lead to additional items added to the shopping cart. “You may also like” block partly acts as an alternative to the advice of a specialist or consultant.

With blocks for cross-selling related products is a similar situation. Usually, in them are placed products from the same product line, collection, or simply those that perfectly match the product being viewed. You can use AI-powered live chats to proactively engage in customer conversations and suggest products based on their behavior.


E-commerce for manufacturers is a vast field, and in this article, we have presented the most popular and most effective forms of selling online. Remember, no effective e-commerce strategy exists. Each industry and business will have specifics. Try combining the above mentioned e-commerce strategies to maximize your chances of success and increase your profits.

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes



Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

Did you follow the Apple iPad Pro content debacle?

Here’s a quick recap. A recent online ad for the new iPad Pro showed a large hydraulic press slowly crushing various symbols of creativity. A metronome, a piano, a record player, a video game, paints, books, and other creative tools splinter and smash as the Sonny and Cher song All I Ever Need Is You plays.

The ad’s title? “Crush!”

The point of the commercial — I think — is to show that Apple managed to smush (that’s the technical term) all this heretofore analog creativity into its new, very thin iPad Pro.  

To say the ad received bad reviews is underselling the response. Judgment was swift and unrelenting. The creative world freaked out.

On X, actor Hugh Grant shared Tim Cook’s post featuring the ad and added this comment: “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

When fellow actor Justine Bateman shared the Tim Cook post, she simply wrote, “Truly, what is wrong with you?” Other critiques ranged from tone-challenged to wasteful to many worse things.

Actor Justine Bateman shared Tim Cook’s post on X, which featured the ad, and added this comment: "Truly, what is wrong with you?".

A couple of days later, Apple apologized and canceled plans to air the ad on television.

How not-so-great content ideas come to life

The level of anger surprises me. Look, the ad does show the eyeballs on an emoji-faced squishy ball popping under the plates’ pressure, but still. Calling the ad “actually psychotic” might be a skosh over the top.

Yes, the ad missed the mark. And the company’s subsequent decision to apologize makes sense.

But anyone who’s participated in creating a content misfire knows this truth: Mistakes look much more obvious in hindsight.

On paper, I bet this concept sounded great. The brainstorming meeting probably started with something like this: “We want to show how the iPad Pro metaphorically contains this huge mass of creative tools in a thin and cool package.”

Maybe someone suggested representing that exact thing with CGI (maybe a colorful tornado rising from the screen). Then someone else suggested showing the actual physical objects getting condensed would be more powerful.

Here’s my imagined version of the conversation that might have happened after someone pointed out the popular internet meme of things getting crushed in a hydraulic press.

“People love that!”

“If we add buckets of paint, it will be super colorful and cool.”

“It’ll be a cooler version of that LG ad that ran in 2008.”


“It’ll be just like that ad where a bus driver kidnaps and subsequently crushes all the cute little Pokémon characters in a bus!” (Believe it or not, that was actually a thing.)

The resulting commercial suffers from the perfect creative storm: A not-great (copycat) idea at the absolutely wrong time.

None of us know what constraints Apple’s creative team worked under. How much time did they have to come up with a concept? Did they have time to test it with audiences? Maybe crushing physical objects fit into the budget better than CGI. All these factors affect the creative process and options (even at a giant company like Apple).

That’s not an excuse — it’s just reality.

Content failure or content mistake?

Many ad campaigns provoke a “What the hell were they thinking?” response (think Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad or those cringy brand tributes that follow celebrity deaths).

Does that mean they’re failures? Or are they mistakes? And what’s the difference?

As I wrote after Peloton’s holiday ad debacle (remember that?), people learn to fear mistakes early on. Most of us hear cautionary messages almost from day one.

Some are necessary and helpful (“Don’t stick a knife in a live toaster” or “Look both ways before you cross the street.”) Some aren’t (“Make that essay perfect” or “Don’t miss that goal.”)

As a result, many people grow up afraid to take risks — and that hampers creativity. The problem arises from conflating failure and mistakes. It helps to know the difference.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to become a rock ‘n’ roll musician. I failed. But it wasn’t a mistake. I wasn’t wrong to try. My attempt just didn’t work.

Labeling a failed attempt a “mistake” feeds the fears that keep people from attempting anything creative.

The conflation of failure and mistakes happens all too often in creative marketing. Sure, people create content pieces (and let’s not forget that there are always people behind those ideas) that genuinely count as mistakes.

They also create content that simply fails.

Don’t let extreme reactions make you fear failures

Here’s the thing about failed content. You can do all the work to research your audience and take the time to develop and polish your ideas — and the content still might fail. The story, the platform, or the format might not resonate, or the audience simply might not care for it. That doesn’t mean it’s a mistake.

Was the Apple ad a mistake? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Was it a failure? The vitriolic response indicates yes.

Still, the commercial generated an impressive amount of awareness (53 million views of the Tim Cook post on X, per Variety.) And, despite the apology, the company hasn’t taken the ad down from its YouTube page where it’s earned more than 1 million views.

The fictional Captain Jean Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.” The Apple ad turns that statement on its head — Apple made many mistakes and still won a tremendous amount of attention.

I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t criticize creative work. Constructive critiques help us learn from our own and others’ failures. You can even have a good laugh about content fails.

Just acknowledge, as the Roman philosopher Cicero once wrote, “Not every mistake is a foolish one.” 

Creative teams take risks. They try things outside their comfort zone. Sometimes they fail (sometimes spectacularly).

But don’t let others’ expressions of anger over failures inhibit your willingness to try creative things.

Wouldn’t you love to get the whole world talking about the content you create? To get there, you have to risk that level of failure.

And taking that risk isn’t a mistake.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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