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Multi-Channel Ads: The Importance of 'Scent'

Noran El-Shinnawy
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Interactivity is a cool feature and all, but old school mass media muscle still builds brand recognition better than anything else out there. And that's why cross-channel marketing works so well – you can get the best of both worlds by using the mass media to build brand recognition and interactive online ads to pick up where the TV or radio ads left off.

A good example of this is the old Capital One Venture card campaign featuring Alec Baldwin. Here's the TV commercial:

And if you don't recall the Facebook ads, here's a screenshot:

venture-miles-are-better-capital-one-facebook-ad

Watch the ad then observe the Facebook ad. The important thing to note about this ad is the carry-over elements from the TV ad, specifically:

  1. Image of Alec Baldwin
  2. Main offer
  3. Messaging theme

In web optimization terms, we refer to this as "scent" and would say that the Facebook ad maintains a strong "scent trail" from the TV ad.

This is important because whenever there's a lack of scent, there's also a lack of conversion – customers lose the "trail" they were following and stop clicking (or click away from your ad/website/cart/etc.).

The following ad is an example of "dropping the scent" from the TV to Facebook ad:

nokia-lumia-900-is-here-facebook-ad

So why does this ad represent such a disconnect? Well, first watch the TV Ad.

Great ad, right? Now ask yourself what you remember most from the commercial. Here are a couple of things that popped up in my mind:

  • Smartphone "beta test" is over
  • The goofy announcer
  • "Was I a beta tester?"
  • The picture of the bright blue phone at the end.

So which of these elements is used in the Facebook ad?

Pretty much none.

Yes, the message copy echoes the theme of the ad by claiming that other smartphone owners are part of "an elaborate product test," but the key terms of "smartphone beta test" or "Were you a beta tester?" aren't there. Neither is there a picture of the goofy announcer nor a pic of the phone featured in the ad.

Here's what the ad could have looked like:

nokia-lumia-900-is-here-ad-scent

sick-of-beta-test-phones-scent

Now, I'm not saying that either of these ads is perfect, but each of them contains a much better scent match-up to the commercial than the original.

And they do this by carrying over the keywords and terminology as well as imagery.

In the top ad, the imagery is from the Times Square Jumbotron that opens the commercial, and in the bottom it is an image of the announcer.

Also, both ads promise to provide the prospect with a more compelling look at the phone as well as claim substantiation as soon as she clicks on the ad, which is a solid CTA for this kind of cross-channel ad.

Whereas these two examples focus on TV and Facebook, the same concept applies to PPC, display and all other channels.

The TV or mass media ads create awareness and possible interest, while the Facebook ads pick up where the TV ads leave off. But they can't pick up anything unless they also carry-over the scent. That's what we call persuasive momentum and that is how you get your prospects to convert.


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