May 11, 2024

How to cut the crap and make your online advertising relevant

Following the IAB’s recent ad-blocking seminar, it’s good to see the call for relevant online advertising moving (if gradually) up the agenda.

We’ve witnessed huge growth in programmatic’s targeting capabilities, but the relationship between adtech and its essential human input can lack the kind of symbiosis which makes automation truly perform; ergo, many advertisers are missing that relevance sweet spot.

For those who want to claim back the wasted ad spend, and create meaningful interactions with consumers, here’s our guide to help you cut the crap and bring relevance to the forefront of your online advertising strategy.


The best lookalike models layer 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data to enhance home-grown insights with broader behavioural information. But the performance of these models is only as good as the data they’re built with; outdated or half-baked insights will leave you shooting just short of the mark.

Prime your 1st party data with in-depth categorisation, and comb your purchased data sets to ensure they don’t omit any valuable indicators that matter to your campaigns.


Think of how you communicate with a new date. Do you call them the moment they wake up, while they’re busy at work, or as they relax at the end of the day? It could be any…or all, but whichever it is, you’d make sure to appropriately tailor your approach to the mood.

Although we give exceptional dating advice, the point here is that your online advertising should always consider and exploit timing. Identify the perfect moments for engagement within consumer browsing behaviour, then serve personalised messages that ascribe to the time of day and circumstance.

And please! Enable smart frequency capping in your DSP to optimise the number of ads served to one prospect. Hammering people with the same ad will become bothersome, no matter how relevant it is.


No other broadcast medium is treated with such meagre creative forethought, so why should online advertising be the exception if advertisers want results? If the idea isn’t clever or beautiful, what do you expect?

The unity of data and creative has long been a buzz-concept (cited oftentimes by uncreative people who just want to join the party), but with the power of DCO, authentic advertising creativity can really come to life, with a relevance factor that exists in few other channels.

Ask yourself: am I inspiring consumers to make a purchase, or merely showing them a product?

Use data to underpin your creative strategy, and work closely with your creative team to build concepts that capture relevance in the moment, the mood and the intention of your prospect. Don’t bind yourself to one template, and create a broad set of assets that keep your concept fresh.


“One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things” – Henry Miller

You can use geo-targeting to drive engagement when people are in proximity of your high-street locations, but if you want to go smarter, you can geographically pinpoint people contextually. This puts you one step ahead, delivering ads to devices in a relevant locale, not just your store – think ads for ice cream, served to people on a warm summer’s day whilst they hang out in the park.

Your ability to recognise the potential impact of environmental influences and destinations on consumers’ subconscious, and respond seamlessly (sometimes in real-time) with your offering, can spawn an unforgettably relevant experience. Add incentives like discounts and coupons, and you’re on to a winner.


There’s nothing more cringe than building a great display campaign, only for prospects to click through and find themselves on a landing page that bears no relevance to the ad that got them there. You’re past the really hard bit, don’t lose them now!

Coordinate ad copy and visuals with your click-through page, so that prospects are welcomed and encouraged to venture deeper into the marketing funnel. A tailored experience can smash competition.

Achieving relevance in your online advertising is no easy feat, but when 14% of consumers cite relevance as an incentive to disable their ad-blocking software, the case for it is huge.

For marketers to create a one-size-does-not-fit-all strategy, digital storytelling must take prime focus. A refreshed approach to data management, context and ad creative, which places artfulness over sheer scale, will see the advertisers renew consumer trust and reveal the kind of return on ad spend that you’ve been dreaming of.

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