April 20, 2023
April 20, 2023

What Is an Ad Campaign and How Do You Create a Good One? (2023)

Are you looking to grow your business but struggling to get the word out? You're not alone. (Does that help?) One of the biggest challenges businesses face is finding new customers and getting their message in front of the right people. That's where ad campaigns come in.

In this blog, we'll explore everything you need to know about creating a successful ad campaign, from the basics of what an ad campaign is, to the different types of campaigns, best practices, and a look at one of the best campaigns ever created. By the end of this post, you'll be armed with the knowledge and tools to create a great ad campaign that reaches and engages your target audience, and drives the results you’re after.

The Anatomy of an Online Ad Campaign

Simply put, an ad campaign is a series of ads that are designed to promote a product, service, or brand. Ad campaigns can take many forms, from print and broadcast ads to online and social media ads — in this blog, we'll be focusing specifically on online ad campaigns.

The key to creating a successful ad campaign is to choose the right kind of ad for your business and your target audience. Some of the most popular types include:

  • Display ads: These are the ads you see on websites, often in the form of banners or sidebars. Display ads can be targeted based on demographics, interests, or other factors, and typically include text, images, and/or video.

  • Search ads: These ads appear at the top or bottom of search engine results pages, are targeted to users searching for specific keywords or phrases, and are often text-based with a call-to-action.

  • Social media ads: Appearing on social media platforms like Snapchat, these ads are targeted based on demographics, interests, or behaviors, and can include text, images, and/or video.

  • Video ads: These appear before, during, or after online video content, and can be targeted based on demographics or interests. Video ads tend to be highly engaging, and are often used for brand awareness campaigns.

  • Native ads: Designed to look and feel like the content they are placed within, whether that be an article or a social media post, native ads can be highly effective primarily because they are less intrusive than other ad types.

images of sneakers on phones

How Ad Sets Work within Campaigns

Ad sets are a powerful tool for organizing and optimizing your ad campaign. Think of them as smaller groups of ads that are targeted to a specific audience or objective.

Ad sets enable you to create multiple versions of your ad for different audiences, which can help you achieve better results. For example, if you're running a social media ad campaign, you might create one ad set for users who have previously visited your website and another for users who have never heard of your brand. By targeting each ad set to a specific audience, you can tailor your message to be more relevant and effective.

Ad sets also give you the opportunity to test different ad variations to see which perform best, a technique known as A/B testing: creating multiple versions of an ad and showing them to different audiences to see which one performs better. Ad sets make it easy to set up and run A/B tests, which can help you optimize your ad campaign for better results.

All about A/B Testing

A/B testing is a powerful tool that enables businesses to experiment with different versions of their online ad campaigns. It works by splitting a target audience into two groups, then showing one version of an ad to one group and another version to the other group. By evaluating the performance in each situation, you can easily determine which version of the ad is more effective at driving the desired action, such as clicks or conversions.

Once your ads have generated that initial data, you can move on to your next A/B test, pitting the winning ad from the first round against a newcomer variant. Over time, this approach inevitably results in improved ad performance and results — the more A/B testing you do, the more effective your campaign will become.

Interested in running an A/B test within your next ad campaign? Follow these five steps to dial things in:

  1. Identify what you want to test. This could be anything from the headline of your ad to the image or call-to-action. Once you've identified what you want to test, create two versions of your ad that differ only in the element you're testing.

  2. Set up your ad sets. Create two ad sets within your larger campaign, one for each version of your ad. Be sure to target each ad set to a different audience so that you can accurately compare the results.

  3. Launch your ad sets. Once your ad sets are created, launch them at the same time and monitor their performance. Be sure to give your ads enough time to generate sufficient data (otherwise known as statistical significance) before making any decisions — we recommend at least 7 days, followed by another 7 days if your ad needs more time to generate a viable amount of data.

  4. Analyze the results. After your ad sets have run for a reasonable amount of time, compare their performance to see which version of your ad performed better. Once you've determined the winner, you can use that version of your ad in your campaign moving forward, or better yet, launch another A/B test with that winner and a newcomer variant.

  5. Repeat the process. A/B testing is an ongoing process, so your best move is to continue testing and optimizing your ads indefinitely to achieve the best results possible.

The Components of a Quality Ad Campaign

Whether you choose to go the A/B route or stick with a single ad or ad set, building a quality online ad campaign requires careful planning and execution. Here are some of the key elements to consider:

  • Ensure that your messaging is clear and concise. Your ad should convey your message in a way that’s easy to understand and that resonates as well as possible with your target audience.

  • Target your audience carefully. Know who you want to reach and what their interests and needs are, then tailor your messaging to them. You can do this by using targeting tools provided by the advertising platform.

  • Use high-quality images, graphics, and fonts that are visually appealing and aligned with your brand. An eye-catching design for your ads is crucial for capturing attention, standing out from the competition, and reinforcing your brand identity. 

  • Choose the appropriate channels for your ad campaign. Different channels are more effective for different audiences or types of ads. For example, social media may be more effective for targeting younger audiences (Snapchat’s primary demographic), while search ads may be more effective for targeting users who are actively searching for your product or service.

Creating an Effective Ad Campaign

Creating an ad campaign may seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some steps you can follow to develop and run one of your own:

  1. Define your goals and target audience: Identify who you want to reach with your campaign and what you want to achieve. This will help you choose the right platform and messaging for your ads.

  2. Choose the right platform: Research different platforms that align with and are able to best support your goals and target audience (hint: Snapchat for Business is a great place to start).

  3. Develop your messaging: Craft clear and concise messaging that speaks directly to your target audience's pain points or desires.

  4. Create compelling visuals: Integrate high-quality visuals, such as images or videos, that align with your brand and messaging. High-quality, by the way,  doesn’t necessarily mean professionally produced — user-generated content using mobile devices tends to perform at least equally as well so long as that content feels authentic and enticing to the viewer. 

  5. Set your budget: Determine how much you’re willing to spend, and set a budget that aligns with your goals.

  6. Launch and monitor your ads: Run your campaign and monitor its performance regularly. Use the data and insights provided by the ad platform to adjust your strategy and optimize your ads for better results.

Setting the Bar

Of all the ad campaigns that have been incredibly effective, one stands out particularly well across demographic generations: the "Share a Coke" campaign.

Launched by Coca-Cola in 2011 in Australia and then later expanded to other countries around the world, the idea behind the campaign was simple but brilliant. Coca-Cola replaced its traditional logo on its bottles and cans with popular first names, encouraging customers to "share a Coke" with someone whose name was on the bottle. This personalized approach resonated wildly with consumers, who loved the idea of finding their own name or the name of someone they knew on a Coke bottle — who wouldn’t?

To say the campaign was a huge success is a bit of an understatement: It generated over one billion impressions on social media and increased sales by 2.5% in Australia alone. The campaign also won numerous awards, and to this day is hailed as one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time.

Why did it work so well? By using first names on its products, Coca-Cola was able to create a sense of connection and community with its customers, tapping into consumers' desire for personalization and affinity for social sharing. The campaign also leveraged social media to amplify its message, encouraging consumers to share photos of themselves with their personalized Coke bottles. 

The moral of this story: A simple but creative ad-campaign concept, executed well, can have a huge impact on a brand's marketing and sales success.

Snapchat and Your Ad Campaigns

Looking for an ideal platform for your ad campaigns? With our deeply engaged audience, user-friendly tools, and robust targeting options, Snapchat for Business can help set you up for success. Here’s how and why:

  • Snapchat's advertising tools are designed to be user-friendly and accessible for small and medium-size businesses, opening the door to connecting with your customers locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally — particularly if your target audience is on the younger side, which comprises the majority of the Snapchat community.

  • We offer a variety of ad formats, including Single Image/Video, Collection and Story Ads,customizable to fit your branding and messaging needs.

  • Snapchat's self-serve ad platform enables you to create and launch your own ad campaigns without the need for a dedicated advertising team.

  • Our advertising tools offer robust targeting options to help you reach your ideal audience based on factors such as location, age, interests, and more — so you can create highly targeted campaigns that reach the right people at the right time.

Ready to launch your first ad campaign on Snapchat?