CPG Creative Best Practices Online: Driving Breakthrough and Persuasion

This is a re-print from Yahoo! blog entry and I’ve injected comments throughout.  I’ve recently had an opportunity to speak with several Consumer Packaged Goods companies, some large, some small and in just about every case was curious about why the industry at large struggles with the development of digital strategy and implementation when they are so advanced in their execution of traditional media.

This research from Ipsos OTX and Yahoo! was terrific and really offered some insights into the product life stage relative to the marketing objectives.  My intuition is that many of these practices will work for e-commerce sites as well. 



Effective digital creative hinges on the right combination of reach and response.  Or, put another way, digital creative need to effectively drive breakthrough and persuasion by being noticed and triggering a change in brand desire.


In partnership with Ipsos OTX, Yahoo! has conducted quantitative research to understand which creative tactics play a role in driving these two key factors for consumer packaged goods. Using Ipsos OTX’s database, we tested 500 campaigns covering 40 different tactics and seven different Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) categories including home care, health and beauty, and beverages. This study examined how to showcase products, the most effective branding cues and messages, the tactics that help advertisers connect emotionally, and the role of new technology in creating more effective campaigns. We have concluded that the results do not vary significantly on a per category basis and view all results as a category average. Through this analysis, we’ve established a set of guidelines to help advertisers maximize breakthrough and persuasion.


By tapping into these insights, CPG advertisers can help their products get noticed, effectively communicate their message, and ultimately help drive preference.

Key findings and implications

Question 1: What’s the best way to showcase a product?

Answer: Keep it simple, don’t let products interfere with your message.

  • Persuasion improves 67% when focusing on a single product, rather than multiple products.

  • Persuasion improves over 250% when the product is shown consistently throughout the advertisement, compared to less than 75%.

  • Smaller product images that leave room for messaging drove a 21% lift in persuasion versus larger product images in ads.

  • Simple call-to-action messages led to a 40% increase in persuasion, while coupons exhibited no significant lift.

Key Findings: When showcasing your product, keep it simple

  • Focus on 1 product, no more.

  • Don’t let the size of your product image get in the way of your message.

Question 2: How do I talk about my product? What scenarios are most effective in driving persuasion?

Answer: It depends on where your product is in its life cycle.

  • “Feature” copy works great for new products, but not for established ones.

  • Explicit product comparisons led to a 33% increase in persuasion.

Key Findings: Different messages work at different stages of the product lifecycle

  • For new products, introduce new product features and make those features matter.

  • As products mature, use advertising to differentiate your product, or to inform your audience about “new” product options.

Question 3: What branding cues are most effective?

Answer: Branding cues with existing equity like color, characters, etc.

  • Logo location is extremely important.

  • Larger logos did not show any significant lift in breakthrough or persuasion.

  • 45% lift in persuasion when consistently using brand colors versus not using brand colors.

  • 63% lift in persuasion when using a celebrity spokesperson; however, beware of a 10% drop in breakthrough.

Key Findings: Take advantage of existing brand cues to help drive breakthrough and persuasion

  • When showcasing your logo, size isn’t as important as location.

  • Consistently using brand colors will allow equity built through past campaigns to carry over.

  • Take advantage of other cues like celebrities/spokespeople, who are highly recognizable and can drive more persuasion for your product.

Question 4: Can online ads be used to emotionally connect with my audience?

Answer: Yes!

Four tactics that were shown to improve emotional response included:

  • Social Conscience (appeal to the desire to do the right thing).

  • Emotive Imagery (e.g. puppies, babies).

  • Creative Formats (video/rich media).

  • Claim to Fame (e.g. differentiated identity).

Key Findings: Don’t be afraid to use online to emotionally connect with your consumers

  • Emotional connection is the most persuasive when successful.

  • New technology & formats improve your ability to emotionally connect with consumers, but allow for a learning curve.

  • Conclusion:

    When used the right way, there are many specific elements that can greatly impact an advertiser’s ability to develop persuasive ads that truly break through. Branding, the treatment of a product, messaging and technology all have a huge effect. That said, there is no prescription for good advertising; there are only guidelines. In fact, the best advertising often breaks the rules (but so does the worst). So don’t be afraid to try something different, but always test before a campaign starts.


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Paul Lima

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