Smartly Reveals What Consumers Really Want from Ads at Cannes Lions in Inaugural State of Digital Creative Report

June 20, 2024

Study shows distinct consumer creative preferences by generation across marketing funnel

[New York] June 20th, 2024 – Smartly, the AI-powered advertising technology company transforming ad experiences for brands and consumers, today released its inaugural digital creative report, "The State of Digital Creative: What Do Consumers Really Want From Ads?” The global research reveals consumers’ creative preferences and ad engagement, offering insights for marketers seeking to optimize their creative strategies across the marketing funnel. 

"At Smartly, we understand the critical role creative plays in building brand love and powering business growth,” said Oli Marlow-Thomas, Chief Innovation Officer at Smartly. "This research empowers marketers with a deeper understanding of what truly resonates with consumers, enabling them to craft more engaging and effective campaigns across the entire marketing funnel."

The research uncovered distinct consumer creative preferences at each stage of the customer journey. The findings highlight that younger generations including Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha have higher standards for digital creative. They expect creative to be well-produced, entertaining and informative, and value personalization and captions more than older generations. When it comes to video length, younger generations prefer shorter formats compared to TV's long-form content.

Key findings across the stages of the funnel include:

Upper Funnel: Awareness and Interest

  • Production quality of the ad is 2.3 times more important to consumers than the product featured when it comes to awareness. 
  • The majority (52%) of Gen Alpha prefers shorter videos between 2-5 minutes compared to longer formats.

Mid Funnel: Consideration and Evaluation

  • In the mid funnel,
product is 2.4 times more effective than price and promotions.  
  • Price and promotions are not in the top five most important creative considerations for mid to upper funnel marketing.

Lower Funnel: Decision and Purchase

  • For purchase, product is 1.6 times
more important than production to consumers when deciding to purchase.
  • While affordability remains a consideration, product information trumps price promotions when influencing purchase decisions.

The research also shows significant generational differences in advertising preferences, with Millennials and younger generations showing a 14% higher interest in creative with captions compared to Baby Boomers. For Gen Z, the lines between entertainment and advertising have become blurred, with 81% prioritizing the quality of an ad's presentation, compared to 64% of Gen X and older generations. Furthermore, 91% of Gen Z prefer authentic, on-brand creative when making purchase decisions. 

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About Smartly
Smartly is the AI-powered advertising technology company transforming ad experiences for brands and their consumers.Our comprehensive advertising platform seamlessly integrates the capabilities of media, creative, and intelligence to power more than 800 billion impressions and generate more than 300 billion creatives annually, delivering tangible business outcomes for brands and advertisers. We are the only company managing creative and media for 700+ brands worldwide and $5B in ad spend across the largest media platforms, including Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest,Snap, and TikTok. Our end-to-end technology, unmatched access to media platforms and exceptional customer service help Fortune 500 brands to reach and engage consumers and learn what performs best.


The State of Digital Creative: ‍What Do Consumers Really Want From Ads?

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