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What We Learned From Ad World 2021

What We Learned From Ad World 2021

Our content team had the chance to take part in the 3-day virtual marketing event recently for expert insight into all things marketing and advertising. We’ve compiled our insights below from the sessions we attended, and we’ll go from session to session to share our takeaways from Ad World 2021!


Session: Discover the Creative Concepts & Strategies to Attract your Audience (Zack Kitschke, CMO, Canva)

Anyone can put together a social post. But in order to build and scale productive content, you need to create content that resonates with your audience. We are all human. We are empowering. We are inspiring. How can we channel those messages into our marketing strategy?

Human - As humans, we connect with one another. The human element requires engagement within the community; to elevate and celebrate the community. This can be done by running competitions and working with partners. You can share the behind the scenes of your brand, or stories of your team and what life is like outside of the office. Bridge the gap between your business and your community.

Empowering - Not everyone has the same level of knowledge, the same confidence using technology, or the same resources as everyone (or anyone) else. To empower means to make what you do as accessible as possible for everyone. Does your website offer anything in the way of accessibility? For example, if you live in an area with a large Spanish speaking population, having a translated version of your website might prove to be beneficial. Not only that, but what you do should be accessible to everyone. Show your customers that “anyone can do it,” and it will make more people interested in what you have to offer.

Inspiring - How can we inspire others? How can we use creativity as a force for good? Inspiration works in tandem with the other two points (human and empowering). To inspire means to empower others. Congratulate your peers and celebrate their achievements. Celebrate what’s happening at your business or what’s happening in places local to you. Celebrate your customer’s success - challenge others to go for their goals. Your digital presence can do a lot of good, so work towards that. 

Session: Discover the 8 Captivating Copywriting Hooks to Get and Keep Attention (Alex Cattoni, Founder of The Copy Posse)

This session delivered 8 copywriting hooks meant to captivate and hold the attention of your audience. Since getting someone’s attention is easier than keeping it, we’ll give you the highlights: 

1. Novelty
  • Establish what’s different and unique about what you are selling. 
2. Empathy and Hope 
  • In this hook you want to address the user’s pain points, calm their fears, and offer empathy and hope. 
3. Story and Mystery 
  • Make your reader intrigued by using storytelling techniques and implying mystery.
4. Future Pacing
  • Paint your reader an “ideal” future. This is all about igniting a feeling. 
5. Confirm and Challenge Beliefs 
  • Make it seem you and your reader are on the same side by confirming their beliefs OR challenge a belief by offering a new conclusion. 
6. FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  • Everybody wants to be included. Position your copy to make your reader feel like they should be included in whatever you are selling.
7. Status and Ego
  • Focus on how other people will see your reader if you don’t use your product. This speaks to or boosts your user’s ego. 
8. Relevancy 
  • Find what is top of mind for your audience and use it to your advantage.
Bonus Hooks:
  • Us vs. Them
  • Evokes a sense of belonging and identity. 
  • Irony 
  • Toughest hook to master. 
These hooks can be a great starting point for reworking your messaging; but ultimately they’re ideal for figuring out how to best appeal to your audience. 

Session: The Curiosity Formula: How Master Copywriters Fascinate, Compel, and Sell (Eddie Shleyner, Founder,

Curiosity creates the desire for action. With just one simple trick, you can dramatically increase your chance of fascinating your audience and hooking them. In this session, we reviewed this formula and went over some classic examples:

Tease the Value (if) + Embellish the Benefit (then)

The example here would be to take a phrase with a value and benefit such as, “The top 10 takeaways from Ad World that every marketer should know to increase performance” and rewrite it as an “if” “then” statement. 

If you know these top 10 takeaways from Ad World…
Then you can increase your marketing performance.  

If shows the value you are trying to share and then explains the benefit they will experience. But, sometimes you may not even know where to start or know what is fascinating to your audience yet. That’s why you focus on finding “value nuggets” that can be turned into fascinations. How do you find them? You review content and make note of any that evokes an emotion. If you react with emotion (surprise, shock, intrigue, anger) then chances are, so will your audience. Make note of those and plug them into the equation above. This may seem simple but like all things, it simply takes practice.


Session: Writing Top 1% Ad Copy Without an Elite Copywriter (Travis Chambers, Founder, Chamber.Media)

Studies show that the average American consumes over 4,000 advertisements A DAY. With competition like that, you’ll need ads that will stand out and leave an impression on your audience.

The Four Foundational Ad Copy Categories:
  • Storytelling - Relate to the customer and issues they may have faced and how you can solve them.
  • Question-based - Leading in with a question that sets up the solution to the answer they’re searching for.
  • Benefit-based - Explain how the solution benefits them and help them visualize how they’ll feel.
  • Feature-based - Selling a customer based on innovation or surprise features that solve their problems (or added “bonus features”).
You’ll find that each category focuses on providing the satisfaction every customer is searching for - it could just be a matter of how you frame it to them. 

The Seven Styles of Video Advertising:
  • Spokesperson - Engaging video using a spokesperson (like a trusted source or popular public figure) to explain and highlight features of your product or service. 
  • Demos - Demonstrate the highlights of what you have to offer and the value to the consumer.
  • Social Proof - Testimonials or opinions of a brand or their offerings that you can leverage to create trust between the consumer and the brand.
  • Dynamic ads - Graphics and assets created by the design team to a/b test at scale - allows you to test different styles and messages.
  • Case study - Provide a controlled study or test proving functionality or superiority over competition, and/or provide features that increase quality of life.
  • Lifestyle - Show how what you offer can be used in everyday life.
  • Unboxing - Showcasing a product, it’s packaging, and it’s features providing a “what to expect” scenario for the consumer.
While any of the 11 ad copy styles above can lead to conversions and increases in engagement, not everything will work for your brand or your audience. Test different approaches and stick to what works for your brand.


Session: The Secret Sauce to Leveraging Memes in Advertising & Marketing (Kevin K., General Manager, 9GAG)

Memes are a topical resource - they have a finite “relevance” shelf-life in terms of their newness, but the concept of turning something into a meme means capturing a visual context that can be easily understood, which allows them to be useful no matter what - it’s only their popularity that can wane following the release of any new meme. Mastering the right visual context and pairing it with the right copy can turn even “overplayed memes” into a novel marketing technique. 

Session: Marketing for Taboo Industries (Maggie Winters Gaudaen & Zach Goodwin, CEO, January Third)

When it comes to marketing in industries that are considered taboo, sometimes the simplest way to convey the biggest benefits or talking points is through plain language and visuals. Even non-taboo marketing efforts could lose their audience with the wrong metaphor; so regardless of whether a topic, service, or product is universally (socially) acceptable, simplified messaging (copy or visuals) can be the easiest way to appeal or relate to your target audience/market. 

Session: Master the Top 5 Instagram Hacks of All Time, Larry Kim, Founder, Mobile Monkey & WordStream

Marketers tend to look for ways to make engagement easier for the audience, but sometimes, making the user put in a little work has more benefits than drawbacks. A good example is testing out whether “See Bio for Link” or “Comment below for the link” performs better for your audience on Instagram. While links remain a very small part of Instagram, you may gain more from users by asking them to do something for that extra bit - whether it’s commenting on a post, DMing you, or having them provide contact details. 

Session: Power Session: Rapid Experimentation & Growth Marketing (David Arnoux, Co-Founder,  GrowthTribe)

For brands looking to grow their digital presence, running experiments with different tools, content types, strategies, etc. can provide you with the data you need to make informed decisions on your marketing campaigns. 

Here are a few of the most important tips:
  • Take a data-driven approach to getting and keeping customers. Examine what you’ve done in the past and focus on what did work and remove what didn’t work. 
  • Engagement is more important than impressions. There’s more value in 300 impressions with a 15% engagement rate as opposed to 1000 impressions with a 2% engagement rate.
  • Focus on one specific metric, the OMTM - one metric that matters. Work on developing one specific area of your analytics before chasing the others.
  • Compounding strategies - what works? Combine them or use them in succession and evaluate that.
  • Invest in capabilities. The more tools you have at your disposal, the more likely your success is. The cumulative effect of learning leads to eventual progress. 

Wrapping Up the Wrap-up

To stay agile, we’re constantly educating ourselves on the latest trends, tactics, and challenges in content marketing. Get in touch with Citro if you’re looking for a team of marketers to help you stay up-to-date and relevant with your audience!