The Art of Ad Hacks

Posted by IAB Australia On April 01, 2014

The simple mrec, the humble text ad, the 15s skippable…are they your media afterthought or your creative palette, ripe for innovation? Anyone who can rethink creative constraints and drum up inspiration in these tiny spaces gets my vote…and that of your audience.

 Here are some of my favourite recent digital ad hacks from creative minds using familiar formats in innovative ways:

The Search Hack

The Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign draws on core insights – people misspell when they’re hungry and people misspell into Google a lot – giving them an opportunity to remind people to get a Snickers bar when they misspell their search terms. The ads used humour and insight to reach their target audience of 500k people in just two days with minimal production cost, showing that even three lines of efficient, measurable, targeted text can spur creativity.


The Display Hack

300×250 pixels don’t need to be a flat Download Now call to action to be effective. This small space can be the destination, not just the medium. Creative brands use this space for all kinds of experiences: a price comparison tool, a game, a gift, an online store. Samsung took this to a new level, extending the reach of its global Galaxy launch by streaming live across the web into a lightbox ad banner.

The Skippable Hack

The QUIT “Breathless – you can’t skip years of suffering” ad plays on people’s ability to make choices – both in the ads they consume and in their lives. Digital advertising is increasingly choice based, which is great for users who don’t need to see irrelevant ads, and for advertisers as we only pay when users choose to see our ad. Already, 70% of in-stream ads on YouTube are skippable and although this format already reduces audience drop-off by 40%, the first 5 seconds of a video ad are critical to help users make their choice.

QUIT made this choice central to their hard hitting message with a challenge for the user.



The Mobile Hack

Space constraints are even more limited on mobile, but the unique mobile features of location, camera, voice input and personalisation more than make up for the creative limitations. An ad campaign from Google Local Japan used location and the accelerometer in the phone to turn an AdMob mrec into a roulette wheel, which offered nearby restaurant suggestions when the phone was spun on a flat surface.

The Content Hack

Nissan Australia Patrol vs Beethoven is an entertaining “making-of” clip about an expensive, awe inspiring TV ad that was never made and was never meant to be made because the behind the scenes story was all that Nissan needed to convey its brand to its YouTube audience. This brand piece was followed up with personalised driving experience clips and ads. Great way to charm your audience and save marketing budget!

The art of ad hacks is a specialised skill today, made possible by creatives and techies working together from the outset. These early examples are helping shape our ever evolving advertising ecosystem.

IAB Australia

IAB Australia is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia. As one of over 43 IAB offices globally and with a rapidly growing membership, the role of the IAB is to support sustainable and diverse investment in digital advertising across all platforms in Australia.