How conversational ads reignite the relationship between consumer and brand

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in demand for informative ad formats. Healthcare providers, government agencies, and enterprise service companies in particular are rushing to build, update, and publish AI-powered conversational ad units that connect and inform people. Xaxis and Mindshare are working together to show advertisers how conversational advertising helps them better communicate with their audiences.

By their nature, digital marketing campaigns have traditionally been a one-way communication from advertiser to consumer. But conversational advertising has a unique ability to engage with a brand’s target audience at scale in a more organic way, elevating digital campaigns beyond that traditional ideology. Conversational advertising is paving its way into real engagement, with real-time insights, focusing on real-time two-way conversations between customer and brand.

Why does that matter?

Many brands have frozen or cancelled advertising budgets over fear of a looming economic recession. Avails are up, CPMs are down. Yet there is a large surge among all age groups in media consumption and empirical research suggests that brands that maintain ad spends during this time may see significant growth over brands that don’t. It appears to be an excellent time for advertisers to reach their audiences efficiently and at scale.

But brands have valid concerns about appearing tone-deaf or insensitive if they capitalize on this temperamental market. How can they be emotionally aware while also being present in the minds of consumers? How can they build relationships, earn real results, and tread lightly all at the same time?

Including a touch of personalization into their media is one way for brands to increase positive engagement. Inviting the consumer to interact directly with the media further strengthens that engagement – and can lead to stronger results.

This is supported by research done by the University of Florida. Their 2009 study, “Conversational Voice, Communicated Commitment, and Public

Relations Outcomes in Interactive Online Communication,” found that greater communication between organizations and the public leads to improvements in four key relational metrics: trust, satisfaction, commitment, and control mutuality. They also linked increases in those metrics to increases in positive perception and behavioral intentions.

Put simply: organizations that make an effort to increase communication and engagement are likely to improve their relationship with the public, and even to impact tangible marketing outcomes like brand affinity and purchase intent.

At Xaxis and Mindshare, we have seen these kinds of results in our own studies as well, with conversational ads leading to uplifts in awareness, consideration, favorability, and purchase intent over one-way ads. Our collaborators at Mindshare, including Hector Abad and Eider Villaverde, have made note of how natural it is for people to accept bidirectional communications in digital environments – now more than ever.

In a more modest way, that interactive, custom, unique experience is what is being pursued with conversational ads. The user engages directly with the brand, customizes his or her communication with it, and each conversation is different, given the multiple AI-powered paths that are made available for interaction.

Although not a new concept, conversational ads serve as an incredibly effective means to reignite and improve the relationship between consumer and brand by connecting both parties with a two-way stream of communication. They help brands reach and engage their customer base in a creative and personalized way and strengthen the relationship between them. In the new normal that we’re all facing, this is a powerful way for brands to earn affinity and loyalty from their customers.

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