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What do apps like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp and Uber have in common? Everyone knows who they are, even if they don’t use them let alone have the app installed on their phone. That huge consumer awareness explains why you don’t see a lot of these apps focusing on app growth. It is probably not a lack of ads that prevents people from installing them.
At the same time, it is not the case that these apps do not advertise. You still see them – on billboards, TV, public transport, even in movie theater ads. That’s because advertising often serves another purpose for big brands: attention, not just fame.
Why advertising is still important when you’re a big brand
For big brands, advertising isn’t about generating an individual install (although that’s certainly a nice bonus). It’s about reaching the mass market. It’s about capturing the attention of their users, not just their consciousness.
You can look at the current streaming wars as an example. According to a February 2022 study, U.S. consumer awareness of the “Big Five” video streaming services — Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO Max — is at a low ebb all–time high at more than 95%. Netflix leads the pack with 98% consumer awareness overall and significantly Lake Awareness from to be computer programming than its competitors.
But fame is not enough when you are a big brand. Content is still king. People switch subscriptions based on what shows are available and what they want to see. That makes the market share for streaming services extremely fluid. In its latest earnings call, Netflix reported a loss of almost a million subscribersshowing how volatile that market share really is.
With so many big players and an apparent cap on the number of subscriptions consumers are willing to buy, the market share is fragile. That makes staying top-of-mind extremely important.
4 ways big brands can capture consumer attention
Big brands may not need the prominence of promotional offers, but they certainly need the consistent consumer attention it generates. Stay top-of-mind with your target audience with these advertising best practices.
Just be there
Staying top-of-mind sometimes just means being around. And what better way to be around than already on users’ phones? Not only do you protect yourself against customer churn, you can also use your app to keep your app up to date and provide important updates, such as when you release new content.
Facebook (Meta) is a good example of how this strategy can be successful. When you buy a phone, Facebook probably comes pre-installed on it. That’s because the company’s partnerships with OEMs and carriers mean it’s already on nearly every device sold. Facebook makes no secret of its pre-install strategy, and even has several benefits beyond customer retention, such as improved compatibility, performance, and user experience.
Appeal to emotion
Big brands with a wide reputation always have many users. But that doesn’t necessarily mean those users feel connected to the brand. Many consumers naturally feel more connected to smaller brands, believing that their individual support has a greater impact on the brand’s overall success. Bigger brands have to work a little harder to get that emotional connection. That’s where good advertising comes in.
2018, Airbnb made an emotional appeal to travelers with the ‘Let’s Keep Moving Forward’ campaign. By criticizing the travel ban, the brand took a clear stance on its values, making consumers who shared those values feel more connected to the brand. Airbnb also shared what they were doing to help, as well as making suggestions for their customers, reinforcing the sense that they were on the same side in the battle.
Stimulate your audience
In categories where brands are more susceptible to losing market share (such as streaming video), it can pay off to nudge your audience around new releases. An effective way to boost audiences is to offer different bundles that cross categories.
For example, Uber Eats recently offered me a free trial of a Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ streaming video package if I placed a delivery order. The collaboration between different categories worked both ways: it stimulated me to place an order for food and to sign up for streaming services. Another example is that Chipotle is bundling its “Guac Mode” promotion with CashAPP, giving customers not only free guacamole, but also free money when they sign up for both accounts.
Go big on entertainment value
How much entertainment value to put into an ad is a matter of strategy. You don’t want to risk being so entertaining that it distracts users from the point of your ad. For example, for brands with low awareness, entertaining ads can cause consumers to remember the ad but not the product.
But well-known brands don’t run that risk. One of Apple’s most famous campaigns was “Think differently”, where the brand joined famous mavericks in their field, from Amelia Earhart to John Lennon. There was no mention of Apple products, nor any imagery, but the campaign was hugely successful in encouraging users to associate using an Apple product with being creative and pushing boundaries.
Bonus points if your brand can leverage your product value and be entertaining at the same time. Google’s search stories campaign did just that, using storytelling to bring Google’s real use to life. The campaign featured small businesses that were easy to connect with, such as a family-run maple farm “wanting to share their passion for maple with syrup lovers across the country,” as the ad put it. The campaign aptly linked the brand’s success to Google, with messages such as the following: “The same technology that helps you find what you’re looking for also helps millions of local businesses grow and succeed.”
Attract attention and secure your market share
From emotionally connecting with your customers to simply staying top-of-mind, advertising can help big brands close the attention gap. Make sure your brand is seen in a landscape where market share is fluid and remembering can make all the difference.
Jon Hudson is VP of Customer Success atDigital Turbinewhere he leads the app media division that helps bring global brands to devices.
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