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Three Ways Lead Gen Creative Can Expand Beyond Traditional Digital Ads

Written by: Shane O'Neill, Director of Content

Industries focused on generating leads with advertising — financial services, health care, insurance, fitness — are known for keeping their ad creative … shall we say … straightforward.

And maybe that’s Ok. Lead-gen companies may not need to be on the creative cutting edge. Nanigans’ lead gen clients achieve optimal return using mostly static link ads.

But while lead gen advertisers are slow to leverage new Facebook/Instagram “instant experience” ad types such as Canvas, Collections and Stories, these new ad types have been a boon for ecommerce brands. Scores of online retailers have tapped Collections/Canvas/Stories ads to flex their creative muscles, engage with customers and prospects, and drive revenue.

In this post, we ask the question: Is it time for lead gen companies to stop playing it safe and reap the returns of “instant experience” ad types?

Here are three ways for lead gen to expand their ad creative repertoire.

Package services in a Collections ad

Collections ads deliver a structured, shopping-like experience that focuses on the products themselves. A Facebook Collection ad consists of a cover image or video, followed by a carousel of product images. When users click on the ad, they’re taken to a full-screen version with clickable product “tiles.”

A lead-gen company could use Collections ads to slice up their services in new ways. For example, a financial services firm could lead with a hero image of a couple talking to a financial advisor and have each tile promoting a different service: Tile 1 is for mortgages, tile 2 for retirement savings, tile 3 is for investments, etc. Each tile goes to a landing page with more information and a lead form.

Audi Collections ad

A higher ed advertiser could use the Collections tiles to tout its different majors. An insurance company could “tile” its different plans (Home, Life, Auto, Pet); a fitness facility could tile all its exercise classes.

The auto industry is arguably the best at utilizing Collections ads.

The automaker Audi used a Collections ad (see left) to feature a looping video clip of Audi models (Q5 SUV, A5 Sportback, A4 Sedan or A6 sedan) along with four images of tech and design features. Users who clicked on the ad were taken into an interactive Canvas showcasing additional features where they can click through to the “Build Your Own” tool on the Audi website.

As mentioned, ecommerce advertisers have had great success with Collection ads.

Personal care and beauty brand Sephora has run Collection ad campaigns on Facebook and seen:

  • 30% increase in reach
  • 41% higher CTRs
  • 32% increase in ROAS (return on ad spend)

In addition to providing an immersive ad experience, Collections excel at delivering higher quality traffic to a lead gen company’s website. They essentially validate users, thereby improving conversion rates.

Jump out at consumers in a Stories ad

Ecommerce brands have dominated Instagram/Facebook Stories ads thus far, but that doesn’t mean lead gen advertisers can’t also capitalize on Stories.

Kayla Itsines

One Nanigans customer — a for-profit university — saw an improvement in lead CPA (cost per action) and lead counts using Stories ads. Their animated ad promoted art and design classes with a “Learn More” CTA linking to a lead form embedded within Instagram.

The ad succeeded in the Stories format because the creative itself was animated and visually compelling, the copy was clear and brief, and users didn’t have to leave Instagram for another website. We highly recommend having lead forms embedded within Instagram Stories ads so lead capture is quick and convenient.

Another Nanigans customer followed the proper creative guidelines for Stories ads and saw major increases in mobile app ROAS.

Australian fitness expert Kayla Itsines (categorized as both a lead gen and mobile app advertiser) — and her mobile workout app, Sweat — was an early adopter of Instagram Stories ads. During a targeted campaign in 2018 that included Facebook video ads, Instagram Stories and Instagram link ads showing workout exercises, the Sweat app achieved:

  • 69% increase in mobile app ROAS
  • 2.2X increase in mobile purchases
  • 20% increase in paying app users


Craft a compelling narrative with Canvas ads

Canvas ads combine images, video and carousel ads in one ad unit with a focus on promoting a lifestyle narrative rather than just products and services.

Once inside a Canvas ad, users can freely interact with the various multimedia ad components. Ideally, users will click to the advertiser’s website or mobile app. But even if they don’t, the overarching goal of leaving a lasting impression on the user has been achieved.

Jeep Canvas ad

In a lead gen context, Canvas ads give brands more time, space and media to tell a story and explain all aspects of their services than any static image or short video ad on a news feed.

Again, automakers have been lead gen innovators when it comes to Canvas ads on Facebook and Instagram.

The Jeep brand (see left) does a masterful job of displaying two of its Grand Cherokee models in one Canvas ad. The ad unit — which starts in the Facebook News Feed and transitions to a full-screen experience — uses multimedia and split screens to tell a story about the differences between the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, made for outdoor enthusiasts, and the Summit, designed for a luxury lifestyle.

The returns for Canvas ads can be strong. Dollar Shave Club, the well-known company that delivers razors and other personal grooming products to customers by mail, ran a Facebook Canvas ad campaign using existing multimedia creative. The campaign helped reach 1.6 million people, saw a 1.5X increase in subscriptions, and a 30% reduction in cost per subscription.

Other lead gen companies could follow Jeep and Dollar Shave Club’s leads. Fitness centers, car dealerships, universities and insurance companies all have the multimedia assets to expand beyond static link ads to a more immersive ad experience.

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