Making the Most of Unsold Ad Inventory

By Dean Hamilton, VP of Business Development & Creative Strategist

Network, timing, targeting – these are all crucial elements to determine the effectiveness of TV commercials. Even more important is the creative – the actual design and content of the ad. No matter how accurate the targeting is or whether advertisers nail the timing, they won’t convert the audience if the ad creative doesn’t resonate.


A Nielsen Catalina Solutions study found that the ad creative contributes to 47% of sales, making it the most impactful advertising element. This speaks volumes about the importance of having compelling creatives to maximize your TV advertising.


Below we have outlined our top 10 tips that brands should follow to produce creatives that WOW!

1. Research the Category

Research is crucial to see what the competitors are doing!  Some brands put out ads that look like all the other ads from their competitors, making it hard to stand out. Other brands run ads with stale creatives while their competitors are coming up with fresh ideas and unique perspectives.  So much money is spent on TV advertising, make the most of yours by starting with some research. Ask yourself these questions:


● What can your brand do to stand out from the competition?

● What can be learned from the success of top competitors?

● What is your “Why” and how is that portrayed?


Answering these critical questions can help brands craft creatives that gain better attention from target audiences.

2. Read the Script Out Loud

Sometimes things look great on paper, but out loud they just don’t sound right. Reading the script aloud is a great exercise to check for redundancies, clarity, and overall flow.


● Does the script establish a problem and present a solution?

● Is it easy to follow and understand?

● Is there any part that just doesn’t sound right?


Read the script in front of the team to gain perspectives from different people. This approach can help fine-tune the script to make it more appealing for everyone who may encounter the ad.

3. Listen Without Video

Focus on the audio but watch it without the video.  Like the scripting phase, the ears may catch something the eyes are missing. Remember that viewers often multi-task during commercials, so they may only hear content instead of watching the ad itself.


Listen closely to determine if there is any part of the ad that sounds unclear.


● Are there words that could be replaced to improve the flow or clarity?

● Will the message come across accurately for someone who can’t see or isn’t watching the video?


By taking this step, marketers can ensure that audiences will get the essential brand message from the audio alone.

4. Get a New Voiceover Talent (or Two)

A compelling voiceover could be the determining factor that prevents viewers from skipping to the next channel.  Get voiceover talent that makes people stop and listen to the rest of the message.  Make sure the voiceover is consistent with the brand voice and aligns with the overall tone and message that is being conveyed through the ad.


In addition, it’s always great to have a second voice to boost more credibility into the creative.  Often people need to hear the same information from different characters to register.

5. Watch It Without Audio

With the growing use of smartphones and tablets, people are increasingly using second screens while watching TV.  In fact, 88% of people use a digital device simultaneously with their TV.  Meanwhile, the television is just on in the background with low or no volume. This makes it crucial for brands to have eye-catching visuals in their advertising creatives to draw in disengaged or distracted viewers.


Are there enough visual elements to catch the eye?  Try watching the ad without audio to see if the visual elements alone are strong enough.  Aim to understand if the visuals and graphics effectively convey the brand message and motivate viewers to take a second look.

6. Refresh Ad Graphics

If, after watching the ad without audio, the graphics are lackluster, then it’s time to make additional investments to update them.  Updated graphics on screen can improve the look of the creative, offer more clarity, and reinforce unique selling points. Make sure to use prime real estate to improve the chances of grabbing viewer attention.

7. Improve Testimonials

When people come across a brand for the first time, knowing what other people are saying about the business can establish trust. In fact, 72% of consumers trust a business more after seeing a positive review or testimonial.


This is why testimonials are the driving force behind direct response campaigns.  They need to be strong, believable, and relatable.  Even if brands can’t afford a large production or to manage a group through a controlled product trial, there’s always a more affordable option of adding some user-generated content (UGC).  As long as the content is genuine and compelling, viewers will be moved to action.

8. Swap Stock Footage

Stock imagery is an affordable way for brands to freshen up ad creatives. However, the imagery must align with the target demographic. Relatability is crucial! By choosing the right stock footage, brands can sell more than the product itself by portraying the lifestyle and emotions that using the product can evoke. Viewers need to see themselves in that setting. Stock footage can help bring the creative alive, especially if there’s a shortage of hearty testimonials or a limited budget.

9. Update the Call-to-Action

Compelling ad creatives wouldn’t be complete without an equally powerful call-to-action (CTA). Without it, viewers will be left wondering what they need to do next if they want to purchase the product. Is the CTA clear and to the point? Is it urgent without being pushy?


Creators need to walk a fine line between excitement and credibility.  Now is not the time to be shy about selling, so make sure to have a solid offer and a deal that makes sense to avoid sounding too desperate.  Once advertisers have successfully laid the foundation throughout the ad, they can trust the audience to make the connection.

10. Incorporate New Music

Sometimes an ad creative just needs the right soundtrack to move the story along and get more attention. Music is vital to setting the right mood and drawing viewers into the story, enabling the message to have a larger impact.  When a creative has a great track, viewers don’t even notice it’s there. They just feel it. Emotions are everything in advertising, as they can be the driving force behind why people take a certain action.

Bonus Tip: Watch It Again and Again

It helps to re-watch the ad multiple times to look for mistakes that were missed the first time.  However, creators may have tunnel vision when they’ve been working on the same project for too long and may not recognize areas for potential improvement.  Always have someone outside the project look at the ad with fresh eyes to get new perspectives.  You may end up with valuable feedback.

Win with the Right Creative

In advertising, an ad creative can make all the difference in enticing viewers and converting them. Brands need to regularly review, refine and refresh their creatives to make their ads stand apart from the competition. Following these proven best practices can empower brands to revitalize their advertising creatives and make memorable impressions on audiences.