Can Ads Prevent Back to School Shopping Mishaps?

School supplies in a backpack

By Emanuela Recalcati, Director of Client Solutions, Xaxis EMEA

From new backpacks and lunch boxes to uniforms and stationary, “back to school” has already started for many families – some parents are undoubtedly in a last-minute rush to get all the essentials, while others will find new necessities to purchase in the first few weeks of term. But can customers be sure they are buying the best products that will meet all their requirements and last the school year?

The unique abilities of conversational ads could offer valuable help, as these ads open two-way engagement between brands and customers, share important product information, and make tailored recommendations. So, how can brands use them to save grown ups a few grey hairs during the back to school shopping spree?

Conversational Ads 101: How Do They Work?

Conversational ads are a type of interactive programmatic display ads, which enable audiences to connect directly with brands. Using inputs from the consumer — that is, what they tap, click, or type into the ad — brands can flexibly tailor the advertising experience for each shopper.

For example, a conversational ad could let users tap their way through a decision tree that leads to a product recommendation. If a consumer is looking to purchase a backpack, do they want it to be a specific colour or size, within a particular price range, or made from sustainably sourced materials?

Conversational ads are capable of responding to open questions. For example, a consumer can ask “why is this stationary or this backpack more sustainable?” The ad could then share the relevant product information. Conversational ads can progress the customer journey as well by taking the user to a product landing page or even the brand’s webpage detailing its ESG commitment.

Learning More About Your Consumers

Not only do conversational ads provide audiences with an informative and personalised experience, they also give brands a strong opportunity to understand their customers better, communicate their values, and address any challenges.

When 30% of global consumers say a business’ environmental efforts often or always influence their purchasing decisions, highlighting sustainable initiatives is critical for driving business outcomes. Whether consumers want to know more about a brand’s corporate social responsibility or its approach to data privacy, conversational ads are an engaging way of having these discussions.

Using real-time data from users, these ads allow brands to identify consumer priorities and create more meaningful interactions at any stage of the buyer journey. More than one-third of consumers worldwide, for instance, have reported being unable to purchase a product due to it being out of stock in store, while 43% experienced the same when shopping online. Reducing this friction is important given the current uncertainty around supply chains and the urgent need for “back to school” supplies.

Conversational ads can share details such as product availability and store opening times, streamlining the customer journey with personalised call-to-actions. This also captures unique insights into consumers’ true intent and what matters most to them, which brands can use to optimise their customer experience and ad campaigns.

Scoring Top Grades for Versatility

As a highly adaptable format, conversational ads are effective all along the marketing funnel. Brands can tailor the conversation depending on whether audiences are at the awareness, consideration, or conversion stage.

This ad format is exceptional due to the way it delivers on programmatic’s potential to reach the right audience with the best ad. Instead of relying primarily on audience targeting to determine creative optimisations before the ad is served, brands can develop one impactful creative and serve it to all audience segments. The real-time data then provided by the user interaction shapes the conversation and informs the optimal call-to-action. Brands don’t need to figure it out ahead of time and risk missing the mark.

By putting creative and interactivity at the heart of the advertising experience, conversational ads shorten the conversion process. They drive hyper-qualified users to brand sites as they can adapt in real time and direct consumers along the funnel regardless of what stage they are in. This versatility delivers results at a fraction of the cost of typical banners ads, making the most of budgets.

Back to school shopping doesn’t need to be a stressful experience for consumers, as the capabilities of conversational ads streamline their purchase journey. From ensuring they discover relevant products to providing transparency around in-store stock levels, conversational ads deliver an informative and valuable advertising experience. They enable brands to successfully engage high quality users, gain deeper insight into their priorities, and drive sales that satisfy consumers by meeting their exact needs.

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