I get the feeling sometimes from watching TV ads that a lot of people in the advertising industry would rather be artists, movie directors or comedy writers. Too many ads seem like they were made with the goal of getting laughs, dazzling the audience with visual tricks, or (in the worst cases) impressing other ad agencies with their creative flair. Too many ads spend so much time on punch lines and creative wizardry that there’s no room left for the product or brand being advertised – and that’s ultimately a waste of the client’s money.

There’s nothing wrong with being an artist, and some of the most effective ads in history have also had a certain artistic flair and style to them. But what advertising agencies need to remember is that the important test of an ad is whether it actually works – whether it actually boosts sales or achieves other measurable goals for the client who paid for it.

Beautiful, creative advertising is fun to watch, but no matter how great an ad is to look at, it ultimately needs to connect back to the product it’s selling. There are so many ads that you can sit through for 30 seconds and immediately forget which brand was being advertised. If people watch your ad and can’t even remember the name of the product being advertised, that’s a pretty good sign that the ad didn’t succeed.

It’s OK for ads to be funny, but if the product gets lost in the laughter, then that advertiser is not getting their money’s worth. The brand, company and product need to be the star of the ad – not the ad agency.

Every year, the advertising industry honors its best work with awards like the ADDYs and CLIOs. These awards are geared toward the most creative and interesting messages – and a lot of the work really is good and worthy of recognition.

But the question that every ad agency needs to ask itself – especially now that we’re in the era of Google Ads, pay-per-click advertising, social media and other increasingly measurable ways to advertise – is “are our ads actually getting results?”

It doesn’t matter how “creative” an ad might be – even if it wins rave reviews from everyone else in the ad agency world – if it doesn’t get results. (And if you don’t know whether or not your ads are getting results, I suggest you hire a new firm! There are many ways to track the results of our marketing messages; we no longer have to fire shots into the dark and hope that our latest 30-second TV ad will do the trick.)

Creative awards for advertising have their place, but I’m a bigger fan of the Effie Awards – the advertising awards program that recognizes effectiveness and measurable results in marketing communications. More than ever before, when we ask our clients to spend money on advertising, we can’t just bombard viewers with stylish visual flourishes and clever punch lines; we need to make sure that the advertising is actually delivering results.

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever before to measure the results of our advertising. And if you don’t do it, I’m sure your competitors will…

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