I’m still processing the nearly 100 Ad World 2021 virtual sessions our team participated in recently as well as the multiple follow-up conversations they’ve sparked at the agency. It’s impossible to pull all the lessons learned into one blog post, so here are three key takeaways from the conference that mean the most for our content and marketing strategies.

“Attention spans aren’t dwindling; they’re shifting,” says Samantha Ogborn, Once + More agency founder, at Ad World 2021.

Content Might Be King, But Engagement Rules

“Attention spans aren’t dwindling; they’re shifting,” says Samantha Ogborn, Once + More agency founder

Marketers need to implement new tactics and tools for engaging audiences in mere seconds. On TikTok, for example, content must engage viewers immediately – or they’ll swipe up. They may never even see it. Social algorithms reward engaging content by showing it to more people.

How do you demand this attention? Ogborn and other Ad World presenters offered suggestions that can be applied to TikTok and other video platforms.

  • Hook ‘em fast. Slow builds don’t work in the digital space.
  • Clearly communicate your product or service in the first three seconds.
  • Design for mobile, which means vertical, full-portrait content. No one is going to turn their phone.
  • Familiarize content by using trending or relatable songs, especially on TikTok.
  • Stir emotion, especially an upbeat, high-energy feeling.
  • Use text to highlight key messages and voiceover captions.
  • Provide a CTA and tell the user what to do next (like, follow, subscribe, etc.).

TikTok isn’t the only platform that rewards engaging content. Instagram prioritizes photos, videos and reels that get more engagement and views. YouTube recommends popular, related videos. LinkedIn posts with comments are more likely to be seen by more people.

A New Hierarchy for Search

Organic search is becoming more democratic, according to LinkGraph Founder Manick Bahn. Authority, once the top-ranking factor, is becoming less and less important to Google. Content, not backlinks, is now one of the main organic search ranking factors.

Content includes the text of your web page as well as alternative text attached to visuals; metadata, such as title tags, meta descriptions and header tags; schema markup; and internal linking architecture. Google looks at all of these content attributes and determines if your web page is worthy of ranking for any individual query.

Content length is also important and has a significant relationship with where a web page will rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). An average of the top three search results in a recent study found that the content had an average length of almost 2,000 words. Web pages with rich media, such as graphics, photos and videos, also tend to rank higher in SERPs. Backlinks are still important, just not as important. This change makes it easier for new players to get in the SERPs game, says Bahn.

Google wants to see users stay on your web page for a good amount of time, too. It does not like users pogo-sticking off your page to another search result. Search behavior like this is bad for your rankings. It also show why you need to provide appropriate content and a good page experience. Experience falls just below content on the scale of importance.

Finally, Bahn recommended we focus on quality rather than quantity. More web pages and more content does not mean you will rank more often. Quality content does.

Leveraging Automation

Overwhelmed by the time it takes to manually create copy and visuals for all the various platforms? You are not alone. Manual creation takes time, which increases costs. You need an adequate budget to take advantage of a well-integrated, well-tested campaign.

Overwhelmed by the time it takes to manually create copy and visuals for all the various platforms? You are not alone at Ad World 2021. Manual creation takes time, which increases costs.

Campaigns distributed across a variety of channels require a variety of creative. Display advertising needs at least seven different sizes of creative – and those are just the standard sizes. Each social platform has different campaign types and creative needs, even if you’re running the same messaging. Beyond sizing one message for multiple platforms, you’re also likely running tests, which means you have an entire set of additional creative.

Presenter Ashley Vinson, creative agency partner at Facebook BENELUX, encouraged Ad World 2021 attendees to familiarize themselves with the different marketing automation software and tools now available. And to use a variety of these tools to execute campaigns successfully and efficiently.

One of our favorite presentations at Ad World 2021 came from Erik Driessen. He accidentally designed a tattoo using AI, data and music. You can see his methodology here. Aside from his data visualizations, we most enjoyed his final message: “Innovation starts with an idea and the solution should be unknown. Take time to hang out with your idea, and to let your idea hang out with you. And don’t forget to have fun.”