Miller Lite has been a hit since its introduction in 1975. Last year, in an effort to deepen connections with its customers and test new revenue streams, its marketing team launched an online store featuring Miller Lite clothing and accessories. The iconic brand then partnered with Meta for an Instagram ad campaign designed to capture the attention of digitally engaged consumers who are always shopping.
Today, products routinely find online and mobile consumers who are not intending to buy something but are going about their day with an “always shopping” mindset. This trend is called discovery commerce, and it presents a huge opportunity for companies to attract and nurture relationships with new and existing customers. The Meta Discovery Commerce system provides ad tools and AI-driven algorithms that help companies match ads with people who are most likely to find the ads relevant. But to fully harness the power of these resources, it’s up to brands to generate attention-grabbing creative that speaks directly to specific consumers and inspires them to click—in other words, delivering the right ad at the right time.
To make the most out of discovery commerce, Miller Lite’s marketing team focused on creating scroll-stopping videos with prominent product images that ran on Instagram and Facebook. “The most important thing for us was that our ads had dynamic movement with eye-catching imagery,” says Anna Johnson, director of precision marketing at Molson Coors, Miller Lite’s parent company. “We also wanted to ensure that the consumer takeaway was simple.” To that end, all ads in the brand’s Instagram and Facebook campaigns included a shop now button that linked to the Miller Lite store, where you could purchase a Miller Lite hoodie, a Miller Lite fanny pack, or a Miller Lite dog sweater, among other options.
The campaign worked. After about a month and a half, Miller Lite saw a 65% increase in incremental sales of its branded merchandise and an 87% increase in purchase conversions. “[People] are scrolling through social media content very quickly,” Johnson says. “If you focus on creating content that grabs their attention and then drives them to an optimized checkout experience, it’s possible to get some really powerful results.”
SHORT AND SWEET
Miller Lite’s Instagram campaign demonstrates the power of delivering curated experiences to consumers on social media, where they are already spending much of their time. AI-driven tools like those provided by Meta help brands deliver content at scale that reaches the right individuals with creative that breaks through and drives purchases. According to Jimmie Stone, head of Creative Shop, North America at Meta, designing ads that cut through the noise requires not only a well-thought-out and expertly executed creative strategy but also a diverse approach that uses different formats with messaging based on customers’ unique motivations.
Stone offers a few principles for creating attention-grabbing social video ads. First, he says, is to identify which key emotion a product should spark in the viewer of the ad. Is the goal for a customer to feel joy? Nostalgia? Inspiration? Next, the marketer should articulate how a product unlocks a feeling for a viewer. For example, in a recent Instagram campaign, the Savage X Fenty team linked lingerie with an emotion—for example, confidence—and identified the key benefit for customers: enabling them to look their best. Finally, marketers should visually show how this emotion is brought to life for people enjoying the product.
According to Stone, what makes the best of today’s social media marketing stand out isn’t entirely different than what has always made ads stand out. “It’s the same as it was 200 years ago,” he says. “For your message to be effective, you need to connect with your audience on an emotional level. And that means you need to really know your audience.” Stone also advises that brand teams create a wide variety of ads, let the social media algorithms sort out which ones are working best, and double down on the winners.
CREATORS AND AUTHENTICITY
In the age of social media, it’s possible for brands to have the opportunity to better understand their audience’s needs and preferences than ever before. But rather than focus on traditional consumer data categories like age, location, or education level, Stone emphasizes it’s more important to home in on the interests they share with members of their community. “Consumers aren’t looking for products,” he says. “They’re following their passions.”
This is especially true in the context of discovery commerce on social media, where people are frequently encountering content that’s both algorithmically and artistically refined to appeal to their expressed passions. Coming across that content as they scroll through their feeds should feel serendipitous and inspire joy—especially when they see that their passion is shared with others.
That’s a big reason why creators can play such an important role in effective social media ad campaigns. Creators have the ability to demonstrate authentic passion for a product or service and to communicate that passion to people who share similar interests. “We trust [creators] more than anonymous ads because they’re real people,” says Marcus Collins, a University of Michigan marketing professor and head of planning at creative agency Wieden+Kennedy. “They reduce barriers to entry and remove points of friction, so we feel more confident about consumption.”
Stone points to four guidelines for brands looking to leverage creators in a social media ad campaign. First, he says, “It’s important to find creators whose interests and communication styles align with your brand DNA.” Second, make sure the material they create strikes a balance between emphasizing their personality and conveying your message: “Too much of their personality and your message could get lost; too little and they might feel less authentic to consumers.” Third, provide a library of short narrative formats that can act as jumping-off points for creators. And fourth, maintain a relationship with your influencers over time to build connections and maximize your reach.
Whether deploying creators, eye-catching ads, or a mix of both, the most successful social campaigns feature a diversity of content that can then be matched via algorithms to the people most likely to respond to it. As Miller Lite discovered, the Meta Discovery Commerce system provides best-in-class marketing tools, but it’s what brands feed into the system that makes it successful.