Less is more: How Condé Nast is spearheading the future of digital advertising

Condé Nast is a true innovator in the high-impact ad space, their launch of the Condé Nast Ad Studio allowing them to specialise in high-impact, customised advertising solutions. At this year’s FIPP Congress in Cascais, Global Head Sharon Carter shared some of the exciting developments and strategies that are helping them to broaden their already extensive reach and deepen their understanding of audiences.

The Condé Nast Ad Studio launched in 2019, and in the space of five years has become a multimillion-dollar division within the media company. “It’s been a whirlwind,” said Sharon Carter, Global Head of the studio. “It’s been super exciting for us to see serious year-on-year growth since we started out.”

The studio offers custom content creation – which includes articles, videos and other multimedia content – cross-platform integration for ad campaigns and a variety of innovative formats such as shoppable videos, interactive ads and augmented reality experiences. The team’s creative work is underpinned by their extensive data and analytics capabilities, which allow them to craft highly targeted campaigns informed by audience behaviours and preferences.

“Sure you have a bold, beautiful unit on the page – but how are you measuring the success of that unit?” Sharon asked. “With our studio we can offer new metrics, heat maps that show engagement and where customers are clicking or hovering. This helps you make sure that you are constantly optimising that content throughout the campaign. There’s a saying: if you build it, they will come. Well in this case, if you build the ads this way, you’ll get the revenue.”

Although the Ad Studio started as a US-only offering, their strategy was always to go global. “Obviously we had to crawl before we could walk – we wanted to make sure we were standardising everything that we rolled out – but the ambition was to expand globally,” she explained. “Back in 2022, we decided to expand into Western Europe, and we’ve now finished that expansion, working with the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, France.”

The Condé Nast Ad Studio has collaborated with a variety of prominent European brands across the fashion, beauty and luxury goods industries. And at a time when digital ads are marked by increasing personalisation, the Studio’s ability to provide localised campaigns that reflect cultural nuances across the continent have allowed them to engage with and better understand European consumers.

At the heart of the Ad Studio’s offering is innovative and impactful design. And Sharon believes that when it comes to the future of digital advertising, less is definitely more. “You need strong slogans, bold beautiful colours, strong calls-to-action. It’s getting rid of the clutter, but still making sure that you are hitting all the different positions on the page,” she said. “We think of our formats as a cup – cups come in different sizes and measurements – and the design layouts as the liquid, whether that’s water or punch or a good tequila.”

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All these ‘cups’ are highly interactive, whether the immersive unit, which offers a full-page experience – “as you scroll down the page, it reveals itself, stopping the user in their tracks” – or the engaged unit, which is interactive and gives advertisers more opportunities to engage with viewers. “Animation plays a key part in these units, as we know that moving images entice users to learn more. Our units are also edge-to-edge, highly responsive and cross platform, to make sure you can see them on any phone in their full glory.”

Their ’full-bleed’ video experience, which is full-page and immersive, is particularly popular with luxury clients, as, “it gives them the opportunity to create a theatrical experience that keeps the brand, the product and the call-to-action top of mind in the user.”

The CN Ad Studio has several new products in the pipeline, including AR wearables – which allows people to try on sunglasses, watches and shoes in the comfort of their own home – or even live streaming major events through their ad units. “In the digital realm, things are ever-changing, so we’re always keeping our ears to the ground. We have more plans to expand beyond Western Europe. We’re hoping everything will continue upwards from here.”


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