Digital ad creative is undergoing a major transformation. The “lo-fi” approach is taking over, shifting marketers' mindsets as to what an ad should look like.
Creative produced using a lo-fi aesthetic has become a best practice on placements such as TikTok and Reels, enabling advertisers to better engage audiences through more genuine and meaningful communication.
What does it mean to be lo-fi?
The essence of lo-fi, or “low fidelity” content can be understood in two words: purposefully unpolished.
Instead of avoiding imperfections, they are embraced. This gives the content a sense of relatability and authenticity.
You’re probably familiar with lo-fi music, a genre that has become a cultural phenomenon—especially with Millenials and Gen Z. In a music context, lo-fi means lower sound quality and stripped-back production; essentially, music that can be made in a bedroom as opposed to a recording studio.
But what about lo-fi ad creative?
Just as lo-fi music uses an analog, DIY approach to create a down-to-earth vibe; lo-fi ad creative involves using low-budget production techniques to showcase a product or service in a more authentic and relatable way.
To understand what this looks like, let’s walk through three key components of lo-fi creative:
1. Raw unpolished footage
Lo-fi creative ditches expensive camera equipment, studio sets, and professional lighting setups in favor of the humble smartphone. That’s really all you need to film a lo-fi ad.
Lighting is a little bit off? Don’t worry about it. Color grading? No need. A little background noise? Keep it in.
2. Using real people, not actors
As lo-fi is all about authenticity, you want your audience to be able to relate to the people in your ad. Featuring user-generated content (UGC) or creators, as opposed to professional actors achieves this.
3. A platform-native style
In the past, the aim for digital ads has been to “stand out from the crowd”. For a while this worked. However, as time went on, and as audiences became exposed to higher volumes of digital ads, this approach has become less effective with people becoming annoyed by ads that disrupt their experience.
With lo-fi ads, the goal is to be less conspicious, engaging audiences by blending-in with organic content. This requires creative to be made in a platform-native style, mirroring the look and feel of the organic content that your ad will be placed among/within.
When done right, this approach means your ads will function less as disruptive ads, and more as valuable content.
Why is lo-fi ad creative so powerful?
Lo-fi ad creative is proving to be a successful way of increasing engagement. In a study it was found in Facebook stories, self-recorded (lo-fi) creative outperformed studio-shot creative 84% of the time when looking at view rates.
There are three main reasons as to why lo-fi creative is such an effective strategy for today’s advertisers.
The first has already been touched on. Over time, online audiences have started to consciously and subconsciously ignore digital ads that disrupt their experience. You just have to look at the popularity of ad-free subscriptions and ad-blocker extensions to understand the effect of this.
Lo-fi creative is a way of addressing the root cause of this annoyance by serving audiences videos that are entertaining, relevant, and authentic.
The second reason is that in popular placements such as TikTok, Reels, and Shorts, ads are seamlessly integrated within the feed of organic video content.
When audiences are scrolling through these feeds, they’re predominantly presented with organic lo-fi content. If, all of a sudden, they are served a highly polished ad, it will stick like a sore thumb causing viewers to scroll past to return to organic videos. On the other hand, if they come across a lo-fi ad that matches the look and feel of organic content, they are more likely to engage with the video.
The final reason why lo-fi works is that audiences are seeking more genuine and meaningful communication from brands. In fact, 90% of millennials say that authenticity from brands is key when making purchase decisions.
By avoiding artificial staging and showcasing products or services in a more natural way, brands can answer this call for authenticity through lo-fi creative.
Examples of effective lo-fi ad creative
Now that we’ve explained what lo-fi creative is and what makes it so powerful, let’s take a look at some examples that have put the theory into practice.
1. Lemon Perfect
The TikTok example above from flavored water brand, Lemon Perfect, uses UGC footage to showcase the product and its features.
The reason this works so well is that the video uses an unboxing/product review framework that audiences are accustomed to seeing with organic content. The creative also uses emojis and stickers to further add to its platform-native style.
Fintech app, KOHO, used lo-fi creative to great effect, enabling them to showcase the app’s benefits in an informal and approachable way. The video uses a mixture of footage and moves between scenes with dynamic transitions This keeps the ad engaging while also condensing a good deal of info into a short time-frame without it feeling overwhelming.
Since the video uses a customer testimonial framework, voice-over also plays an essential role in delivering the ad’s message.
Hot sauce brand, TRUFF, used a mashup of UGC footage to create a lo-fi TikTok ad that showcases a variety of different uses for their product.
One thing to point out with this example is the approach to copy is done in a platform-native way, matching the text-overlays of organic TikTok content. When advertising in placements such as TikTok and Reels, it’s a good idea to stray a little from your brand guidelines and use a platform-native font for your copy.
Start producing authentic lo-fi ad creative now
Lo-fi advertising is an opportunity for marketers to reconnect with audiences through ads. And the good news is that lo-fi footage is low-cost and extremely accessible.
If you would like to learn how Shuttlerock works with brands to produce effective lo-fi ad creative, please feel free to request a demo, or get in touch with our team members.