A Practical Guide to Conversations


Cavai shares practical ways that advertisers can get the most out of conversational advertising, including how to develop and deepen relationships with consumers

You’ve probably heard of conversational advertising. It’s often touted as a way for brands to better understand their audiences, advertisers to improve their performance, and publishers to increase revenue.

Conversational advertising is not magic. But when used correctly it can become one of your most valuable tools as a brand, and one of your most valuable assets as a publisher. I’d like to discuss some of the practical ways you can make the most of conversational advertising.

What is conversational?
Conversational advertising, at its core, is any advertising that implements two way communication in a dialogue like structure. This can take many forms, but we’ll be focusing on the most widely used, which is conversational display advertising using a decision tree. 

What this means is a display ad that runs through standard programmatic channels and uses a static decision tree to design the conversation. This is important because, although other forms of conversational advertising are possible (A.I. chatbots for example), most of them are lower scale or rely on higher upfront investment. This article will be aimed at getting you started for the least amount of effort.

To give you an idea of how this looks in practice, here are examples from Tesla and Genelec Speakers.

Forget targeting, start talking
Third-part cookies are on the way out, segments can be inaccurate, and we all know that we don’t like being over-targeted. This is the first cornerstone of conversational advertising, you can move away from a reliance on audience level targeting.

When you talk to someone for the first time you don’t know their interests, you learn them. Through dialogue with your audience you can discover who this person is and what they really want, without splitting them into predefined segments. Then you converse with them on the topics they actually care about.

Interests change and can be hard to guess at a distance. With conversation, you really can just ask someone what they’re interested in at that given moment. This should always be a core aim when designing a conversation - learning about the audience.

Talking with friends
Of course publishers can and should be building their own conversations. Conversational advertising is a contextual format, meaning it improves in effectiveness if it relates to the content around it, and who knows the content better than the publisher?

Publishers should be looking to build their own conversational style guides - basically what language to use and things to say - so that brands can easily understand how best to interact with their user base. This is a big opportunity for publishers to leverage their relationship with users - creating conversations that audiences will love and brands will get value from.

Points of conversation
Conversational design is crucial. When first trying conversational advertising through display it’s tempting to copy the text you’re using for standard display. However, static copy isn’t conversational copy. If an audience doesn’t realise you want to talk then they’re not going to interact with you. We call this conversational blindness. Remember, conversational advertising is a pretty new idea to most people. You need to make sure the invitation to converse is made clear.

Second, don’t be boring. We’ve all been trapped in a conversation we hated but felt obliged to continue. Your audience won’t feel that same obligation. Don’t make your ad unit boring and ensure the conversation has enough back and forth interaction. Let them respond and don’t make it a one-sided deluge of information. This will ensure users’ interest remains high and gives you the chance to gain key insight into your audiences.

What should you expect?
I said at the start that conversational advertising wasn’t magic - it won’t give you everything - but it will give you a higher level of quality conversions.

Most conversations aren’t designed to get you the highest possible click rate. That may be a surprising thing to hear, but generally the advantage of conversational advertising isn’t the click rate. The real value proposition is the quality of clicks and audience insight.

With conversational advertising, fraud is negligible because bots are trained to click a banner once and then move on. They’re not able to navigate a conversation with multiple interaction points. When a user does click through, it’s after a deep engagement that means they have a genuine interest and a strong probability of following through. The result is a considerable increase in conversion rates for clicks; making conversational advertising an exciting new form of engagement for advertisers. 

Explore in full

Guide to Digital Innovation 2020

Introducing our Guide to Digital Innovation 2020. From shoppable video to gaming experiences, the new guide gives first-hand insight from 36 IAB UK members on the most innovative digital ad solutions and how brands can effectively harness them.

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