Advertising has been around for centuries and has seen many iterations along the way. During our lifetime, print gave way to digital, then digital to social. The next frontier for advertising is Fast. Fast Advertising is more than social, or agile. It is a fundamentally new way for brands to think about leveraging media to connect with their audience and build brands by winning the moment.
The Fast Method is emerging but has already helped brands, politicians, and organizations produce outsized results upwards of 160 times their prior efforts. In this article we’ll cover why we need Fast Advertising, explain the Fast Advertising method, outline the core capabilities to execute Fast, and close with insights on how you can embrace Fast Advertising, too.
What is Fast Advertising?
Fast Advertising is an emerging marketing strategy that plugs brands into real-time cultural and social trends. By rapidly sensing and responding to opportunities in culture, brands deepen relevance at unprecedented speed and scale.
Fast Advertising helps brands #winthemoment.
Fast advertising is designed to help brands sense and respond to any moment in under 48 hours. While this seems impossible, many brands have proven this feat is very possible. Audi is a great example. The car company was able to go from a signal to fast advertisement in market in that time frame -- even hiring Norway’s biggest director and actor to take part.
The moment began during the 2021 Super Bowl when GM aired an advertisement featuring Will Ferrell. In the ad Ferrell picks on the Nordic country about their electric vehicles, and even punches a globe in a comedic fit. Audi was listening, and wanted to set the record straight. Norway was leading the electric car movement with more electric cars on the road per capita than any other nation. Knowing the modern media cycles Audi didn’t just craft a response, they moved fast. Getting a fully produced ad on air, in response to GM, in under 48 hours. The ad went global in under 24 hours, drove millions of impressions, and when asked if they would do it again they simply said, “yes”!
By moving fast Audi was able to join the conversation, and break through in a new way. Their speed was a critical component of their success. In our modern time brands must focus on winning the moment, and to do so they must move fast.
Why do we need Fast Advertising?
Marketing is a game, and the rules are set by the environment. In the golden era of advertising, 1960-1980 the world was a very different place. Media cycles were measured in weeks, and months. There were only a few people who could create media, and those were brands and businesses. Now we live in the infinite media era, and individuals are the largest creators of media in the world. Now media cycles are measured in minutes. This is a new game we must learn to play.
Moving fast isn’t just an idea, it’s a foundational element of how we must operate in our modern world. Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum is famous for stating this point in his famous line, “It’s not the biggest fish that wins, but the fastest fish that wins”. He gets it!
In our modern world, speed is a Competitive Advantage. Fast methods have already disrupted other fields. Fashion for example is now dominated by brands able to go from insights to product on the shelf in 28 days. Shows like South Park are kings of their genre’s due to the team’s ability to go from cultural moment to a fully produced show in 7 days.
Fast advertising also aligns to modern consumer expectations. Consumers are used to seeing new content from their friends and family by the moment. What breaks through isn’t the most well produced content, rather the most contextual to the moment. A meme created in 30 seconds often out performs ads with 7 figure budgets and long production cycles. This is the context of the modern world.
What is the Fast Advertising Method?
Fast Advertising is a continuous, always-on discipline. It leverages the cultural and momentary context to drive creative ideas and execution. There are 6 key elements to Fast Advertising; Sense, Align, Create, Test, Deploy, Feedback. We will dive into each of these below.
The Fast Advertising Method
Sense: The Fast Advertising method begins with listening. Brands must create robust sensing engines allowing them to have their finger on the pulse of their market to identify key moments to align to. Many brands already have social listening tools to collect voice of the customer data, and third party data sources, but this is only a few pieces of which should be a sensing stack. Brands should be sure they are leveraging the following five data categories in their listening stack:
First Party Data: This includes all first party data from website traffic, search terms, customer purchases, and voice of the customer data. This data should be connected allowing brands to see key trends among demographics and consumer segments.
Third Party Data: This includes large scale data sources such as Nielsen and Axiom. These data sets provide large scale cultural context.
Competitive Information: Brands should be able to index their efforts against their market and competitors. Knowing how others are responding will provide you with the data to deploy alternative tactics, or even beat them to the moment.
Cultural Moments: Brands should also be sure they are listening to their market via social channels. You likely already have a robust listening program in place.
Brand Sentiment: Brands need real-time tracking of the market’s response to their efforts. These signals can also spark fast ads.
Align: Brands next must align to a moment that is sensed. To drive alignment, brands need to have clearly defined brand standards including which types of moments they want to respond to and what tact they want to take. These conversations should happen in advance so when the moments arise the teams can move quickly.
Brands should look to set up dedicated teams to execute fast. Within that team there should be five key capabilities represented.
These five disciplines should make up the Fast Advertising team. Some brands may choose to call this a “War Room”, “Tiger Team”, or “Skunk Works''. The name is not important -- instead be focused who is in the group and their authority to move with minimal oversight. The team should have full autonomy to create and deploy advertisements which they feel are good. This autonomy will require executive approval before beginning, and alignment on reporting structures, and metrics.
Alignment may also bring about new roles such as a Chief Meme Officer, or a Brand Moment Manager. Both of these roles would be designed for the key person responsible for setting the alignment brief from which creative teams work.
The last part of alignment is to produce a creative brief. To keep the process fast, the brief should be minimal and standardized. The brief should be no more than a signal page and should answer the following questions.
What is the moment?
Why are we responding to it?
How are we showing up in it?
What is the key take away?
What is the budget?
What metrics will it be measured by?
Create: Next, brands must get creative and produce an advertisement. To move Fast, brands must embrace new methods of creation while altering their idea of what they deliver to the market. When both of these are baked into the creative process, speed can be achieved.
To create an ad, Fast brands must first alter their view of what is delivered. Yes, you can produce a fully baked TV ad produced by leading producers, starring big name actors within 48 hours as Audi has proven, however, that is not the norm or a very repeatable process. For the large majority of brands they simply need to alter their idea of what they are producing and focus on speed rather than production quality.
When Nathan Apodaca, known as 420doggface208 on TikTok, filmed himself skateboarding down a highway drinking ‘Ocean Spray’ cranberry juice and mouthing Stevie Nicks lyrics, he produced the most viewed ‘Ocean Spray’ content EVER. It was created instantly, and with a very low production quality. In our modern time quality does not equal results, and for many, ‘perfect’ is a stumbling block to success.
To create Fast Advertisements consider using one of these four following methods:
Co-Creation: Brands need to embrace their market as co-creators of this content. The UN created more than 13,000 pieces of unique content by leveraging their market. They would have been limited to a few dozen had they tried to create them themselves. Each post was shared by their creators and drove significant engagement far past the reach of the UN’s own social channels and with higher engagement than their past efforts.
Modular: Consider shooting content with the goal of being able to re-use it in the future. Delta Airlines is a great example. They change their safety videos frequently. They shoot their footage in a way that it can easily be reworked into a new story.
Curate/Source: Brands should also embrace sourcing content from other places. Memes, stock images, and curated content from other creators should all be easy ways to bring in material to support the brief.
Produce: Brands can still produce ads on their own, either in house or via an agency. However, when this is the case, normal processes must be put aside, and the fast methods followed.
Test: One of the biggest hurdles for Fast Advertising is brand safety. Many brands are afraid to launch anything without testing first. Testing used to take weeks and months, but with advances in technology, testing can now be done rapidly, and is a key element in Fast Advertising. With testing now completed in hours or days, the creativite and testing steps should be considered an iterative process, rather than a linear one. Where creative is seeing the results, creating new versions, testing, and in short order producing a powerful ad.
There are Four Fast Testing Methods:
Close Experiments: Close experiments are those where ads are tested through closed panels, or surveys. New tools like Swayable allow for these experiments to be run and provide feedback in less than 24 hours.
Open Experiments: Open experiments are those which use the open market to test ideas. This means ads are published and real time data is used to alter future versions. Feedback is received in real time from the market.
Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics can look at past ad performance to help direct elements of creative to ensure optimal future performance. Feedback can often be received in minutes and hours.
Artificial Intelligence: AI can now be used to track consumers’ responses to ads by tracking facial recognition, brain waves, and other neurological responses. Ads can be tested with feedback received in near real time.
Deploy: Next ads need to be placed in the market. The publication of a Fast Ad is likely something you are already familiar with. Fast Ads are designed to be deployed via a digital method so if you have ever placed a digital ad before, you likely already have some awareness of what is required. However there are two key items to keep in mind when deploying your ad. First is how long is it going to stay in the market, and how many ads do you have in the market at any one time.
First is ad duration in the market. Where traditional campaigns have a set timeline, 20 days, 3 months, or even longer, Fast Ads are a responsive method and should only stay in the market as long as they are performing. This may mean you need to track views/impressions/clicks by the hour or day. Once you see a declining number, you should consider pulling the ad from the market as the moment has passed, and the context is lost.
The second is the number of ads in the market at a time. It is best to only have one Fast Ad in the market at a time. This allows the brand to focus on the moment, rather than having competing messaging in the market.
Feedback: The final step in the Fast Advertising method is the feedback loop. Once an ad has run, there needs to be a clear feedback loop. The loop should provide data to two key stakeholders, marketing, and any department lead who serves customers.
Your Fast Ad Team, and Marketing at large should be provided which data and information on which ads are performing, and which moments are resonating with the market. There should also be a general report going out to other customer facing department heads letting them know about what their customers are caring about, and engaging with.
Because you are able to sense, and respond in near real time you are able to produce a new type of market research that can empower leaders to see new trends and be more responsive to the market. The Fast feedback loop is a new form of market research to be delivered.
Putting Fast Advertising To Work:
The Fast Advertising Method is likely a stark departure from how your organization currently operates. This can be a stumbling block for many to implement Fast Advertising however there are some easy ways you can get started.
Have a conversation first: You should start by having a conversation about what moments you want to be a part of, and how you want to show up in them. What is your brand and how do you align? Having this conversation up front will make it easy to move fast when a moment occurs.
Start with a test. Audi did not have a process in place, nor did Aviation Gin when they launched their award winning Fast Ad. They simply knew they needed to respond, and did. If you already know what moments you want to respond to, and how, getting a test up and out the door will be much easier.
Build a Tiger Team. Ask around the office and find a few people who want to do this. This doesn’t need to be a full time position or team to start. It can just be a loose group of people who work on this as a side project at first. Give them some time, budget, and autonomy and see what they can do.
Build a sensing stack. By building a sensing stack you will create the foundational data feed you will need to move fast. Even if you don’t move fast, this data feed will be valuable to your organization by providing real time market insights empowering other aspects of the current business.
Join a workshop. The FAA hosts workshops to help teach the Fast Advertising method. Please visit our workshop page to see availability for our next open workshop.
Let the words of Klaus Schwab the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum sink in, “It’s not the biggest fist, but the fastest fish that wins”.
In a world where speed is a competitive advantage Fast Advertising is a critical strategy. It isn't simply about making ads faster, rather it is a method of branding focused on breaking through by aligning to key cultural moments. Aligning to cultural context is not a new idea. Rather, being able to do this in under 48 hours is the key differentiator. Brands able to embrace fast advertising stand to win the big cultural moments and build modern brands in new ways.