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Should you adopt a "Year of Ads" strategy?

For the past two years we’ve used our "Year of Ads" strategy and have gotten some pretty fantastic results. In this article, I’ll share what the "Year of Ads" strategy is, how we do it, the results we’ve seen, and if it’s a good idea for your B2B brand. 

What is a "Year of Ads?"

Put simply: it’s a year of ads. We release one new video ad for our agency, Umault, every month. It’s usually on the first Tuesday of the month, but we deviate from time to time based on what’s happening in the news and in our agency.

At its core the strategy is simple. Every month our audience on social and email will get a pulse of new creative and a reminder we exist. We also sponsor the ads on different ad platforms like LinkedIn and Google.

Why 12 ads and not 8? Why over a year and not 6 months? We’ve found that spacing them out over a year gives us time to take a creatively flexible approach.

By distributing the ads over 12 months, we can respond to market dynamics and what’s in the zeitgeist at the moment. As you’ll see in the next section, we don’t make all 12 at once nor do we make one a month. We work in batches and have ad hoc productions when we need to be nimble.

By making 12 spots no single ad has insane pressure to succeed. We're also free to experiment with riskier ads (ex. an ad about toilet paper) because risk is dispersed across the set of 12 ads. 

This creative diversification allows greater experimentation, which means the chances of a runaway hit spot go up. In 2021 we had two hits: The Stalking and Kids Discuss B2B Marketing. We’ll dive deeper into the results a little later.

How to pull off a “year of ads”

It’s not as hard (or expensive) as you might think!

In fact, we sometimes cannot believe we do as much as we do for as little as it costs. When you’re looking at a year of ads instead of a one-off here and one-off there, you can leverage efficiencies like nobody’s business.

The easiest way to show you how we do a “Year of Ads” is a breakdown of our ads and how we batched production for 2022.

One-off spot:

  • Our process - This is an animation and was done virtually with our animator.

March shoot (two-day shoot):

August shoot (two-day shoot):

  • Space Kids 3 (coming soon!)
  • Space Kids BTS (coming soon!)
  • Halloween spot (coming soon! Here was last year’s)
  • Holiday spot (coming soon!)
  • New campaign spot (coming soon!)

Wow, twelve spots in only 4 shoot days? Yep. We can do this because when we have visibility on the macro (a year), we can really get a bunch of efficiencies in the micro (4 shoot days). This is because we write to our constraints. 

For example, for the March shoot we planned for a house location, 4 actors and limited money for props. We wrote concepts with the production schedule and lack of prop budget in mind. You can see we reused the same actors from Revision in Milk first, Two spaces and Backwards.

Budget-wise, while a “Year of Ads” isn’t cheap, it really isn’t as pricey as you would think. Let’s put it this way, we’ve done one-off single ads for the same budget our “Year of Ads” cost.

The key takeaway here is time spent pre-planning a macro strategy pays off exponentially in saved production expense.

"Put simply: it’s a year of ads."

The results we’ve seen

The biggest indicator of this campaign’s success is that we haven’t had a new client since starting it in 2021 who hasn’t referenced one of our ads on the initial phone call.

The cool part? Each client refers to a different ad. This goes back to that idea of diversifying creative and spreading risk over twelve ads. You’re more apt to make something people like when you aren’t trying to play it safe with just one ad.

The other huge result we’ve seen is earned media for the story-based ads like The Stalking or Trapped in a Corporate Video. While earned media doesn’t directly lead to sales, it does wonders for domain authority and brand awareness. This also boosts organic views and clickthroughs of our ads.

Finally, our email campaigns regularly beat benchmarks with very high open and click rates because our audience is actually expecting fun new ads instead of sales pitches.

Is a “Year of Ads” a good idea for your B2B brand?

Yes. And here’s five reasons why you should really consider doing it:

  1. Monthly pulses remind your audience you exist.
  2. You get more bang for your buck producing many ads at once instead of just one.
  3. You can test different messages over 12 different ads to see which resonates best.
  4. Your B2B brand will be known for great content, not sales pitches. People will look forward to your ads.
  5. You can take creative risks that may lead to big payoffs.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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