Beyond Breakthrough: 5 Secrets of Seek and Share Advertising

How do you create ads that break through and truly grab viewers’ attention? Columnist Peter Minnium discusses the key characteristics of ads that people are excited to see and share with their friends.

The author(s)

  • Peter Minnium Media Development, US
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With the proliferation of content and the rise of multi-device, multi-media multi-tasking, it’s harder than ever for ads to break through to viewers. While digital advertising has raised the breakthrough bar considerably, it also offers the potential for advertising that transcends the breakthrough challenge. The new holy grail is advertising that people want to see and share with their friends, to “seek and share.”


What moves advertising into this exceptional category? While some argue that true virality is like catching lightning in a bottle and therefore cannot be planned, there are core characteristics that can increase the odds of advertising reaching this rarefied plane.


Five characteristics of seek and share ads:

  1. Insight - Insight is the game changer and what sets great communications apart.
  2. Story - People have a built-in ability to find patterns in the distinct happenings of life and weave these together to find meaning. This is how we understand how the world works. Archeologists long ago discovered cave paintings showing that we have always made sense of the world this way — with story. And storytelling remains the most important tool marketers have to change perceptions and alter behaviours.
  3. Craft - Once a story has been developed, it is put in the hands of expert craftsmen much like a blueprint is given to a builder. It’s the craftsman’s job to bring the story to life using the myriad tools available with modern communications. Given the extraordinary advertising clutter and consequent avoidance, the bar is set nearly impossibly high for those who craft today’s multifaceted campaigns.
  4. Arousal - Content that evokes high-arousal emotions is much likelier to be sought after and shared.
  5. Measurement - This may seem self-serving given that I run a research company, but I can report from the front lines that, in my experience, great campaigns achieve this status with the help of advertising research.


Smart marketers and their research agency partners also are enhancing their understanding of what drives ad performance with the additional data sets that digitally delivered media and two-way communications provide (e.g., behavioural and social).


Creating seek and share advertising is a daunting task, with each step in the process demanding. It’s painstakingly hard to land on a unique, piercing insight, create a powerful story with the brand integrated, bring this to life with craft genius and highly arouse emotions. Perhaps catching lightning in a bottle would be easier.


Nevertheless, brave marketers and their agency and media partners are setting their sights on this new holy grail — and the outsized rewards that seek and share advertising can provide.

The author(s)

  • Peter Minnium Media Development, US

Media & Brand Communication