From Facebook’s new 360-degree videos, which are now available to select brands as a new ad format, to Snapchat’s new Sponsored Lens offering, which allows brands to add custom filters to the Snapchat experience, marketers today face a constant stream of new ad products.

This is both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, new ad products that offer innovative new ways of reaching and engaging consumers are arguably a very good thing, particularly as traditional ad formats, like the lowly banner ad, continue to come under assault.

On the other hand, it is increasingly difficult for marketers to keep up and determine which new ad products are worth exploring further.

How can marketers cope? When looking to separate novelty from utility in new ad products, marketers should ask themselves a number of questions.

Which company is behind the ad product?

Established companies like Google and Facebook typically roll out new ad products in a controlled fashion and are careful not to open experimental products to general availability.

Less-established companies, including startups that are still looking to develop a viable revenue model, may be less disciplined and more likely to shutter products that were widely available.

Facebook’s new Lead Ads product

Snapchat, for instance, has even shuttered ad products for which there was reportedly good demand, a reminder that it’s important for marketers to look at the company behind a new ad product when evaluating the ad product itself.

Does this fit?

While marketers should be open to innovation, ascertaining whether a new ad product has any alignment to their existing goals and activities is important.

After all, if a new ad product doesn’t align to those existing goals and activities, there’s a real question as to whether a marketer should invest time and money in it, even if it is looks especially innovative or is attracting lots of attention.

Is there real potential to move the needle?

Assuming there’s visible alignment between existing marketing activities and a new ad product, marketers should assess whether the product has the potential to move the needle.

Obviously, there are a lot of things that marketers can’t control when adopting new and unproven ad products, but even so, it’s important for marketers to realistically assess the means by which the product could help drive metrics the it has deemed important.

Whether looking for increased social engagement or sales, marketers should be careful about new ad products for which they can’t see a realistic path to meaningful results.

Can this teach us something?

If marketers look only at alignment to existing activities and expect evidence that a new ad product is a sure winner, they are bound to miss game-changing ad products.

For this reason, marketers should also evaluate the potential of a new ad product to teach it lessons of value. 

For instance, a marketer that believes virtual reality (VR) may be an important marketing technology in the future may find it worthwhile to experiment with a VR ad product even if it doesn’t have significant existing investments in that area. 

Assessing the educational value of new ad products also has an ancillary benefit.

Because not every new ad product is successful, marketers cannot expect that their investments will have a long-term payoff beyond what they learn from them.

For further information on new social ad products, read: