Wednesday, August 5th 2020

Don’t underestimate the power of the countdown in your creatives


If we started this article by telling you that there is only 6 minutes left before its access is restricted or paid, you probably would not put off your reading until later. Using the countdown timer method would, therefore, have created a sense of urgency in this situation.

Creating a sense of urgency

If there is one thing marketers constantly try to generate in their target customers, it’s this sense of urgency. Many different techniques are used to attempt to achieve this stage. These include the usual catchy phrases everyone has seen, for example: “Exclusive limited time offer”, “Only 3 units in stock” and “18 people are viewing this product page at the moment”, etc.

Many sites use similar urgency techniques, such as the popular travel booking site, which uses a bold, red and underlined font when a property is soon to be at its full occupancy, creating fear of missing out on an opportunity.

Club Med also uses the same technique, claiming it has enabled them to increase the number of reservations by 13% and revenue per visit by 18% since it was put in place (source

Amazon, on the other hand, understands the importance of delivery times and the control they have in the decision-making process. For example, they’ll say: “order it within 9:25 mins and receive your product tomorrow!” Who doesn’t want to purchase a product and get a next-day delivery at this day and age?

Sense of urgency advertising Amazon

Countdown is one such technique that can greatly increase the success of an online advertising campaign by creating a sense of urgency among your target customers – the infamous fear of missing out (FOMO) effect.

Here are some recommendations for making your programmatic campaigns more effective through the use of a countdown timer.

Advertise the end of a promotion rather than the start

Some advertisers tend to promote the days up to the promotion period, for example, “25% off store-wide in 3d 7h 43min”. This, however, is generally not recommended. Customers who were ready to buy now may decide to wait for your promotion’s dates and, therefore, potentially not end up returning because they forgot or they went elsewhere to complete their purchases. 

On the other hand, using the countdown method to create a sense of urgency as seasonal events approach can pay off (for example: Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday, Valentine’s Day, etc.).

Counting down the days up to your promotion

As a general rule, when you have a promotional offer, we recommend that you simply end the countdown timer on the end date of your promotion. For example, “20% off everything in-store! Only 3 days and 4 hours left to enjoy it!”.

If you really want to advertise the start of your sales period, then modify your creatives to promote the end date and thus create the sense of urgency to purchase.

Advertise the release of a new product

When your goal is to share the release of your long-awaited new product with your target audience, then the countdown method can prove to be very useful!

Apple has been doing this for years to announce the release date of its new phones or its famous Keynotes.

Another good example is automaker Tesla, which has been using the countdown technique since 2012 for its important announcements, including opening pre-orders to the general public. The countdown method helps create the infamous buzz that all marketers dream of!

Tesla countdown timer advertising

Pick the right campaign and stay honest

Don’t underestimate your target audience, and don’t try to fool them by constantly creating a sense of urgency. On the contrary, the countdown can act as a deterrent and can cause you to lose credibility. When a company constantly offers discounts, the value of their products are lowered.

Also, avoid creating false deadlines under the pretext that the impact of a previous countdown campaign was fruitful. Although the countdown method can have a positive impact on your sales thanks to the sense of urgency generated with your target customers, it’s neither ethical nor legal.

Take care of your ad quality

If you decide to use the countdown timer in your programmatic banner ads, make sure it is clear and visible. Remember your initial intention is to make a strong impact, so don’t be shy. The countdown timer itself should be a focal point of your creative ad. Additionally, opt for more impactful formats such as the 970×250 or 300×600 banner.

Don’t hesitate to perform A/B testing to compare your campaign performance with or without a countdown timer. Always make sure you measure conversions, it’s essential!

Curious to try the countdown timer?

Want to test the use of the countdown timer in your programmatic campaigns? District M makes it easy for you to add one to your creatives.

Please feel free to contact our team of experts for more information or to visit our section on our high impact programmatic formats.

Check out our solutions in action

Get in touch to schedule a live demo of our platforms with one of our dedicated experts.

Get in touch with one of our experts

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your business, reach out to us!