How to Write an Advertising Case Study

How to Write an Advertising Case Study

Learning to write an advertising case study is crucial to your trade. For over a century now, advertising has been a key driver of the modern global economy. Almost every product and service on the planet relies on some form of advertising to reach its users. As technology advances and digital media gains prominence, advertising will be competitive.

But how can advertisers prove its efficacy? By using case studies to prove it works. An effective advertising case study for instance is a valuable sales and marketing tool. It allows you to explore key characteristics, meanings, and implications of an issue. It further helps to;

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  • Prove your capabilities as a solution provider
  • Explain your  business culture, products, and services to potential customers  
  • Focus on problems that clients encounter, analyze and solve them
  • Increase your brand credibility and authority
  • Drive conversions

The results of your case study are proof to potential clients of your expertise. Although creating a convincing and solid case isn’t an easy feat. You need comprehensive background details and veritable metrics to help drive conversions. 

To deepen your understanding of this valuable skill, keep reading as this article shares actionable tips on how to write a case study advertising.

What is a case study?

In general, case studies are detailed studies of specific subjects such as people, groups, events, behavior, etc. The detailed study relies on a research methodology to generate a deep understanding of an issue in its real-life context.  Case studies are useful because they go beyond simple testimonials and surveys.

For example, an advertising or marketing agency case study shows evidence of how a product or service helped a customer achieve a goal or fulfill a need.

What is the purpose of a case study?

Case studies identify the key issues of a case, analyze them using theoretical concepts and recommend a course of action. To be specific, case studies serve the following objectives. They are:

  • Handy tools to give holistic reviews of issues for the enactment of viable solutions. Due to the depth of research, data, and analysis, you can expect diverse perspectives. Unlike what you would get from testimonials or surveys which can be inaccurate or superficial.
  • Useful resources for sales and marketing campaigns. Instead of only issuing messages to prospects, case studies are credible proof points and the best way to close deals.
  • Leads to your brand evangelists or ambassadors. In the course of data collection, you’ll find people who swear by your brand. This is fantastic for endorsements as you can use them to prove that you deliver results.

Advertising Case Study

Types of case studies

Issues that need case studies have the following common features.

  • A decision-maker in need of an exhaustive solution
  • The problem description
  • Question and answer sections 
  • Supporting data

Since case studies are driven by different research questions or phenomena, they have different definitions. Thus, each case study takes the shape of the overall study purpose. There are two major kinds of case studies: problem-solving case studies and descriptive case studies.

Problem-solving case studies are used to investigate a problem or situation in a particular individual or group. Thereafter recommending a solution to the problem based on analysis and theory.  Descriptive case studies are used to understand a situation better. For instance, they identify what happened and why by describing particular aspects of that situation.

They then analyze all these aspects in terms of theoretical categories. A descriptive study may be used to help people decide on how to carry out another case that has similar features.  Types of problem-solving case studies are;

1.    Explanatory

Explanatory case studies help to explain phenomena, causal relationships and develop theories. They’re useful in situations where the issue is too complex for experimental studies or survey design. In these case studies, you’ll offer detailed facts of a case. Together with a discussion of alternative explanations that are congruent with the facts. 

2.    Exploratory

Exploratory case studies investigate issues that don’t have clear outcomes. They’re useful in situations where the research context isn’t clear or specific and where there’s a limitation on the choice of methodology. They’re often a precursor to an explanatory case study due to their broad focus.

3.    Descriptive 

A descriptive case study describes an issue or phenomenon and its occurrence in a real-life context. These descriptive case studies are notable for their focus and detail. They assess and scrutinize a case in depth based on its descriptive theory. The scrutiny stretches to include any question or proposition that comes up. 

4.    Single case  

These types of case studies are useful when;

  • There is a critical case in the testing a particular theory
  • The case itself is a unique or an extreme case
  • A single case is the representative/typical case
  • A case is a revelatory case (i.e. previously inaccessible for scientific examination) and 
  • A case is a longitudinal case (i.e. studying the same case at different points of time) 

5.    Multiple cases 

A multiple case study contains more than one single case and allows the exploration of differences within and between cases. 

6.    Intrinsic

The intrinsic case study is convenient when you want an in-depth understanding of the actual case. You don’t want to rely on speculation, abstract concepts, or generic phenomena.

7.    Instrumental

Instrumental case studies are useful when you want to improve on an existing theory. You can also rely on it when you want to gain another insight besides an in-depth understanding of the actual case.

8.    Collective

These types of case studies boost general understanding by using a number of case studies. They’re similar to multiple case studies by their nature and descriptions.

Types of case study subjects

Every case study has a subject that can either be a;


A case study may choose to focus on a specific person. Using a select research methodology to get results.


Some case studies choose a group of people as their core focus. Either a family, co-workers, or friends in a certain age group.


There are case studies that focus on locations. Such case studies seek to establish how and why people prefer a particular location.


This type of case study seeks specific information about the company. This could be products or services, processes, number of employees, or more.


This type of case study focuses on an event, whether cultural or societal. Its interest is to ascertain information about the event’s impact on those it targets.

What makes a good case study?

A good case study has certain outstanding features such as:

1.   A goal

Identify solutions your case study will deliver. Though what’s critical is that can show the prospective customer that:

  • You’re comfortable in their industry and are in it for the long term
  • You understand their needs and are ready to provide reliable solutions
  • You’re trustworthy and consistent 

2.   A suitable subject

Your subject is the highlight of your case study and should be someone who resonates with your prospects. To ensure you have the right one, do the following;

  • Get buy-in

Some people may want to fact-check with the subject (where possible). So, ensure your subject wholly supports the case study. Their passion and reliability should be evident for continuous feedback.

  • Vet the subject

Even with their abundant passion for the product or service, can you rely on them to tell the real story? Ensure the subject understands the value and reason for the case study. More so, that they maintain consistency when requested for feedback and fact checks.

  • Correct data

Part of vetting also includes ensuring your subject has factual information to back your results. Don’t use broad sweeping statements. Get real numbers and statistics. 

  • Target

Ensure that your subject fits the demographic or target of your focus. Ensure that their feedback is useful in weaving an emotional connection with prospects.

3.   Tell a story

A riveting story is a fantastic way to hook your target. Through your case study, your customer will be the hero, with their success attributed to the products or services. Some questions to cover in your case study are;

  • Who is the subject?
  • What’s their line of work or vocation?
  • What were the subject’s goals and needs?
  • How did you satisfy those needs and help the subject succeed?

4.   Use a simple format

Sometimes pretty awesome content gets lost in terrible layouts and formatting. When preparing to document your case study, decide on the best format and presentation. Think of paragraphs, font style, size, and spacings. While presenting data in numbers and statistics, provide analysis and simple interpretations.

Let it look so good and easy to navigate that your target will want to read it to the end. The only way to do this is to include

  • Headers
  • Lists
  • Images, illustrations, audio clips, and videos

What is a case study in advertising? 

An advertising case study is also known as an agency case study. It’s a description by an advertising agency of how it delivers tangible results with proof from a specific real-life situation. That’s why case studies are useful in advertising and marketing. They go beyond simple Q & As and messages. An effective agency case study is a collaboration between client service/marketing, creative, and media (buying and PR) teams.

Digital advertising case studies are fantastic proof point for prospective clients to view your ability at delivering results. Below is a case study where target digital advertising was successful.

Disabled Go Case Study

DisabledGo provides information for differently-abled people in UK and Ireland. They provide information on 120,000+ places to go with optimal accessibility like bars, parks, cafes, museums, and more.

Agency51 was tasked with helping DisabledGo execute an SEO migration strategy from an old platform to a new platform. The goal was to help DisabledGo acquire new customers while still retaining old ones.

They made sure that the transition was swift and smooth from an SEO point of view. For a clear illustration, they implemented 301 redirects from old URLs to new ones across various forms of content. 301 sends readers and search engines to a different URL than the one that was requested by the server.

301 redirections ensure readers migrate to a new page while you retain 90-99% of the ranking power in search. They also transferred metadata (titles, descriptions, and tags) to the new site, set up Google webmaster tools, and set up a new sitemap.

The project’s goal was to keep the site’s SEO alive during the transition. It further served to ensure readers could access information and navigate the site as usual.

Agency51 helped DisabledGo boost their visitor numbers by 21% year over year. As a result of the URL restructuring, ranking improved drastically. DisabledGo ranked high for keywords and phrases in its niche to beat competitors.

Who uses an advertising case study?

An advertising case study is useful to an advertising agency as a sales and marketing tool. The agency uses case studies to target and converts potential advertisers. A digital marketing agency case study, for instance, helps you generate leads.

It does this by focusing on how you helped a customer succeed by meeting their marketing goal. Instead of focusing on a client as the hero, your marketing case study details campaign goals, approach, and results. More details project you as an authority in your industry. This endorsement will pave the way for leads that trust your expertise.

Here’s an example of marketing case studies with solutions

Coca-Cola is famous for its revolutionary advertising. The brand launched its “Share A Coke” advertising campaign in the U.S. with 250 of the most common U.S. millennial names. The goal of this strategy was to market its product to individual consumers.

According to statistics, more than 125,000 social media posts went viral between June and July 2014.  12% of online conversations about the Coca-Cola brand during that period were attributed to the advertising campaign.

Another one of such marketing case studies with solutions was Lawrence of Morocco’s campaign. The firm a travel agency for bespoke Morocco tours created a concept around the Game of Thrones (GoT) final series shoot in Morocco.

They gained traction from the GoT buzz by designing and promoting a map with listings. The map’s listings featured all the filming locations found in the Game of Thrones series. The marketing campaign brought over 11,300+ visits to the website and outlets in top-tier publications like Washington Post, Mashable, and Business Insider.

Native advertising is also another form of advertising. Native advertising is like paid corporate communications content (which isn’t ethical in journalism). Some advertisers like it though, for its high value and well-researched content.

Native advertising passes the authenticity test by aligning to a publication’s editorial style and tone. It further provides the kind of information the publication’s readers expect.  Statistics show that brands are keen to use native advertising as part of wider promotional efforts.

Here’s an example of a native advertising case studyForbes publishes native advertising by financial institutions. This article by Fidelity Investments appeals to Forbes readers. It has real substance because it outlines the pros and cons of both monthly payment and lump sum pension buyout options.

The article goes on further to back up the information with real hard numbers on inflation rates. It also shares an analysis of why accepting pension buyout offers affects your tax status. Despite knowing the article is native advertising; readers appreciate its valuable content.  

How to write an advertising case study 

1.   Planning and preparation 

Start by reviewing the brief to understand the requirements and expected results. It’s important that you gain an in-depth understanding of the issue, product, or service. Another thing, carry out research on your subject and other customers. 

Get them to share memorable accounts of how the product or service helped them achieve a goal. As much as possible, involve the key players from the sales and marketing teams and the advertising agency because they’re the project custodians. Remember: An effective case study helps a product or service build trust and grow its influence. 

2.    State the case study objectives

Rewrite the objectives for the advertising campaign to ensure you’ve internalized them. Then, write your S.M.A.R.T. goals for the case study. You must meet the required objectives. For instance, if the advertising campaign wants to break into a new market and achieve an awareness level of 8%, then that’s what you should deliver or more.

3.    Define your audience 

Describe the target audience and its awareness of the issue, product, or service at hand. The description should include details like age, sex, location, income, occupation, and any other relevant detail. If there’s a section of the audience that requires special attention, ensure it’s indicated. 

Next, outline the media buying and PR strategy. This should detail the media by order of priority and relevance to the target audience. It should be clear from this information what informed the media selection and whether it’s the most cost-effective plan to reach the target audience.

4.    Present the creative and media placement strategy

Present the creative strategy and show the visuals. Explain the concept and why it will achieve the desired results. You can also show how the media placement strategy will aid in achieving results. Outline the key messages and how they resonate or relate to the target audience. Then describe the actions you want your targets to take once they view the advertisements.

5.    Indicate total costs 

Your advertising case study isn’t complete without an indication of cost and publication dates. You should also include a critical path showing the creative process and production of final advertisements. Finish by concluding with the key benefits of your advertising campaign and sharing your agency’s credentials.

Advertising campaign case study examples 

Example 1:


Langley Dental Clinic

Campaign Name:

Free Incentive with New Patient Appointment


November 1st – December 30, 2011


A Langley Dental Clinic wanted to create a print and digital media campaign as a marketing vehicle to increase brand awareness and stimulate new patient flow. Through a variety of integrated creative content, the campaign worked to reinforce awareness of the Dental Clinic’s signature branding messages and key services.


The goal for the dental clinics was to effectively differentiate themselves from local competitors through print, social media, website, and direct mail.


At the end of the promotion, the Dental Clinic had increased its patient base by 412.6%. In addition, their Facebook page received over 150 new “Likes” while their website received over 250 new unique page views.

The marketing tools and communication efforts were incredibly effective in driving sales, introducing new services, driving traffic to social media, and keeping existing patients engaged.

Example 2:

Campaign Name: Direct Mailout advertising New Patient Promotions

Duration: February 1, 2012 – March 31, 2012


The goal for the dental clinic was to effectively differentiate itself from local competitors through print, website, and direct mail.


The Campaign was created to reinforce awareness of Maple Place Dental’s community presence.  While also advertising the exclusive availability of Air Miles reward miles. The dental clinic’s primary objective was to dominate the local marketplace.  By increasing brand awareness, new patient promotion, and informing local residents about child sedation.


From the direct mailout alone, the dental clinic received well over 40 new patients. The marketing tools and communication efforts were incredibly effective in driving sales. They helped the clinic to:

  • Introduce new services
  • Increase traffic to social media
  • Maintain engagement with keeping existing patients

In summary

As you’ve seen an advertising case study is an essential business tool for an advertising or marketing agency. Case studies are more effective than any testimonial, survey, or fancy brochure out there. When writing advertising case studies remember to select the most appropriate subject. 

Tell a riveting story about the subject and ensure it’s as emotional as possible. Then enhance the readability of your case study by using a simple, easy-to-navigate format. Your advertising case study should also include visuals and a cost component.

If you would like help researching content or writing your advertising case study, contact us to get high-quality service.


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