NEW YORK: Marketers must reflect the "tone and direction" of any new digital channels they experiment with – a strategy that paid dividends for Audi when using Snapchat, the messaging app.

While speaking at the Ad Age Digital Conference 2014, Anna Russell, general manager/brand marketing at Audi USA, told delegates that authenticity was absolutely essential.

"You judge the tone and direction of a conversation that you join in real life, and that's absolutely what you should do when you're joining a channel," she said

"You need to judge the tone and direction of that channel and that audience, and be appropriate." (For more details about how the automaker has used Snapchat, read Warc's exclusive report: How Audi used Snapchat to engage consumers.)

The firm followed just this approach as it took to Snapchat, an "ephemeral" messaging app where messages can be displayed on screens for less than ten seconds before permanently disappearing.

More specifically, the images it uploaded as part of a campaign activated on Super Bowl Sunday – but which deliberately focused on subjects other than the NFL showpiece – fit the fun, spontaneous nature of the app.

"If we'd come into Snapchat with a beautifully-crafted, Instagram-type image, it just wouldn't have worked. It would have been jarring. That's not what that platform is like," said Russell.

Effectively executing such marketing efforts requires a willingness to take risks, alongside giving in-house and external teams the ability to think and act quickly, she added.

"You really have to be able to empower your teams and empower your agencies to bring those innovations to life and help sell them in up the chain," said Russell.

In turn, achieving that goal also has its challenges, given that examples of best practice – and appropriate metrics – are not always readily available for emerging digital tools.

"There's an element of faith that comes into play, but it's important to know those risks," Russell advised.

Data sourced from Warc