Technology and data have dominated programmatic media buying for years, but creative professionals have resisted technology past creative tools like Photoshop and Biteable.
The industry, however, is evolving. Creative agencies are leveraging technology as a competitive differentiator as well as a way to ensure messaging around complicated topics, such as the Covid-19 response, Black Lives Matter and climate change, are clear.
Creative professionals are shifting their mindsets from worrying about how new technology could stifle creativity to understanding how it can enhance the creative process and inform decisions.
Primary uses of creative technology have been limited to dynamic creative optimization and real-time A/B testing to determine the most effective images, formats, or texts for a given ad, or dynamic content generation, which uses data to personalize content. But there’s a significant opportunity to embrace tech to inform and measure creative quality and its impact on ad performance and brand equity.
Defining creative quality
For consumers, creative “quality” is subjective. But for brands and agencies, it's increasingly tied to performance. Large brand leaders that have followed in the footsteps of Facebook’s Brilliant Basics and YouTube’s ABCD ad formula are establishing their own best practices to drive performance while maintaining an open canvas.
The key to defining and measuring creative quality is to not treat it as one-size-fits-all. Why does using technology to determine if red outperforms blue in a banner ad matter if your brand colors are green and orange? As creatives continue to incorporate tech and data into their processes, they must develop standards and guidelines that are specific to their brand, industry and audience.
Process and results
It’s not always easy to understand why certain creative decisions have an impact, or if your digital KPIs are suitable proxies for creative effectiveness.
Earlier this year, CreativeX conducted a large-scale analysis of approximately one million digital advertisements from leading global CPG, beauty and alcohol brands. These ads drew in more than one trillion impressions over a two-year period. The goal was to determine whether ads that follow best practices for creative quality outperformed those that didn’t.
The findings were striking:
- High-quality, low CPM: The more an advertisement follows creative best practices, the cheaper the CPM. A 10% increase in the ad’s creative quality (according to metrics defined by the survey creator) is associated with a 2% decrease in CPM.
- Attention-grabbing: Across Facebook and Instagram, a 10% increase in creative quality is associated with a 4.8% decrease in cost per completed view (CPCV). The numbers are even more striking on Twitter and YouTube, where a 10% increase in quality leads to a 5.7% decrease in CPCV.
- More memorable: High-quality advertisements have a long-lasting impact. A 10% increase in creative quality for Facebook and Instagram ads is associated with a 2% increase in ad recall.
Advertising is won on the margins, and small changes can make the difference between success and failure. As more brands discover the gains achieved by using technology to benchmark creative, what was once taboo may soon become table stakes.
Anastasia Leng is founder and CEO of CreativeX.