By Eric Seufert
Automated campaign management makes it even more important for mobile marketing teams to test their ad creatives. To produce performant ad creatives, advertisers need to follow a six-step process that is regular, accountable, and predictable.
- Summary Notes
- The importance of creative in mobile marketing
- The importance of testing ad concepts and variants.
- The difficulty of generating new ideas for ad concepts.
- A framework for testing ad creatives.
- The mean performance of an ad creative portfolio can be increased by replacing ads before they start to degrade.
- The creative process needs to be regular to be productive
- The creative process needs to have accountability to be successful
The importance of creative in mobile marketing
"What has changed now is that Google and Facebook can target and segment groups of users so much more specifically and efficiently with their automated optimization schemes — AEO and VO on Facebook and Google’s UAC — that testing very many ad creative variants against every segment of potential audience is now possible."
Before, it wasn't possible to test a lot of different ad creatives against every potential audience segment. But now, with Google and Facebook's automated optimization schemes, it's possible to test a lot of different ad creatives against every potential audience segment. This is important because it means that you can find the best ad creative for each specific audience segment, which will lead to better results for your campaigns.
"When a marketing team was tasked with creating targeting segments manually, they didn’t test every possible combination because doing so would be 1) very cumbersome and time-consuming, 2) expensive (it costs money to test!), and 3) likely unprofitable (the vast majority of segments won’t perform well)."
In the past, when marketers had to manually create targeting segments, they couldn't test every possible combination of interest and demographic targets because it would be too time-consuming, expensive, and likely unprofitable. However, now that Facebook and Google can automatically create these segments, it's possible to test a wide variety of ad creatives against each segment to see what works best. This is why creative production is so important in automated campaign management.
"Now, Facebook and Google construct these segments for advertisers based on insight into how other apps perform but also based on very rapid evaluation of performance benchmarks (clicks, video views, etc.) that gradually progress towards ROAS (see this QuantMar thread for more background on how Facebook’s targeting algorithm works)."
Facebook and Google create ad segments based on how well other apps perform, as well as how well the ad performs in terms of clicks, views, and other metrics. They gradually improve the ad so that it is more successful in terms of ROAS, or return on investment.
The importance of testing ad concepts and variants.
"There is an important distinction to make here between creative concepts and creative variants."
There is a difference between having an idea for an ad (a creative concept) and having a visually different version of that ad (a creative variant). It is important to distinguish between the two because it can be difficult to come up with new ideas for ad campaigns (creative concepts). Advertisers often look to popular creative themes for inspiration when trying to generate new ideas. However, the goal should be to come up with an idea that outperforms not just the advertiser's existing portfolio of ad creatives, but also the competition.
Testing ad concepts and variants can be a slow, time-consuming, and expensive process. However, having a streamlined and efficient creative production and testing process can be a massive competitive advantage. This is because it is the only way to maintain a high level of advertising performance.
"I define a creative concept as the narrative structure of an ad: it is the 'plot' of the creative, or the story that it is telling about the product."
The creative concept refers to the overall idea or story that an ad is trying to communicate about a product. This can be thought of as the 'plot' of the ad, in the sense that it is the overarching narrative structure that ties everything together. Coming up with new and innovative creative concepts is a difficult and important task in advertising, as it is what will ultimately make an ad stand out from the competition.
"I define an ad variant as some arrangement of a concept that is visually, perceptibly different from other arrangements."
An ad variant is a slight change to an ad concept that makes it visually different from other versions of the same concept. This could involve changing the color scheme, the placement of elements, or the overall layout. Although the changes may be small, they can have a big impact on how effective the ad is.
"The challenge in building a scaled, efficient creative production process is often more related to consistently coming up with new concepts than it is of delivering variants on concepts."
It is harder to come up with new, innovative ad concepts than it is to simply create variations of existing concepts. This is because coming up with new ideas is a difficult and time-consuming task, while creating variations of existing ideas is relatively easy.
This is an important point to consider when trying to build a successful and efficient advertising campaign. If you want your ads to stand out and be successful, you need to focus on coming up with new and unique concepts. simply creating variations of existing ads is not going to be enough.
"Generating ideas for creative concepts is difficult: manifesting a whole, unique idea from nothing is arduous."
It is difficult to come up with new creative concepts, because it is hard to create something new and unique from scratch. This is a challenge that faced by many advertisers, because it is difficult to consistently come up with new ideas that will perform better than existing ad creatives.
The difficulty of generating new ideas for ad concepts.
"Some advertisers look to popular creative themes for inspiration [...] and that can be a fruitful strategy, but the real goal in producing a consistent stream of new ad concepts should be to come up with an idea that outperforms not just an advertiser’s existing portfolio of ad creatives but of everything in the market."
While it can be helpful for advertisers to take inspiration from other popular ads, their ultimate goal should be to create ads that are even better than what is already out there. This is a tall order, but it's important to strive for this level of excellence if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
"The advertiser should seek to introduce a creative that stands out among competitive ads and creates outsized results for the advertiser."
The goal of producing a successful ad is to create something that is significantly better than the competition. This means that the ad should not only be visually appealing, but also tell a story that resonates with the audience and compels them to take action.
A framework for testing ad creatives.
"In this QuantMar thread, I introduced a simple framework for testing ad creatives: starting with concepts, progressing into themes, and ending with variants: "
This is a quote from a thread on the QuantMar forums discussing a framework for testing ad creatives. The framework starts with concepts, then progresses into themes, and finally into variants. This allows advertisers to ensure that the best possible version of an idea is surfaced from amongst many possible permutations of it.
"This framework allows the advertiser to be sure that the best possible version of an idea is surfaced from amongst many possible permutations of it."
This framework provides a way to test ad creatives so that the best possible version of an idea is found. This is important because it allows the advertiser to improve their ad creatives and stay ahead of the competition.
"But a streamlined and efficient creative production and testing process is also a massive competitive advantage, because building a conveyor belt of outperforming ad creatives is the only way to maintain an elevated average level of advertising performance."
If you want to be successful in advertising, you need to have a process in place that allows you to consistently create ads that outperform your competition. This is no easy feat, and requires a lot of time, effort, and money. However, if you are able to do it, it will give you a huge advantage over other advertisers.
The mean performance of an ad creative portfolio can be increased by replacing ads before they start to degrade.
". . . new ads tend to outperform old ads simply because they are new: users are more receptive to something they are seeing the first time than to something they have seen multiple times by definition."
Generally, new ads will perform better than old ads, because people are more likely to pay attention to something they're seeing for the first time, rather than something they've seen multiple times.
"What an advertiser should seek to do with an ad creative production process is to increase the mean performance of its portfolio of ads by replacing ads before they start to degrade."
Advertisers should aim to keep their ads fresh and up-to-date, so that they can maintain a high level of performance. To do this, they should replace ads before they start to lose effectiveness. This will help to create a more stable growth for the company.
"In this QuantMar thread, I talk about the ad creative lifecycle and what I call a creative's 'Half Life': the point after which performance degrades precipitously because of saturation."
An ad creative's "half life" is the point after which an ad's performance starts to significantly decline due to people having seen it too many times. The author is saying that it's important for advertisers to replace their ads before they reach this point, in order to keep their average performance level up.
"By pre-empting a creative's half life with another creative — that is, by replacing an active, deteriorating creative with a new creative before its performance degrades dramatically — an advertiser can increase the mean creative performance across its portfolio of ads."
If you want to have good average performance across all of your ads, you should proactively replace your ads before they start to perform badly. Doing this will help keep your ad performance more stable.
"It's easy to see how a creative process that maintains average performance by replacing aging, deteriorating creative with new, tested, performant creatives helps foster stable growth for a company."
It is beneficial for a company to have a system in place where they are constantly replacing old, declining ads with new, fresh ads. This helps to keep the average performance level of the company's ads stable, which in turn leads to more predictable and manageable growth.
The creative process needs to be regular to be productive
"A good cadence for a creative process is weekly; any longer than that and the turnaround times on creative and the lag between concept ideation and testing get too long to be useful;"
It's important for the creative process to happen on a regular basis, ideally on a weekly basis. This is because if the process takes too long, it will be less useful in terms of producing new, tested, and validated ad creative.
"This sense of timing can help an advertiser to plan the number of creative concepts they need to produce each week in order to satisfy demand for replacement creatives."
According to the author, a good way to ensure that you always have fresh, high-performing ad creatives on hand is to plan ahead by generating a certain number of concepts each week. This way, even if some of the creatives don't perform as well as hoped, you'll still have others that you can use instead.
"If the advertiser wants to simply maintain performance and replace ad creatives when they reach a certain level of performance degradation, then they can use their 'hit rate' of creative performance - that is, the percentage of creatives that prove in test to be worthy of being deployed into active campaigns - to get from the number of creatives needed each week to the number of concepts that need to be produced each week."
If an advertiser wants to maintain the performance of their ad creatives, they can use the hit rate (the percentage of creatives that are successful in tests) to determine how many concepts they need to generate each week.
The "hit rate" of creative performance is the percentage of creatives that are successful in testing and are deployed into active campaigns. This number can be used to determine how many concepts need to be generated each week in order to maintain a consistent level of performance.
"...the advertiser needs to generate five concepts (5 Variants per Concept / 0.2 Hit Rate = 25 ad creative variants) each week in order to satisfy its demand for ad creatives."
This means that if an advertiser wants to maintain a certain level of performance, they need to generate 5 new concepts each week. Each concept will be turned into 5 variants, and of those variants, only 1 is likely to perform well enough to be deployed into an active campaign.
"The best way to come up with this number is to work backwards up the funnel from the number of ad creatives that are being retired each week."
Plan for the number of creative concepts you need to generate each week. You start by looking at how many ad creatives are being retired each week, and then work backwards to figure out how many concepts you need to generate. This is important because it helps you to keep a regular cadence for your creative process, which is necessary for maintaining optimal productivity.
"An advertiser can't quickly produce creatives to meet an immediate need, so it must consistently operate this process in order to pre-empt future performance degradation."
This quote is emphasizing the importance of having a consistent creative process in order to prevent future performance issues. As an advertiser, you can't simply produce creatives on an as-needed basis; you need to be consistently generating new concepts and ad variants in order to keep your campaigns running smoothly. If you don't have a regular process in place, you'll likely run into problems down the road when you need new creatives and don't have any.
The creative process needs to have accountability to be successful
"Each person involved in the process should have a clearly-defined role in it, and everyone in the creative working group should be able to depend on those people to complete their assigned tasks."
The creative process should have clearly defined roles for each team member, so that everyone knows what is expected of them. This will help the team to be more efficient and productive, as everyone will know what they need to do and when they need to do it.
"The creative working group should establish a specific number of creatives to be delivered on a regular time interval."
The creative working group should produce a set number of creatives each week to maintain a regular cadence. This will help to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of creatives to meet future demand.