Creative fatigue, the decline in ad performance that occurs when audiences are exposed to the same creative over and over again, is one of the major challenges being faced by today’s advertisers.
Advertisers have always had to contend with creative fatigue; however, the problem has been significantly amplified over the past few years, corresponding with the massive popularity of short-form video. Placements such as TikTok and Instagram Reels are shaking up the role that ads play in terms of their relationship to audiences and organic content.
Up until recently, there has always been a clear separation between ads themselves and the content that ad was placed within or around. In this case, the ad creative is essentially pitted against organic content, doing all it can to capture the audience's attention and deliver its message.
However, we’re seeing a different dynamic play out in environments such as TikTok and Instagram Reels. In these placements, the goal isn’t to engage audiences by standing out—it’s achieved by fitting in. This is done by matching the look and feel of the native short-form video content that the ad is placed within, essentially blurring the lines between paid and organic content.
How does this impact creative fatigue?
In a scenario where ad creative acts more as content—TikTok’s “don’t make ads, make TikToks” mantra encapsulates this—the shelf-life of these ads become much shorter. Running the same creative for too long—this can be as little as a week—will blow its cover, with audiences identifying it as an ad and subsequently swiping past in order to return to their regular flow of fresh content.
The solution to this is to have new creative at the ready. When performance starts to dip, you swap out the asset for a fresh one, keeping audiences engaged. However, having enough ad creative for this type of strategy requires a new approach to creative production.
Always-on creative production
Advertisers have traditionally produced their creative assets in intermittent chunks throughout the year. You work with your creative agency to produce what you need for the quarter, and that’s you sorted for the next few months. This approach doesn’t suit an environment where you need to be refreshing creative at a high frequency.
What you need instead is an always-on approach.
Instead of producing creative intermittently, always-on production sees you continually producing new creative, with fresh assets being in progress at all times.
This approach enables you to combat creative fatigue as it provides a continuous pipeline of new assets that you can draw upon to keep your ad campaigns fresh and engaging. It also means that there’s no lag time between the time when your creative starts to fatigue and the time in which you’re able to get new assets up and running—you have what you need already at hand, ready to deploy.
You may be thinking: why don’t I just bulk-produce assets a few times, then spread them out throughout the year? Whilst this approach may help you to avoid creative fatigue to some extent, an always-on approach will be much better at optimizing campaign performance due to the following reasons:
- Tap into trends: the always-on approach enables you to respond to trends and other market factors by adjusting your creative when needed. This is especially important in placements such as TikTok and Instagram Reels where a large amount of organic content is based around trends that come and go. Being able to quickly tap into these trends is extremely powerful for advertisers as it gives your creative a sense of authenticity, resulting in stronger engagement.
- Test & learn: always-on creative production is an iterative approach where you learn from the ads you’ve run in the past, using these learnings to inform the design of your next assets. This helps you to continuously optimize performance and refine creative in real-time.
Taking an always-on approach to combat ad fatigue requires you to think less like an advertiser, and more like a creator. This means releasing new content at a regular clip, staying on top of trends and audience preferences and learning as you go to improve with each new iteration.
Facilitating always-on production through creative subscriptions
Shifting to an always-on mode of creative production also calls for a change in how creative is charged. Traditional billable hours and unit-based creative costs aren’t suited to this continuous, high-volume, nature of always-on.
For always-on to run smoothly and easily, creative subscriptions are the best option.
Creative subscriptions—such as Shuttlerock’s CaaS solution—utilize SaaS-like pricing structures with fixed-price plans. When you’re always-on with your creative production, this is extremely helpful as there is no time lost getting extra budget approval or worrying about racking up incremental costs with each additional ratio or copy change. Prices are fixed, giving you a transparent, consistent view of incoming costs, allowing you to focus on producing assets at a regular cadence to stay ahead of creative fatigue.