It’s no secret that over the past few months digital media spend has taken a serious hit. This is clear from the fact that most of the major platforms have been posting ad revenue numbers showing either a YoY decrease, or a growth percentage much lower than generally expected.
This slowdown, decline, slump—whatever you wanna call it—is being driven by a number of factors; both economic and political. Luckily, I’m not here to talk about these. Instead, this article offers a few thoughts, mixed in with some pragmatic advice—from a creative perspective—to marketers who’re looking to regain ad performance when confronted with a smaller media budget.
First things first…
Creative needs to work harder
With tighter purse strings and weaker targeting capabilities hitting marketers from both sides, creative has been cast into the spotlight as an area where a resistance can be mounted.
After all, we know that creative has the largest influence over sales of any advertising factor; more than targeting, reach and recency—combined. Therefore, if you’re striving to retain, regain or increase your campaign performance; having strong creative should be a top priority.
“Strong creative” is obviously quite vague, and many of the best practices for achieving quality creative are dependent upon your industry, target demographic, campaign objective, and so on and so forth. That being said, here are two universal creative strategy tips that should be applied to all creative assets regardless of your specifics…
Tip #1 - Ensure creative is optimized
There is no cookie cutter approach to ad creative on digital—each platform is different. So, when you go to build your creative, you need to follow the unique best practices that apply to your chosen placement(s). This goes beyond using the correct aspect ratio. Best practices also give directives on what visual techniques to employ, how much copy to use, where to use your logo and what the sweet spot is in terms of duration. This list goes on and on, and constantly changes as developments are made by the platform.
This can get confusing—especially when you’re running campaigns across a number of different platforms, with each requiring their own unique assets—however, running unoptimized creative is only going to hamper your performance potential, sometimes drastically. So, when you’re trying to up your performance, optimization is an absolute necessity.
Tip #2 - Refresh creative assets regularly
The shelf life of creative on digital—especially social—platforms has become lower and lower. Audiences are accustomed to being frequently presented with new, original content; meaning ads fatigue quickly. To avoid this, advertisers need to ensure that they’re refreshing their assets at regular intervals.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scrap everything and launch something entirely new. You can make slight adaptations to the messaging, the visuals, or the music of your creative to revitalize your campaign and keep audiences engaged.
This does however mean you will need to take an always-on approach to your creative production where you’re constantly producing and adapting new assets for your digital campaigns.
Which leads us on to the fact that…
It's not just your creative, it's how you build it
Taking an always-on approach to digital creative, whilst also ensuring that each asset is optimized for its intended placement, sounds easy enough on paper. In reality it’s not so straightforward. This is because creative production methods haven’t kept pace with the demands of the fast-moving digital media landscape.
This is why if you’re looking to focus efforts into your creative as a way of making up for lost performance, you need to look at your creative processes as well as the creative assets themselves. If the former is up-to-scratch, the latter becomes a lot easier. In other words: in order for you to have quality creative assets, you need a suitable production process in place.
Now, you might already have this. And if you do, that’s great! However, if you’re finding it difficult to ensure you have optimized assets for all of your platforms, or you’re unable to turnaround new creative quick enough to avoid ad fatigue: your production methods likely need changing.
At Shuttlerock, our CaaS (Creative as a Service) solution was built specifically to help brands who’re in this position. Modernizing the digital creative production process, CaaS combines people, processes and technology in a unified manner to enable advertisers to quickly and cost-effectively produce high-quality ad creative at scale.
One of the key features of CaaS that I’d like to give a special mention to—especially when we’re talking about economic uncertainty and budget pressures—is that it 1) is significantly more affordable than traditional creative production models, and 2) it operates on a fixed-cost subscription basis. The latter being especially important as it provides cost-certainty, enabling marketers to plan their creative budget with confidence.