Peter Falcone
Peter Falcone 26 February 2019

Four Steps to Achieve Healthier Creative

Here are four steps to data-driven creative optimisation that will give marketing budgets a real workout this year.

With 68% of adults motivated to eat more healthily to control their weight, new opportunities are emerging for the wellness industry to attract prospects and fill up its sales funnels. Even Robbie Williams started the year with a plan from WW, formerly Weight Watchers, as he took the role of a global brand advocate.     

To make the most of this nutrition awareness trend, where consumers are more receptive to messaging around healthier lifestyles, wellness brands are pushing themselves to ensure digital advertising reaches the right people via the most effective channels. But optimising audience and media is only part of the challenge. To make marketing budgets work efficiently and drive measurable outcomes, brands also need to pay attention to ad creative, ensuring it resonates with the potential customers it reaches. Here are four steps to data-driven creative optimisation that will give marketing budgets a real workout this year.

Step one: Measure creative performance

Understanding the need to assess the impact of different creatives, Weight Watchers (WW) partnered with Flashtalking, using statistical modelling and predictive analytics to measure the performance of its upper funnel ads and their creative versions. The results were remarkable, with the highest performing creatives nine times more efficient than the lowest performing versions. Marketers are largely aware some creatives are more effective than others, for example WW ads including photos of men have less impact than ads featuring WW meals, but brands are often unaware of the size of the performance gap between the best and the worst creatives.

Step two: Use conversion-based metrics  

To effectively measure the performance of creative versions, brands need to use the right metrics. Click-through rate (CTR) is frequently used to assess creatives but this metric has multiple drawbacks. First it assumes an ad has no value unless it is clicked on, which ignores the impact creative can have on brand awareness and recognition, and secondly it doesn’t distinguish between intentional and accidental clicks, so brands may invest more heavily in creatives that are being clicked on by mistake. In reality there is no correlation between CTR and performance, with the best performing creatives often receiving the lowest volume of clicks and the worst performing versions receiving the most.    

Instead of relying on CTR, or other proxy metrics such as dwell time or engagement rates, brands need a more effective approach to creative measurement. Using multi-touch attribution solutions that assess the impact of each touch point along the customer journey, brands can use meaningful metrics such as actual conversion impact to determine a creative’s propensity to influence either a purchase or an indication of purchase intent.   

Step three: Control for performance bias

The impact of a digital ad is influenced by a combination of audience, media, and creative, so to successfully measure the performance of creative alone, brands must be able to control for bias in the other two elements.

For instance, an ad for a wellness brand will always perform better when delivered to consumers who show a specific interest in developing a healthier lifestyle, no matter how good or bad the creative is. Equally a single ad placed prominently on a page relating to health and fitness will have a greater impact than one served within the clutter of multiple other creatives on a web page with totally irrelevant content. To achieve meaningful results from creative analysis, brands need to take these distorting factors out of the equation, controlling for both audience and media bias.   

Step four: Optimise campaigns for creative efficiency

When it is based on the right metrics and is free from bias, the insight gained from creative measurement can be used to optimise campaigns in-flight, as well as to determine future marketing strategy. When brands understand how individual images, concepts and copy lines in creative versions are performing, they can modify creative distribution and rotation to achieve the best return on investment.   

For instance, in measuring its ads, WW discovered 40% of creatives over-performed but accounted for less than a quarter of impressions, while 60% under-performed but accounted for over three quarters of impressions. This insight allowed the brand to remove the lowest-performing creatives, and increase the rotation of best-performing versions, achieving significant cost savings through optimisation of both media and content.   

They may not have a superstar like Robbie promoting their services, but all brands can make their marketing budgets work harder by measuring and refining digital advertising creative as well as audience and media. By understanding the performance gap between good and bad creatives, using conversion-based metrics, and controlling for audience and placement bias, brands can generate insight to optimise ad creative and achieve ultimate efficiency.     

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