How to Beat the Competition in a Click-and-Forget Automation World

By Doron Wagner

The arrival of Facebook’s Automated App Ads (AAA) is the newest harbinger of change in the online marketing industry. More and more campaigns can be practically click-and-forget, with few levers to pull and previously unheard-of automation levels.

This shift, which encompasses the entire industry, is just going to accelerate in the coming months and years. We’re not too far from the day when launching a hassle-free, efficient campaign is genuinely only one click away.

And this, of course, is the ideal situation for any media channel: the more accessible their tools are, the more people can use them. And with increased competition for every placement come increased profits.

As we’ve already mentioned in our posts before, the key to competitiveness in this ever-more automated landscape is the ad creative. Targeting and bidding might get automated, but creative elements are still fully controlled by marketers. The potential of a Facebook AAA ad, or a Google App Campaigns ad, is still limited by the quality of the creative, which the advertiser “feeds” to the machine.

Why Creative is Key

This isn’t just a guess. As one of the first to provide technology for advertisers on Google App Campaigns, we’ve assembled years-worth of insights about this kind of automation. All the talk about there being less control and higher competition — we see it every day.

Moreover, there are undeniable measurement challenges in this kind of environment. As ads are dynamically generated, there’s no clear asset-ad-ad set hierarchy that can be measured.

You should also remember that while creative is key to better performance in automated environments, it in itself is still a puzzle.

What makes good creative? How does one measure creativity? How does one track creative performance across channels and campaigns? As long as bidding and audiences were manual, with their own optimization potential, many marketers didn’t touch these questions. The results are apparent — too much spend goes towards suboptimal creative as we’ve covered this trend in our recent Creative Insights report for 2020.

What should you do

The deceptively-simple answer is: invest in your creative. Assets such as images, videos, and even texts should be continuously monitored and analyzed for performance throughout their lifecycle across every ad and campaign they’re in.

Adopting a creative-centric approach should refocus the prism through which you look at everything around them as well.

  • Find the right data, turn it into actionable insights. This will help you get a head start over your competition in terms of the quality of data and robustness of insights. Preferably, analyze concepts and specific creative across channels, as users often see the same ad in different places.

A creative-centric approach is doubly important when testing automated campaigns such as AAA. If you’re uncertain about the quality of your creative, each AAA test doubles as an inadvertent test of the asset, which muddles the insights. By implementing a creative-centric strategy in advance, you’ll be able to ensure that what you’re testing is what you want to test.

  • Establish a creative-centric language. When talking to designers about data-driven creative, it’s essential to tell them what works and what doesn’t. Growth and Design teams should have shared goals and KPIs. This way, designers can always understand the impact of their decisions and receive actionable insights to help guide their processes.

Automated campaigns will, by virtue of their automation, provide you with less granular data. To overcome this and get your designers the best actionable insights, we recommend using campaign analysis tools with data enrichment capabilities.

  • Implement efficient creative testing workflows. Creative testing is yet another process you will need to be successful in an automated world. There’s only so much you can do with each successful asset or concept, and the more you grow, the more of them you will need at any given moment. Learning how to recognize the best creative quickly and efficiently is the key to scaling.

While automated campaigns have some testing built into them by design, they’re no substitution to dedicated tools and workflows for creative testing.

  • Keep your hand on the pulse of the creative, not just the campaign. One of the things you will always need to be on the lookout for is creative fatigue. It comes even for the most successful assets, and recognizing fatigue early will enable you to retire these assets promptly.

Here, as elsewhere, the automated nature of AAA might encourage complacency. You should fight this urge and not leave creative-centric decisions only to the automated processes. The AI might know a lot, but its dataset is limited, while yours reaches across many different campaigns, channels and funnel stages. Here, cross-channel analysis is critical. A small dip in performance on one channel is far less significant than a small dip across every channel.

How to do this

Some of the things we’ve mentioned demand new workflows and a creative-centric mindset. These will take time and require both internal and inter-team adjustment. The sooner you start planning a creative-centric approach, the easier this shift will be. the more automation—the fewer levers there are to pull. And make no mistake, more automation is coming.

Other tasks can be accomplished with the right tools. This is where Bidalgo comes in — we have the experience, the know-how, and unique tools in our Creative Center and have been helping marketers produce, test, analyze, and optimize their creative to thrive in this click and forget automation reality.

Published on November 11, 2020
Written by
Doron Wagner

Director of Media Innovation @ Bidalgo.

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