The importance of ad creative cannot be understated. The creative is what users see, after all is said and done. It’s the creative, and not anything else, that’s ultimately responsible for people clicking (or not clicking) on an ad.
Especially now, when two of the largest ad networks have the capability of creating high-performing ad variations from distinct creative elements (we are, of course talking about Facebook Automated App Ads and Google App Campaigns), campaign optimization is driven by the assets more than by anything else.
Yet while it’s undeniably crucial to fill your marketing funnel with high-performing ad creative, the creative-centric processes are still considered by many to be arcane, governed by unquantifiable concepts such as creativity and talent.
There’s a cost to this way of thinking. And only when you analyze enough creative assets, can you begin to see it. We have. Working with over 15,000 assets a day, and having access to the entire marketing funnel around them, had enabled us to see the hidden cost of not being able to measure creative performance properly.
Somewhat counterintuitively, the problem lies in both these numbers. Ideally, an organization should strive to eliminate both underperformers and overperformers. With the former category dragging down the average CTR, the best creative becomes an outlier rather than the norm.
To show how widespread this problem is, it isn’t enough to look just at spend allocation for one KPI, so we’re going to go further than that. After all, it might be a few rotten apples with bad performance dragging the spend down. Well, it’s not, because when we look at the numbers of underperforming creative, here’s what we see:
As you can see, these trends cross verticals, with only Delivery getting close to the average and the median CTR being close to each other.
Right now, you might correctly claim that not all advertisers optimize towards CTR. But when looking at another upper funnel metric, as well as one of the most important lower-funnel metrics, the picture is eerily similar.
Why does this happen? Because dealing with ad creative without specialized tools is incredibly difficult. There are production, measurement, management and optimization challenges throughout the entire lifecycle of any creative asset.
- A lot of underperforming creative is being produced, as ideation and production are often based on a whim or a vague idea, rather than data.
- Testing is inefficient and costly.
- Taking creative-level actions is slow and difficult, as performance isn’t tracked across all instances of the asset on all ad networks.
- Fatigue is often detected late, especially with cross-channel concepts.
These problems scale as your company gets larger. To show this, we’ve looked at the average number of creative assets per app at various levels of monthly spend.
As you can see, the bigger the spend, the more assets companies need. This is because there’s only so much a single creative asset can do. You can’t scale indefinitely with your breakout asset, simply because it’ll reach the fatigue stage too quickly.
But do creative problems necessarily scale as your business grows? Recent developments in marketing technology attempt to address this exact problem. New tools aim to aggregate creative data and automate both the extraction of actionable insights and cross-channel creative management. For example, our Bidalgo Creative Center is a suite which takes a creative-centric approach to help marketers conduct efficient testing, analyze creative assets across all channels they’re used in, detect fatigue and much more.
Optimization is everywhere
Even before getting into the nitty gritty of creative optimization, marketers can utilize more generalized creative-centric insights to help drive their KPIs. These might not maximize the potential of every creative, but they are a good first step. Here are just some insights you can uncover when you look at a lot of creative assets.
Video length matters
It’s hardly surprising. What’s interesting is that different lenghts work best depending on your goals. Here are the highest-performers across our assets.
Aspect ratio matters too
When producing new creative, should you consider landscape, portrait, or square? The square, 1:1 aspect ratio, is the most popular one by far among the dozens we see, with very strong dominance in some of the categories.
What other popular formats do we see?
Video reigns supreme
But what about the asset types themselves? Unsurprisingly, it’s all about video these days.
What about playable ads?
Very few categories currently utilize playable HTML 5 ads. We see the most of these in Games, with a very small presence in Entertainment and Financial Services categories. When talking about playable ads, it’s better to avoid clicks and focus on conversions. How do they compare? In Games, very favourably – much higher than images, and nearly identical to video ads. In other two categories, we see playables smack in the middle between images and videos.
And so, if you’re promoting a non-game app and care about upper-funnel, interactive HTML 5 ads might be a solution that’s not only more effective than image ads but also unique for your app category, and therefore more memorable.
Optimize, optimize, optimize
The one thing we would like you to take away from these insights is that creative optimization is not only a challenge, but a great opportunity as well. There’s just so much space for optimization there, and marketers who are savvy enough to focus on this field will be able to get an edge over the competition.
At Bidalgo, we already see how customers who begin to use our Creative Center see improvements in their KPIs simply by having more actionable insights about their creative assets.
We have defined “underperforming” as having less than 75% of the average click-through rate (CTR) for a given app/network/format combination, and “overperforming” as having more than 125% of average CTR.