When it comes to marketing – and especially digital marketing – the uninitiated will usually think of a specific asset. Whether this is a photo, a video, or a very well-thought-out pun within the text asset varies from person to person, it’s always the first thing to pop into their heads when it comes to marketing.
However, to those of us that work in this field, creative assets are usually something of an afterthought. We consider everything else at length: the targeting, the location, the platform, the tracking, and so forth, only then to consider what the asset will be. Often, the creative assets are done by a third party, and our clients only approve it before it’s sent out to us: ready to go live. However, these designer agencies often do not have the know-how to work with digital assets.
Because of this, here at Mediaflowzz, we have a few tricks up our sleeves when it comes to making sure we can get the best possible outcome for our clients, including considering creative assets. Let’s start with the basics:
Before the campaign
- Align with the client and the designer agency about creative expectations from the get-go.
Because the designer of the images and videos often hasn’t worked with a specific platform beforehand, it’s important to communicate to them what’s expected. Doing a creative asset for TikTok should be much different from doing one for Facebook, for example. So before every campaign make sure whoever is doing the creatives is aware of best practices and expected sizes before they are even briefed on content. A creative for TikTok (for example) should be a specific size, feel native to the platform, and avoid text on the zones where the buttons are – all this information needs to be relayed to them before the work has even begun.
- Creative assets should always be delivered a few days before a campaign is set to start.
When we receive the creatives, it’s important to have the time to guarantee we have everything we need to launch the campaign. While briefing is important, it’s possible that things slip through the cracks: it is impossible to launch a Youtube campaign if the description for the asset is above the character limit, for example. If the creatives are not delivered ahead of time, we often do not have the chance to check them first, and this is only discovered as we’re setting up the campaign. In between sending this back to the client, to sending it back to the designer, so they can send us new copies: it might be too late, and the campaign launch is delayed. Especially on time-sensitive campaigns, we need to always make sure that we have everything we need a few days before we need it.
- Align your expectations with the client on creative testing results vs performance results.
It is often the case that what is best for the campaign as a whole precludes insights on creative testing. For instance, if you add several smaller countries to the targeting, the budget might be more evenly split, however, you will not be able to ascertain which creatives are working better in which country. Align your expectations beforehand with the client to make sure they understand this dichotomy. If their goal is to figure out which creatives should be used on a larger scale campaign later on, for example, let them know the performance might suffer for it.
Once the campaign has started
- Creative refreshes according to best practices per platform – Always make sure that you have enough creatives to refresh according to platform policy. While your client might not be able to give you the number of creatives you asked for, compensate for it and keep things in check. If you have a campaign that’s supposed to last for a month on Twitter, and you have four creatives, you can consider launching two and doing a creative refresh mid-campaign, or refreshing the campaign once per week. What should not be done is to launch all four creative assets at once, and hope for the best. Creative burnout can cause a massive negative impact on your campaign, and you should always make sure to avoid it whenever possible. Each platform has its own time to refresh – ranging from one week to three months – always make your plan based on this information.
- Creative Analysis and Optimization – Make sure to check how your creatives are performing weekly and optimize accordingly. Most platforms take at least one week to finalize their machine learning, so make sure not to re-optimize something before you have a chance to see if something is actually working.
Some platform-by-platform tips
- Facebook: A combination of image and video assets works best on this platform, instead of having only images or only videos as ads. It should be refreshed every 2 weeks (1-month max). We usually have a maximum of 4 creative assets (ads) per Ad Group, as more than that usually causes the platform to “choke” – and then it only serves one or two ads and doesn’t serve the rest enough. Four ads should be low enough that all of them serve, and high enough that we can have creative testing and insights. The platform works by “memorizing” old creatives. Therefore, an old creative that stayed live will usually outperform a new creative for the first few weeks. If (for example) only one of the creatives in an ad group was refreshed (out of 4), then it should not be replaced again for at least 3 weeks – by then we should be able to tell if the creative is not working, or if the platform is just preferring the older creatives.
- Google platforms (ACi, Discovery, and GDN): Creatives inside the ads should be replaced slowly, every 2-3 months. If you replace the whole ad, it upsets the system and it takes some time for performance to bounce back. Make sure to only pause the worst-performing creatives, and leave the system to do the creative learning. For ACi: Do not underestimate copies – they make up most of the platform installs and are extremely useful – not to mention cost-effective. Other than copies, videos work best – with images lagging far behind.
- Twitter should be refreshed every couple of weeks. Images and Videos perform very differently on Twitter depending on which campaign and the ad groups should be monitored closely.
Before you go:
Remember that the creatives are the only parts of the campaign that your target audience actively interacts with and remembers after a campaign is done. Bad creatives not only can make or break a campaign, but they can also damage the brand itself – we all remember Pepsi’s infamous police brutality ad, yes? Make sure to double-check all ads whenever possible, so that there are no mistakes on any of them. It’s best to delay a campaign launch by one day to make sure the creative is appropriate, then to send out creatives that have spelling mistakes, or are outright offensive to a specific geolocation.