NOVEMBER 11, 2022 | 7 MIN
Creative formula that performs: how to test 1000 creatives and increase net profit margin x4 times
The creative-centric approach requires a large resource investment — in essence, it is a constant production of creatives. Video creatives are especially costly, as it was in our case. However, when it comes to digital ad formats, production is more cost-efficient compared to traditional, longer video types. In the long run, the approach performs better than other strategies, such as the more familiar audience-centered approach.

We put together a preliminary content plan with video scripts that could be tested in the campaigns. Following these scripts, the creative team prepared a set of videos — every week we tested 50 creatives, identified the most effective ones, and matched them with the appropriate audience.

We ran effective ads with manual strategies — Bid Cap and Cost Cap.

In our approach to the construction of advertising campaigns, we used Post ID — the same publication would be promoted in several advertising campaigns, which allowed us to gather audience feedback for one specific post. This way, we promoted several different creatives at once, each with its Post ID and set of campaigns.

By gathering feedback and increasing engagement, we were able to scale campaigns with fixed-rate strategies — Bid Cap and Cost Cap. A fixed audience purchase helped avoid the growth of the auction.
There is a widespread belief that digital marketing has destroyed creativity and diversity in advertising. According to the research done by Sizmek, 70% of marketers highlight that digital growth comes at a cost for brand creative. Indeed, nowadays there is a lot of focus on the best performing creatives, and those are typically catered towards lower stages of the funnel.

When it comes to demand generation — well, it’s hard to tell a compelling brand story in a 6 second video ad, isn’t it?

Advertising platforms are offering more and more conversion tools aimed at instant interaction with the user and attaining business results. Many of these formats follow the same formula and do not convey brand values or uniqueness. Understandably, most companies choose these tools to get fast, inexpensive, and measurable results. Digital channels work well with converting warm demand into sales. But what to do when the warm target audience is exhausted, the usual optimization measures stop working, and there are no budgets for outreach brand support?

Let’s see how to bring creativity and individuality into performance formats using a creative-centered approach.

Together with one of our clients, an online store of natural pest repellents, we ran a creative-powered advertising campaign that quadrupled the seller’s margin.

To give you more context and examples, we are showing the creatives of several businesses from the same segment.
The company entered the market in 2020, but through online promotion, it managed to grow significantly ever since. The brand’s products are sold on Amazon and via their branded e-commerce store.

The company turned to us when sales began to slow down. The brand had reached a certain degree of maturity and required scaling.

We reviewed all activities and audited advertising campaigns. At that time the marketing campaign was using burnt-out creatives that weren’t new. The audience did not respond well enough, the cost of attracting leads was too high, and conversions were low. The previous approach of testing audiences with the same creatives did not yield results and did not allow the marketing campaign to scale. During the joint brainstorms with the client, we decided to use a creative- centered approach. We chose Facebook and Instagram as our main platforms — that’s where the brand’s audience was concentrated, and these platforms offered the cheapest conversions. In addition, it was on these social networks that we were able to combine multiple marketing goals:
  • through visuals and vibrant creativity, we grew brand awareness and worked on audience engagement;
  • through the tactics of the marketing campaign and the technical capabilities of the site, we increased sales.
The Problem Agitator part is followed by the Solution Presentation.

Solution Presentation could be done in several different styles depending on the type of the product and your target audience, for example:
  • A deliberately salesy product presentation, not a native ad. This format works well for the older audience which is used to this kind of direct pitch,
  • A relatable situation where the characters in the ad refer to the problems they solved with the help of the product and show the product in action.

Solution Presentation part should clearly reflect the benefits and the value of the product.
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How to test 50 creatives per week
When you nail down the algorithm of creative development it’s easier to implement a testing schedule. To make the process of creative development easier, we suggest to follow a detailed scenario that ensures the production of attention grabbing and effective ad. Let’s decompose it:

Hook — a 1–5 second video clip that grabs the user’s attention. It’s intended to make the user stop scrolling.
Problem Agitator — the part that reveals the problem. In our case, it was the problem with insects that infest houses and interfere with normal living. It was followed by a story about the product, which highlighted the product’s USPs to encourage the user to make a purchase.
Testimonial — a key part of the solution presentation with a character who talks about the problem, while unpacking and using the product, and then talking about the result. The gender and age of the character vary depending on the target audience.

Testimonials work great to reassure the potential customer that they’re about to choose the right product. There are several ways to go about testimonials: you can include only 1 genuine review, do several spliced testimonials at once, collaborate with professional content creators and influencers to post reviews on their pages and then use them for your ads.
Don’t forget to reuse and recycle your content! Analyze your ads and try different combinations of creative components. The market is characterized by rapid burnout of creatives — a large audience consumes a lot of advertising content and soon stops interacting with it. That’s why repurposing your content is key to keep creatives fresh and to achieve desirable performance.

Final offer — simply put, a creative that sells always offers a catchy and clear offer at the end.

Bonus tip: don’t overlook thumbnails — screensavers for the videos with a content preview. Thumbnails may feature different images: product packaging, native photography, and a discount (works well in the pre-holiday period). The user only has time to see the screensaver when the Internet speed is low, but it is still necessary to test different variants of such previews.
Each part of the video is sequentially tested. First is the hook, as it is the main part responsible for the user’s attention. Then different problem agitators are tested together with the chosen solution presentation, and the one that works best is selected. Then screensavers get tested together with the hook+solution pair. The most effective combination gets to run with the manual bidding strategy. For all other variants, automatic strategies can be used.

When the creative begins to perform well it’s ready to be scaled and more budget can be allocated to it. And, of course, it’s crucial to track the onset of burnout. As soon as the conversion rate of the creative starts to drop, we decompose it into its elements again and test new combinations. The solution+testimonial part of the burnt-out creative often starts to work effectively with a new hook. In our case, creatives were updated at least once every 2–3 weeks.

Let’s review the parts of a great creative once again:
  1. Hook (attention grabbing video clip)
  2. Problem agitator (problem reveal that builds up to the product solution)
  3. Solution presentation (clear presentation of the product as the solution to the problem, highlighting important features and benefits)
  4. Testimonial (authentic reassurance that the product is indeed the right choice)
  5. Final offer (catchy and clear)
In four months, we tested more than a thousand creatives and selected about 30 winners, which we then focused our budget on.
Using Post ID made it possible to increase social awareness for further scaling of campaigns. On average, each such post received more than 2,000 interactions with the target audience.

The advertising campaign allowed the online store to quadruple its margin and maintain turnover.

As advertising budgets for performance advertising continue to grow, businesses should consider how the traditional approach to digital campaigns affects brand value and image in the eyes of users. Perhaps, to develop the current performance strategy and support the brand, it is worth looking at advertising campaigns through the prism of creativity: with a bit of magic, your brand will again become noticeable in the unified and oversaturated digital space.
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