Sometimes opposites attract. Montagues and Capulets, peanut butter and jelly, Abbott and Costello – they're all prime examples of different concepts that, at first glance, should mix about as well as oil and water but, in reality, were made for each other.
Advertisers share a similar concept with creative testing.
Although romanticized in throughout popular culture as a bastion of imagination and creativity, ad creative might be rooted in artistry and vision but only truly shines when paired with a highly quantitative approach.
For ad creative to maximize engagement, form emotional bonds between audience and brand, and ultimately induce conversions that positively impact the bottom line, it must be systematically tested through a repetitive process to bring out its best qualities.
To that point, look at the formative stages of ad creative as a head full of long and luxurious hair that happens to be knotted up and generally messy.
Follow the instructions on the back of your shampoo and conditioner - lather rinse repeat, lather rinse repeat – and that beautiful but tangled hair suddenly reaches its potential.
Systematic testing is an extremely effective detangler for ad creative that needs a better sense of direction to reach its audience successfully.
Start With an Organized Approach
Like any good soothsayer, take a look down the road and understand your audience and the campaign elements that will best engage and amplify impact.
This process entails choosing which metrics to use in gauging success and directly relates to a campaign's goals.
Given the underlying expectations of nearly every advertising endeavor – develop brand identity, connect with the target customer base, increase sales – this will typically be some combination of clicks, conversions, sales, and impressions.
After you have adequately defined expectations and the different creative elements involved in your message, create an organized, concise matrix that clearly lays out the many different combinations available using those different elements.
Your matrix will serve as a much-needed roadmap of sorts, detailing the various routes your ad can take depending on the combination of creative you employ.
Repetitive Testing and the Glories of Technology
Using that matrix as a guide, systematically test each of your creative elements to analyze the impact and quantify the results.
While it might be tempting to test a broad swath of factors all at once, this more often than not creates murky results that don't correctly identify the particular traits and characteristics of the individual elements that work best.
As you progress, the many iterations of testing you conduct will naturally lend itself to revealing the most impactful combinations of different creative elements – copy, calls to action, images, video, and anything else meant to appeal and engage – creating a distinct pathway or set of pathways that provide the best chance for success in reaching campaign goals.
In that sense, think of your creative matrix as that previously mentioned roadmap that includes the countless different combinations of streets and highways that can lead you to your goal.
As you test your creative components, you systematically eliminate the paths that don't work well, which have the most impact, and how the creative elements work together to reveal the best route.
Of course, given the nature of technology and the many different innovations seen in the advertising space in recent years, what was once an extraordinarily laborious and time-consuming process is now highly streamlined and efficient thanks to AI-based solutions, predictive analytics, and the wonders of big data.
In other words, advertisers no longer have to clear their schedules for millennia to conduct creative testing but can now use more combinations and variables in their testing procedures with far better accuracy in about the amount of time it takes to cook a delicious microwave burrito. That might be a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea.
Advertisers can take advantage of myriad data points involving consumer behavior, test countless combinations of ad creative using that data and predictive analytics, and use the most impactful variations of content to maximize engagement that, in turn, improves ROI – virtually at the flick of a wrist.
Put It All Together
Once the first set of iterations is complete and you have sufficient resulting data, now it's time to analyze that information and assemble a message that maximizes impact.
The final product will include a combination of creative that, collectively, provided the best results relative to the particular performance metrics you were measuring.
Just like the back of the shampoo bottle, however, this doesn't mean that the journey is over. As a matter of fact, given the dynamic nature of a fickle marketplace with ever-shifting affinities, the journey is actually never over.
As performance data continues to come in over the course of a campaign, continually test different combinations of creative – as well as design new creative – to extend the lifespan of your campaign, increase cost efficiencies, and maximize conversions over the longer-term.
What might sound overwhelming to some is an exciting opportunity for others. Advertisers can use this systematic approach – and rely on cost-effective creative production from Creadits – to continually make the most of their campaign and deliver expected results.