Communication between paid ad spend managers and creatives is typically a challenge. Where managers focus on performance, creatives focus on appearance, where managers focus on optimization, creatives focus on optics, where managers focus on data, creatives focus on design.
Of course, the biggest difference is in motive: creatives care about aesthetic while managers care about money. At the same time, managers are typically the ones who dictate what creatives should make given the fact that ROI is the only metric that matters for a business that cares about profiting.
To color that process, we asked founders and decision-makers how their marketing teams function.
"Our creative department designs ad banners and collateral at the request of our PPC team, who puts together strategy documents that our clients approve. The account manager and PPC specialist in charge of the strategy decide what the creatives make, and ad results (the bottom line) are always the priority."
“Our paid ads team knows what they need in order to promote our company, and our creative team knows how to create the material they need. We utilize a lot of media in our paid advertisements, and our creative team knows how to make compelling media that will keep our audience engaged. Each task takes specialized skills, and both teams need to work together to create a successful ad. Our PPC managers have the final say on what creative is produced, but the creative team is free to test any idea they wish. The focus is on the result, but a catchy idea normally produces the best results.”
"We know that there are multiple channels within the marketing mix. The creative is important, as is creativity, but the only thing that matters is how we measure a campaign and what the results are.... In truth, the only thing that matters is engagement, audience retention, and the ultimate conversion at the end of the funnel. Our team understands this and whilst they will disagree on many things, we know at the end of the day, we're measuring real-world results, not striving for awards."
"Initially, catchy ideas are on the table. If we feel certain campaign ideas may perform well those will be on the table as well. As campaigns evolve however, the focus is almost entirely on bottom line."
So one thing is clear: money matters most. That makes for two larger problems.
For creatives: how do they make award-winning ads that also maximizes performance?
For marketers: how do they know what to tell their creatives to make?
As the industry stands, these questions are primarily answered with fuzzy responses like 'intuition', 'branding', or 'strategy'. What that really means is there is no good answer. Everyone's got their own method.
However, there is one answer that's growing in popularity across agencies and brands alike: creative data.
Creative data is a form of performance information collected through ad testing (i.e. Multivariate Testing). Specifying all types of creative data is beyond the scope of this article, but in general, tying a KPI like purchases or clicks to a single creative component such as text format or video intro scene is considered creative data.
Creative data alleviates tension between managers and creatives by providing an objective measure of success. Previously, there was only opinion and ad performance at the end of a campaign to determine whether an ad was worth making. While it's useful to know which ads perform better than others, it's a severely limited form of information to justify budget allocation decisions. Fortunately, managers can use multivariate tests to learn exactly which parts of their ads perform best, enabling them to inform their creatives to use those elements in future campaigns.
Creatives no longer have to worry about performance - everything's a test. Failure is a learning opportunity and with data, winning is significantly easier. Managers no longer have to worry about what to tell their creatives to make - they have actual evidence for ad types, designs, and concepts that maximize returns.
Before wrapping up, it's important to note that ad testing is not new, nor is multivariate testing.
What is new, is the ability to use tech to automate ad testing, removing the pain of designing hundreds of ads by hand, a process which makes creative data collection virtually unattainable without an army of creatives.
To learn more about how you can implement multivariate testing to bridge the gap between your marketing teams, download the guide below.
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