In the past, I have been in meetings where we have spent a considerable amount of time creating strategies for audience testing where the underlying problem has been the creative assets. Whilst we should always be sweating the media planning and buying, everyone’s attention was focussed on initiatives that would have negligible impact, when in fact we should have been refreshing tired content. Concentrating on media optimisation was the easy and cheap thing to do, and something we could control, so became the default solution to performance challenges. That’s why we recently created Kite Studio, to offer creative versioning that cost-effectively powers test & learn in digital creative.
Creative versioning goes beyond simply keeping creative fresh to maintain engagement rates. There are three key areas to look at when creating an asset framework: placements, moments, and objectives:
Placements vary hugely from DOOH 6 sheets at bus stops to Instagram Stories and not just in terms of asset scale. People engage with different platforms and therefore, placements in very different ways. For example, most people are dual screening when watching TV or multi-tasking as they listen to digital radio, so you need to fight for their attention. People have a much longer dwell time when looking at an underground cross track than when scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed. All these factors mean that the best practices for story arcs and copy length are completely different. It is widely known that using a TV ad as a YouTube pre-roll doesn’t work, nor does rolling the same content across TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram – it’s all about the placement context and the format possibilities within that environment. Audiences have different expectations in different environments too – they expect creative content to exploit bespoke functionality such as AR and have a specific tone, e.g., user-generated humour on TikTok. We need versioning to maximise in-channel performance; it is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Moments are crucial because they determine people’s mindsets. These could be at a long-term macro level, such as the current economic climate or micro level at different times of the day. Macro factors are crucial because consumer confidence and mood dictate their openness to particular messages and asks. For example, if you are a charity asking an audience struggling with the cost of living for donations, a £20 per month call to action won’t work. But, using that time to build out your database of supporters for future donations when the economic climate is stronger will resonate as people still want to help, they just can’t right now.
It’s no different when you zoom into micro-moments. When people wake up pre-morning coffee and look at their phone in bed, they don’t want to be told to buy a new washing machine. They might watch an entertaining video of kids putting strange things in washing machines though. Whether that person is then crammed on their commute bus or browsing over their relaxed lunch break, this presents two completely different mindsets even on the same platform, so considering those moments in creative execution to drive engagement is essential.
Lastly objectives. What do we want the audience to do? Is this an awareness campaign where we want ad and, ultimately, brand recall? Consideration? Or even acquisition, measured on linear ROI? The KPI isn’t just aligned to the role of the channel (it could be full-funnel) – it drills right down to the tactical level. When we know how success will be measured, we can tailor assets accordingly, from transforming static images into motion to story arcs and call to actions.
In summary, creative asset production is never ending; there is always something to test, so it’s more a case of prioritisation. Therefore, ringfencing the budget to create optimal content is crucial to campaign success.
By Managing Partner, Digital, Ben Foster