How do I test creative and how often should I switch creative?
When it comes to your approach to your paid media, undoubtedly there are a number of things that come to mind. The schools of thought typically follow one of two directives:
- Define your creative strategy
- Define your audience and target markets
Develop a primary testing goal and methodology.
When it comes to building any test process, either with ad creatives, copy, audience testing, or anything relevant to your product and brand, you want to ensure that you’re starting with a clear goal and approach in mind. It is extremely difficult to hit a target that you aren’t aiming for, and it is therefore a practice in futility to run a test without a clear goal. This can be as simple and broad as clicks, impressions, or traffic, or as direct as single product sales, catalog interactions, or anything in between. In short, make a goal, set a timeline, and then you’ll be able to adequately reflect on your results objectively.
For testing your ad creative, start by organizing your assets into distinct buckets and concepts that you’d like to test. These can be broken out by products and categories, static and video assets, those including people and those without, or any combination of what you have access to. Do your best to stay organized in the set up of this test to ensure that you have clean results on the other side.
Once you have your assets grouped by attributes or focus, it’s time to define the time and scope of the test. Typically, we advise that our clients associate a distinct spend – usually 10-15% of the overall spend – during a set time period, between 10 and 14 days. This allows for the majority of the account to carry on driving results, while also allowing for sufficient data collection to be able to make a conclusion based on data and results.
Reflect and build the next test!
Once you have completed the test, and have results that are uniform and complete, it’s time to see what worked and where the winners are! You should be able to cleanly understand your data, based both on your clear goals, your finite timing, and now you can utilize these results to inform your process moving forward.
Depending on the product, ad type, or creative focus that won, you can add more of that particular asset into your mix rotation, and instruct your creative teams/partners to ideate around creating more aligned creatives moving forward.
When done correctly and intentionally, a creative test can instruct tactical implementation AND forward facing strategy.
Keep an eye on your frequency and build a creative implementation cadence.
Overall, it is important to balance regular creative “refreshes” and allowing for adequate data and momentum to build for each creative iteration that you build into your account, campaigns, and approach.
Though we typically recommend refreshing and updating your creatives on a 2-4 week cadence, you can monitor the relevant data to ensure that you aren’t seeing creative fatigue sooner than that. We recommend keeping your ad frequency between 1 and 2 for acquisition campaigns, with the highest acceptable frequency at just above 3. This will ensure that the majority of your creatives are being seen by fresh eyes, and that you can trust that your targeting is broad enough to be effective in pulling people to your site, your products, and into your purchase funnel.
- Relative to retargeting audiences, this number can be considerably higher. When someone is already familiar with your brand and products, repetition can be helpful, and especially if you are using dynamic creative, this is less of a concern with RT audience groups.
- When your ads either reach a tipping point from a frequency perspective, or when you find yourself at the end of a timeframe window, it’s time to refresh your creatives!
- We typically try and review the performance of our evergreen ads in a “Stoplight” review process:
- Green Light (top performers): duplicate, add spend, and push meta findings to your designers/creatives to produce more similar ads
- Also may be worth testing implementing these ads into multiple ad sets and for multiple audiences to see if there are winners to be found across the board.
- Yellow Light: Address key issues, such as shifting copy, linking, or in thinking through what bigger picture issues there may be, and monitor for results with a close eye.
- Red Light (lowest performers): remove from the rotation, and note what broad takeaways you can pull together relative to why they weren’t working.
Be patient with your testing and creatives.
By nature, all of our best advertising channels are dependent on (and only as powerful as) the data and insights they are able to inform on our end. When it comes to creative – either from a testing or in keeping your assets fresh – make sure to allow for time and data collection to better inform our insights and takeaways. Too often, we have seen clients that are antsy about results in the short-term, and they compromise the long-term efficacy of these tests and insights. By allowing for a consistent and measurable window of time/budget to inform these tests, we can take the human element out of our methodology and trust more objective results.
This is especially true in the iOS 14.5 world, where data is delayed by nature of the landscape shift, and we need to ensure consistent information and data is informing our decisions.
How can Pivot help? Or how can an agency help?
By partnering with an ad agency, you can ensure that we are building an approach that is consistent, is informed by the overall strategy, and is managed effectively from a spends and results perspective.
Typically, the strategy will include a percentage breakdown between prospecting, retargeting, and testing budgets, and this will ensure that we keep our top performers intact while gathering relevant and valuable information to inform our future efforts and design resources and recommendations. Staying proactive is the name of the game, and finding a partner aligned on your brand, creative ideation, and that can help build a distinct, repeatable process is key in this pursuit.
What’s next and how can you implement this?
Start by building your key categories, product groups, or stylistic tests you’d like to run, and then reach out to a pro or an agency team that can help build the framework around your ideas to bring these tests to life.
Ultimately, creative testing shouldn’t be the bulk of your focus on paid media channels like Facebook, Instagram, or Google, but they certainly should be a part of what you’re building, and can be a huge resource to keeping your approach fresh and current.