On October 4th, we hosted the webinar “From Creation to Analysis: Proven Techniques for Ad Creative Optimization,” where experts joined to discuss and shed some light on the world of Creative techniques, strategies, and best practices for creative optimization.

Saadi Muslu, Head of Product Marketing & Content at Singular, Claire Rozain, Senior Ad Monetization & UA Manager at Carrry1st, and Pau Quevedo, VP of Gaming and Smadex, were conducted in an insightful conversation hosted by Júlia Planas, COO at Smadex.

The conversation began with a poll to the audience, asking them if they have an in-house design team or use an external agency to design their creatives.

  • 70% of the audience said they have an in-house design team.
  • 13% said they work with an agency.
  • 18% voted for both.

With this information, our host and panelist jumped right into it with the first topic:

Is Creative Testing Always Relevant?

The first question addressed in the webinar was whether creative testing remains relevant, particularly for those with constrained budgets. Saadi began by pointing out that creative testing is indeed always relevant. She highlighted how even small teams or those with minimal budgets can now more easily test their creatives and add variance to their campaigns, thanks to advancements and partnerships with various ad platforms.

Saadi pointed out that platforms like Google offer User-Generated Content (UGC) campaigns and A/B testing, allowing advertisers to test different ad variants. The key, she noted, is to start small and not overwhelm yourself by testing every variable at once. This way, you can effectively optimize your advertising without a significant budget, analyze the results, and gradually scale up your testing efforts.

  • Adapting to Your Audience

Claire underlined the importance of creative testing for startups, especially when catering to specific audiences. She mentioned that her company, Carry1st, focuses on an African audience and explained that they must ensure their creatives resonate with their target demographic. Claire also pointed out that programmatic advertising offers a cost-effective way to test different creatives and reach the right audience.

She recommended aligning your creative testing goals with your advertising objectives. It’s crucial to understand what you want to achieve through creative testing, and if your goals align with your needs, creative testing can be a valuable tool.

  • The Impact of Creative Testing

Pau Quevedo, VP at Smadex, emphasized that gaming companies are investing substantial time and effort into creative testing. In the highly competitive gaming industry, creative testing is essential because advertisers often have limited control over the algorithms and strategies employed by ad platforms. Creative elements like ad format and content can significantly impact campaign success.

The importance of considering how users interact with creatives was also a main point explained by Pau. The context in which an ad is displayed can significantly impact user engagement. Whether a user is watching an ad in a cinema or at a bus stop plays a vital role in their interaction with the creative content.

The panelists unanimously agreed that testing creative elements across different advertising channels is essential. Different channels may require distinct creative approaches, so adapting your content to each is crucial for success.

What Are the Main KPIs for Creative Optimization?

The discussion continued with a question about the main KPIs to consider for creative optimization. The panelists agreed that understanding KPIs is essential for gauging the effectiveness of creatives in advertising.

  • Consideration of Main KPI – ROAS

Saadi points out that Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) is a vital KPI, especially for gaming clients. Many gaming companies are primarily interested in growth, and ROAS is often their main focus. However, the journey to achieving ROAS is where creative optimization comes into play.

She explained that, in her experience, dividing the metrics into two categories when analyzing creatives is a good approach. The first includes upper-funnel metrics, such as Click-Through Rates (CTR) and Install-Per-Mille (IPM). These metrics help advertisers determine if their creatives are engaging and breaking through the noise of the advertising space. However, Saadi warns that misleading creatives can lead to high CTRs but low-quality installs, so these metrics must be monitored cautiously.

  • Importance of Post-Install Events

Saadi pointed out the importance of post-install events. Advertisers should monitor user retention to ensure that the users who install the app actually continue to engage with it. Measuring the cost per retained user is a crucial metric, indicating the value brought by the creative.

She highlighted the importance of a holistic approach, measuring the full funnel. It’s not just about upper-funnel metrics; it’s essential to track metrics related to ROAS and Lifetime Value (LTV) or Revenue over Cohorts to assess the long-term impact of advertising campaigns.

The discussion took a more in-depth turn, emphasizing the need to understand how users interact with creatives and the fact that KPIs can vary depending on the advertising format. Different formats may require different sets of metrics to measure effectiveness.

Watch time, skip rates, and interactions with calls to action (CTAs) provide insights into user behavior. For example, an ad might have a high IPM but low retention if users are misled by the creative.

  • Compliance and Inclusivity

Claire adds a layer commenting about KPI tracking—compliance and inclusivity. Advertisers should ensure that their creative content adheres to the policies of ad platforms to prevent red flags that could affect future user acquisition efforts.

She emphasizes the need for creative content to be respectful and inclusive. Ensuring that creative materials are compliant and do not offend users is crucial for maintaining a good relationship with them and with ad platforms.

Best Practices for Creative Testing

The webinar continued with a conversation on best practices for creative testing. Saadi, from Singular, explained the importance of starting with clear campaign objectives. Understanding your goals is the first step; your objectives will guide your testing strategy, whether a brand or performance campaign.

Once your objectives are clear, evaluate the channels most appropriate for your campaign. Some platforms offer built-in testing features, while others require manual setup. Consider the strengths and limitations of each channel for testing.

  • Test One Variable at a Time

A crucial aspect of testing is isolating variables. Saadi highlighted the significance of conducting tests where only one element in your creative changes at a time. This method ensures that you can accurately identify what influenced the performance of the winning creative.

Pau jumped into the conversation, sharing insights on audience segmentation and explaining how different audiences may react differently to creatives. He suggested breaking down creatives into themes, variations, and iterations based on audience preferences. This approach allows you to tailor your creatives to specific segments effectively.

He also introduced the idea of starting testing in a less expensive geography (geo) before moving to your primary target market. This approach can save costs and help you fine-tune your creatives before scaling.

As another main point, Claire stressed the importance of aligning your creatives with your game’s theme and players’ preferences. Understand your audience, what they like about your product, and their interests to create more effective creatives.

She also highlighted the need to differentiate your creatives from competitors. Avoid copying competitors’ ads, as this may not resonate with your unique audience. Be innovative and stand out in the market.

The Role of AI in Creative Generation

At this stage, we conducted a second poll asking the audience about the use of AI tools for creative generation. The results revealed that 50% of viewers are actively employing AI for this purpose, while the remaining 50% is divided between those not currently using AI and those considering its adoption, each comprising 25% of the responses.

  • AI is a Valuable Tool but Not a Replacement for Human Creativity

The consensus among our panelists is that AI is a valuable tool that can significantly streamline creative processes, especially regarding automation and ideation. It can help generate creative concepts and content efficiently. However, AI is not a replacement for human creativity. Creative professionals still need to provide the initial creative spark and artistry that AI can build upon.

Claire emphasized its use as a tool that can assist in the generation of ideas and concepts for content. For example, AI can be used to research visual elements that resonate with target audiences, speeding up the ideation process.

AI has also proven especially effective in generating copy, headlines, and calls to action (CTAs). The panelists agreed that AI can help marketers come up with multiple variations of headlines or CTAs, which can then be refined and tailored according to branding and messaging. It’s important to note that the success of AI in copywriting depends on the quality of the prompts given to the tool.

While AI has shown promise in generating images and videos, it is still a work in progress. AI tools are more effective in the conception and ideation phase for visual content than in creating entire visuals from scratch. For example, AI can help automate the creation of images based on specific concepts, making the design process more efficient.

  • AI Automation for Ad Variations

In terms of automation, AI can create multiple ad variations for personalized marketing campaigns. For instance, it can change elements like CTAs, colors, and other details to tailor ads for different regions, cities, or audience segments. This can reduce production costs and save time.

Webinar Summary

This webinar session focused on the enduring relevance of creative testing, which is adaptable to various budgets and audience targets.

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) like ROAS and user retention are crucial for evaluating creative effectiveness.
  • Ethical and compliant content is a must.
  • Best practices include setting clear objectives, audience segmentation, and avoiding competitors’ imitation.
  • AI is becoming a valuable tool for automating elements of the creative process, but human creativity remains irreplaceable.