The Value of Creative Rotation – By Katie Terrazas
Varying creative visuals and messaging may appear to be one of the simplest ways to target the right audience with the right message for an advertising campaign. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds — especially when audience tendencies are considered. It takes a well-executed strategy to connect with qualified consumers and build brand recognition in today’s over-saturated world.
Years ago, the frequency gauge used as a baseline was three to seven times. The same audience had to be exposed to a visual at least three times before taking action. Today that frequency gauge has dramatically increased. The current baseline ranges between 13 and 17 times after being exposed to an ad for a given audience to take action. These numbers have increased so drastically because consumers today are exposed to such a significant amount of media and stimulation in our digital world. People are used to being bombarded with a large amount of data from multiple sources and therefore can “tune out” messages, more easily than they could just a few years back. The result is that it takes more repetition and more time for an audience to recognize a brand.
However, advertising is still powerfully effective for brand building and recognition, and optimization of digital campaigns through creative testing and rotation is a necessary component to achieving maximum results. Our team is skilled in creating and executing campaigns to do just that, and we find that our strategies mirror some of our own company’s core values. Here, we share some key strategies that help us maximize our clients’ media investments through creative rotation:
Communication – Trust the process
Our clients trust us to optimize their campaigns based on our expertise, which translates to trust in experimenting and testing different creative strategies (when, where and how). In order to improve the success of a campaign, we must analyze data. We look at what has proven successful in the past and what continues to track positively for a campaign. By understanding exactly what worked and when, we are able to plan for continued success of a campaign.
We also need to consider the goal of the campaign. For many of our clients, the biggest objective is to optimize lead generation, which we can track via click through rates (CTR) and other engagement metrics. If CTR is the key performance indicator, once we start to see a decline in this rate it can be time to refresh our strategy. We do not want to let a campaign get “stale” where we see a sustained period of low engagement without taking action. Because we take our responsibility to steward each clients’ media budget very seriously, we recommend that our clients provide multiple versions of creative so we can better optimize and deliver on the highest possible return on their investment. Running just one or a limited number of creatives can have the same affect as over-saturation of advertising messages, the consumer learns to tune it out, or worse, finds it irritating and begins to associate that feeling with the advertiser.
Our goal is to foster open and direct communication with each client to create a relationship built on trust. So, for example, when we recommend doing an A/B test or another type of creative refresh even before there is a dip in response, our clients trust that we’re suggesting what is truly best for their brand.
Flexibility – When to test, when to tweak and when to stay the course
While we rely on our experience, expertise and past successes when testing new creative, we can’t entirely predict the result because there’s no definitive way to optimize a campaign until we have a baseline to work from. However, we encourage clients to proactively test and react to data and then optimize a campaign based on these results. This is the only way to make informed decisions on how to best optimize and successfully rotate creative. Being nimble, flexible, and willing to tweak campaigns based on data is key — on both the agency and client side.
Some clients may feel it’s risky to switch out a campaign that is running effectively; however, the creative refresh is the ultimate test. If the click-through rate spikes or dips, this provides insight on whether the original creative had run its course.
Optimization is multi-faceted so in addition to a test of new visual creative, we also advise testing new creative at different times. For example, if a client has been running the same media campaign for an entire year we would suggest running it quarterly, monthly, or in different markets. A/B testing and testing creative in new markets helps us learn a lot about audience response and how we can further optimize our clients’ creative. After testing and collecting data results, we can then advise our clients on what we feel would be the best strategy for their campaign.
All that said, refreshing the creative more often does not automatically result in better results. Campaigns that are switched out too frequently can even have an adverse effect on a brand — causing recognition confusion for the consumer and brand saturation. “Less is more” is an important adage to keep in mind when focusing on brand messaging. We have seen a huge increase in CTR and conversions when a focused message is executed with less creative rotation and with strategically targeted campaigns directed to a specific audience. It’s also important to keep campaign messaging similar when frequently rotating campaigns and to maintain brand recognition above all else.
Excellence – The journey is just as important as the destination
Defining the strategy or tracking the path of a client’s journey that led to a successful campaign is equally or perhaps even more important than the success itself. If we can’t replicate the twists, turns and tweaks it took to create success, then how to replicate it — and build upon it based on those findings — becomes the big question. Strong messaging and an excellent team to track it are two huge factors of maintaining the basic integrity of a campaign and are essential in order to elevate that branding to the next level.
When executing a successful digital campaign, our proudest moments are found in the relationships we form with each client along the way. An open-minded client trusts that the data — along with our expertise — will dictate when to rotate, when to run a test, and when we need to pivot quickly in order to achieve the best path to optimization. These factors, along with a client relationship built on mutual trust, lead to the best outcome to help our clients reach, and exceed, their larger marketing goals.