When we talk to our clients about their online marketing challenges, one of the things that comes up over and over again is cross-channel creative analysis.
This isn’t much of a surprise. After all, the words themselves indicate how important the topic is.
“Cross-channel” is how savvy marketers operate these days to maximize their reach and the potential of their budget, and “creative” is arguably the most important piece of the marketing puzzle in our more-and-more automated industry.
Whatever kind of automation you rely on to target and deliver your campaigns, whatever type of optimization you’re aiming for – it all begins with a user who sees an ad attractive enough to click on.
And as important as cross-channel creative optimization is, there seems to be no clear operational paradigms around it. Some companies have marketing pipelines that take this task into account, while others do not. Some optimize across all their channels, while others optimize for each channel individually. The latter approach might be easier, but it severely limits your ability to see the whole picture.
That said, it’s hard to argue that efficient cross-channel creative analysis is difficult. Our biggest clients have hundreds of creative assets in play at any given moment, with many of them similar variations on the same concept – differing in some creative detail, size, format, aspect ratio etc. Each of these is both a variable that’s important for the testing itself, and also another hurdle to jump above when analyzing.
Build a strong foundation
Effective cross-channel creative analysis begins with a strong foundation and buy-in from all relevant stakeholders. In lieu of an automated solution which can group assets by concept — we might have something to say about this soon — a strong naming convention is extremely important.
Both the creative and the UA teams should understand how to name or label creative assets to make analysis easier. Common elements such as concepts, together with categorization based on what is different, should be reflected in names or labels.
You should also consider creative testing a part of the foundation. Only a few years ago creative testing was a difficult, costly process, but these days many of the marketing channels have great, inexpensive infrastructure built for this exact purpose.
Finally, when thinking about creative optimization, consider your end-goal. One possible goal is to just understand what your best concepts are. Armed with that knowledge, you can iterate within each concept on formats and placements and let the channel show you what works best. Alternatively, you can try and discover the exact right creative for each placement you want to utilize, optimizing specifically for each channel.
The more data, the better
When getting into the analysis itself, the first thing you need is data. Don’t worry about the signal-to-noise ratio just yet, the more data you have — the better.
Ideally, you should aggregate both upper funnel, lower funnel, creative metadata and any specific calculations you have that reflect your business goals.
If you’ve done your work in building a strong foundation, now you can analyze your creative both across channels – using the common naming conventions or labels – or within the context of one specific channel. This can be done manually, or with creative-centric tools such as our Creative Center.
What we are looking for
Among the most important things you can look for when analyzing creative across channels is fatigue. The consumers are likely to see your ads on several different channels, with different specific assets for the same concept presented to them. When they get “tired” of the concept, you won’t necessarily see it on all channels at the same time.
Aggregating multi-channel data will enable you to see cross-channel dips in performance, too small to be significant on any channel when taken on its own, but significant enough when seen across all channels.
Whether you’re talking about a single creative, or a concept, each of these has its own threat level to your operation. The more money you have tied into each successful asset or concept, the more dangerous it is for you when fatigue inevitably arrives.
This is why our largest clients have, on average, a smaller percentage of their spend tied to each concept.
The flipside of threats are opportunities, concepts or assets which show promise but are underutilized across your activity. This, again, when aggregated data from multiple channels comes into play, as some of your channels will show more similarities than others, and propagating a successful yet underutilized concept among similar channels will pose lower risk while having a higher probability of success.