Design can often be thought of as a luxury, an indulgence afforded when there is extra money to spend, however, the importance of design’s role when it comes to ad creative can not be understated.
Ad creative is the most important lever for growth when it comes to performance or growth marketing. Yet, time and again, marketers are held accountable for results without the resources they need to produce the high volume of high-quality ad creative to drive those results.
Can you imagine asking a salesperson to effectively sell without a sales deck or CRM? But that’s exactly what marketers in many organizations are faced with. Without an in-house design resource or a freelance designer available, they turn to Canva or another digital tool to quickly create the ads they need, resulting in ads that are not optimized for growth or not designed with the brand’s aesthetics in mind.
Today, digital marketing requires a high volume of ad creative to keep ad accounts fresh and to consistently find new winning ads. When you’re running this many ads, you need to produce ad creative in bulk. We’ll walk through why it’s important and how you can set yourself up for success when producing ad creative in bulk.
Why you need a lot of ad creative
In a world where nine out of 10 ads fail, it’s important to launch multiple ads at once. This approach allows you to quickly identify winners and scale them up so you can hit your goals. (For more on how we recommend launching and testing ads, read The Ultimate Guide to Outlier Method of Creative Testing.)
At Primer, we recommend a minimum of 50 ad tests per every $25,000 in ad spend to ensure you’re launching enough new ads to find a consistent stream of new winners. To find the exact number of ad tests (and failures) based on your CPA and ad spend, check out our Creative Testing ROI Calculator.
The key to this process, however, is consistency. Launching 50 new ads one time will help your ads that one time. To maintain sustainable growth, you need a creative testing framework that ensures that you are routinely planning, creating, launching and optimizing ads within your digital advertising accounts.
5 Steps to Produce a Lot of Ad Creative
Step 1: Determine how much ad creative you need
As a rule of thumb, we plan for 50 ad tests per every $25,000 in ad spend. Those 50 tests could include copy and audience tests, but the majority of your tests should be visual tests, including image ads and video ads.
At Primer, we aim to test one new batch of image ads and video ads every two weeks, with a minimum of 5-10 tests within each batch. Per the Outlier Method, we alternate between “big idea” ad tests, which test a brand-new concept, and iteration tests, which change just one or two elements of a winning ad.
Let’s pretend you are spending $25,000 each month in digital advertising. Here’s how we would plan your ad tests for one month.
Step 2: Create your testing roadmap
Now that you know how many tests you need for the month, you can begin to plan out your creative testing roadmap. At this stage, you are assigning concepts to each of these tests.
At Primer, we use Monday.com to plan and manage our testing roadmap, although any project management tool that allows you to track and collaborate on a project could work. Here’s a snapshot of our planning board we use with all of our partners to plan and manage our creative tests.
This central place for the testing roadmap helps us all stay on track and ensure that we’re working on our continuous creative pipeline to keep our partners’ ad accounts fresh and full of winning ads.
When brainstorming big ideas, focus on concepts that do any one (or a combination) of the following:
- Emphasizes a totally different value proposition than your past tests
- Targets a different audience (e.g. change what gender or age range you’re targeting)
- Uses a fresh visual look
- Includes all-new copy and headlines
- Is part of a larger, new “campaign” (e.g. ads that correspond with your brand’s current influencer campaign)
Make sure your ideas are grounded in your buyer personas. Once you determine your ideal buyer, you can then figure out what types of questions they would ask before purchasing. (Tip: Use our easy buyer decision question worksheet to figure these out for your brand.)
These “buyer decision questions” should guide your copy, headlines, calls-to-action, and more.
An iteration is a variation of your previous top-performing ads (i.e., “wins”) in which you change one or two elements. By creating multiple iterations and testing those, you can thoughtfully scale your account’s wins.
By reusing key elements from past top-performing ads, you can also hone in on what really makes an ad work.
Plan out the next 2-3 months’ worth of tests at a time, assigning the concepts, deadlines, and owners to each test. Check out “What to test in your social media ads” for more ideas to fill out your testing roadmap.
Step 3: Dedicate consistent time to write your creative briefs
Now that you have your plan in place, it’s time to start writing your first creative briefs. Ad creative is the result of a creative process, hence the name. The best ad creative comes when you have time and headspace to dedicate to putting together a thoughtful and informed creative brief.
At Primer, we’ve developed a consistent weekly schedule for writing and submitting our creative briefs. We aim to write our briefs on Wednesdays and submit them on Fridays, giving us a day in between for review and revision. This kind of routine helps to ensure that we block out the time we need to write thoughtful briefs on an ongoing basis. Over time, it becomes a habit.
To help kick off your creative briefs, here are a few resources you might find helpful:
- Use the creative faucet method to get ideas flowing
- Steal from winning video ads with these 9 video ad templates
- Unblock writers’ block with these ad copy templates
- Get your videos started with 101 video hooks
Step 4: Streamline the design and review process
Now comes the time to hand your ideas off to a designer for execution. If you are working with an in-house designer, it might be best to schedule a meeting with them to review your creative testing roadmap, the importance of it, and discuss the best way to get creative produced on a consistent basis. This can help them schedule it into their workflow and understand the priority from your perspective.
If you’re working with an outside freelance designer, you might want to collaborate in a project management tool like Monday.com, Asana, or JIRA to submit the requests and track the progress. With this many creative requests coming in, it can be challenging for both you and the designer to keep track of where you are in the process and also ensure you’re both referring to the same request when discussing them. A project management tool gives you a central place for that conversation.
An alternate option could be to hire an on-demand design service like Primer, No Limit Creatives or Sketchdeck. Unlike freelancers, these design services take time to understand your brand and provide specialized support based on the kind of creative you need. With this option, all project management takes place within their platform, and the accountability for delivering the creative you request is on them — helping you to fill your creative pipeline more seamlessly.
With whichever option you choose, ensure you have a smooth process for both requesting creative and reviewing it. Reviewing creative by email or Slack can easily result in feedback getting lost and end up in unnecessary rounds of revisions. Look for a review tool like Filestage or Ziflow to consolidate the review process or hire a freelancer or an on-demand design service that has an embedded review tool and process already in place.
Step 5: Repeat
The most important part of this process is also the hardest: repeat this every month. To keep your creative pipeline full, it’s important to repeat this process and stick to a consistent schedule. As you build your process and the resources you need to get it done, the easier it will be to consistently produce the ad creative you need to find sustainable growth in paid advertising.
Expand Your Team
If your company is investing thousands of dollars into growth marketing, consider expanding your team to help build the creative pipeline you need for it to work.
Primer offers growth-focused creative services ranging from on-demand ad creative you can get in as little as two days to full-service creative strategy and management. To find out how we can help you hit your growth goals with better ad creative, schedule a call today.