Why CMOs must prioritise creative excellence

This year more visual content will be created than ever before, yet marketers still struggle to track the quality of their creative output

The impact of strong creatives is well documented; companies that demonstrate high creative performance in their digital marketing benefit from up to 46% more profitability, according to the IPA. 

Each platform defines creative quality differently: Google Ads, for example, uses its quality score metric, while Facebook measures content against a relevance score.

“The rise of platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest, coupled with an increase in digital banner ads, means brand communications are more visual than ever,” explains Anastasia Leng, founder of CreativeX.

She says in some cases the amount of creative content brands are putting out has “quadrupled” year on year, leading to issues around control, transparency and quality.

Data from CreativeX, which helps clients like Unilever and Heineken measure and improve creative efficiency, consistency and effectiveness globally, recently analysed more than half a million ads and found on average just 20% of creative assets meet a brand’s own minimum standards of quality.

The rise of creative excellence teams

Brands are tackling these issues by dedicating teams to defining guidelines around creative excellence with the likes of L’Oréal, 3M, Coca-Cola, Mars, Nestlé, Diageo, J&J and Pepsi setting up internal creative excellence teams.

Leading brands have gone further, employing AI-driven technology to help them automate creative quality and consistency detection. For example, CreativeX allows brands to analyse the imagery and video used in their campaigns, offering brands a ‘bird’s eye view’ of all creative performance. This arms their teams and agencies with preventative tools that safeguard off-brand content from eating up media budgets.

Nandus du Plessis, previously head of content excellence at AB InBev, used CreativeX to analyse their global creative footprint. He says: “In the past, our brand managers judged content based on emotion and opinion. Now we have the data to show what’s working. When you have data and opinion, then you can create great work.”

So, what tools do CMOs need to unlock their creative potential?

Develop guidelines for creative excellence in addition to your own brand guidelines. This means implementing a set of objective rules against a bar of creative excellence that all ads can be measured against. Such KPIs could include channel optimisation or use of distinctive brand assets.

In the past, our brand managers judged content based on emotion and opinion. Now we have the data to show what’s working

Next, look to track which of your creatives are meeting these guidelines to get a truly global picture of creative and media efficiency. This is where you can find actionable insights such as what share of marketing spend has been spent on ‘excellent’ ads.

Looking to the future

Once brands can track creative quality and brand consistency, they can innovate into other opportunities in the creative excellence space.

Try incorporating compliance regulations within these guidelines to help make sure ads are in line with the category regulations in each market. Automating this through technology could drastically minimise the risk of fines and bad publicity while increasing the speed of campaigns to market especially in regulated industries like alcohol, pharmaceutical, financial services and gambling.

Exceed company priorities around diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as Unilever’s ‘Unstereotype’ initiative or the new representation framework from the World Federation of Advertisers, through tracking talent representation across creative worldwide. For example, set a global goal on what share of your content will feature progressive portrayals of people by end of 2022.

Leng from CreativeX says creatives need to be not only optimised for platform-specific consumption but also consistent with the brand, compliant with regulation, and representative of a brand’s audience.

“Creative excellence is not a new concept. From the beginning of time, marketers have sought to make content that resonates and cuts through with their audience,” Leng concludes. “But measuring and improving this on a global scale? That is creative excellence 2.0.”

For more information please visit creativex.com

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