Creative Iterations 101: Identifying Opportunities for Winning Ads

“Most of the time—your first idea never works.” 

Wise words from Motion’s Evan Lee. 

He’s not jaded—it’s just the reality of shipping ads. 

You aren’t gonna smash it out of the park on your first try. Or even the second.

Most of the brands we work with make multiple iterations before they hit a winner.

Today, I wanted to explore the world of iterations and suggest some ways of looking at iterations that make sense to both creative and growth teams. 

What are creative iterations?  

Real quick, I want to differentiate between “net new” and “iterations” in regard to ad creative. 

  • Net new refers to an entirely new ad concept launched in your ad account.
  • Iterations refer to slightly tweaked ads from one of your “net new” assets.

When we talk about testing “net new” concepts, it means we’re testing entirely different ad assets. 

Like, HexClad’s Gordon Ramsay ads vs. product promos.  

HexClad ads with gordon ramsay

Whereas “iterations” test slight variations on the same general asset. 

HexClad ads with gordon ramsay

When identifying where, when, and how to iterate on creative, you’ll want to focus on three main analyses…

Creative Analysis #1: Thumbstop Ratio vs. CTR 

Thumbstop = 3-second views divided by total impressions

CTR (click-through rate) = outbound clicks divided by total impressions

This analysis answers two questions:

  • Is the ad stopping the scroll?
  • Are people clicking the ad?

If your creative has a low thumbstop, but high CTR… 

Test a different thumbnail or hook. Better yet, test both.

Better yet, steal some of Savannah Sanchez’s latest winning hooks:

5 Facebook Ad Hooks You Need To Test in 2024: #1 "I caught my friend trying to buy ___" #2 "One thing I CANNOT live without..." #3 TikTok Comment Overlay: "I need you to drop your ____ ASAP" #4 "This ___ just changed the game" #5 "One thing about me..."

If your creative has a high thumbstop, but low CTR… 

Try rewriting your offer or reworking the body of your ad after the initial thumbstop. 

Focus on problem + solution. 

Can you sit in the problem for a little longer to entice customers?

Alex Cooper performance marketing advice: “The longer you can drag out the pain point before you introduce the product, the more urgency the offer will have.”]

Creative Analysis #2: CTR vs. 100% Video Plays

We’re looking a bit further into the ad now:

  • Are people watching the entire video?
  • Are people clicking the ad?

If your ad has a high video play rate, but low CTR…

Try adding in messages of scarcity, exclusivity, or urgency. 

Add in some social proof & credibility as well (PR features usually work well). 

Creative Analysis #3: CTR vs. Click to Purchase Ratio 

Click to Purchase Ratio = Conversion rate (CVR) divided by click-through rate (CTR)

Now we’re following the money:

  • Are people clicking the ad?
  • Are people purchasing your product?

If your ad has high CTR, but low CVR…

Turn your attention to your landing page. Is it relevant to the creative you’re running? Make the experience cohesive. 

This is one of the top mistakes ad expert Mirella Crespi sees brands make—they stop short after seeing successful ad metrics. 

Create a custom landing page to bring that winning messaging through to the LP. 

If your ad has low CTR, but high CVR…

Check your spend by the breakdown of age and gender. 

It’s often overlooked, but you may be able to iterate your ad creative language or tone to match a specific demographic more and lead to more clicks. 

Creative iterations to test for your ecommerce brand 

Identifying where in your ad creative to iterate is the hardest part → that’s what each of these analyses solves for.

And, ideally, this breakdown speaks to both creative- and growth-minded folks, allowing for everyone on the team to contribute new ideas. 

That said, there are virtually endless angles to test for creative iterations. 

To help with decision fatigue, we created this guide with 60 creative angles to test

Get a tour of Motion’s creative analytics platform. We’ll even build free sample reports for you using live data from your TikTok, Meta, and YouTube ad accounts.

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