Best Practices

Demystifying your data: How to analyze creative performance

The world of paid advertising has undergone a massive shift over the past several years. With nearly 70% of marketers using data to support decision-making at all levels, creative analytics has become the final word in shipping more winning ads.

That said, gathering the data surrounding your ad campaigns is only one piece of the creative analytics puzzle. In this guide, we'll discuss how brands can unpack their data to discover what creative inspires their audiences to stop scrolling, visit their site, and (ultimately) convert. 

Let's dive in.

Why is analyzing creative performance important?

Traditionally, the creative process relied on gut instinct and basic psychology. Marketers had a general sense of what worked, but they had to wait months to see results — and even then, it was difficult (if not impossible) to trace those results back to a specific ad.

Today, analyzing the data surrounding your ad creative has become fundamental to understanding your audience and optimizing new and existing ads. Without creative analytics, your chances of shipping ads that address the needs and preferences of your target audience are slim to none.  

Here are several reasons your team should analyze your ad creative's performance.

To improve ROAS and ROI

According to research from Nielsen, quality creative drives 50% of ROI in paid advertising. That said, the only way to determine what your target audience considers "quality" is by analyzing when and how customers engage with your ads. 

This realization drives brands to make more data-driven decisions during the creative process, such as analyzing thumbstop ratios for video ads, pinpointing where in the video funnel users take action, and more. 

To understand your audience

Creative analytics is the most direct path to uncovering which ads resonate with your target audience and which do not. With that information, you can effectively remove the guesswork from your creative marketing strategy, helping you ship more personalized and engaging campaigns. 

For example, say you’re running a video campaign on TikTok, and you notice one of your clips has a 5% higher engagement rate than the rest of your ads. You conduct an audience analysis to create a new segment of viewers who engaged with this ad. Now, you can target them with ads using similar creative assets, copy, headlines, etc. — increasing their chances of converting on subsequent ads.  

To make swifter marketing decisions

Marketers no longer have the luxury of relying on intuition and guesswork when optimizing campaign performance. Continuously analyzing creative performance is the only way to make swift, data-driven decisions. When you know exactly the kind of creative that will captivate and convert, you can drive incremental value with each ad.

On the flip side, when you analyze creative at the point of engagement, you can stop spending valuable ad dollars on content that isn’t converting and shift that spend to your current revenue drivers. 

Common methods to analyze creative performance

While there are many established methods to test creative performance, here are a few commonly used options:

1. A/B testing (Split testing)

A/B testing — i.e., showing two versions of a creative asset to different audiences and comparing their performance — is one of the most commonly used creative testing methods in paid advertising.  

While A/B testing can help determine what creative assets resonate with your audience, they're inherently restrictive (as they only test one creative variable) and often very time-consuming, as you must wait for the campaign to end to obtain results. Brands looking to compare creative elements in less time would benefit from a dedicated creative analytics platform (like Motion). 

2. Multivariate testing

Multivariate testing differs from A/B testing in that it compares more creative variables within an ad, giving you a clearer vision of its collective influence. For example, while an A/B test might measure the performance of two different static images, a multivariate test will also test different copy, headlines, audio, etc. 

While multivariate testing is useful for analyzing the collective performance of an ad, the sheer number of variables being tested makes it difficult to identify which specific variables resonate with your audience. 

3. Click-through rate analysis

This testing method helps uncover the creative's effectiveness in eliciting a click from the user. While getting users to click on your ads is the theoretical end goal of paid advertising, CTR analysis doesn't tell the whole story behind why the user clicked or what happened after they clicked. As such, CTR analysis is a good supporting test but should not be your primary means of determining creative performance.

4. Engagement analysis

User engagement (e.g., likes, comments, shares, etc.) can also help you understand creative performance. While user engagement can provide insight into what ads get your audience to take small actions, its effectiveness as a stand-alone testing method can be questionable. This is because user engagement can be considered a vanity metric if the ad fails to get shoppers to complete a purchase. 

Best practices for assessing creative performance

While each brand's approach to creative testing will vary, there are a few foundational steps that will streamline the creative reporting process and deliver consistently reliable insights.

Improve accessibility with a visually friendly reporting format

While spreadsheets might be adequate for your media buyers to gain meaningful takeaways from the data, your creatives will find themselves staring at these sheets wondering where to begin. And there's a reason for that: their right-brained nature, which makes them so good at what they do, understands visual information better than raw data. To ensure all stakeholders gain meaningful takeaways from your creative reporting efforts, it's crucial to use visually-friendly reporting formats or a dedicated creative analytics platform like Motion. 

Organize your ads with reusable naming conventions and tags

When organizing your ads for further review, tag them with reusable naming conventions so you can easily reference them during the reporting process. For example, say you're running a video ad campaign during the summer months that offers 50% off for first-time buyers. Here are a few tagging options you could use for this campaign:

  1. Ad format: video
  2. Promotion type: 50OFF
  3. Promotion keyword: summer
  4. Year: 2024

Using descriptive naming and tagging conventions saves your team time searching for the ads, helps uncover winning creative and non-performers, and lays the foundation for comparative testing.

💡 Pro tip: A dedicated creative reporting solution (like Motion) can make custom tagging effortless, saving your team time to focus on improving campaign performance!  

Consolidate your creative performance data in one central hub

Rather than sifting endlessly through ad platforms and importing/exporting data, we recommend consolidating your ad data in one central hub for easier access. Dedicated creative analytics platforms help with this process by integrating all your ad creative data from Meta, TikTok, YouTube, and more.

Real-world examples of high-performing creative 

To help brands understand what high-performing creative looks like in the wild, we've compiled several real-world examples from companies who are absolutely killing it with their creative strategy.

Sephora drives 41% higher CTR with in-house creative

The beauty industry is known for its glamorous poster and video ads featuring the world's top models. However, Sephora, a leading cosmetics label, flipped this script on its head by incorporating its employees in its "Reach Out and Gift" campaign. 

In addition to using captivating visuals (to get users to stop scrolling), the Sephora team humanized its brand by focusing on a more personal aspect of beauty rather than following industry trends. The result? Sephora's video ads for the campaign received a 41% higher CTR than any of its previous ads. 

Dollar Shave Club grows its audience with high-quality statics and intriguing copy

Dollar Shave Club is well-known for its humorous organic video content and aggressive pricing structure. That said, even the most laid-back brands need to get to the point (no pun intended) with their Meta ads, and that's exactly what they did here. Dollar Shave Club's combination of high-quality static images and curiosity-driven copy (comparing its razors to the notorious shaving brand Gillette) resulted in a 1.5x increase in subscribers from this campaign alone.

Pura Vida sells 20x more unique products with best-in-class carousel ads

A great example of a brand operating with a greater purpose, Pura Vida sells hand-crafted bracelets made by local artisans in Costa Rica. Knowing its mission to enrich the lives of others was a driving force behind the brand's success, Pura Vida combines beautiful UGC and socially conscious messaging in its carousel ads. The result is a visually captivating and emotionally powerful series of ads that helps Pura Vida continue to sell more unique products to new and returning shoppers. 

Creative analytics doesn’t have to be complicated

Creative performance analysis is crucial to understanding campaign effectiveness and optimizing new and existing ads. However, the world of creative analytics goes even deeper, especially in analyzing audience engagement, growing your audience, and visualizing your data.

Are you ready to start shipping more winning ads? Start your free trial / Book a demo.

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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