How brands can drive better performance

Sep 20, 2022
Media Thought Leadership

Creative is king

If we look at the media industry today, we can see that consumers and advertisers are at odds with one another. According to several recent studies, great creative is the number one driver of return on investment (ROI). In 2017, Nielsen found that 47 per cent of a brand’s sales lift from advertising came from the creative. Research from Kantar shows that creative accounts for half of a brand’s ROI, and this past June, Google analyzed a range of advertiser media mix models (MMM) results from over the years and identified that creative was a top contributor to ROI growth. 

Yet, most consumers proactively avoid advertising, whether by using ad blockers, paying for ad-free experiences, or by skipping ads. The main reason our audience is actively avoiding our message is because the ads are seen as being interruptive or annoying. So, how do we create advertisements that don’t interrupt, but inspire?

What makes great creative?

The most important factor is whether or not the creative is additive. In other words, we must determine whether it adds value or utility to the consumer in some way. When it comes to creative content, Pinterest uses a framework called the five dimensions of inspiration. In summary, there are five attributes that help make creative shine. Creative should be:

  1. Visually appealing: inspiring content fuels the imagination with possibilities that people can visualize
  2. Original: inspire a new, unique or different take on something familiar
  3. Positive: help people dream about who they want to be and what they want to create
  4. Relevant: inspiring content demonstrates and assists people with creating a life they love
  5. Actionable: give your audience the confidence to bring an idea to life

As a rule of thumb, ads should include at least two of the five dimensions.

Look at KPIs more holistically

Increasingly, ads – especially digital ads – are focused on short-term metrics such as conversions, checkouts, leads, and almost always have a myopic last-click approach. It’s clear that advertisers’ incentives to hit these short-term KPIs often aren’t aligned with user experience. Consider that some consumers aren’t comfortable with how companies collect and use their personal data for advertising and that some ad experiences that rely on that data can feel invasive. If your advertising is mainly focused on driving lower funnel actions, consider shifting more of your focus to building the upper and mid-funnel to lead your consumer through the purchase journey. 

Clarity throughout the planning process

The majority of our industry works on a 52-week calendar where media comes first. So, when creative ideation comes around, we’ve already done our analysis of what the optimal media mix is. However, there are major benefits for media and creative teams to be working together right from the outset of the planning process, creating an integrated plan that reaches the right audience with the right message. Marketers can set the expectation that their media and creative collaborate in an integrated way. To create the necessary conditions, marketing teams should assign clear owners, roles and responsibilities, and set consistent KPIs across their media and creative teams, as well as establish regular checkpoints along the way.

Looking ahead

The good news is, there’s never been more access to data, insights and testing methods to help guide strategically sound and valuable creative. Leverage your media and measurement partners to help you tailor your message to the medium by following best practices. A/B testing can help you from there, and MMM can now model at lower levels, for example, specific creative. While MMMs are mainly used today to assess platform mix, as marketers, you can also use them to understand the effectiveness of your creative. Think less about what you want to tell your consumers, and more about how you can deliver value to them, to inspire them to act.

I would like to thank my colleague, Reilly Stephens, Creative Strategist, Pinterest, who contributed to the development of this blog.

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Azadeh Attar

Head of Industry, CPG Pinterest




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