Recent advancements in Machine Learning and UA bots are disrupting the future of user acquisition in platforms like Facebook & Google. As a result, creative will be a unique differentiator for performance. For example, Facebook can now determine the method consumers are using their platform and target ads accordingly. Hence, a creative studio will deliver a large volume of creatives at scale, ultimately delivering success.
To learn what you can do to adapt your strategy and to prepare for these changes, watch our CEO Brian Bowman, and CMO Tom Young discuss the future of the industry at MAU 2018 in Vegas.
About Consumer Acquisition
Founded in 2013, Consumer Acquisition provides creative services, fully-managed user acquisition services, and SaaS tools for social advertisers. We understand the greatest ROI comes from creative testing and we have an unmatched ability to produce videos and images at scale. Our creative studio supports Facebook, Instagram, Google App Campaign, Snap, Pinterest, and IAB formats and our AdRules platform supports Facebook and Google App Campaign.
In January 2019, we announced that we’re now offering Google App Campaign for managed services and expanded our managed services offerings, and tiered them for advertisers of all budget sizes. We also enhanced AdRules with new workflow automation features: AdBuilder Express & Audience Builder Express. The platform offers the industry’s lowest fees; 60 days free, then 0.7% of spend.
Google Premier Partner
In May 2019, we were awarded a Google Premier Partner Badge; recognizing Consumer Acquisition as a leading social advertising and creative solution. Consumer Acquisition is Google’s only Partner in North America with a Creative and Premiere Certification. The Google Partner Program is a highly selective program designed to help customers identify the highest performing and most reliable companies based on their Google App Campaign social advertising and creative needs.
A company must meet several requirements in order to qualify as a Google Premier Partner. According to Google, “Achieving Partner status means that your company has demonstrated AdWords skill and expertise, met Google ad spend requirements, delivered company agency and client revenue growth, and sustained and grown its client base.” Premier Partners are held to an even higher standard and must demonstrate expert-level AdWords knowledge and performance in order to achieve this badge.
Facebook Marketing Partner
In addition to being a Google Premier Partner, we’re a Facebook Marketing Partner badged in Creative and AdTech. So, we’re uniquely positioned to help you with Facebook and Google App Campaign and creative and UA optimization. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can help with Creative or User Acquisition services.
Creative matters in mobile advertising. In the highly competitive mobile apps market, growth is largely driven by continually acquiring a steady stream of new users to your app, and you must continue achieving profitable user acquisition in order to survive. However, mobile advertising is a constantly changing landscape. And, what is working for you today may not be working for you tomorrow. Further, 95% of your direct response creative advertising fails to outperform the best-performing assets in your portfolio, so you’re constantly working to find that 5 % of creatives that are successful.
Why Creative Matters in Mobile Advertising
Over the past few years, machine learning on platforms like Facebook and Google has reduced the level of effort by advertisers to manage their ad targeting, bids, and budgets. Also, automation has leveled the playing field for advertisers, such that creative has now become the key differentiator in campaign performance.
Because creative matters in both mobile advertising and Facebook advertising, here are the latest creative techniques and best practices to keep your ad creative performing. Thus, continuing to drive profitable user acquisition and growth:
Creative Questions to Consider Before Testing
Do you have a creative brand bible? How strict are you with that bible? What’s your tone? Who’s your audience? It’s surprising how few companies have thought through these questions that really set the stage for creative development. The following graphic identifies key areas that will help guide you in those creative conversations.
Brand Assets: Brand Guidelines with do’s and don’ts, logos, fonts, colors, styling and layout, sound, etc.
Likes & Dislikes: Preferred color palettes, simple vs stylized, subtle or elegant vs dramatic.
Brand Mode: Elements to recreate your look, backgrounds, textures, icons, & graphics.
Inspiration: Share videos that worked well, videos you loved, or that bombed.
Campaign Reference: Examples of successful assets and their result, why they worked.
Brand vs Direct Marketing
Are you a brand or are you doing direct response advertising? Often, the CMO will want to run brand campaigns and adhere to their brand bible with guidelines and restrictions. On the other hand, the UA team is incentivized by performance and will lean to direct response. But, there is a way to meet in the middle and get the best of both worlds. Also, it’s important to take into consideration that most of the videos and images in your creative will die in less than 10,000 impressions, so relative exposure of assets that your CMO doesn’t like is already very limited. Thus, if the winning creative does happen to be one of the 5% of successful creatives, you can always revisit the creative and iterate to make it brand compliant. Through this process, you will also see the impact of making your ad creative brand compliant. As a result, if the performance were to drop 30%, your CMO can potentially look to adjust the brand.
Types of Assets to Test
There’s a known approach to asset development of concepts versus variations and why you need one or the other. Concepts are brand new ideas, out-of-the-box thinking to develop something that hasn’t been tried before. And, it’s very difficult to develop fresh, new concepts. While the sky is the limit, we’re also constrained by the assets that we have. In addition, mobile app assets are often limited to what’s in our app, and in an engine like Unity. So it can be restrictive in developing totally new ideas. With variations, we’re taking that one in 5% successful create a winner. We know the creative is going to work, so instead, you will tear it apart like Legos and develop new creative assets, which often have a higher propensity to be successful.
Extend the Life of Your Ads
There’s a lot that you can do to extend the shelf life of your creative. Here are just some of the ways you can keep your creative fresh through testing variations:
Image Formats and Layouts: Showcase your product or service in several layouts like side-by-side, split-screen, grid (2×2, 3×3, 4×4), split-screen (½ & ½), split-screen variation ⅓ or ¼.
Video Length and CTAs: Your video ads need to be in the range of eight seconds or less. Your call to action should be in the first three seconds and it needs to be strong. Remember to tell a story – what is your app and why do people care?
Types of Images: The vast majority of pictures and videos you see on Facebook are user-generated, shared by family and friends. Professional photos or stock photography can look too perfect and tend to stick out on Facebook. Consider taking your own photos or degrading the quality of the images and videos to make them appear user-generated.
Color Uses in Images and Headers: Test simple and plain backgrounds with soft or blurred out colors or gradients. Allow the viewer’s eyes to focus on bright vibrant foreground colors. Test soft background colors vs bold colors, strong texture vs muted texture, and simple vs clean vs busy and cluttered backgrounds.
Stills to Video
There are four different categories in which all of these ads fell into basic in motion, brand in motion, benefit in motion and demo in motion. These videos can be created with limited assets as they consist of still images and simple animations of different elements. Here’s an overview of each type of video ad:
Basics in Motion: A simple video or an animation. You can start with a still image and animate one or two elements of the image such as a character. You can also use music to add excitement.
Brand In Motion: A video with an emphasis on your brand. Start with a still, and add excitement by animating an aspect of your brand like your logo.
Benefit in Motion: A video with an emphasis on your products’ benefits. Start with a still, and add excitement by animating your product’s benefits with typography. Use short copy to make your video effective
Demo In Motion: A video with an emphasis on how your product works. For mobile games, you can screen capture gameplay and place it inside a phone. Not a mobile game? Show a demonstration of your product.
Final Thoughts on Why Creative Matters
Managing your UA campaigns with the right approach is crucial, and these techniques will keep your acquisition team on aligned to a formula for continuous, iterative success. Creative is really the key to UA profitability today. It might be time now to review how you’re driving your campaigns and make a change.
Learn how to identify and fix your key mistakes if your Facebook as creative is killing you ROI. Many advertisers have a “set it and forget it” approach to running user acquisition (UA) campaigns. Thus, using the same Facebook ad creative for endless months, with only minor adjustments to bidding and deprecating segments with the lowest click-thru rate (CTR). A formula for slowly killing click-thru rates, eventually this approach will result in an ever-declining return on advertising spend (ROAS).
In today’s highly competitive market, the “set and forget” approach isn’t sustainable beyond a couple of weeks. Viewers get fatigued seeing ad creative frequently and need to be visually attracted with new, fresh images and video constantly in order to capture consumer attention. To achieve and sustain the return on advertising spend (ROAS), advertisers can easily cycle through hundreds of creative monthly in order to find winners. And then continue to iterate with new variations to keep winners generating a positive response.
Generating and improving creative at scale can seem like a daunting task. But, the rise of creative marketplaces automates creative scale. As a result, advertisers can focus more on testing and iterate on key areas of their creativity to keep generating fresh imagery that converts:
You’re not preparing for creative testing. How to fix it:
As a Facebook advertiser, creative testing of new concepts is imperative (i.e. a high-performing video or image that you can scale while maintaining ROAS). However, creative testing can also produce significant financial waste, approximately 95% of creatives will fail at outperforming your current portfolio winner. To be more deliberate in your creative testing to surface winners, start by brainstorming ideas that will resonate with your audience and form a hypothesis around numerous creative variables. Forming a hypothesis before you start production, will guide creative iterations.
evelop a plan for testing 1 variable at a time and to avoid data contamination between tests. Ensure your test geo and demos are representative of your audience. Also, establish your key performance metrics (KPIs) upfront – is it impressions, conversion rate, install rate or volume, cart visits, checkouts, etc.
If your test is running slow at delivering measurable results or your impressions are under-delivering, increase your bids by a specified percentage. Pause and re-run tests to ensure clean data.
Consider lift in multiple key performance metrics to determine the winner. Test and iterate further through a continuous improvement approach.
While developing a creative brief for designers to generate your ads, set your brand guidelines. Most large companies have a strong brand image accompanied by strict brand guidelines to represent companies in a consistent manner. Brand-driven organizations consider elements such as color palette, font treatment, logo placements, voice and tone to be used in copy, and more to develop brand-compliant creatives:
Brand guidelines with dos & don’ts, logos, fonts, colors, styling & layout, sounds, etc
Who You Are
Brand guidelines with dos & don’ts, logos, fonts, colors, styling & layout, sounds, etc.
Likes and Dislikes
referred color pallets, simple vs stylized, subtle, elegant vs dramatic.
Elements to recreate your look (backgrounds, textures, icons, graphics…).
Share videos that worked well, ones you love, some that bombed.
Examples of successful assets and their results, why did they work.
You’re not employing Facebook’s Best Practices for Videos. How to fix it:
A group of brand marketers, strategists, and creative directors at Facebook’s Creative Shop reviewed hundreds of top-performing ads, identified four different categories in which all of these ads fell into; basic in motion, brand in motion, benefit in motion, and demo in motion. These videos can be created with limited assets as they consist of still images and simple animations of different elements. Here’s an overview of each type of video ad:
Basics in Motion
A simple video or an animation. You can start with a still image and animate 1 – 2 elements of the image such as a character. You can also use music to add excitement.
Brand In Motion
A video with an emphasis on your brand. Start with a still, and add excitement by animating an aspect of your brand like your logo.
Benefit in Motion
A video with an emphasis on your products’ benefits. Start with a still, and add excitement by animating your product’s benefits with typography. Use short copy to make your video effective
Demo In Motion
A video with an emphasis on how your product works. For mobile games, you can screen capture gameplay and place it inside a phone. Not a mobile game? Show a demonstration of your product.
Basics, Brand, Benefit & Demo In Motion
A combination of your basics, brand, benefits, and demo in motion videos.
Additionally, here are some key tips and best practices on how to improve or fix videos to increase your ad’s user value:
The first 3 seconds really matter, so open strong with a visually stunning image or graphic.
Don’t rely on sound, but if it is important to deliver your message, be sure to emphasize it.
Use a clear and concise copy. Text overlaid on a video ad can help support your message.
Shorten the message. Viewers have a short attention span, so only make the message as long as it needs to be.
Leverage your characters. If you have great characters that are recognizable to your brand, use them fully.
You’re not leveraging existing winning creative. How to fix it:
You can develop new winners from existing creative. Ad creative variations leverage pieces of winning images and ads and reposition existing elements to ultimately creative something similar, but new. Create variations of your existing creative by changing:
Image Layout: A simple way to create new concepts is to showcase your product or service in several layouts like side-by-side, split-screen, grid (2×2, 3×3, 4×4), split-screen (½ & ½), split-screen variation ⅓ or ¼.
User-Generated vs Stock Photos: The vast majority of pictures and videos you see on Facebook are user-generated, shared by family and friends. Professional photos or stock photography can look too perfect and tend to stick out on Facebook. Consider taking your own photos or degrading the quality of the images and videos to make them appear user-generated.
Colors/Background: Test simple and plain backgrounds with soft or blurred out colors or gradients. Allow the viewer’s eyes to focus on bright vibrant foreground colors. Test soft background colors vs bold colors, strong texture vs muted texture, and simple vs clean vs busy and cluttered backgrounds.
You’re not writing powerful copy/calls to action. How to fix it:
Once you’ve grabbed the viewer’s attention with an eye-catching ad, it’s time to make the ask for the purchase or the download. Consider testing: different calls to action, language, copy and button color, copy placements, buttons, etc. You can also test variations of short vs long copy, as well as placements of the copy in the upper, middle, lower, left, and right corners of the ad.
You are not testing enough. How to fix it:
Constant creative testing – copy, video, images – becomes imperative to an organization’s objectives. A large volume of creative is needed not only to achieve and sustain ROAS because creative rapidly fatigues with increased spend and audience reach. Moreover, 95% of creative fail to outperform your portfolio’s best, so even when having a high-performing creative, you need to think about replacing it. See the graph below to understand the need and results of successful creative testing.
As the market is increasingly crowded, and automation tools continue to optimize how campaigns are run for efficiencies in delivering viewable impressions, targeting audiences, managing bidding, and budgets – ultimately, your creative becomes the differentiator for performance and financial success. Adopt and develop a testing plan that utilizes all the key variables to optimize your creative, and scale your acquisition program with your winning creative results.
Marketers Won’t Become Obsolete Due to Bots…Just More Strategic. Originally seen on AdWeek.
Recent advancements in machine learning are significantly changing the advertising landscape.
Over the past year, improvements in technology have enabled marketers to start measuring real net profits from ads. As a result, allowing small advertisers to effectively compete with large advertisers on a more even playing field. Thanks to machine learning, advertising platforms such as Facebook and Google can now automate decisions for marketers that have a huge impact on performance as well as time management. Before these advancements, user acquisition managers would have to manually adjust ad campaigns multiple times per day to optimize performance. But, now machines are making the decisions and the actions for them. While it’s a win for performance-based advertising, will bots and automation ultimately replace the role of the UA manager and make marketers obsolete?
One thing is for certain, marketers shouldn’t fear becoming obsolete. Rather, machine learning is opening the door for marketers to become more strategic. UA managers can now focus on strategy and how to address the changing market landscape. Rather than focusing on everyday obstacles like optimizing ad campaigns for marketplace fluctuations.
In particular, Facebook recently rolled out improvements in its automation tools for audience targeting, bidding, and budget management. Also, its app event optimizations and dynamic ad serving. Each of these key new features has a critical impact on UA campaigns. Thus, making them vastly more effective for advertisers around the clock. Here, we deep-dive into these five automation features and how they are game-changers in this highly competitive landscape.
Facebook finds the right audience for you, effortlessly
UA managers can now focus on strategy and how to address the changing market landscape. Instead of focusing on everyday obstacles like optimizing ad campaigns for marketplace fluctuations. Finding the right audience for a product or service can be challenging for advertisers. But now the process is simpler with tools such as Facebook’s lookalike audiences with value-based revenue enhancements. Facebook uses a source audience, a database of existing paying customers, to find and create an audience that will behave similarly to your previous paying customers. Getting ads to the right audience at the right time with the right creative is certain to improve a campaign’s performance.
Around the clock bidding based on your goals
Marketers want to ensure that their campaigns are driving efficient financial returns on advertising spend (ROAS). With auto-bidding, advertisers will not lose any opportunity to reach their financial objective due to a low or high bid. Facebook allows advertisers to set automatic bids that they self-adjust to ensure a campaign’s optimal performance around the clock.
Gain long-term value from your app
While marketers are heavily focused on the first install or the first click, ultimately advertisers should focus on acquiring users who bring value to their businesses by meeting specific financial goals. Facebook’s app event optimization, for instance, delivers ads to users who are most likely to take valuable actions within apps, like subscribe or pay for a feature. This optimization feature allows advertisers to target users that will bring long-term value to their business.
Campaign budget optimization
Machine learning can analyze and process vastly more data in real-time than an army of UA managers. Just like automatic bidding, overall ad budgets can be automated to increase and decrease based on performance goals set by marketers in real-time, around the clock. As a result, marketers get increased performance with a decreased need for human intervention and error by allowing algorithms to automatically set and adjust ad set budgets.
Your ad delivered to the right audience at the right time and place
Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) selects the best combination of elements to include in ads based on audience segments and real-time feedback. The concept is simple: right ad, right ad copy, right audience, right time, right language, and right device. DCO offers both creative delivery at scale as well as endless experimentation, all without needing a human tasked with the analysis of continuous testing and optimization.
Facebook’s newest automation tools are now enabling UA managers more time to focus on the one key element that can’t be automated by machines today: high-performing ad creative. Constant creative testing—copy, video, images—all becomes imperative to achieve and sustain a positive financial return from the advertising. Audiences quickly become bored with seeing the same creatives, and just as you’ve found a high-performing creative, you still need to plan to quickly replace it. UA managers will continue shifting their time away from campaign execution and more toward strategy and creative development.
Artificial intelligence plays a key role in the future of user acquisition
Looking ahead, artificial intelligence plays a key role in the future of user acquisition. Thus, enabling endless experimentation of ad creative. But, we can also anticipate that AI will greatly scale creative production beyond human capacity. AI will eventually learn to create videos and develop copy in a greater capacity than people. However, we are still years away from that reality or becoming obsolete. Moreover, the majority of this work still falls on creative teams and UA managers.
Outside of new creative, AI can run many key components of UA more effectively and more efficiently than people. So, where does this leave UA managers? Obsolete? No! Instead of spending time and overhead on quantitative tasks such as managing bids, budgets and manually optimizing creatives, they’ll be able to spend quantitative time focused on strategy, storytelling, and creative concepts. For agencies, they’ll also be able to focus more on bigger impact, like campaign strategy and creative development, rather than task management. It’s never been a better time to start experimenting with AI and automated tasks to up-level your UA program strategy and creative delivery.
Join thousands of subscribers who get our expert UA insights directly in their inbox each week.
Read Our Whitepapers
Creative & UA Best Practices For Facebook, Google, TikTok & Snap ads.