Learn more about our Creative Studio CA+ and how you can work with us to drive great, effective advertising results.
Our Creative Studio CA+
CA+ breaks the mold on creative agency services both in creative development and pricing model.
Today’s advertisers need to be nimble and able to reach their audience across a wide array of platforms and mediums – from social advertising on Facebook, Google, TikTok, Instagram, Snap, and Apple Search Ads, to television, digital out of home, online video UGC, influencer campaigns and more.
CA+ brings together best-in-class creative development, production, post-production, testing, and optimization all in one scalable creative house. Our creative studio has produced over 300,000 creatives and we have managed over $3 billion in social advertising spend.
What are the benefits of our creative studio?
- Creative delivered at a tremendous scale
- Benchmark internal teams and alleviate tunnel vision and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
- Creative strategy is driven by elite in-house talent
- Easy creative review and centralized feedback
- 1-Click uploads and ad launches
- Integrated analytics with recommendations
- A guided brief process with performance templates
- Rapid variation creations with bulk sheet editing
- Free access to Shutterstock
- Free access to 1000s of emojis & stickers
What are the pricing options?
Every production at CA+ includes transparent pricing (each CA+ project individually priced).
For video production services, the budget presented is actual costs, plus 15%. Additionally, CA+ will credit to the next month when coming in under budget. And we will cover any costs that exceed the client budget. After every shoot, CA+ will also provide clients with a detailed accounting statement, timecards, or receipt copies to confirm the spend.
For video editing and animation, we offer multiple options, including a month-to-month or a two-month agreement. In both cases, there is no fee for the tool, just a per-unit cost for the creative. The flat-rate minimum per month is $5,000 (you get four videos per month), as well as discounts for three-month agreements or high-volume video creation. We also offer a $99 Video Ad promotion for your first video, so that you can test us out before jumping in.
All these videos and image concepts we design are made for you. This means you have the right to use this ad creative however you want, whenever you want. Additionally, we can provide resizing services for ad creative.
What is the success rate of new creative from our Creative Studio?
Machine learning has simplified the optimization algorithms at Facebook, Google App Campaign, Instagram, TikTok, Snap, and Apple Search Ads. With automated algorithms, creative has become the driver of performance, but….
5% of creative will outperform the best ad in your portfolio. That means only ~1 out of 20 concepts performs well.
Compelling creative CANNOT be generated with machine learning. Our objective with creative testing is to move quickly, limit non-converting spend by prototyping ads.
This allows us to work quickly to uncover winning concepts that can be enhanced with colors, fonts, and materials to reach brand compliance once it is proven, which would be very helpful.
In fact, it would be more financially efficient if you could approve imperfect ads (perhaps incorrect fonts, colors…), allow our creative studio to launch these ads quickly, gather learnings and we will adjust for the next set of ads. This will allow us to explore more creative concepts quickly, uncover winners, and ultimately deliver better results.
To illustrate the scope of the creative testing challenge, here is a gaming company that spent > $15mm on Facebook.
- The horizontal axis is the number of ads ~ 600.
- The vertical axis is the amount of $ spend per ad.
As you can see a vast, vast, vast majority of ads bomb quickly.
Could you provide us test access and a video tutorial on how to work with our creative studio?
We do not have “test” access, but please feel free to register here. You can either connect a Facebook account or not. If you do not connect an account, you will not have access to advanced reporting and our AdBuilder. Also, you will not be able to upload to Facebook / Instagram or see your media library, but the rest of our creative studio UI works fine.
Also, here is an overview video.
Do we get access to the creatives you produce, or we will pay an additional fee?
Absolutely, any video/image we design you have the right to use however you want for FREE across any network.
To be clear, we do not provide source materials (i.e., we are not sharing Photoshop files or Adobe After Effects source files). But any concept we create in our creative studio, you are free to use, create variations, etc.
We provide resizing services to help you get to other networks or your internal team is free to copy the idea and do it themselves.
Consider us an extension of your internal team (aside from source materials).
Can we use our creatives at the same time on our accounts, and how will the fee be calculated in this case?
Absolutely, any video/image we design you have the right to use immediately on any network, and we encourage you to do that!
With our best-managed relationships, when we get a winner, we share it; when they get a winner, they share it with us. The idea is to benchmark your internal team’s performance and help improve media buying and creative concepts and variations.
How many creatives will our Creative Studio team produce?
This question is nearly impossible to answer in the abstract. The number of videos we produce is governed by your media test budget we must spend and your appetite for financial risk / non-converting spend.
We have found that on average there is a 95% failure rate for new creative. That means only 1 out of 20 videos will become a winner – which results in a lot of non-performing spend on media testing.
For example, if we guaranteed 10 videos per month, that number may be too high given a budget of say $200K / month as we may not be able to run them while hitting ROAS metrics.
As important, if we produce a bunch of creative quickly, we will make assumptions on what works vs using data to guide our process. As a result, we may end up with poor performers that we would not have designed if we had the data before creative ideation began.
Most importantly, we find focusing on a data-driven, quantitative creative testing process very productive. We like to get data to understand what is working and not working and use that data to guide our creative process. Ultimately that saves your media dollars and us time (win-win).
The bottom line regarding creative volume, when we are running managed services, we do what it takes to be successful.
For some of our large clients, we produce 40 videos/month, but their spend is 7 figures, so we have the budget to test without crushing ROAS.
We have built our reputation by doing whatever it takes to get to scale and sustain it. Sometimes it takes a big effort in creative development, other times it is significant to account rebuilds for media buying.
What is a prototype ad?
95% of all new creative concepts and variations fail. Our objective with creative testing is to move quickly, limit non-converting spend and prototype new concepts and variations.
Do not let brand requirements force you to noddle all the losing ads and reduce the speed of testing.
If we can win prototype ads, you will save time & money. Losing prototype ads typically see < 50,000 impressions, so brand exposure is limited. 60% is our target brand compliance.
As a client, expect small errors: fonts, colors… but do not freak out, test imperfect ads, kill the losers, and enhance winners.
Performance ads vs. branding – how do you approach the challenge?
Most companies have people who are driven by their “left brain” or their “right-brain”.
We have found that many companies/people want to bring their “titles or opinions” to a data fight.
Almost everyone’s opinions are wrong.
The key to successful performance advertising is to be data-driven, A/B test creative & winning elements, uncover performance drivers, and let data determine what to do next.
Can you explain your creative testing process?
We believe in a process we call “Quantitative Creative Testing”. It is not just a/b split-testing, and it is not exactly multivariate testing. It is specifically designed for the creative production of Facebook, Google App Campaign, Instagram, TikTok, Snap, and Apple Search Ads. There are two types of ad creative tests: Concepts and Variations. Here are the key differences:
Concepts: Large Changes & Large Impacts
Concepts are brand new, completely different ads. They are big “outside-of-the-box” approaches that can result in large improvements to revenue (or in some cases, large losses). Concepts are the key drivers for creative success but must be used in a limited way. When they fail, they tend to fail badly.
Variations: Small Changes & Small impacts
Variations leverage pieces of past, high-performing concepts. So, you reposition existing elements to create something similar but new. Variations do not have big differences like concepts, but because they are based on high-performing ads, variations typically generate smaller, more incremental wins and/or losses.
The general idea is to follow the 80/20 rule—spend about 80% of the time optimizing the best ads and creating new variations. This limits the amount of non-converting ad spend and allows us to prototype and iterate new ads quickly. The remaining 20% of the time should be spent toying with new concept ideation; big, grand ideas that often fail but sometimes generate a 100x ad.
Our Quantitative Creative Testing framework is based on 5 phases:
Phase 1: Competitive Analysis
Whenever we start a new client, we begin by evaluating the ads of their top competitors. Why? The success rate of new creative is 5%. We recommend that you study your competitor’s ads to see what they are doing. If they are spending a lot on a concept that you are not, it is logical to assume they have the same 5% success rate and they have identified a winner, so you should “borrow and customize” the concept.
Following this process will provide you an endless supply of “tested” concepts ready for you to customize.
HOWEVER, we have found that it really matters who is doing the evaluation. UA managers are typically not good at creative analysis and creative staff is usually not good at analytics. The ideal person would have both quantitative & creative skills, or you will review in a cross-functional team. The objective is to reject as few ideas as possible, so you can radically increase your creative vocabulary and testing harness.
To assist in your evaluation, we recommend evaluating Facebook ad spying tools: Adsviser2.0, Social Ad Scout, PowerAdSpy, Connect Explore, SocialPeta, AdSpy, AdSwiper, etc.
Phase 2: Simple Variation Testing
If you think of each of your ads as a landing page, your objective should be to break down each ad into pieces. Test each piece to determine its value and financial contribution. Once you know which ad is the primary performance driver, you can leverage those learnings to keep your best concepts alive indefinitely.
Here are some of the elements we like to test:
- Calls to Actions / Buttons
- Length: 6, 10, 15 seconds
- Text Headers: Text placement, text length (4-6 words seem to perform best), text color, font, and more
- Format: Square, horizontal, vertical, or in story form
Phase 3: Advanced Variation Testing
There are a lot of elements to test, but here are some of our favorites:
- Start and End Cards: There are plenty of things to test with cards, aka calls to action. You can try placing them at the beginning, or the end of videos. Test different calls to action and CTA colors.
- Colors: We have found primary colors work best—the bolder the better.
- Ad Copy: You can test different ad copy, the placement of the ad copy, copy color and font, or no ad copy at all.
- Mobile Device: Showing a mobile device in the ad versus not showing one.
- Background Image: Busy, or plain? One color, or a pattern? Note simpler backgrounds tend to perform better.
- Image Layout: Split screen? If so, split it vertically or horizontally? Try a grid of images. Horizontal? Vertical?
- Image Testing: As you know, images matter a lot, so they must get tested a lot. Oftentimes, we test images based on whether they are user-generated or stock photos. User-generated content, or photos that look like they are user-generated, outperform “magazine-like” photos.
- Product Amounts: Testing one product versus multiple products.
- Logos: Include or exclude the App Store logo and/or Google Play Badges. Removing the logo tends to lift performance by about 15%.
- Logos and Brand Placement: Top, bottom, left, or right? You can also test no logo—ads often perform better without branding elements.
Phase 4: Benefit & Demo in Motion
Facebook’s creative studio developed a creative testing framework called “Create to Convert” by evaluating 1000s of ads from top advertisers. Here are the core elements of their framework:
“Create to Convert” offers multiple ways to create videos ads from still images:
- Basic Motion: Adds one or two moving elements on top of a still image.
- Brand in Motion: Your branding or logo element/s moves in front of a still image or stock video footage.
- Benefit in Motion: The benefit of your ad or its primary message is the moving aspect of the video.
- Demo in Motion: This uses video footage of how your app, website, service, product, or feature works, and shows it over a static image, so it looks like the ad is showing someone using your app (or website).
Phase 5: Best Practices for Concept Ideation in our Creative Studio
Concept ideation is where we attempt to produce a breakout, 100x ad. About 95% of ads will fail to outperform existing ads, with some failing hard. To minimize losses, about only 20% of creative work is focused on new concepts.
To develop these new concepts, you will need to:
- Leverage your competitive analysis research.
- Use your storytelling skills to frame, present, and create new concepts. This means you need someone on your team who can explain what your app does or offers in a concise and compelling way.
- Leverage character animation and assets in new ways. If you have a celebrity or a very well-known brand, try to make them the center of the ad. If you do not, test using characters to see if they help or hurt performance.
- Create variations of these concepts using insights from your simple variation testing. Integrate the ad elements and combinations that work best.
Ready to get started? Contact us today to learn more about our Creative Studio.