Elevating the Ad Experience Through Insights and Experimentation

3 people on a staged train

Industry changes are unfolding that will impact how advertisers reach their audiences with relevant messages. Brands need to consider how to elevate the advertising experiences they are delivering consumers.

To better understand consumers’ advertising preferences and expectations, Amazon Ads and Omnicom Media Group commissioned a study with Latitude to survey 3,511 US consumers. The study found that 73% of consumers think ads are more enjoyable to view when they feel personally relevant.

Navigating the shifting digital landscape

In recent years brands have increasingly shifted their ad spend toward digital, with larger-than-expected increases in retail media networks and streaming TV, according to a 2021 eMarketer report.

“Consumers have never been more connected than they are today. They’re finding new ways to shop to entertain and to interact with brands,” said Maggie Zhang, Head of Measurement Success at Amazon Ads. “So it’s really important for brands to develop a deep understanding of these connected consumers, their behaviors, attitudes and preferences, in order to have a better way to engage and serve their customers in the long run.”

Context matters to consumers, with 68% of consumers stating they enjoy seeing ads that relate to the content they are viewing at that moment. And more than half of consumers (52%) said they enjoy interactive features within ads—such as gamification surrounding a product, portals to product info or interactive audio ads—that they can activate with remote controls, smart speakers, or mobile devices.

But as more brands embrace the shift to digital, and as digital channels become more saturated, it becomes harder to stand out from the crowd. Marketers faced with rising CPCs and diminishing returns on their media spend should consider creative as a path to continued growth. According to Kantar, creative quality remains among the top drivers of brand impact, accounting for 50% of campaign effectiveness.

Creative experimentation to drive long-term success

“Technology will continue to evolve and drive customer behavior changes, which is why creative experimentation is critical to advertiser success,” said Dan Hou, Director of Creative Studios with Amazon Ads.

With intentional experiments, advertisers can optimize and improve campaign performance in the short term and drive long term business impact by applying learnings to future creative work. When building your own creative experimentation programs, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

First, create dedicated space for experimentation. It’s easy to get busy or otherwise forget to carve out the resources to do this properly. Build experimentation into your planning cycle and have regular check-ins to review results and make tweaks to improve performance.

Second, decide what not to test. There are some areas you shouldn’t let an experiment decide, especially things like your brand. It’s important to have conviction and be consistent with your brand tenets and identity.

Third, pick part of the creative to iterate on. It’s far more cost effective to experiment with variations in the details rather than core creative concepts. Remember that small changes in execution can really pay off.

Take a customer-centric approach to your creative

A customer-centric approach relies on developing campaign creative that resonates with the audience in the moment. “A customer-centric approach to developing creative is one that goes beyond outcomes from past campaigns to also encompass scaled creative insights, specifically those related to particular creative elements,” explains Heather Kehrberg, Director of Global Creative Success at Amazon Ads. “It then utilizes experimentation to determine what resonates and performs best.”

The concept of customer-centric creative challenges marketers to seek more insights than just what’s gathered from analyzing past campaign performance, by bringing together a variety of audience insights into the process. “We need to understand everything from shopping behaviors, media consumption and trending topics, but we also need to go deeper and look at creative-specific insights,” explained Kehrberg. “These can help identify the best creative types to use for different goals, like awareness or purchase, and they inform decisions about creative elements like imagery, headlines and colors to use in order to really resonate with a specific audience.”

Through audience insights and creative experimentation, brands can create an advertising experience that informs, delights, and entertains viewers and helps them discover the products or information they want and need.