How 2 Brands and an Agency Proved the Power of Custom Creative

An illustration of a woman with a mobile device playing YouTube videos

By Rion Austin

If you ask a room full of advertisers, “What makes a good video ad?” you’ll likely get a wide range of responses. But most will agree that good creative drives results. According to Nielsen, creative is responsible for almost half of a campaign’s success.1 And when I recently ran a YouTube CMO roundtable, many clients spoke to creative customization and experimentation as key components of their success. Their experiences support the insight that relevance to viewers maximizes impact. Because different content resonates with different viewers, campaigns containing several versions of the same creative, each tailored to a specific audience, can be very effective.

Advancements in technology have led viewers to expect more relevance, thanks to a proliferation of choice. Now, ad creative must transform to meet those expectations. We developed Ads Creative Studio to streamline the production process by helping brands and agencies cut down on time and costs, and to facilitate collaboration between media and creative teams. Here’s how two brands and an agency used the platform to create more effective ads.

Test to find out what boosts brand perception

Customization has always been a key part of PepsiCo’s marketing strategy, but their sparkling water brand bubly’s impact on brand associations still had to be tested. The team wanted to find out how customized video ads for the brand might encourage their ideal audiences to associate it with house parties, barbecues, sports viewing, and other consumption moments. The goal? To deliver on a brief to better understand the consumer and eventually win them over.

With this experiment, PepsiCo wanted to gauge which of those occasion-specific messages, when aimed at relevant audiences, would resonate the most. With Ads Creative Studio, the process of building out a collection of customized assets became smoother and more efficient. The suite of tools allowed the teams to keep production internal by housing all design elements on a single platform.

Teams can craft stories around themes they know resonate with audiences they want to reach.

“Prior to using Ads Creative Studio for video customization, we planned a high-level creative and targeting approach,” said Terrence McLaughlin, associate marketing manager at PepsiCo. However, after using the tool to inventory creative variables to personalize, each with its own designated audience, they realized they had to adapt their creative process to be more tactical. “After seeing the Ads Creative Studio user flow, we had to break down the elements of our proposed creative to mimic the framework in the platform.”

With a single tool, the PepsiCo team was able to standardize processes across functions. As a result, the team found that campaigns with creative depicting social gathering and food pairing situations were most effective at driving brand lift. Equipped with that knowledge, teams can now craft bubly’s stories around themes they know resonate with audiences they want to reach.

Cut costs, not viewers

When General Motors South America wanted to boost brand awareness of the Cruze 5 model, they decided to lean on customization beyond the basics. Drawing on Google insights, they created an audience strategy that relied on a collection of 14 different groups, including affinity audiences like “outdoor enthusiasts,” “thrill seekers,” and “beachbound travelers,” as well as contextual audiences: those watching various types of auto-related content on YouTube. Each of these 14 groups would see an ad customized specifically to what would resonate with them.

The team was faced with the question of how to produce 14 unique ads, without sacrificing time, budget, or resources. They opted to try Ads Creative Studio.

We reduced costs by 30%, and, after the campaign, we noticed an increase in product searches.

“It allows you to increase productivity and efficiency, both creatively and from media costs and metrics,” said Gianluca Schinocca, media coordinator for GM Argentina. “Among the many benefits of Ads Creative Studio, production time saving and the large amount of videos produced are the ones that we found most impactful. We also reduced 30% in terms of costs, and, after the campaign, we noticed a huge increase in product searches.”

For a true win, GM knew they would need measurable results in brand lift and search. In the end, with a 56% increase in Google searches for “chevrolet cruze”2 and a cost per view 32% less than the industry benchmark, the experiment was a success.

Facilitate creative collaboration

From the agency perspective, Ads Creative Studio can eliminate the swirl that sometimes comes with ambitious undertakings. Creative agencies around the world are constantly dealing with gridlock in approvals and workflows. Men in Green, a Dutch creative agency, found that the suite of tools made it easier for designers to share and edit work. “It is the perfect solution for our challenge,” said Jaap den Hertog, founder and CEO of Men in Green. “It gives a risk-free environment for designers to build [ad] creatives. It also allows for easy collaboration between multiple designers.”

Previously, to maintain high production standards, Men in Green had strict quality controls in place that only allowed for senior designers to produce data-driven ad creatives within Display & Video 360. That meant junior designers could not create design variations, even when the team needed them. Because Ads Creative Studio is integrated into Display & Video 360, junior designers can now make their own ad creatives, halving the time it takes to deliver work and allowing senior designers to focus on quality assurance and publishing.

Creative is fundamental to campaign success. No matter what your goals are, a centralized suite of tools can be used to drive both efficiency and scale.

To their clients’ delight, the data-driven ad creatives with tailored messaging decreased production costs significantly. When leading bath and body brand company Rituals was looking for a way to promote their Easter collection, Men in Green used templates to create personalized messages for each market. Not only did they save time and resources, but they also saw a 278% higher click-through rate, 64% lower cost per thousand impressions (CPM), and 103% higher conversion rate compared to standard IAB banners.

Creative is fundamental to campaign success. No matter what your goals are, a centralized suite of tools can be used to drive both efficiency and scale. By reducing barriers and enhancing efficiency, Ads Creative Studio makes it easier for teams to collaborate and create personalized assets quickly, at low cost. Coupled with video experimentation, these tools allowed three different organizations to determine the most effective story to engage each of their unique audiences.

This article first appeared on Think with Google.

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