Why Creatives Should Remain Key In The Face of Automation

As we step into 2021 mid pandemic, there is no question whatsoever that the app marketing landscape has shifted. Social culture for the most part has moved entertainment from outside to digital, creating quite the crowded marketplace for app marketers. There are now more apps than ever squeezed into app stores armed with abilities to make noise across any and all channels creating an advertising minefield. Gone are the days of a winning app consisting of a simple product photo with strategically placed text- investing in creatives is the only way forward. A creative-centric campaign approach is needed now more than ever and it needs to be the default. All creative assets need to consistently analyzed across every ad campaign – and that’s just the start.

More Automation? More Creatives

With a heavy amount of automation capabilities slowly creeping into the app ecosystem, creatives remain the one element that the app marketer can take complete control of, so it makes best strategic sense to ‘give them all you got’ and run your campaigns with a ‘creative centric’ approach. 

The arrival of Facebooks ‘Automate App Ads’ (AAA) goes one step further to proving this point. The whole raison d’etre of this latest offering is to put most of the campaign heavy-lifting into the hands of Facebook technology, leaving the app advertiser with much fewer processes and complications to access the next level of campaign automation. If this ‘automation shift’ catches on we could be a mere few years away from launching seamless one-click campaigns across all platforms, leaving very little in the hands of UA teams. Yet no matter how advanced these automations become, the fact remains – poor creatives, even run through the most sophisticated AI, will generate poor results. The competitive campaign edge lies more in the creative than ever before and remains in the hands of the app marketer.

Creatively Centered

While ad creatives are imperative to success, they still remain a confusing minefield for many. There are many app advertisers who are yet to understand that all images and videos should be constantly analyzed for performance throughout the campaign duration, and the results show. Their teams are rarely geared towards the creative, and are instead geared towards the cold numbers. Switching to a creative-focussed campaign approach will place UA teams ahead of the competition, particularly when testing creatives via automation systems like AAA. Think about it, a creative-first approach will force testing of the creative assets that need to be tested which can THEN be fed into AI engines. If all is surrendered to AI too early, insights will be confused and campaigns will suffer. Creative testing workflows should be set up from the get-go, ideally per asset; understanding winning creatives early on is key to scaling. 

In an automation-centric world, it’s all too easy to forget that there is no replacement for workflows and tools that are dedicated to creative testing – which must be used for success. Never leave creative decisions in the sole hands of an automation system – after all, AI might work wonders, but it has a limited dataset compared to human capabilities. AI may not be equipped to apply its dataset beyond the campaign to channels and stages of the funnel. For creatives, cross channel analysis is critical, as there is rarely one creative combination that can experience a uniform success in one format across all channels.

Seek Help When Needed

One might consider building out creative talent teams for the win, but this, from our experience, is rarely a winning formula. Anyone with marketing experience will be the first to tell you that for the most part, ads have a short shelf life with performance rapidly declining via creative fatigue. It’s a well-known fact that 5% of ads do well enough to quantify any kind of budget increase and even a winner may only be a winner for a brief time period. So only by pumping out asset combinations in great numbers can your team hope to find winners… and this process needs to be continuous in order to keep churning out more. With this in mind, it may be worthwhile to consider collaboration with creative specialists. Companies like Liniad have extensive experience when it comes to creative testing and have mechanisms in place to generate the required amount of ads to hit that ‘creative combo’ sweet spot. The right specialist can help you access top performing playable ads, images, videos, and banners across all marketing channels and can take you from concept to production with relative ease delivering the best performance possible. Collaboration is often the key to success.

With ad spend not slowing down (a recent report from Statista predicts spend on ads reaching $52B in the US alone by 2024), creative development will ramp up alongside spend surges. Display, video and playable ads will most certainly continue to monopolize across major channels from Facebook to Instagram, from YouTube to TikTok. There are also no signs of AI slowing down either; in fact it looks to continue dominating ad technology for the foreseeable future leaving the advertiser only one major channel of control – creatives. With this in mind, it surely makes a whole lot of sense to make creatives the cornerstone of ad campaigns. When that winning creative asset combo is found pulling in the ROAS, we are proven right time and again.

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