The Forgotten Optimisation – urgent wake-up call to marketers as Q4 complacency around digital campaigns risks creative falling flat

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, 64.1 per cent of marketers are feeling considerably more pressured to deliver efficiency compared to last year, while 44.7 per cent expect their budgets to reduce if Q4 fails to meet targets, new research finds.

But most aren’t confident in the ability of their partners and agencies to make their creative work as hard as possible as the all-important Q4 looms – putting vital campaigns at risk of avoidable failure.

Compounding Creative, a new white paper from creative effectiveness ad platform, Automated Creative, in partnership with World Federation of Advertisers, suggests brands who don’t track and optimise the performance of their digital campaigns could be leaving significant media value on the table.

The report offers evidence that, with proper in-flight creative optimisation, marketers can improve their media value by an average of 17 per cent, and reduce their CPA cost in conversion campaigns – a crucial Q4 metric of success for many – by over 50 per cent.

Surveying more than 200 senior marketers, and with features from brands such as Jack Daniels and Mars, the research identified an inability to optimise digital campaigns in-flight as a critical challenge for marketers. It found that:

  • Just under one third of marketers (28.9 per cent) are not optimising digital campaigns in-flight at all

  • Only 2.6 per cent of marketers felt they had enough information mid-campaign to take decisions around creative effectiveness, with 61.6 per cent feeling that they had ‘not at all’ enough

  • Reporting frequency may be a contributing factor, with the bulk of campaigns focusing on end-of-campaign reporting and only a third having access to some form of live dashboard data 
  • Agile action was also an issue: over half of respondents did not feel confident in their team’s or partners’ ability to take action in-campaign (53.8 per cent)

  • 4 per cent complained of “poor” communication between creative and media – the lowest rating – and an overwhelming 71 per cent fell between poor and average.

In a tighter economy than ever – the IPA suggests that two thirds of adults are spending less in 2023 as the cost of living crisis continues – creative is recognised to be responsible for as much as 70 per cent of campaign success [source: Google].

Betting huge budgets on creative that fails to perform – but continues to run, through the most important commercial season of the year – is a reckless, unnecessary, but crucially easily avoidable risk for marketers, the white paper contends.

Amy Wright, Head of Strategy at Automated Creative said: “Launching your Q4 holiday campaign without prepping for in-flight optimisation is like launching a rocket ship into space without a mission control. Yes, you’ll have invested in the best possible team, design, and approach – but what are the chances that strategy survives contact with reality?

“Applying a ‘one size fits all’ creative approach can mean accepting a huge percentage of your campaign spend will be wasted. In today’s fast-moving landscape, it’s so important for brands to understand what is driving creative effectiveness.”

Compounding Creative provides marketers with an action guide for a more effective Q4, and offers numerous brand success stories that illustrate the value of in-flight creative optimisation, including:

  • Jack Daniel’s (Brown Forman) saw an improvement vs brand benchmark on social equivalent to 2-3x more media spend. An additional third-party dual branding study proved an increase in both sales lift and ROI – insights that were then applied to an OOH campaign that beat all existing benchmarks

Matt Green, Director, Global Media Practice at Automated Creative’s content partner, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), urges marketers to focus on effectiveness when they’re being asked to drive more with less.  

“Marketers can be too focused on activating campaigns, sometimes at the expense of proving results. The ‘unlock’ appears to be via better cascaded effectiveness processes… Getting started is what counts” said Green.

Automated Creative has creatively optimised over 6bn impressions for the world’s most famous brands and ecommerce and D2C businesses. It recently rolled out a number of new features in its technology including the incorporation of ChatGPT and new planning tools in an updated grid-style interface to consolidate workflow between marketing, creative, and media teams. It automates production of an unlimited number of unique ads, enabling teams to learn over time. In this way, by turning impressions into intelligence, Automated Creative’s clients, who include Bose, Brown Forman, Haleon, Mars, Therabody, Upwork and Universal Music, make huge leaps in the performance of paid social and display advertising.

To find out more, join Automated Creative at their virtual event at 4pm today – ‘Compounding Creative: An Urgent Q4 Wake-Up Call’. Sign up here.

To read the whitepaper in full click here.