Creative data: a marketer’s recession antidote

Embracing innovation in times of crisis will separate the brands that win and those that disappear.

Marketers can’t afford to waste a good recession. They should instead be looking for ways to win. But how can they do so? Rebecca Dykema, SVP Clients, Partnership and Digital Transformation at CreativeX believes the answer lies in creative data. 

The latest IPA Bellwether report came with a word of caution for UK marketers - budget growth is likely to come to a halt. Against the context of a looming recession, rising inflation, and consumer confidence at an all-time low, on paper, this news doesn't bode well for marketers. 

The typical knee-jerk reaction in a recession is to slash innovation budgets. But this doesn’t have to, and indeed shouldn’t be, the case. Innovation in times of crisis actually separates the brands that win and those that disappear.

Creative has the power to increase advertising profitability, but marketers have always struggled to distinguish what works and what doesn’t - insert John Wanamaker’s age-old adage here (“half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”). In recent years, we’ve optimised for engagement, reach, audience and channel, because that’s what we could measure, rather than the efficacy of the creative itself - a performance driver many believe can’t be measured. But in 2022, that has changed.  Despite the rough roads ahead, the most sophisticated marketers in the world are investing in innovation.  To get ahead of the challenge of tightened budgets, they are using creative data to drive more efficient advertising.

Creative data: the gold mine 

Every creative execution contains thousands of elements - visual, auditory, and contextual. Imagine a world in which these elements could be objectively measured and correlated to performance. Marketers are sitting on years of ad content which could provide a view of what creative elements do and don’t correlate to successful campaign outcomes.  It’s like an entire asset class of data just waiting to be mined. The trouble is many marketers don’t yet know they have this data, let alone how to use it.  

So what does creative data look like in real terms? Marketers can use insights to establish creative quality principles, whether that's consistent logo usage, framing or audio settings - standards which are proven by Google and Meta to contribute to improved media performance. Together, these make up a Creative Quality Score (CQS) - an industry standard metric which measures content effectiveness by tracking the inclusion of creative quality best practices. 

Unlocking success with a Creative Quality Score

A CQS links to improved media efficiency, such as lower performance costs, higher return on investment and an uptick in brand lift. Yet - based on the CreativeX database of over 1M ads - the average CQS is just 28%. In other words, more than 70% of ads are not meeting platform recommended best practices (like Meta's Brilliant Basics or YouTube's ABCDs). And the spend behind those creatives is even higher - over 55%. Extrapolate this to industry spend and marketers could be looking at over $10bn spent on creative that doesn’t meet the minimum standard required to cut through on platforms.

Half of the world’s biggest brands are already harnessing the power of creative data. For instance, Nestlé’s CMO, Aude Gandon has rallied the brand’s 2,000 brands and 186 markets around a single metric. Every 10% increase in CQS correlates to around an 11% decrease in cost-per-view. In another example, Heineken found that doubling its CQS correlated to 50% uptick in brand lift.


Survive the next downturn with innovation


Marketers shouldn’t waste a good recession. This is the moment to leverage the latest innovation in data and tech to make your creative work harder.  By tapping into creative data today, marketers will be able to drive more efficient media and stretch their shrinking budgets. Setting themselves up for the bigger opportunity, marketers will finally be able to understand which of their creative elements are driving performance.  So that they can make the case for creative excellence across all their campaigns with confidence, not just during recession but once out the other side, too.

By Rebecca Dykema

SVP Clients, Partnership and Digital Transformation