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When it comes to Facebook ads, creative is the most important lever that you can pull for the performance of your campaigns.

This is not just me saying that after years on the platform & scaling various DTC eCommerce brands, but technology company Nielsen has also conducted a complete study which verifies that creative is the driving force in a successful advertising campaign. To be exact, Nielsen found out that creative contributes about 47% of the performance to your advertising campaign.

Having that in mind, your main priority for your Facebook marketing campaign should be to improve your creative, since this is also the advertising element that you have the most influence on. You can’t really change the context your ad is seen in, neither can you really influence the reach that you are paying for.

So, it’s good news that creative is the driving force for the success of your advertising campaign.

However, how do you actually improve your creative & its performance? How can you even objectively evaluate your creative’s performance?

How NOT to evaluate your creative performance

Let’s start by talking about how not to evaluate your creative performance for facebook ads. There are thousands of advertisers out there who think they can accurately measure their creatives’ performance by taking a look at their cost-per-click (CPC) or their cost-per-mille (CPM).

Although the idea of “The more people click my ad, the lower my CPC will be & therefore the better my creative performance” might seem logical at first, you quickly realise that those metrics and KPIs become obsolete as soon as you have thoroughly understood Facebook’s bidding system.

Quick discourse into the bidding system on Facebook

How does Facebook’s advertising platform really work? I could drop loads of information right now, however, basically Facebook’s advertising platform is subject to the simpe laws of supply and demand.

Facebook has billions of billions of data points, hundreds of thousands of advertisers & although it might not seem like it, Facebook only has limited ad space.

This is also the reason why CPMs are constantly rising YoY by the way.

With that being said, naturally there are more advertisers willing to pay for a cohort of Facebook users that are likely to purchase with them. Given the data that Facebook has at hand, Facebook can pretty accurately predict who is most likely to purchase with which brand at which moment. However, this cohort is usually pretty small compared to the global audience of Facebook.

Talking about simple laws of supply and demand: Now we have a relatively large number of advertisers competing for the same cohort of users on Facebook, so they can deliver ads to those people. Naturally, therefore the price to advertise to those people will increase which translates into an increased CPM which inherently means an increased cost-per-click, since there is a direct correlation between the two metrics.

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Let’s take a look at this with an example of two different targeting options:

Audience A: Targeting people in the USA that have the interest in Food & Beverages.

Audience B: Targeting people in the USA that are engaged shoppers (meaning have bought something through an ad in the last 90 days) & are interested in pet food.

You advertise to both audiences with the same creative, however, for “Audience B” your CPC will always be higher. Why?

Well, because the CPM will always be higher, meaning it will cost more to reach those people, since you are competing with a lot more brands/ advertisers to reach them.

So, long story short – high CPMs & high CPCs are not correlated with creative performance or ROAS, rather than the opposite since high CPMs normally indicate a high purchase intent.

But if those metrics are obsolete, how should one measure creative performance then?

How we evaluate our creative performance

Before we talk about how to evaluate creative performance for facebook ads, we first need to establish what actually makes a good creative…

According to businessman Elias St. Elmo Lewis a creative needs to do four things:

  1. Grab the attention of your prospect
  2. Maintain the interest of your prospect
  3. Spike the desire of your prospect
  4. Provoke your prospect to take an action

This concept is also known as the AIDA formula which is commonly known & referred to in the marketing space.

With that model in mind, we had our first anchor point, however, at VictoryMedia we needed to find proxy metrics that could be pulled from the Facebook Ads Manager or Google Analytics to make sure that we can measure those stages accurately for our DTC eCommerce clients.

The adjusted AIDA principle

With the age-old AIDA principle at hand we were able to iterate off of that and adjust that to modern day-and-age media buying. With this principle we were able to not only accurately measure our creative’s performance, but also disaggregate our creative problem into different categories and therefore have a deeper understanding of the creative & an additional layer of optimization.

  • Awareness = 3 secs/ impression

When can we confidently say we have successfully grabbed someone’s attention? Well, we thought after somebody spent three seconds with our ad…

Basically it is a percentage number that gives you the amount of people that actually spend three or more seconds with your creative relative to the amount of people that you actually paid to deliver the ads to.

  • Interest = Average Watch Time

Maintaining the interest in our opinion is measured in how long somebody actually interrupts his or her consumer behavior and stays with you & your brand. This metric is translated into average watch time & how long the average viewer stays with us.

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This metric is native to the Facebook advertising dashboard.

  • Desire = Unique link-click CTR

The desire to know more about a product or brand. How many people actually want to know more about your product or service?

We usually aim at about 1.5%-2% in CTR. However, those metrics should always be put into perspective with your past paid social performance.

This metric is a huge step subconsciously in the consumer’s brain, since they are leaving a familiar surrounding, their timeline, to go off into an “uncertain” future.

It might seem like this isn’t a big step, but for our primal brain this fundamental change.

  • Action = ROAS

Pretty straightforward, how many people actually purchase with you based upon this creative. However, ROAS is a little bit tricky & honestly has lost some importance in our creative evaluation process here at VictoryMedia, especially since iOS14.5 hit.

The reason? Well, first of all since iOS14.5 hit, attributable ROAS is very inaccurate for Facebook ad creatives, however, apart from that ROAS is also influenced by too many other factors apart from the creative.

Things like page speed, landing page copy + angles are very important when it comes to actually converting the consumer. Even with the best creative on earth, when your checkout is disabled, then ROAS for this creative will be zero.

At the end of the day, your creative is responsible for “selling the click” then your landing page is responsible for actually selling the product.

Conclusion:

Creative performance is the driving force behind the success or failure of your Facebook ads campaign, so make sure to keep that in mind when it comes to allocating your time.

Additionally to that creative testing is a huge component for the success & improvement of your creatives.

But when it comes to testing & improving your creative, you should always be aware that your opinion is biased. It doesn’t matter how well you think you know your audience, ultimately data is what tells the truth.

Therefore, you need to have accurate KPIs & a reliable set of data that you can analyse in order to objectively & sustainably improve your creative performance as well as grow your eCommerce business.

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