This content is taken from our latest report, 'Creative Data: A Recession Antidote' produced to help marketers drive media efficiencies through creative improvements.
It’s getting harder and harder to advertise efficiently.
Our research shows that the average Creative Quality Score for a Fortune 500 ad campaign is 28%, which means that over 70% of their creative work is inefficient – adding up to millions of dollars in wasted ad spend. All that waste becomes a particularly significant problem during a recession.
What is a Creative Quality Score and why does it matter for marketers, especially now during an economic downturn?
To adequately answer this question, context is required.
Back in 2020, Cannes Lions and WARC conducted extensive research into marketing effectiveness. Through this research, they found that marketing effectiveness is heavily influenced by a composite of three factors they call “Creative Commitment.” The higher each of these three factors are, the more effective the marketing is:
As Cannes Lions and WARC demonstrated, marketers can begin to understand a campaign’s effectiveness by measuring its Creative Commitment Score. Increasing media budget, campaign duration, and number of media channels are all predicated on securing marketing budget to drive effectiveness. But what if there was a way to drive efficiency and effectiveness without securing more marketing budget? A way to do more with less?
Data from Analytic Partners reinforces the effectiveness multiplier of adding more channels. Marketers can increase ROI by 19% by going from one platform to two, while investing across five platforms could see them gain, on average, an ROI increase of more than 35%. Another study from Analytic Partners found that when marketers build their own, platform-native creative for digital video (i.e., optimize their creative with platform best practices), it’s likely to be 2.2x-3.6x more effective than TV creative that’s been repurposed for digital channels.
Marketers responded to the proliferation and fragmentation of media channels by producing greater amounts of creative content as they shift greater proportions of their advertising budgets to digital. This shift, from a TV-first to a digital-first mindset has seen, by in large, television ads redistributed across digital channels with little care for format or audience consumption preferences, or even the creative best practices recommended by each platform. The net result: an erosion of creative quality and wasted media spend.
Given the scale of the average Fortune 500 company, this isn’t entirely surprising. Most have limited-to-no visibility into whether these digital basics are being adopted into each piece of communication.
Some brands like Heineken, Nestlé, and Unilever have pioneered the usage of their creative data – previously untapped – but now leveraged to tackle this problem. To do this, they've codified creative best practices like Meta’s Brilliant Basics and YouTube’s ABCDs into measurable guidelines (like brand present within the first 3 seconds) that are identifiable through creative data analysis.
They've then measured and encouraged the adoption of these guidelines at scale across their global content output through a simple, easy-to-use metric – the Creative Quality Score – resulting in greater creative efficiency, effectiveness, and consistency. The net result: tens of millions of dollars in optimized marketing spend that was previously spent on underperforming creative.
After analyzing roughly 1 million ads and 1 trillion impressions, CreativeX found a statistically significant relationship between Creative Quality Score and marketing efficiency:
- The higher the CQS, the cheaper the CPM. Across all channels, a 10% increase in CQS is associated with a 2% decrease in CPM.
- Ads with higher CQS are more memorable per exposure. On Facebook and Instagram, a 10% increase in CQS is associated with a 2% increase in ad recall.
- The higher the CQS, the cheaper the Cost Per Completed View. A 10% increase in CQS is associated with a 4.8% decrease in CPCV on Facebook and Instagram and a 5.7% decrease on Twitter and YouTube.
As the data shows, increasing Creative Quality Score is a proven method for increasing marketing efficiency, even without increasing budget. This is critical in today’s macroeconomic landscape. The cost of incremental reach is rising meaning it’s starting to cost more to deliver against marketing goals.
- As the recession’s impact is felt, organizations are cutting their advertising budgets – as is par for the course during recessions, despite the damage it does. This is putting marketers under more pressure to focus on performance and produce measurable results quickly to keep the budget they still have. Marketers have less money and time to make their impact.
- WARC data shows that media costs are rising, the marketing industry is experiencing debilitating inflation, and continuing media fragmentation is pulling category buyers away from previously efficient mass-reach channels. It is becoming more expensive to reach and build mental availability with new and existing audiences.
- Media fragmentation doesn’t just affect the distance your budget goes, either. It also makes attribution more challenging than ever. Even cross-channel measurement, while still essential, isn’t enough to guarantee effective attribution anymore: Ehrenberg-Bass found that most ad exposures today aren’t noticed or attributed to the correct brand. It’s becoming harder to find the right audiences on the right channels.
Therefore, while increasing marketing effectiveness will allow marketers to counter cuts to their marketing budgets, doing so may be cost-prohibitive and difficult.
These challenges also make media efficiency a unique opportunity in a recession. By finding ways to do more with less, marketers can not only achieve better results, but they can capitalize on the fact that their competition is scaling back to gain a larger Excess Share Of Voice (ESOV) than they may have been able to without industry-wide budget cuts.
Some of the world’s most effective advertisers are already using the Creative Quality Score to achieve creative excellence goals as a recession looms:
- Nestlé used the CreativeX platform to develop nine simple “creative hygiene” best practices by finding the elements of their creative that worked best across thousands of their most effective ads. Subsequent ads that they created with an elevated Creative Quality Score achieved a 66% Return on Ad Spend, making their marketing considerably more efficient.
- Mondelēz developed data-backed best practices for all creative across all of the 70+ brands they coordinate. When they began raising their Creative Quality Score by incorporating these best practices, their cross-brand “creative excellence” rate rose by 55%, making their ads more impactful per dollar spent.
- Heineken analyzed hundreds of their image and video ads across over 190 campaigns and found four key creative elements that correlated most closely with business outcomes. Implementing these four elements accounted for over 50% of the brand value Heineken achieved on Facebook.
Increasing Creative Quality Score is even helping marketers overcome the efficiency challenges posed by media fragmentation and rising media costs.
As budgets dry up and CMOs feel the pressure to prove the value of their marketing, demonstrable creative efficiency becomes more important than ever. Marketing leaders are pressed to “do more with less” and make every dollar count.
Today’s most successful CMOs are solving this problem by improving creative quality, and turning the recession into an opportunity in the process. By finding their Creative Quality Scores, these marketers are taking the first step toward truly optimizing their ad spend to an extent that has never been possible before and “solving” the long-term struggle with efficient spending.
By tracking the CQS across channels, media types, and elements of creative, marketers can continuously improve the efficiency of all of their content worldwide. Taking further steps to raise CQS will effectively raise media efficiency across all channels – all while demonstrating exactly where and how marketers should leverage their media assets for maximum impact by channel.
Both marketing effectiveness and media efficiency will be extremely important for weathering the economic challenges ahead. By using their creative data and leveraging a CQS, marketers like Nestlé, Mondelēz, and Heineken optimized their ad spend and creative content. They’re in an even greater position to turn the recession into an opportunity to gain Excess Share of Voice, maximize each channel’s impact, and demonstrate greater marketing impact.
Interested in making your marketing much more efficient with the help of a Creative Quality Score? Get in touch with Creative X to learn how.