This content is taken from our latest report, 'Creative Data: A Recession Antidote' produced to help marketers get more from their media spend through creative improvements.
85% of market leaders get dislodged during a recession. But dozens of studies reveal the positive role advertising plays in mitigating the risk of displacement by driving sales and delivering post recession growth. Marketers at some of the world’s largest advertisers are responding to the economic climate through proving their value with new innovations - including the operationalization of creative data at scale.
Nielsen recently found that the creative is the single largest contributor to sales uplift, accounting for 47% of sales. Their data shows that, even during a recession and supply chain crisis, marketing accounted for 10-to-35% of the average brand’s equity.
Despite this, many organizations pull funding from marketing during recessions as their first knee-jerk reaction. This has been especially pronounced during the pandemic and exacerbated by subsequent economic headwinds.
As these businesses tend to learn the hard way, however, cutting marketing during a recession is a big mistake. In fact, there’s ample evidence to suggest that marketing is more important than ever during a recession, and not only as a long-term investment.
Telling a CFO, whose main priority is ensuring the business survives during the recession, to increase advertising spend will be a hard conversation. Especially without the data to support the case.
The challenge facing CMOs right now isn’t providing value or even pivoting their strategy to account for the recession; it’s proving that value to the CFO and the rest of the C-suite decision makers (a recent report from Cannes Lions reveals that “only 12% of brands feel extremely confident in convincing the CFO to invest in high-quality creative”).
Historically, proving the value of marketing in bottom-line financial terms has been difficult, which is exactly why it falls victim to budget cuts – disastrous though that may be. Creative data is changing that.
Creative data describes granular information in and around a creative asset. Previously untapped, creative data now provides a competitive advantage for some of the world's most effective advertisers - to help them quantify, improve, and scale their creative decisions in real-time to achieve creative excellence – and the efficiency and effectiveness gains that follow. Using creative data helps these advertisers prove and improve the value of their marketing efforts.
Proving the value of marketing requires data. Most marketing effects happen in the long term, so short-term performance-related metrics will not demonstrate how that performance directly contributes to key business goals. Econometrics and Market Mix Modelling (MMM) are perhaps the two most popular methods of measuring the long-term effects of marketing decisions.
Digital attribution is a different beast. Relying on individual-level data that is eroding as privacy measures increase, digital attribution has been, for some, the gold standard of marketing for around 20 years now. This has been great for developing robustly targeted marketing and short-term performance campaigns, but it’s been significantly less helpful for the creative itself.
After two decades of using data to optimize targeting, the digital marketing world is now gripped by measurement bias: Even though targeting is one-twelfth as important to the success or failure of a campaign as the creative itself, targeting is considered one of the larger driver of advertising profitability… again, because that profitability can be more easily attributed.
Measuring and optimizing targeting to improve and demonstrate marketing impact during this recession isn’t the answer. Measuring the performance and value of the creative itself is. If marketers can make their creative as measurable as their targeting, they can prove its value to the CFO and C-suite, protect long-term brand marketing as an investment, and help guide their organization through the storm.
Creative data is giving them the means to do that. One application of creative data, and the first that some of the world’s most effective advertisers have pursued, is to measure creative quality. For over 20 years, brands have produced greater volumes of creative content as they shift greater proportions of their media budgets to digital. This shift, from TV-first to digital-first has been clunky and resulted in an erosion of creative quality.
In most cases, TV ads have been re-cut to Meta, TikTok or other platforms, ignoring creative platform recommended best practices that are statistically linked to media efficiencies. Some brands have leveraged creative agencies to do this work for them, while others have built in-house teams, led by heads of creative excellence. Given the scale of the average Fortune 500 company, there is limited visibility on whether these digital basics are being adopted into each piece of communication.
Brands like Heineken, Nestlé, and Unilever have leveraged creative data to tackle this problem and improve media efficiencies. To do this, they've codified these practices into measurable guidelines (like brand present within the first 3 seconds) that are identifiable through creative data analysis. They've then measured and encouraged adoption of these at scale across their global content output – through a Creative Quality Score – resulting in millions of dollars in optimized marketing spend.
After identifying these best practices, the system assigns each ad a Creative Quality Score based on how many of these best practices it contains. The most exciting thing about the Creative Quality Score is it has a direct and measurable impact on media efficiencies, including:
Rather than optimize single campaigns through targeting, or making creative optimizations like color saturation, these basics are applied at scale. Some of the world’s most effective advertisers are already using CQS as a core part of their creative processes, and they’ve been reaping major benefits:
Other Fortune 500 companies that have not embedded creative data into their creative production process to create a measurable framework for tracking the adoption and impact of digital basics may not even be aware of the scale of efficiencies they could be receiving. The average CQS for a Fortune 500 company is 28%, which means 70%+ of all of their creative work is inefficient.
There is a huge opportunity for CMOs and CFOs to work together to embed creative data into preexisting attribution models like MMMs to better demonstrate the impact of marketing dollars – through the most effective lever they have at their disposal: the creative itself.
Marketing teams can use the Creative Quality Score and creative data to spend their budgets as wisely as possible during the recession and beyond, and to prove they’re doing so to the CFO and the entire C-suite.
Creative data is truly versatile. For instance, some of the most effective advertisers use creative data by clustering the microdata (i.e., logo present, product present, celebrity present) into clearly defined and measurable objectives like ‘improve brand health metrics by increasing brand consistency.’ Combining all manner of different objectives – usually bucketed into two groups: storytelling and impact – from increase talent representation to improve accessibility to eliminate non-compliant ads, etc. allows brands to make considerable strides forward in their creative excellence journeys.
Creative data is key because it allows marketers and analysts working with it to isolate the impact of creative decisions. But it also has far reaching impact for other departments in the business. For example, CMOs, CFOs, and procurement leads can deliver the following for the business:
To gain a competitive edge and begin delivering efficiencies for their business as quickly as possible, marketers should integrate creative data into their creative processes to isolate creative improvements and deliver media efficiencies. Considering the buy-in required, workflow adjustments, and operational changes required for scaling a new technology, creative quality is perhaps the easiest place to start, especially when considering the efficiency gains it can deliver for the business.
During the recession, marketers can use the CQS to close the gap between quantity of creatives and quality of creative execution, building more efficient marketing than ever and delivering some of their biggest gains in ROI, all without significant additions to their budget.
Improving creative quality stands to create positive impacts after the economic downturn has passed. Measuring CQS offers entire organizations the chance to understand the impact of their creative work like never before and, finally, map their creative decisions directly to business impact. It’s a better model for the future of marketing, and it can start right now – no matter the economic weather conditions.
The CreativeX platform empowers users with all the creative data they need to benchmark their CQS, and continuously improve their creative quality in objective, data-backed ways. Contact us now to learn more about maximizing your media spend.