AB InBev took the #1 spot on WARC's Creative 100, Effective 100, and the coveted Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year 2022. Luiz Barros, VP, Data, Analytics, and Global Media sat down with Anastasia Leng, Founder & CEO of CreativeX, to discuss how they’re striving to become the most creatively effective company in the world.
Build a framework to align teams around a common understanding of creativity.
Becoming the most effective and creative advertiser in the world was a multi-year journey that started with a framework – or rating system – for understanding creativity at scale. Barros says “the first step was understanding what creativity means to ABI. And what it means is a way to augment and build our brands.”
To apply discipline to creativity, you need a shared reality of what creative decisions are driving business impact. AB InBev’s rating system worked for them because they mapped it to business outcomes; both sales and brand equity to maintain a healthy balance of both. Barros says, “If I don’t build brand power in the long run I won't be able to sustain short-term sales.” Discipline was key because whatever creative decisions they made they had to, “make sure we can repeat and keep evolving on that journey. It’s super critical for us.”
AB InBev is now measuring “all the results of all our campaigns, so by the end, we look to ROI and brand power to ensure all the creative work is creating real sales and having an effect on people.”
Start with proven drivers of effectiveness. Validate what works for your brands, then scale it. Platform recommended best practices are well-evidenced drivers of improved media efficiencies. For example, implementing YouTube ABCDs into your video ads can deliver 31-38% sales lift and ROAS, plus a 17% long-term brand lift. But adherence today is low; less than 30% of YouTube impressions feature ABCD-optimized ads.
Barros says, “In the beginning, it was really important to put platform best practices like Meta’s Brilliant Basics and YouTube’s ABCDs. Now we have even more sophisticated ways to do that.” The trick is to start simple; to get the basics right – like frame for mobile, optimize sound for YouTube vs Meta, and brand early. Scaling these basics will allow you to build a repeatable engine for driving efficiencies in your media investment.
These best practices might seem basic but 20-30% of creative assets aren’t set up to meet these best practices. AB InBev began implementing best practices over four years ago. Back then, Barros remembers conversations like, “are we doing this to promote our brands or these artists we are paying a ton of money?” Because putting the “brand in the last two seconds makes it hard to connect with our audience.” Barros says, “luckily we don’t have those conversations anymore.”
Once you’ve nailed the basics, you can innovate for greater effectiveness, efficiencies, and creative learnings.
To make the most of exciting new opportunities in media, isolate the creative impact.
Once you’ve created a framework for applying discipline to creativity and nailed the basics, building a process to continually measure your creatives is essential for two reasons. First, your media choices are constantly evolving. Barros says, “the industry keeps evolving, the creative platforms and media platforms keep evolving, performance changes, and the measurement models keep evolving as well.” Isolating creative impact allows for more sophisticated MMM and provides a constant variable - despite evolving media and audience preferences.
Second, a scalable creative measurement system enables you to test new creative ideas without shooting in the dark. This is also critical because “what was effective in the past may not be effective in the future. So having a very structured way of measuring not only Creative Quality Score and the Brilliant Basics, but mainly what is the impact of media and creative and isolating them on business outcomes to make sure we understand what is meaningful, what drives results.”