It may seem obvious, but too often people get trapped looking at performance metrics of marketing channels and forget the importance of the actual advertisements—the message and creative—they are using in those channels. During the past 60 years or so, hundreds of tools and approaches have been developed to evaluate advertising concepts and determine their potential effectiveness. Many companies have even developed a standard process of testing ads before airing them. Why?

In his book The Case for Creativity, James Hurman explains that creatively-awarded campaigns deliver 11 times the return on investment of non-creatively awarded campaigns. Advertisers do need to make sure they’re not pursuing creativity at the expense of effectiveness. Effective advertising ensures that your brand messages reach the right audience at the right time.

One big challenge, however, is that effectiveness is a function of the creative and channel working together to reach a potential customer. Too often the measurement of creative and message is separated from the performance of a media channel. If pre-testing suggests a piece of advertising should be impactful but fails to deliver the expected results, we tend to blame the placement. Managing marketing channels separately and using siloed measurements fails to show any of these interaction effects. Getting the right advertisement into the right channel has a considerable influence on the impact of your marketing.

Getting the right advertisement into the right channel has a considerable influence on the impact of your marketing.

Even more importantly, a deeper understanding of how messages interact across marketing channels can create the perfect recipe for success across a customer’s journey. For example, a customer may hear an advertisement on the radio, search on their tablet, watch another user’s review online and get directions to your store on their mobile phone. Advertisers that have a unified picture of their marketing will optimize to deliver the right creative message in the right channel at the best time for this particular customer’s path to buy, prompting better ROI than would be possible in a single channel.

There are some relatively direct ways to efficiently hack creative and drive higher ROI.

Use digital channels to test potential campaigns

With the right tools, the impact of various message combinations, even at low spend levels, can be detected and analyzed. These concepts can be developed at relatively low costs, especially when compared to the production budgets a major television campaign might demand.

Run multiple messages at the earliest parts of a campaign

Marketing teams should develop and run multiple creative executions early. By measuring the impact of each promptly and optimizing while the campaign is live, poor performers are eliminated and focus shifts to winning messages that drive higher potential response.

Gather data about the real-world impact of creative

Pre-testing advertising concepts has, of course, become a best practice for leading advertisers. However, nothing compares to studying the performance of advertising in the wild. New tools, designed to help boost the return on investment of marketing campaigns, can measure the impact of creative and message in different channels on target customers. Giving your creative team access to this analysis can open opportunities to improve creative performance.

Adjust while campaigns are live

Creative ads can still surprise us. Being agile, leading marketers can help their message find the right audiences, even those for whom the advertising might not have been initially designed.

But how does one gain these insights to optimize?

According to the Mobile Marketing Association Multi-Touch Attribution Marketer Survey, 83 percent of leading brands have adopted or plan to adopt new unified measurement/total marketing measurement approaches, tools which both Forrester and Gartner agree are critical to the success of companies today. Behind the concept is the idea that marketers should have access to measurement solutions that provide one integrated, holistic view of marketing effectiveness. Most significantly, however, a unified measurement approach gives marketers new capabilities to leverage interaction effects between creative and channels.

Integrated solutions deliver insights to marketers to better model the impact marketing and advertising are having at the person-level. This approach gives advertisers the mutual benefit of strategic insight and tactical decision-making: They help guide investment in different media coupled with methods to best match creative, copy and messaging across every channel, both online and offline. Brands who adopt these methods are quickly realizing a competitive advantage in an increasingly complex marketplace.

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