Ads Analysis: Creative Insights for Brand Awareness vs Conversion Campaigns

Published by Dina Taitelbaum on

Ads Analysis: Creative Insights for Brand Awareness vs Conversion Campaigns

This month at Pudding, our report was born from raising questions about creative optimization to fit campaign objectives:

  • Which creative elements work better for brand awareness and conversion campaigns?
  • What impacts a high volume of impressions for a retail ad creative? What impacts purchases?
  • How do the same elements perform in different stages of a funnel? 

To answer these questions, we decided to cover a longer period of time than our usual reports (2 months) and focus our ads analysis on the retail industry. From our AI insights, we were able to unveil interesting and even surprising creative tips to increase your ad performance. 

Retail is all-in for the online 

With so many brick-and-mortar stores going online since the pandemic and social media channels opening up new ways to simplify the shopping experience, running social ads is becoming more crucial than ever for retailers. 

Instagram has Shopping in Reels, Facebook and TikTok have been launching Livestream shopping experiences, Snapchat and Pinterest are implementing AR try-on tools, Twitter just launched a Shopping Module. The list will likely keep growing, updating, and innovating online shopping channels to simplify the consumer experience. 

Why social media? Because everyone’s there and buying. In fact, 67% of social media users have bought from a social ad.

Since 2020, there’s been a 25.7% increase in digital ad spend from US retailers. The same source states that 48.4% of that spend will go to video ads (so pay attention to our upcoming video ad insights!). 

Since consumers are now easily exposed to multiple outlets to shop in without leaving their house, the spend for each lead is at $34. Is that high or low? That depends on a number of variables that come into play when it comes to digital advertising. 

One of those variables is making sure you grow your brand awareness and recognition. It is definitely a crucial variable for overall conversion but it is least likely to convert immediately; the purpose of brand awareness campaigns is to bring your customers to the end of your ad funnel to actually make a purchase. In this article, we will take you through this funnel from the creative optimization perspective. 

Ads analysis 

Pudding.ai ads performance analysis

What is an ads analysis? Collecting data for your ad performance and measuring it against a chosen metric. An ad consists of visual, auditory, and textual elements that impact its success (aka the metric). The metric could be purchases, impressions, engagement, click-through rates, cost-per-click, and so on. Therefore, an ads analysis offers insights on elements that hurt or helped to reach your metric (KPIs). 

Facebook ad analysis CTA

Usually, marketers create variants of the same ad to be able to conduct such an analysis. Running multiple ads that isolate each element to analyze its performance is called split testing (or a/b testing).

split testing example

Today, marketers can use AI technology that will do the isolation analysis for them. This removes the need to run thousands of ad variants, split tests and of course saves a ton of time and money. Pudding AI’s clients, get a complete ad analysis for all their creatives with insights into their element’s performance per metric. In short, it’s as simple as choosing the KPI and viewing what to use or to avoid to increase the performance for that particular metric. 

For this report, we will analyze two KPIs that represent brand awareness and conversion campaigns – impressions and purchases. 

Creative insights for image ads

Facebook increases your reach and impressions based on your budget. Ideally, the more you spend the more impressions you get. However, there are ways to impact Facebook’s algorithm and increase the chances of your ads being pushed for more impressions.

1. Discount offers

Don’t use discount offers in your brand awareness campaigns. We see a stunning -85% decrease in impressions for ads that include crossed-out prices, texts on images, such as “% OFF”, and similar. 

However, for a conversion campaign, the impact is drastically different. At this point, your audience already knows you so the offer could be a great incentive to go ahead and purchase. Our report shows a +11% increase in purchases from ad creatives with a discount offer.

2. ALL CAPS text on image

Similar to the discount offers, all-caps text on brand awareness campaigns hurt the chances of getting more impressions; our AI found a -13% decrease. For the purchase campaigns, all caps text on the image works very well (+74%), just make sure it’s less than 4 words.

3. Text on image – concept & content matters

Text on image performs well for both types of campaigns. We see a +25% increase in performance for the text that’s on top of the creative, on a solid background (+25%).

However, make sure your content is not too sales-oriented in your brand awareness campaign. This is another proof that ads at the beginning of the funnel don’t perform well when you’re using them to convert. Product feature descriptions, FOMO (fear of missing out) techniques and other “convincing” copy backfires with a -50% decrease in performance. 

4. Dimensions

Use square images for brand awareness campaigns and vertical ones for conversions. Will it work 100% for every brand and every campaign? No one knows. We encourage you to play around with your dimensions to see what works for your audience. 

Ad Performance & Creative Insights CTA

Creative insights for video ads

Video ads are killing it in 2021. YouTube remains to be the most used platform for video ads but Facebook is not left far behind with 76% of marketers choosing it for their video ad campaigns. However, many still find videos to be an expensive production and a few years ago the ROI was hard to measure. Today, the TikTok era changed all of that.

Due to TikTok, many video ad trends have been shifting. Our video ads insights show results that resemble the style, format, and even the budget of TikTok videos. Keep that in mind when creating your next ad – even if it’s not on TikTok! 

Our top 6 tips for video ad creative:
  1. Use all caps (+35%)
  2. Use single person, close-up frame (+20)
  3. Use videos that are shorter than 15 seconds (+34)
  4. Use high motion frames (+31)
  5. Avoid singular pronouns (-41)
  6. Avoid multiple people (-70)

Think back to some of the retail videos you’ve seen in your feed lately. Which ones caught your attention to pause the scrolling? Did they include the elements listed above?

By the way, all these elements work for both brand awareness and conversion campaigns.

Creative insights for ad copy

There’s a lot of discussion regarding “the best” copywriting for ads. Some say it needs to be long and include story-telling techniques, some say testimonials are the best copy, others insist on straight-to-the-point features descriptions, and so on.

Here at Pudding, we found insights that are a bit more concrete:

For a brand awareness campaign, the number one criteria for your copy is including your brand name. The whole purpose of this campaign is to gain eyeballs to see your name and recognize it the next time. You want your name to become familiar enough so that when the offer comes, the customer would be happy to click through. So yes, even though your social page profile states your name and maybe you have it in all caps on your image, add it to your copy too. It adds a +48% performance increase for brand awareness campaigns. 

Plural pronouns are showing an increase in purchase campaigns, as much as +56%. Our take on this is simple: inclusive pronouns bring you closer to your audience. Speak the words of “we” instead of “me” – it’s that simple. 

The most interesting discovery is… the impact of a question mark (?) in copy. Both brand awareness and conversion campaigns show over a +60% increase in performance when the copy includes a question. It seems like another way to include your audience in the conversation and perhaps that’s why it works. 

The one thing we found that hurts your KPIs is overly descriptive language. This is especially true for conversion campaigns. Many retailers may think it’s good to point out all the reasons why one should buy the product but our AI found it to cause a decrease of performance by -40%. A language that appears to make your product exceptional, the best in the world, amazing, and so on just isn’t convincing and frankly, starts to sound like white noise to us, consumers. Just don’t do it. 

To wrap up…

This month we brought to you a ton of creative insights from our ads analysis, hoping to provide you with lots of inspiration for future campaigns. Overall there are a few main points you could take from this report:

  • Make sure your ad creative reflects your campaign goal. If it’s a brand awareness campaign, show off your brand not your sales.
  • Keep your videos short, fast and human-oriented. Take a look at TikTok creatives for inspiration. 
  • Finally, talk with your audience, not at them in your copy. Ask questions and keep the conversation going. If you talk about your brand, stay grounded and don’t oversell. 

Looking forward to discussing these insights and tips in the comments!

Want to keep reading? Here’re some of our past reports:

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