How to Use Google Data Studio to Evaluate the Performance of Ad Creative
Test and optimize your ad creative elements
You have very little time to get a user’s attention with your paid advertising. Your ad creative, a combination of copy, visuals, and sometimes audio, can make a huge difference in whether your ad gets noticed or scrolled past. That’s why experts agree it’s imperative to strategize on strong ad creative, as well as perform testing. Having fast, accurate insights in a Google Data Studio ad creative performance reporting dashboard powered by a data unification and cleaning tool, like Joinr, is crucial to improving performance and proving the value of your advertising efforts to organizational leadership.
In this article:
Why Ad Creative Matters
You’ve poured hours of work into crafting an ad campaign to support a key business objective for your organization. Now, with each impression of your ad, you only have seconds to capture the attention of the carefully-targeted audience you’ve selected. According to research, the average user has an eight-second attention span, which is shorter than the nine-second attention span of a goldfish. For those of us who scroll through social feeds several times a day, it’s probably shorter – especially for ads. Meta backs that idea up with data from the Facebook platform:
And in News Feed on Facebook, we’re seeing people spend, on average, 1.7 seconds with a piece of content on mobile compared to 2.5 seconds on desktop.
If your ad creative doesn’t have just as much strategy behind it as your planning process, then your previous work won’t matter. In other words, getting your ads in front of the right people isn’t going to pay off if you can’t get them to pause and notice you. As marketing thought leader Gary Vaynerchuk says, “attention is the most valuable asset.”
What is ad creative?
- Imagery and graphics for both static and video ads
- Sound, including music, voice-over, and dialogue
- Copy, including an engaging call to action (CTA)
All of the elements of your ad creative work together to tell the concise, compelling story you want to communicate, and, ultimately to drive engagement. There’s a large body of research on the effects of story and visuals on the human brain. When we’re engaged in an experience with a strong storyline in words and images, our brains snap into focus.
“We spend about half of our waking hours daydreaming. But when engaged in a good story, we pay attention. Attention is a scarce resource, fragmented, hard to pin down. Yet a good story can cut through all the distraction and create an atmosphere of total focus.”
8 facts about the neuroscience of storytelling
“Only 10% of people typically recall information when quizzed 3 days after learning it, but that figure jumps to 65% when the info is accompanied by an image.”
Thinking about the unique way you phrase your copy to match your brand identity and hook the user into your narrative, as well as the way your visuals represent the idea and your brand personality, can turn a completely ignorable ad into one that holds a user’s attention for much longer than the average goldfish.
Pro Tip: When everything from strategy through ad creative is complete and you launch your campaign, you’ll want to see immediate results and set a cadence for reporting on performance. Using a Google Data Studio (GDS) ad creative reporting dashboard template powered by a data unification and cleaning tool will provide immediate insights that continue to update automatically throughout the life of your campaign.
Make A/B Testing More Meaningful
As your performance data starts rolling in, you may find that specific ad groups and individual ads are not performing as well as others. Many digital marketers engage in A/B testing, but this type of testing takes some additional work, time, and budget for paid advertising, especially if you’re running a campaign across multiple platforms and/or channels.
If you’ve ever performed A/B testing on an email, for example, you may have duplicated the email and changed one element on the duplicate, like the subject line. Then both emails are sent to two different segments of the same audience. When results come back, you can clearly see which subject line performed better in open rates and how that affected other stats inside the email itself. This is a great example of a single-channel A/B test. You have one application through which you send all emails, so your results are easy to interpret.
Here are the basic steps for A/B testing:
- Let your original ad continue to run and create a duplicate for testing.
- Plan out the specific ad creative variables to be tested and when. For example:
- Week one: Test call to action
- Week two: Test graphic
- Week three: Test headline
- Follow your plan, making sure to only change one ad creative variable at a time in the duplicate ad.
- Use the ad creative variables with the top performance to create a more successful ad.
Pro Tip: Speed up your data collection and get more meaningful insights into ad creative performance by using a Google Data Studio ad creative reporting template created by experts in advertising analytics. You’ll be able to see side-by-side performance data for each test group over time.
In cross-channel paid advertising, you must still test one ad creative element at a time with two versions of your advertisement. But those two ads will display across multiple platforms. If you have to manually collect performance data from each platform and then clean and standardize that data in order to interpret your results… well, you see the difference between A/B testing for a single channel, versus testing across many.
Master the Art of Ad Creative
Great ad creative isn’t a one and done task on your paid ad campaign to-do list. Digital marketers must expect that the first version of any ad, no matter how well it performs right off the bat, can be improved to get even better results. But limiting yourself to one go at the creative in an ad campaign will not only keep you from optimizing ad performance, it will keep you from getting key insights into your audience and learning how to find greater success faster in the future.
“Testing builds upon itself as you learn more and more about your audience and what works, but it often takes weeks or months to get to truly incremental success, and it can be difficult to commit to that investment; especially if your existing creative is already hitting your targets.”
John Liu, Senior Director of Strategy, Adlucent Forbes.com
Of course, more testing requires more budget, and as John Liu told Forbes in the quote above, it can be difficult to get buy-in for that kind of investment in paid advertising. What can help your stakeholders along in approving that budget? Seeing clear, accurate performance data in a proven GDS ad creative reporting dashboard, along with your documented A/B testing strategy.
Providing your company leadership with transparency and confidence in your ad campaign management can make all the difference in getting more budget and more ownership of your organization’s strategic paid advertising program.
Ready to take your ad creative to the next level?