An informal survey of marketers and what it reveals about the state of creative testing in performance marketing today.

As part of the Darwin onboarding process, we offer potential clients a free creative report that helps them understand the importance of creative analytics in their marketing stack. In Q4 of last year we surveyed potential clients and asked them three simple questions to understand their level of sophistication:
  • Question 1: Are you regularly testing new creative assets today? Note we were looking for any sort of regularity (monthly, weekly, etc.) beyond “sometimes / occasionally”.
  • Question 2: Do you have the resources (either internally or through an agency) to turn around a new video asset in less than a week?
  • Question 3: Are you using data to inform the creatives you are making today? Note we were looking for anything beyond simply “iterating on a top performing asset”.
 The results were very interesting because they reveal the current state of transition in marketing from “Audience / Budget” based optimization to “Creative” focused optimization is still very much a work in progress.

A few caveats before we share the results: 

  • Typically Darwin focuses on Digital marketing, so all of the prospects interviewed were digital focused, with a heavy focus on social media
  • Darwin clients are generally performance focused, which means that most of their efforts are focused on Meta / TikTok / and Snapchat today 
  • This sample is likely heavy on Direct to Consumer because of points 1 and 2 above lending towards a DTC type buyer

The Results: (60%, 30%, 10%) 

  • Only 60% of marketers test creatives on a regular basis 
  • Only 30% of marketers are able to produce a video asset it less than a week
  • Only 10% of marketers use data to inform their creative decisions

Our main takeaways from this: 

Takeaway 1: Only 60% of marketers test creatives on a regular basis  Testing creatives is hard and requires a disciplined approach and devoted time and resources. It also requires an organization to buy fully into regular testing and see the performance benefits.  We predict this number will go up as it has become abundantly clear that creative is the biggest lever to performance improvements today. CMOs won’t have a choice but to devote the resources to testing.  Takeaway 2: Only 30% of marketers have the capability to produce a video asset in under a week Producing new creative is more difficult than it needs to be. What is most interesting is it doesn’t seem to matter the size of the organization. We have found organizations with dedicated creative teams have just as much difficulty producing an asset as smaller companies with no full time resources.  We aren’t sure what will happen with this number. With recent layoffs and moves to streamline the entire process, we expect more marketers to outsource fast creative production.   It seems logical that organizations that want more efficiency will need to produce creative on faster timetables, but devoting more resources (for whatever reason) doesn’t seem to solve for  Takeaway 3: Only 10% of marketers use data to inform their creative decisions What the… heck? If this is true then it means most marketers are simply sitting in a room and guessing about what to do next? Yes… kindof… This number isn’t because marketers don’t think data could be valuable…It is actually a mixture of factors… chiefly: (1) Traditionally the “Creative” types and the “Performance” roles are siloed and (2) They don’t have any tools helping them understand what elements are working in their creative.  This number will go up as the silos break down between media and creative (we are starting to see it more already) and more clients embrace creative analytics tools like Darwin (shameless plug).  What they all had in common... What’s interesting about all three takeaways is that they have the same theme: The biggest thing holding marketers back from better performance seems to be organization change. It seems that enacting a new discipline and devoting resources isn’t easy no matter how big you are, or how important the impact of the solution will be.

How Darwin Can Help

Darwin provides technology and resources to help supercharge your creative testing to improve your performance. Reach out to us if you would like to schedule a demo.