Surprisingly image ads have been trending for the last 4 weeks and video ads have been starting to slip.  

Conventional wisdom is that “Video Ads outperform Image Ads”. It seems obvious that videos would be more engaging, and therefore, more effective. Right?  A simple Google search will make you feel silly for even questioning it… Two pages of results where every article espouses the benefits of videos over images. Even Meta themselves push video content as a better source of performance.  At Darwin we have a “Cross Client Index Report” that goes out to our clients every Monday. The purpose of this report is to highlight key trends on what is working well in creatives across our entire portfolio.  Generally the index discovers trends in things like “Eye Contact” or “UGC”, but recently it picked up on something very basic and counterintuitive…

What the data says…

Image ads have been outperforming video ads in CPAs for 4 straight weeks now. In fact, the difference right now is 24%. See the chart below: 

Average CPA Quintile (Rolling 30 days) broken down weekly

Sample size here is over 100 marketers, with the average marketer sampled spending 48% of their budget on Images, 46% of their budget on videos, and 6% of their budget on carousels. These marketers are conversion focused (think ROAS or CPA). 

Three simple implications of this insight… 

Note these implications assume that you are conversion focused. If your main focus is engagement / awareness then these takeaways won’t apply.  
  • Have a balance of different creative formats. Some marketers we have noticed tested one format months ago and devoted themselves entirely to video ads (or vice versa). It’s like a diverse investment portfolio so you can take advantage of the trends above (and minimize the risk)
  • Focus the next rounds of tests exclusively on image creatives. They may not succeed but if this is a game of probabilities we are certainly betting that image formats will give you the largest chance to find a winning ad while the trend continues 
  • Check your own dataset to see if this is also true for your data. If it isn’t, then focus on what you might be doing differently that might make you an outlier. For example, if you aren’t seeing success with images, it might be a good time to revisit some new ideas in the next round of tests

Do we think this trend will hold? 

Probably not forever. We had a similar insight with 9:16 formats performing exceptionally well when Facebook was pushing the Reels product, but as marketers took advantage of the data it quickly settled back to more even performance.  While we can’t confirm how long this trend will last, it’s driving performance across verticals today, so if you are looking to improve your performance this is a good place to start.

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.