May 11, 2019

Creative planning, media planning, and defining brand objectives often happen in siloed paths when kickstarting a creative campaign. When this happens, the marketer can end up with creative that does not align with the media plan or the brand objectives leading to ineffective campaigns, unnecessary change orders, and wasted money. The purpose of this guide is to highlight the key steps that marketers should consider before campaign kick-off.

5 Steps to kickstarting creative success

1. Understand the marketer objectives and the target audience

A marketer must first map out a clear objective for the campaign (i.e. store traffic, app downloads, brand awareness, etc.). Then they need to define their target audience and understand the consumer insights that are tied to that audience. The marketer then needs to share their understanding of the target consumer and their media consumption behaviors with their marketing partners and creative and media agencies. This knowledge sharing will inform the collaborative work to map where and how to reach the consumer. For example, what platforms can the consumer best be reached on and what will motivate them to engage and ultimately, take the action that aligns with the marketer’s business objectives. The strategic insights that come from this critical pre-work should inform the creative planning process.

One important consumer trend for marketers to be aware of is that mobile video is a dominant force and is taking a greater share of total digital video consumption. A recent eMarketer report stated that people are spending 38 minutes a day with digital video on mobile versus 24 minutes on desktop/laptop and 25 minutes with other connected devices (Source: eMarketer, September 2018). Given that usage stat and the fact that 90% of smartphone view time happens in portrait orientation (Source: MOVR, Mobile Overview Report, Q2 2017), mobile and vertical video should be considered a core part of the overall campaign strategy.

2. Create a specific and detailed RFP

A campaign can only be as good as the RFP that initiates it. A few best practices for creating an optimal RFP include:

  •     Integrate the creative brief within the media brief. This enables everyone to be on the same page in terms of what creative assets are needed to accomplish the brand story. Make sure to include details on primary and secondary messaging, core consumer benefits, etc.
  •     Remove meaningless phrases like “never before been done” and “first to market” which can lead to confusion as to what the specific deliverable should be and what campaign success should look like.
  •         However, consider unique ad formats or strategies (i.e. sequential messaging, interactive or vertical video) that can help bring the brand story to life in new ways. It’s imperative to share these ideas with publishers upfront if you want them to build proposals that take these formats into consideration.
  •     Publishers, creatives, and ad tech companies should give feedback on the RFP. If the RFP isn’t specific enough, let the marketer know!

3. Identify who needs to be in the room for kick-off

It’s important to get the right people in the room early. There are benefits to employing the “big team” approach of including both the media planning and the creative teams in initial conversation. Having both points of views at the outset of the campaign helps ensure that the creative strategy can inform the media plan and the media plan can inform the creative specifications – which will aid in proper campaign delivery and performance tracking.

As the media landscape becomes increasingly complex, so do media plans. As a result, marketers are forced to generate multiple versions of the same assets to adhere to the variety of specs. Because of this, loop in your ad serving partners who can help provide guidance on the right creative formats, where those assets should live, whose tags need to point to where, and more. This will help guarantee a smooth launch and cut down on late campaign starts.

When employing a big team approach, it is important that every party present in the room understands the marketer and their campaign objective. The marketer can enable this level of understanding by ensuring that the RFP (or a separate briefing document) highlights the available research, insights, and brand perspectives that led them to initiate the campaign in the first place.

4. Include measurement in the upfront conversation

If you aren’t talking about measurement until after the campaign has been completed, you have waited too long. Instrumenting a creative campaign to enable reporting and optimization—especially across platforms where measurement capabilities and metrics can vary tremendously–is a critical process that requires communication among buyers, sellers, and brands. It is important for all parties to be aligned on what “campaign success” looks like and make sure that all the pieces are in place to measure that success. By including measurement in the initial kickoff conversations, all parties can align around the KPIs that will ensure creative success. For example, if the campaign goal is brand awareness and the delivery platform requires short duration creative, the brand image should show up in the first 1 to 3 seconds of the video asset.

5. Adopt a learning mindset and be flexible

The initial media plan does not have to be set in stone. Marketers should feel empowered to test and learn and understand what is performing well and adjust accordingly.

While implementing a “test and learn” strategy may seem expensive because it requires multiple creative versions, it doesn’t have to be costly. Marketers can employ cost saving strategies such as:

  •     Add new overlays or end cards into the existing base video assets that include different calls-to-action or icons.
  •     During video shoots, utilize the “cutting room” floor approach where you intentionally overshoot to produce assets that will enable vertical, horizontal, and multiplatform use. Outtakes and different versions can be leveraged for flexible storytelling as the campaign takes shape throughout the year.
  •     Leverage self-serve creative tools that allow you to take control of the creative and enable faster testing, optimization, etc.

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