Every Impression Is An Optimization Opportunity
By Caroline Watts
You only get one shot at a first impression. No one knows that better than marketers, who are regularly working to win consumers’ hearts and minds after a single glance. But imagine a first impression that does more than pique interest, it opens new opportunities for learning.
In the world of digital media, this is possible. Since campaigns can be updated in real time, there’s potential — untapped by most marketers — to turn ad impressions into something even more valuable.
Every ad impression is an opportunity to learn something about your audience and drive your advertising to work harder for you. Failing to recognize and capitalize on those opportunities is preventing you from getting the most out of your digital campaigns.
Media Isn’t Just a Cost Center
The prevailing mindset around media buying is based on the limitations of a previous era. It certainly used to be true that an ad impression was just a cost that, hopefully, yielded a return. That isn’t the case anymore.
Ad impressions can be a valuable source of data about your target audience. When structured properly, the results of creative testing can be used to create new audience segments and user profiles, collect data, and launch more focused, better performing campaigns in the future.
How Creative Optimization Can Unearth New Data
Creative testing, a largely underutilized tactic, has several key benefits. Testing different ad concepts or even variations of the same concept can leave you with key insights into different aspects of your audience.
A good testing tool will let you know not only which ad performs best overall, but also which ads perform best on different domains, platforms, mediums, or for which demographic. Often, the overall winner isn’t the winner for every unique subgroup.
Here’s an example: let’s say you’re testing different ad concepts and find one ad wins overall, but a different ad wins for women, and a third is the winner in the southern United States. Now, you can create smart segments, and serve each audience the ad that performs best for them. But it shouldn’t stop there. Within your female audience, there may be a different winner for women who use iOS vs. Android, and yet another winner for women using iOS in the South. By creating hyper-focused audience segments based on these factors, you can improve performance better than you had ever thought possible.
The knowledge that comes from those initial tests creates opportunities to optimize campaigns like never before.
Get More from Every Impression
It’s impossible to predict with certainty which creative is going to be most effective in a particular campaign — that’s why marketers test. That said, it’s even more difficult to determine what’s going to work for specific subsets of your audience. Personalization without experimentation can lead to some gains in performance, but you’re ultimately still guessing.
Every ad impression creates an opportunity to learn something new, to identify distinct segments within your target audience, and to create more focused campaigns. Treating live media buys as a done deal, rather than as a chance to learn and iterate not only hurts existing campaigns, but it also robs you of the opportunity to improve messaging in the future.