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Fit for purpose - Does social media content need to be more platform specific?

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Craig Peasley, VP Product Marketing at VidMob tells us why he believes that social success depends on creative that's fit for the platform.

Brands are facing a double creative control headache. While adhering to their own brand and creative guidelines is challenging enough, ensuring assets align with different social media platforms’ best practices is an even harder task — and one that’s getting tougher as goalposts constantly shift.

Adding to these challenges is the prospect of economic uncertainty in the second half to the year; sustaining cost efficiencies will be vital with marketing spend projected to decline.

Many brands are therefore under high pressure to use resources more wisely and fuel stronger ROI. Consequently there is no room to waste precious budget on advertising creative that isn’t fit for its corresponding platform; not only in terms of ad characteristics, but also what is currently working for users and active platform algorithms.

To get their creative house in order, marketers need a smarter approach that allows them to consistently find the fastest path to effective creative that’s on brand and fit for platform. To do this, brands should embrace the practice of creative scoring to ensure their creative consistently performs by aligning it with platform and brand best practices.

The challenges of creative chaos

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In theory, best practice guidelines should make it simple to maintain a unified, consistent brand identity by setting clear rules for how creative should look and feel. Practical realities, however, are often less straightforward.

There is significant room for various brand elements  to get lost and muddled across departments, with messaging and content adjusted and diluted. This is especially true when marketers have brands that exist in multiple regions around the globe.

Adding social advertising to the mix brings another layer of complexity for marketers. Competition for attention is not only fierce among brands, but also across platforms. Today, the average UK user owns six different social media accounts.

Consequently, many social platforms have developed advanced ways of attracting and holding audiences, frequently deploying intelligent algorithms designed to fuel increasingly tailored content suggestions and create continuous cycles of consumption.

On top of regulating their own guidelines, this presents advertisers with the task of navigating ever-changing  environments where best practices are always evolving with user tastes.

Facebook’s algorithm for example assesses every post and organises content accordingly, with the evaluation happening each time a user’s feed is refreshed. Therefore, even if ads match standard advertising specifications — aspect ratio, sizing, cut length and screen orientation — there is a good chance they may not align with what actually works for audiences and algorithms, costing marketers their targeting efficiencies and ultimately resulting in wasted marketing spend.

So, it’s hardly surprising that while social ad spend is increasing, many brands are still torn between fear of missing out (FOMO) on opportunities and FOTU (fear of the unknown), and the potential of getting it wrong.

Time to achieve creative excellence (effectiveness, efficiency, impact) at scale

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Although marketers have no control over a platform’s algorithms, one area that falls within their remit is creative quality assurance. To date, businesses’ tendency towards internal, manual processes around brand governance has driven varied inefficiencies, with content feedback, reviews and approvals absorbing hours of time for marketers.

The biggest drawback of manual monitoring though is that labour-intensive analysis can’t function at the scale needed to run effective cross-channel advertising or stay in sync with fickle platform and user preferences. 

At a time when social trust is fragile, running out of touch with target audiences poses major hazards for brands aiming to forge meaningful engagement via social media. Thanks to advances in creative analytics technology, however, there is scope to streamline quality assurance techniques.

Innovative new creative scoring processes can continuously assess content across a broad spectrum of criteria including — by brand, platform, market, and objective — and track adherence to best practices across every asset automatically, with any discrepancies instantly flagged so they can be quickly adjusted.

This means marketing teams can hand over the complicated work of manual tracking and analysis to sophisticated technology, without losing the insights. And that’s just the start.

A deeper window into performance

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Aside from saving valuable time, smart scoring tools ultimately enable marketers to leverage best practices. Automatically flagging discrepancies, marketers can now turn benchmarks into actionable metrics and automate fast, accurate, and always-on evaluation.

The majority also provide similarly useful core functions including pre- and in-flight assessment, to help minimise wasted spend on ads that fall below key standards and prevent ads from underperforming.

More sophisticated platforms also harness subsets of artificial intelligence (AI) such as computer vision to offer comprehensive, real-time measurement. When it comes to scoring, this gives them the power to instantly analyse every creative element against unique standards: such as where brand logos are placed, objects in the foreground and background, colour use, the emotion expressed by featured talent, and the cadence of speech and edits.

In addition to determining whether assets adhere to brand standards, scoring assessment helps pinpoint the effect of specific creative elements on social ad performance; providing a clear view of which best practices to prioritise.

For instance, Neutrogena has become one of many leading brands to apply intelligent scoring for slick monitoring and adjustment. Analysis of ad variations across Facebook and Instagram quickly identified that an emphasis on visuals was highly effective; especially imagery featuring celebrities and its Bright Boost product on a human hand. Optimising delivery to focus on creative including these elements fuelled a 30% rise in views past the first three seconds and 188% hike in total viewability.

The key takeaway here for marketers is that deep diving analysis not only helps keep tabs on their creative assets, but also establish how they should be best used on social platforms. As an additional advantage, ongoing assessment also means they can gain persistently refreshed understanding of what is driving performance and impact in their creative across channels.

The digital space isn’t due to get any less complicated. What sparks audience attention and inspiration will always be subject to change, especially on rapidly evolving social platforms. Savvy marketers will be those who accept the uncertainty and ensure a firmer grip on the areas they can control.

By embracing smart creative assessment, they can use best practices to protect and preserve brand governance, increase creative performance and effectiveness as well as a means of finding the balance between what is the ideal fit for users, platforms, and their brand.

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