The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Creative Technology Open Mic

How advertisers can put data at the heart of creativity

By Peter Wallace, General Manager, EMEA



Open Mic article

This content is produced by a publishing partner of Open Mic.

Open Mic is the self-publishing platform for the marketing industry, allowing members to publish news, opinion and insights on

Find out more

May 22, 2024 | 5 min read

Advertisers obsess over how to use data to optimize their media selection and targeting strategies. It’s time to do the same with their digital creative.

For years it has been well noted that creative is the top driver of brand impact in advertising, accounting for 50% of campaign effectiveness. With such importance attached to creative execution, advertisers must ask themselves, how can we do better?

Since the dawn of digital media, creative has more often than not been produced in the form of re-purposed assets (display and video) which are a bi-product of more traditional media channels. These assets are re-sized to form a factory line of creative formats looking more or less the same.

Once complete, there will be deep scrutiny of campaign performance. Did the campaign reach its KPIs? What were the targeting strategies that came out on top? Which publishers scaled and performed? All of these aspects are highly data-driven and reviewed through pivot table after pivot table.

The one crucial omission from this review; creative success.

Very little analysis today is dedicated to understanding how the creative of a digital campaign performed - e.g. what impact did it have on engagement rates? When you consider the increasingly dominant role digital channels play in advertising today (digital’s share of ad spend in the UK alone is 74%), the failure to measure and optimise the creative represents a huge missed opportunity.

Test, learn and evolve

It's time creative analysis was elevated for the data-driven era we are in. As advertisers routinely do with their media selection and targeting, we need to be using the data available to us to understand how all of the different elements and features of the creative engaged audiences and drove brand outcomes.

Instead of a ‘set and forget’ mentality, advertisers should be using data to continuously analyse, evolve and improve their creative strategy. Thankfully, digital platforms are particularly well suited to this. The beauty of digital is that it provides literally thousands of data points on every campaign.

One of those data points which should be pivotal when it comes to optimising the creative is attention.

More attention, please

The purpose of creative is fundamentally aimed at driving intrigue and creating a match between advertiser and consumer. This intrigue and match should be easily identified through attention based measurement.

With attention insights, advertisers can look deeper at their creative executions across a range of factors: what features of an animation captured the audience’s gaze the longest? Which environments helped the creative capture the most attention? Did users pay attention long enough to see the brand logo? Backed by these rich, attention-based insights, advertisers are able to create a continuous feedback loop for any digital campaign, allowing the creative to be regularly improved and enhanced throughout its lifetime.

At a base level, this approach means multiple creative variants need to be used, working out if one tagline or style of animation is preferred over another, providing at the very least a platform for testing and improving.

Domino’s hungers for attention

Global pizza brand Domino’s offered a glimpse of how effective a data-driven approach to creative can be. For its “50% Off” pizza campaign last year, the brand deployed advanced attention measurement and sophisticated contextual targeting to reach their most attentive audiences and ensure spend efficiency.

By combining attention and contextual, Domino’s was able to identify the contextual categories where attention levels for the creative were highest (health and fitness) and the environments where it was the lowest (shopping & style and fashion). These insights were then actioned upon in-flight, with ad delivery optimized towards the high-performing categories and away from the under-performers.

As a result, the campaign saw major uplifts across its KPIs; there were an additional 3,000 hours of attention on just one creative element and a 40% increase in CTR. However, the commercial outcomes were arguably the most impressive results, with overall ROAS (return on ad spend) of 135% - 398% being secured across each creative element.

Limitless possibilities

The Domino’s campaign was a ringing endorsement for greater creative analysis, but it still only scratched the surface. The real potential is unleashed when a wider array of creative features and elements are measured and optimised to deliver the highest attention levels and brand outcomes. The possibilities then become almost limitless.

Adopting this creative approach will require a change of mindset, with ‘buying’ and ‘creative’ needing to be brought much closer together. But, really, the formula here is nothing advertisers won’t have done before: test, learn and optimise. Bring digital creative to the forefront of the overall design process, then test and use the data at our fingertips to scrutinise performance and continually optimise. Finally, appreciate that creative is a process of continuous learning, connecting one campaign to the next, in the same way we do with media partner selection.

The brands that get this right, will be the ones that are primed to win in the future, taking advertising effectiveness to new heights.

Creative Technology Open Mic


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +