How long do your ads stay in the market before performance dips and you need to turn them off?
$100 of spend?
$1,000 of spend?
$10,000 of spend?
I’m going to tell you something we’ve discovered, and once you understand it, it’s going to change the way you think about ad creative forever.
Are you ready? Here goes.
The amount of scale you can get from an ad unit is already encoded in the creative BEFORE you even hit publish in the ads manager.
Your media buyer's job is to extract that level of scale as efficiently as possible.
But there is nothing your media can do if an ad unit only has a few hundred bucks worth of spend encoded in its creative. If you want to scale an ad account, start with the creative.
It’s not about quantity either. We often see brands throw a metric ton of wet pasta at the wall to see what sticks. This can work to scale an account but it’s not very efficient. The ads will still die out quickly, it’s just they are replaced quickly as well. This spaghetti wall requires a massive creative production apparatus which itself is quite expensive. You’re just shifting inefficiency from media buying to creative production, which probably isn’t showing up in your blended ROAS.
The good news is that you can have greater efficiency in both media buying AND creative production by making ads that stand the test of time.
Step one is to stop throwing mountains of spaghetti at the wall. You think your consumers want to eat your unseasoned cheap noodles that have been stuck to the wall for the past week?
Of course they don’t. What would Gordon Ramsay say?
Step two is to care about your audience and craft them a dish that is so delicious they just have to tell everyone they know about it. It’s the same spaghetti that you’d normally throw at the wall, but it’s perfectly seasoned, sautéed, and plated like you give a damn.
You don’t need to have three Michelin stars to pull this off. You likely already have the skills, but are just thinking about it differently. I’m going to give you some actionable tips to make a pasta dish capable of hundreds of thousands of dollars of ad spend.
The #1 reason why most ads die quickly is because there isn’t much to them. They are just too short. True scale requires an ad to appeal to all sorts of folks. You need to address and answer all the objections, talk about all the benefits, and employ all the emotions. Yeah, this can take over a minute.
“But Jess, no one watches ads for a freaking minute. It’s social! No attention spans!”
Sure, most people won’t watch your ad for a minute. Most people won’t even watch for 3 seconds. But your audience isn’t most people. It’s the buyers. And those people absolutely will stick around.
Here is the watch time chart for a single ad unit with over $100k in spend:
Most watch time charts look like this. A big drop off to about 10 seconds, then it tapers out.
16% of viewers make it to the 15 second mark here. If this ad were just 15 seconds, well then that’s all we’d have for them. Thanks for watching our ad! See ya in retargeting!
But of the 16% that got that far, another 60% of those stick around for another 15 seconds to the half-minute mark. That’s like two ads in one. Keep going and you have 3% of impressions hanging out for a full minute. Doesn’t sound like a lot does it, just 3%. Well it’s over 200k people who spent a full minute with this ad. That’s four and half months of watch time.
If you cut your ads at 15 seconds, 20 seconds, or even 30 seconds, you are cutting off your most engaged and juiciest potential customers. If they stick around for 30 seconds, why cut them off. Have they had too much? They want more, so give them more!
The best example of this is probably the most successful DTC ad of all time, from Dr. Squatch. It’s over 3 minutes, has over 100,000,000 views, and contains everything including the kitchen sink.
The more you can pack into an ad, the more chances you have at bat at striking the right chord with the right people.
Once you’re comfortable with making long ads, the next step is actually to play the right chords. People will only stick around if they are digging the music. You need to know what people like, and more importantly, what they dislike. Consumers on social media have twitchy fingers and one wrong note can cause them to keep scrolling.
This involves a solid understanding of behavioral psychology and how it’s manifested through creative. It’s a lot to master, but I’ll show you a shortcut for scaling Facebook ads that’s easier to put into practice.
The details matter. All of them. The greatest songs ever from Bohemian Rhapsody to Watermelon Sugar aren’t just a collection of random notes and lyrics. They are a collection of very intentional decisions designed to make you FEEL the song in your bones. If you can feel good music, you can feel good ads.
After you have made an ad, or if you are reviewing someone else's work, watch the ad with a very acute sense of your own feelings in the moment. Something about a cut in the video, or the text on screen will just feel off. You’re not sure why, it’s just off. If you feel that, others will too.
Then dig deeper. Why is it off? What’s actually the issue? Maybe the voice-over was talking about one thing, but the video was showing something else, and it felt off. Or maybe the UGC testimonial just wasn’t believable. Spend some time trying to place your finger on the issue. Then fix it.
Align the voice-over with the video. Use a different testimonial. You don’t need to know the catalog of cognitive biases in order to diagnose or fix a potentially problematic ad before it goes into market. You just need to recognize when you feel a certain way, then understand what’s making you feel that way, then fix the issue. Think of it as tasting the pasta as you cook it.
If you get in the habit of doing this often, you will develop your own vocabulary of red flags and best practices. The garlic, the basil, the delicate olive oil emulsion. You’re going to know how to craft the perfect dish BEFORE you put it on the market.
While you won’t be rewarded with 3 Michelin stars for your work, or even any Cannes Lions, you will be rewarded with 6 figures of profitable ad spend on an ad unit that you put the care and effort into. And for performance marketers, that’s…
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