What if you didn’t have to guess the winning lottery numbers? What if you didn’t have to guess which horse wins the race? What if you didn’t have to guess if your advertisement would be successful? It’s 2020, and there’s no need to guess anymore. Well, at least in advertising.
We measured more than 150 billion ad impressions from more than 1,000 brands to determine which creative marketing and ad elements performed the best for brands all across the world. Utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, we were able to see the ads brands are running, how well they’re performing overall, and which individual elements — headlines, body copy, images and video — stood out among the rest.
As marketing teams around the globe are shifting their digital strategies in today’s changing times, knowing what works and what doesn’t in the moment is more critical than ever. Key findings from our study highlight what worked and what didn’t in last year's advertisements, as well as the importance of being flexible to accommodate for your audience.
Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
By the numbers, top-quartile agencies (those brands that received high levels of impressions, engagements and clickthrough rates) refresh client creative every 10 days, with an average of 25-day refreshes. Conversely, bottom-quartile brand creative runs for an average of 51 days, about twice as long as top performers. Top advertisers updated their ad creative 147 percent more than bottom-quartile performers, and ran 271 percent more ads. In short, brands should leverage additional creative in shorter time frames by mixing and matching to increase the life and effectiveness of content.
The Right Copy is Key
While six-word headlines perform the best, the top performing brands spice up their headlines. Emojis and special characters boost performance in headlines, but are underused (only 5 percent of top-quartile brands use them frequently), and the following emojis are among the top used in the last year: "Star-Struck," "Shamrock," and "People with Bunny Ears." Also, top advertisers use the word “Sales” (not “sales” or “SALES”), while bottom-quartile advertisers use “Save” in their headlines. Data science can also determine when you SHOULD USE CAPS TO SAVE, and when you should not.
On Facebook, top-performing ads have body copy that contain 38 words in total, but this doesn’t mean shorter always equals better. AI determines the specific number of words for peak performance for individual brand advertisements based on audiences.
Images vs. Videos
It can be a tricky balance to determine when to use an image and when to use a video in advertising. Our study found that top-quartile advertisers used a two-to-one image-to-video ratio in their campaigns — i.e., two still images for every one video.
Video alone doesn’t guarantee top performance, however. AI can determine the specific elements within videos that perform well, from colors to image elements to the tags in the metadata. In 2019, the below tags were common among top-performing videos, but aren't common among bottom performers:
- Building, crowd, coat, leisure activities, hat, clothing, apparel, outdoors, sport, portrait, man, shoe, wood, vehicle, nature, sneaker, running shoe, transportation, pants
If you’re thinking to yourself, “It wouldn’t make sense for my brand to include crowds, coats or the outdoors in our videos, how would that help me?," remember that every brand will see different, unique findings based on its products and audience’s interests when it implements AI.
Boosting Creative in 2020
By including AI in creative and strategic marketing efforts, marketers will be able to determine what parameters to build their campaigns around. While humans are the true creative minds, AI can analyze billions of data points to make predictions for creative performance, such as what image, video elements and copy specs they should include in a campaign to drive sales. With AI, marketers can go forth and create knowing that data-driven predictions are backing up their decisions.
Marketers have access to more data than ever before; being able to use it well will become the standard in 2020 and beyond. As marketers across the globe pinpoint their audiences’ preferences, incorporating AI into marketing strategies is more critical than ever to plan, personalize and execute campaigns that get big results.
Maybe don’t bet on horses or lottery numbers. But when it comes to advertising, you can bet on AI.
* This is retrospective data from 2019 based on what existed and performed well at the time. Your brand’s data may be completely different for 2020. It’s important to employ data science often to examine your content and your audiences to know what will perform best for your brand.
R. J. Talyor is founder and CEO of Pattern89, an artificial intelligence-based software company that optimizes paid social media advertising campaigns.
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R. J. Talyor is founder and CEO of Pattern89, an artificial intelligence-based software company that optimizes paid social media advertising campaigns. Previously, R.J. was the driver behind ExactTarget’s mobile strategy, including the launch of SMS marketing in 2002 and spearheading mobile marketing during the launch of the iPhone. His leadership was also instrumental when Salesforce acquired ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in 2013, where he became the vice president of mobile products.