How to Be a Data-Driven Advertiser While Still Protecting Your Brand

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Most marketers can be divided into two tribes: Brand marketers and data-driven marketers. While brand marketers think about visibility and reputation, data-driven marketers care about one thing: trackable results.

Generally, the two groups get along. Everybody agrees it’s good to have brand guidelines. Everything about the company should have a consistent look, and that look should be defined in a way that everyone in the company can understand and replicate.

This is especially true across large, multinational companies. Coca-Cola might have a slightly different look in Spain than in the U.S., but it has to be instantly recognizable as Coca-Cola in both places.

Data-driven marketers get a lot of respect, too. It’s not hard to see why: They’re focused on proven, trackable, and testable results. Due to the rise of digital marketing, they’ve come a long, long way from 50 years ago, when it took six to eight weeks to get the results back from a split test.

While both tribes are necessary, sometimes fights still break out. Disputes arise from seemingly small things… like Facebook ad testing.

Here’s how we’ve seen it happen:

A company with a strong brand identity needs a constant stream of new users. This company started advertising on Facebook a couple of years ago. At first, competition was low and everything was easy. But, just a few years later, Facebook advertising had become increasingly competitive and expensive, though it still worked well enough to invest in. So the company continued to invest and rely on the platform, spending $1 million or more per month. Facebook ads became a critical stream of new customers for them.

As the company came to rely on that stream of new users more and more, their advertising evolved. They figured out all the optimal settings and technical tricks for how to run their campaigns.

Unfortunately, their competitors did too, so the company needed a new edge. They went out and invested in ad tech.

Ad tech gave them insights and capabilities they didn’t have before. It improved their advertising at scale, and what they could do with the result of that advertising (converting all those clicks into paying, repeat customers).

Things were good for a while. And then eventually all of the company’s competitors bought those same ad tech products, too.

Once again, the company lost their competitive edge. Results slowly started to plateau. The C-Suite called the user acquisition team in for a pep talk. Then later, for a threat talk.

Ad tech couldn’t give them anything more.

Fortunately, most of the members of the user acquisition team within this company were data-driven marketers at heart. So they went back to the data and back to their Facebook advertising reports and discovered the issue—it’s the ads.

Ads with breakout creative had been responsible for much, if not most, of their success. Those miracle, one-out-of-a-hundred ads ended up driving most of their conversions.

The team starts to refocus on creative. They still use ad tech, but those are table stakes now. The team knows their competitive edge is in developing breakout creative.

To create more breakout creative, and to do it with enough speed to stay ahead of ad fatigue, they need to build an ad creation and testing machine that can deliver a breakout ad every week. They ramp up their creative development capabilities by hiring more resources or even finding a creative development marketplace.

They figure out a way to generate enough creative so that even if 95 percent of what they produce fails (and it does), they still have enough volume to produce new breakout creative every week.

Of course, they also need to be testing all this creative. So they create a testing system to test all the new creative and deliver a breakout, control-defeating ad every week.

Again, they’ve got their competitive edge back.

The creative machine cranks out new ads, and the testing machine evaluates them like a digital assembly line. They can now reliably produce a breakout ad every week. They meet and beat their KPIs.

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