Digital AF

Episode 2: Why Creative-Led Digital Advertising Is So Important


April Ford

In today’s episode of Digital AF, April sits down with Gemma, Jess, and Amelia, our digital advertising team. Today we talk about creative-led digital advertising, why it is important and why it should be a key focus for your digital strategy. We believe that creative execution is just as important as the building, managing, and optimising of campaigns. In fact, they are so connected, it is hard to believe some people think of them as separate.

In today’s episode of Digital AF, April sits down with Gemma, Jess, and Amelia, our digital advertising team. Today we talk about creative-led digital advertising, why it is important and why it should be a key focus for your digital strategy. We believe that creative execution is just as important as the building, managing, and optimising of campaigns. In fact, they are so connected, it is hard to believe some people think of them as separate.

April (00:02):

Welcome to Digital AF in today's episode, I sit down with our digital advertising team. Meet Gemma.

Gemma (00:08):


April (00:08):


Jess (00:09):


April (00:10):

And Amelia.

Amelia (00:11):


April (00:12):

Today, I want to talk about creative-led digital advertising. Why it is important, and why it should be a key focus in your digital strategy. At April Ford, we often and take on clients who have previously worked with a digital marketing agency that's had no in-house design support. To be honest, this shocks me to my core, as I believe that the creative execution is just as important as building, managing and optimising of campaigns. In fact, they are so connected, it's hard to believe people think of them as separate.

Announcer (00:41):

Digital AF, the digital marketing podcast that features real conversations from those who live and breathe the digital agency life. April Ford Digital Agency shares their tips, tricks, and exposes the truth about what works and what doesn't. Welcome to Digital AF. Let's get into it.

April (01:09):

So, Jess, when we talk about creative-led digital advertising, why is it important to you?

Jess (01:13):

I think it's super important. It can be make or break, really. Sometimes the difference between a good ad and a highly converting ad is the creative. I think that ads should be designed with the brand overall strategy, and the end users by behaviour in mind. I think when you have a formula in place, you're more likely to engage with your target audience and achieve your marketing goals.

April (01:39):

When we talk about creative-led digital advertising, why is having good creative important to you, Gemma? As an advertising manager, what's the difference you've seen?

Gemma (01:49):

It really makes a difference to the end result. We can see in the stats whether an ad is getting a good click-through rate or not. And you can start seeing if there's certain creative or settings that you need to tweak or optimise. It's really looking at those results, and testing and tweaking things, to see what's actually working.

April (02:12):

Do you think the target audience can feel the difference sometimes? When something's off-brand, or it's just not been thought about?

Gemma (02:21):

Yeah, 100 percent. That's one of the things that we follow at April Ford, is that we put a lot of thought into who the audience is, who the ideal customer is, and we try and get inside that mindset. One of our steps is creating a really defined customer persona, and that helps us get into that mindset.

Amelia (02:44):

Be the person.

Gemma (02:47):

I always find that when I'm creating a creative brief or writing copy, it is so much easier to do that when you are in that customer mindset and thinking like,

Amelia (02:59):

What are they going to stop at? What is that show-stopping?

April (03:02):

So you're thinking about so not so much about the brand at that point, you're thinking about the customer and what their issue is, or what they are personally experiencing?

Jess (03:12):

What problem are you trying to solve for them?

April (03:16):

We have a team of designers who work at April Ford. How do you, Gem, brief our design team?

Gemma (03:24):

Over the last few years, we've built a really good process for how we come up with a creative brief. It's based on a few different elements, but at the end of the day it does all come down to the goal of a campaign or the goal of a business in general. So with that in mind, we follow a process where first we define who the target audience is, we are creating that customer persona there. And we are looking at things like motivators and barriers for a service or a product and how we can address those things through our creative. Once we've got that mapped out, we can come up with different types of creative that we need to make sure we've got a set of ads, rather than a single piece of creative. The reason we do that is that we're going to reach a lot more people. We know that one person will react differently to the next, to a certain piece of creative. So it's a proven method that's successful for us.

April (04:26):

I suppose we are not the one dictating what we think will work. We're actually letting the algorithms help us there?

Gemma (04:33):

That's exactly right. We're not putting all our eggs in one basket. We've got multiple ads covering different things that resonate with different people, so we've got a higher chance of converting, or getting that lead, or just getting people to notice the ads.

April (04:49):

And how do you use, Jess, that data that comes back? Do we use that to then tweak creative? Or would we use it to adjust our strategy for the following month? How do we actually use that information?

Jess (05:03):

That's pretty much what we do. We have a look at a few things, a few metrics, and make a decision based on that whether we need to change the copy or the creative, so the artwork.

April (05:16):

And sometimes, I think the results even surprise us, like what something works.

Jess (05:19):

Yeah, for sure. Something that we think is going to work, or may have worked for a different client in the same industry, might not work for that particular client. So we're basically just in there having a look daily, weekly, to see what we can do and what we can improve.

April (05:36):

You have come from a digital agency background. Do you find that motivation barrier focus that we have really helps with the results that we work through with a client?

Jess (05:49):

Yeah, for sure. I think it's more in-depth, so that gives us a really clear sort of map to follow when we are briefing out to the designers. Then it's clear for the designers as well, and they know what we are after, and it shows really.

April (06:04):

And are they creative? Obviously, you've got a plan there that you're creating, but then how are the designers actually working with you? Are they then applying your motivations or barriers through to physical, actual imagery? How does it work?

Jess (06:21):

Yeah. We give them a description of what we are after, and that could be as specific as our goal for that particular ad. Sometimes we give them more of a description of the overall strategy of what we're looking for, calls to action, and even sometimes imagery and even text. So we can be super specific or less specific. it just depends. Because our designers here are quite experienced, so they really know what they're doing, and sometimes they just take the reins, and it's better.

April (06:55):

And we love that. Are you surprised, sometimes, at what comes back from the designers?

Jess (07:01):

Yeah, for sure. I think our designers here are really experienced in agency, and they know what we're looking for and what converts as well.

April (07:10):

Do you get excited when good creative comes back?

Jess (07:12):

Yeah, we do. We get really excited, and we send each other emojis. Love your work, that's my favourite one.

April (07:22):

I know many digital agencies don't include creative in their services, which is crazy. And those who are doing it themselves are using Canva, usually.

Gemma (07:36):

That used to be me.

April (07:36):

That's okay. Canva has its place, but Amelia, how would you compare your own design skills to a professional, like an art director here at April Ford? Like if you had to be the designer using Canva?

Amelia (07:50):

Firstly, I think I have mad skills in Canva, I'll let everyone know. Canva is amazing for those little things. But in comparison to what art directors and our senior designers send back to us, I can't do an animation, and what's trending now in an industry or something, and especially the younger demographics, I think about what I stop on Instagram and it's a lot of videos, it's a lot of animations, things that catch my eye and I can't build that in Canva, no way. And the graphic stuff, there's so much thought that goes behind the creative and with our designers that take our brief and then build something amazing. Just totally blow us out of the water.

April (08:30):

Even down to the amount of different sizes of creative. How many placement start types are there? What do you reckon?

Amelia (08:42):

There's a lot, yeah.

April (08:45):

So having your designers briefed across every type of media placement size allows us to take full advantage of the algorithm, and who we're targeting, and how that person uses their social media platforms. Because everyone uses it a little bit differently, I suppose.

Amelia (09:03):

So chalk and cheese with me and the designers.

April (09:06):

Oh, it's chalk and cheese, also me and the designers.

Amelia (09:10):


April (09:11):

And Gem, have you got any examples where we've seen significant increase in results from using really thought-out, clever design, where you've collaborated with the designers?

Gemma (09:23):

Yep, definitely. We had a client come on board late last year that got to a position where they really wanted to take things up a notch. So they were happy to invest in really good creative, which is always a win for us. Basically, they came on board, and we got our amazing Creative Director, Ruby, in from the beginning. And she was doing her thing leading our creative team, coming up with mood boards and heaps of ideas. We ended up doing an in-house photoshoot in our studio. We had these amazing real women models in the shoot.

April (10:02):

I know, they were so beautiful, weren't they?

Gemma (10:02):

Yep. The client sells a women's health type product, so having the real women in the shoot was just amazing. From that shoot, we ended up with really great quality photos that our designers were able to put into some great creative ideas. They came up with amazing ads, they did some animated videos for us, we ended up refreshing the client's website and content and all that sort of stuff.

April (10:29):

Yeah, we carried it through everything, didn't we?

Gemma (10:31):

Yeah. The end result was some of the best work I've seen come out of our team, and I'm really proud of that. And we had some great ads that we launched this client with, and we've been seeing really good click-through rates. So, when we would normally hope to see a good click-through rate of about 3-5%, we're getting a 9-10% click-through rate, which is great for that client.

April (10:57):

That's wild. So you think it's because it was thought outright from the beginning, and the client invested in rolling out that creative across all platforms, so it feels very cohesive?

Gemma (11:09):

Yeah, that's right.

April (11:11):

Have you guys got any further tips on improving your advertising results? Even just little things people can take into account, like photo quality or that type of stuff. Have you got anything, Jess?

Jess (11:23):

I think something simple would be considering the placements and just getting familiar with the different types of placements, whether that's a story version, a story placement on Facebook, not carrying over the feed version, so it just looks more appealing.

April (11:40):

For purpose, I suppose.

Jess (11:40):

Yeah, for purpose. And thinking about the fact that you don't have a lot of text on your story version, you won't have the feed text, so you might have to add some text onto your story placement or a call to action. So then it looks,

April (11:59):

Actually tells them.

Jess (12:00):

It tells you what you need to do, basically yes. Thank you.

April (12:04):

We see that so often though, don't we? Being served an image, you're like, what is this?

Jess (12:09):

What is this? You need the story, you need to know what's happening. So yeah, I think that's a good one.

Amelia (12:15):

I think the quality of imagery and videography is so important. It needs to be clear, it needs to be beautiful, show-stopping, because sometimes we only have a couple of seconds if it's a vid, to catch that person to stop. I get served so many ads on Instagram as well, and I now really acknowledge the ads that make me stop. It's stuff that's fast, it's stuff that's in my face. In comparison to sometimes if it's a story and it's a feed version, and it's just kind of tech slapped over the top, I don't want to look at that, I just move on. You want to capture that couple of seconds of somebody seeing your ad and make them stop. So I always think, [inaudible 00:12:58], think like the customer, think like the audience. What are they into? What looks good? Nice imagery looks really, really good. Awesome graphics look sick. Things that move in my face hit me with the ad. I want to stop. Do you know what I mean?

Jess (13:15):

I want to buy something.

Amelia (13:16):

I think our money are so spot on with taking our brief and pumping out some of the most amazing artwork that I think is such a point of difference for us in comparison to some of the other ads I see in the real world. Because we work so closely with them to get it right for the brand, and for the messaging, and make sure that it resonates with that brand and what they're all about.

April (13:43):

There's a lot of effort that goes in.

Amelia (13:45):

So much. So much time and effort goes into making the creative artwork just show-stopping. Our team does such a good job.

April (13:55):

What about you, Gem? Have you got any tips?

Gemma (13:57):

Yeah, we've just talked about the importance of investing in really good creative, but that's not always polished brand creative. There's also a time and place for user-generated content.

April (14:11):

A hundred percent.

Gemma (14:12):

So there's actually a fine art, but, of turning user-generated content into something that's worthy for an ad. Our designers can do a really good job. They can take a customer's photo or a piece of video that's been filmed on an iPhone, and they can turn that into something really special that still looks real but has your branding overlaid over it.

April (14:39):

Still reflective of the brand.

Gemma (14:41):

Yeah, has those extra little tweaks done to make it look like a good piece of creative, and it performs well as an ad.

April (14:48):

I think that's really important too. We have to have a combination, but you have to think about both sides too. It's a fine balancing act that we go through.

Jess (14:57):

And it only works for some brands and not the others.

April (15:02):

You just have to think of your audience.

Jess (15:04):

Yeah, exactly.

April (15:05):

What they relate to, what they consume, etcetera.

Amelia (15:08):

It's lifestyle stuff too. I think about some clients that the creative is like, "I live this amazing life on the Sunshine Coast, and now this could be you." It's really cool to think about that, what appeals to them.

April (15:21):

Yeah, that's exactly right. Thanks so much for joining me today. I know we all often see ads served us that don't quite hit the mark. And sometimes it is on the audience end, so I'm often, I don't know why, but I'm served ads for gyms in Melbourne sometimes.

Amelia (15:40):


April (15:41):

Whilst I'm sitting here on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. But more often than not, it's artwork that hasn't been resized for placement or fit for purpose. Which I think is really disappointing and sad because you can see it's wasting money for the client. So hopefully, these few tips will encourage listeners to think about their creative and the media buying as one. As we know, focusing on both can substantially impact your results in a positive way. Thanks so much guys.

Amelia (16:06):


Jess (16:07):

Thank you.

Gemma (16:07):


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