• This is the second post in our data-driven marketing creativity series. Check out the first on Betabrand here.

    For early-stage startups, nailing your audience and social media advertising strategy is vital to building your brand. Constantly iterating on your social media advertising assets will provide your team with insights across the funnel, building the foundation for a omnichannel marketing plan. Being short on time and budget, startups need to have a solid game plan for their creative strategy and execution. Each social media advertising campaign needs to be effective and efficient.

    Gametime, the last-minute ticketing app, has developed this data-driven creative mindset, which Jon Gordon, VP of Creative at Gametime, instills in his team. “Because data is used in almost every decision we make and our team is small, we make sure that the people we hire are those who have a willingness to incorporate analytics into their work.”

    Gordon’s team is comprised of art directors, designers, and writers. “We work hand in hand with the growth marketing team who oversee all of our placement and analytics to come up with a single social ad framework where we can plug in different creative variables,” he said. After numerous rounds of testing, they ended up with this winning ad, which delivered a 20% boost in performance over any of Gametime’s social advertising running at that time.

    Gordon shared Gametime’s method for finding the winning combination for its 25-second Seat Compare ad:

    “First, we shot the ad with various talent playing the role of the first person who ‘bought in advance’ and the second person who ‘bought last minute.’ The entire ad is created in post-production, combining the best acting performances from each character to create what appears to be one long shot. We then decided which acting performances received the best engagement performance—and then subsequently combined them into one ad. The female character, in the beginning, was chosen over several other characters as she tested best. The male actor was the result of the same testing.  

    “Next, we tested which headlines—if any—improved the ad’s performance. We also played with other minor tweaks to the ad: showing the phone product shot with the app, different screenshots of the app, and finally, which end-card sequence nails the value prop and leaves people with the story we wanted.”

    As Gametime’s primary audience is Millennials, they execute these campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to maximize reach and ROI. To keep each test clean, Gordon and his team measured each ad against these four metrics:

    1. Three-second view % – How often is your ad being viewed for at least three seconds when it is served? This metric points to the ad’s stopping power.
    2. Click-through rate (CTR) – How often are people clicking on your ad? This shows how well the ad does in making someone want to learn more.
    3. Install rate – How many of the people who clicked end up installing Gametime? If you have a high CTR and low install rate, your ad likely isn’t painting an accurate picture of what you’re selling—in other words, it’s clickbait.
    4. IPM – Installs per 1,000 impressions. This metric combines CTR and install rate. This is Gametime’s overarching creative KPI they tracked every week.

    This methodology allowed science to be the ultimate arbiter of art. Gordon explained, “We have had a good mix of success and failure. Sometimes concepts we loved failed miserably. That’s why we use the data. Even after years of experience, it’s almost impossible to gauge the success of a creative concept from your gut. On the other hand, it’s nice to have a concept you love be validated by performance metrics.”

    Leveraging creativity and data can have a tremendous impact during startups’ crucial, early-stage period when they need to scale their audience to gather more venture funding. In doing so, you can achieve a number of goals: increased downloads, user engagement, brand affinity, media attention, inbound inquiries from investors, community interactivity, and much more. By understanding the KPIs toward success and establishing the right processes to achieve them, startups stand a better chance at building a lasting brand users love.

    Social media advertising is a constant learning process,” Gordon said. “We are still finding new learnings every week. With these insights, we’ve developed a fine-tuned framework which allows us to produce huge amounts of content on a regular cadence. With regular data feedback, we have the tools to quickly learn, iterate, make decisions, and take our brand to the next level.”

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