Anastasia Leng, CEO of CreativeX, explains why marketers need better measurement to set up their creative for success.

The marketing and advertising industry has a significant blindspot when it comes to ROI: the creative. A vast 84% of marketing content is visual yet it's the least understood and analyzed element of the marketing mix.

In the last five years, a slew of studies have repeatedly demonstrated that creative is the largest contributor to sales uplift (i.e. Nielsen, at 47%) and the most important lever in brand profitability. All of which begs the question – why aren’t marketers spending more time focusing on the creative?

As the father of modern business management, Peter Drucker once said, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” And creative content has been notoriously difficult to understand in a systematic and objective way in the absence of an industry-wide metric that can serve as a proxy for creative excellence. If brands aren’t measuring their creative in a scalable and objective way, how can they know what steps they can take to enhance and make it work harder for them?

The first step towards measuring creative excellence is to know your Creative Quality Score (CQS). Hundreds of studies from millions of impressions have demonstrated that there are indeed some basic creative first principles (like the need to brand your asset or feature your product upfront) that have repeatedly been proven to move the needle on both sales and brand growth in a statistically meaningful way. While these learnings are platform-specific, they point to the need for a Creative Quality Score, a cognitive shortcut of sorts that provides a quick health check into whether your creative is set up for success while giving marketers control over their ability to scale content with confidence. In the last 3 years, KPIs like the Creative Quality Score have been integrated into marketing dashboards of brands like Nestle, Unilever, Heineken, Mondelez, and more.

An increase in Creative Quality Score is statistically correlated with a decrease in CPM and an increase in brand recall and ROAS.  Yet, the average Creative Quality Score for a Fortune 500 campaign is 28%, which means 70%+ of creative work is inefficient – this can mean millions in wasted advertising spend. Will optimizing for CQS alone make a creative stand out with your audience? No. Creative quality is necessary but not sufficient, and while it’ll help you dramatically improve your content efficiency and effectiveness, this alone won’t win you any awards.

Technology is advancing our ability to measure creative excellence in a highly brand-specific way. Those who nail down creative quality are graduating to more advanced uses of creative data, tracking everything from brand consistency to the diversity of their casting choices at scale to how, and how frequently, they talk about their ESG commitments. They’re upgrading their existing marketing models to tie this creative data back to sales and brand, thereby gaining a largely untapped competitive advantage that allows them to finally demystify creative performance and measure the most important part of their marketing mix.