Creative is the first step to achieving ad success but Yahoo’s John McNerney says it has to work in combination with an omnichannel strategy and adtech tools to get the best results.

Ad quality matters – that’s no secret. But knowing what constitutes quality is critical in driving consistent brand equity and ad performance.  

The ad landscape has gotten increasingly complex amidst a shift to cookieless environments and the proliferation of emerging channels. With countless considerations for marketers, creative execution often gets relegated behind other priorities such as budgeting, timing, clicks and targeting. On top of that, with ever-changing consumer habits and as consumers adopt different screens for different routines, marketers in Asia-Pacific must go back to the basics – powerhouse creative.

No longer to be treated as secondary behind targeting and clicks, a breakthrough study by Yahoo and Magna Media Trials uncovered that compelling creative could spell the difference in achieving success across the consumer journey.

Here’s how marketers in APAC can harness the inherent power of high-impact creative for effective, successful campaigns.

The elements of a great creative

Just how important is creative? The study found that quality creative is an effective KPI driver for brands compared to ad media placement, driving top-of-mind ad recall (79%), brand favourability (77%) and purchase intent (76%). That means starting your campaign with the right creative can immediately produce positive results and even spur customers to meaningful action.

What people see is more important than ever – from enhanced creative imagery to compelling messages. Ads with strong visuals lure those with the propensity to buy – 75% of those in the market for a product are most likely to notice the ad if there is better imagery. Meanwhile, ads with explicit brand propositions and informative messaging increased viewing time by 8%, while leading to a 69% uplift in brand consideration among mobile users.

These aren’t necessarily large and complicated fixes, either. Simple changes to images and text can significantly optimise ad performance and drive brand quality and trust. For example, adding a human element can make your ad stand out and be more memorable. Ditto on adding a prominent logo placement or product images that contribute to enhanced quality creative, which can greatly optimise ad performance and drive brand quality and trust.

Even placing a more direct call to action (CTA) can spur consumers, with as much as a 77% lift to take action among shoppers looking for offers or deals after seeing an ad. Stronger CTA messaging can also pique consumer interest in the product (+11% lift) and the likelihood of visiting the brand’s website (+41% lift).

Your creative is much more impactful than you think and even minor improvements can go a long way.

Quality creative within a full-funnel approach

The blink-and-you-miss-it era has made it harder for brands to create iconic ads. With device fragmentation, advertisers need to consider a full-funnel, omnichannel approach – across form, function and placement. Great campaigns no longer simply run on large billboard ads or TV commercials. Creative should be able to fuel consistency and brand recognition across devices from awareness and consideration to purchase. This starts by understanding that different screens need different creative adaptations and it is crucial to comprehend audience behaviour and how people interact with different devices at various moments.

This is especially important in the mobile-first APAC market where people are digitally connected even as they are on the go. Marketers can view this as carrying a message for audiences across devices – a screen for every routine – while tailoring creatives according to each channel’s strengths, from digital out-of-home (DOOH) and advanced TV, to tablet, desktop and mobile screens. Consider the consumer journey and how each creative on each screen and channel can be used to their strengths and complement lifestyle habits.

For example, on desktop ads, visuals should be prioritised. The study revealed that enhanced imagery gives a 50% uplift in message association and a 27% uplift in search intent. On the other hand, clear brand propositions and more informative messaging effectively prompt next steps on mobile, seeing a 69% uplift in brand consideration and a 32% uplift in motivating mobile users looking for deals.

Yahoo's collaboration with Tourism Tasmania in Australia was a highly successful campaign that aimed to promote the state as a winter destination. This case study demonstrates the power of creativity in crafting a comprehensive strategy that guides audiences through the entire consumer journey. By incorporating DOOH with captivating audio, native and display ads on mobile and desktop, the campaign effectively captured audience attention, re-engaged them and encouraged consideration. The creatives were specifically tailored for various screens and stages of the consumer journey, ensuring a seamless experience from awareness to conversion. As a result, the campaign contributed to a remarkable 51% increase in visitation during the off-season.

For a seamless journey, work with an omnichannel demand-side platform that can help you optimise quality creative across channels to drive the best results, while giving you a complete picture of your audience and the campaign.

A winning combination

Given the seismic changes across the advertising ecosystem, brands that lean in on quality creative, while harnessing the breadth of channels available and the latest technologies and tools, will be on the cusp of ushering in a new golden age in advertising.

What good is a great creative if no one sees it? While quality creative is essential, it should not exist in a vacuum – it needs to pair with premium placement, relevant targeting, and strategic timing, backed by adtech tools that help bring scale, precision and drive performance.

Programmatic creative technologies, such as dynamic creative, paired with programmatic buying can enhance the effectiveness and relevance of ads while providing a personalised experience. Additionally, the shift towards cookieless environments has also led to progress in consolidating and standardising campaign measurement across channels. This allows for precision within the realm of creative – the ability to attain creative insights that compare and measure creative performance across formats, channels, verticals and publishers.  

Even with all the tools and best practices available, creative still needs to be fuelled by creativity. This goes beyond campaign ideas and extends to exploring new frontiers and pushing boundaries on what’s possible, whether it be utilising gamified experiences, immersive technology such as augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR), or Web3 elements. Think innovatively and utilise the latest tools and technology to solve problems.

Working with Jack Daniel’s and Starcom in Australia, Yahoo built a campaign that leveraged AR and digital collectibles that saw players collecting digital replicas that would give them content such as drink vouchers, a trip to the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Tennessee, and NFT music tracks and behind-the-scenes videos from three well-known Australian bands. With over 2,000 tracks available, players could mint their findings as a collectible on the Polygon blockchain and move it to OpenSea to create a real NFT, which will include ongoing royalties for the artists directly.

The case is clear: creative is the first step to achieving breakthrough ad success. But to truly unlock and unleash its power, marketers ought to lean into the winning combination of creative best practices, a full-funnel, omnichannel strategy, backed by adtech tools and creativity to drive the best results.