Boost your campaign's effectiveness: A foundational guide for creative testing

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Posted Mar 01, 2023
Elana Marmorstein

With any ad campaign, your goal is to tell your brand’s story in a way that makes a significant  impact on your target audience. However, this can be more challenging than it sounds. It’s not easy to  tell a great story or make engaging content. No matter how many others like it, your campaign will fail if it doesn’t move your target audience to engage and respond. 

Sometimes the change of a critical word or even the adjustment of the colors can dramatically increase the levels of engagement and conversion resulting from your creative. That’s why the most successful  marketers employ the use of creative testing. Today, we’ll define creative testing, the methodologies employed, and the best way to run an innovative test using agile market research. 

What is creative testing?

In the world of market research, creative testing is a crucial stage in the marketing process. By experimenting with various combinations of creative elements, such as messaging and visuals, brands can gain insight into what truly resonates with their target audience. By comparing these different variations, brands can determine which approach is most effective and optimize their marketing strategy accordingly. Creative testing is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal if you want to ensure your message is hitting the mark with your customers.

There are several different types of creative you can test, including:

  • Social media posts
  • Images
  • Videos
  • eCommerce product content
  • Paid ad content

As you can imagine, creative testing delivers many advantages regarding ad effectiveness. You can carefully design your research to get data on appeal and engagement which you can then use to evaluate what version will be the most successful for your target market. Furthermore, this process allows you to experiment with different elements to determine which combination suits your objectives. 

Instead of just taking a shot in the dark with what you think is the best your team can come up with, you get options. Being able to try out these different options and then narrow them down to the best combination dramatically increases the probability of success for your campaign. Not all ads are equally effective at all times. You can do creative testing at different times or on different days of the week to determine when your target audience is most likely to see and consume your ad.

The value of pre-testing ad creative

One of the worst things you can do as a marketer is attempt to build a successful campaign without the insights to back up your decisions. You can use creative testing to answer burning questions about your campaign before you run it instead of after. 

Here are a few examples of questions you can answer with this testing:

  • What type of creative will be most effective? 
  • Which message resonates best with my target audience? 
  • Which visuals are most appealing to my target audience? 
  • What is the optimal length for my video ad? 
  • Which creative elements are most effective in driving engagement? 
  • How can I optimize my future ad creatives for better performance?

Pre-testing ad creatives allows marketers to make informed decisions about their campaigns and maximize their return on investment (ROI). It also helps them avoid costly mistakes that could result from launching a campaign without testing its effectiveness. 

For example, suppose a marketer launches an ad without first testing it. They may find out too late that it’s not resonating with their target audience or that a technical mistake was made, such as a lack of mobile optimization. Pre-testing can help marketers avoid these costly mistakes by giving them insight into how their ads will perform before launching them. 

Relevancy is critical in achieving engagement among your target audience. Before running your campaign, it can be difficult to predict whether or not your target audience will find your creative relevant to their situation. However, creative testing enables you to collect concrete data that you can use to ensure that your campaign is highly relevant to your target audience. 

Creative testing methodologies

There are several different methodologies you can use to test your creatives effectively. Below, we explore a few of these approaches. 

A/B Testing 

A/B testing (also known as split testing) is a popular way to compare two versions of an ad to determine which one performs better. It involves creating two versions of the same creative, randomly assigning people to each version, and measuring their behavior (such as click-through rate). This allows you to quickly identify which version works better and make changes accordingly. A/B testing is an effective way to test small changes without investing too much time or money into development. 


Maximum Difference Scaling (MaxDiff) is a survey technique used to measure customer preferences by asking them to choose between multiple items on a scale from “most preferred” to “least preferred.” This type of survey helps businesses understand what features customers value most when making decisions about products or services. MaxDiff surveys are especially useful when dealing with a variety of different creatives that are widely different in their styling and approach.  

Monadic Testing (single concept)

Monadic testing is another type of survey technique used for market research purposes. Unlike MaxDiff surveys, monadic tests involve presenting respondents with only one item at a time and asking them questions about it before moving on to the next item. Monadic tests allow researchers to gain deeper insights into customer preferences by focusing on individual items rather than comparing multiple things at once, like with MaxDiff surveys. 

Sequential Monadic Testing (multiple concepts)

Sequential monadic testing combines elements from A/B testing and monadic tests to gain even deeper insights into customer preferences while allowing researchers to quickly test different variations of creatives without investing too much time or money into development costs upfront. With sequential monadic tests, researchers present respondents with several variations of an ad one after another instead of all at once, like traditional A/B tests, allowing them more control over how they present information and gather customer feedback. 

The wrap-up

Creative testing is essential if you want to stay ahead of your competitors. Today’s audiences are heavily saturated with ads and content from various brands, all vying for their attention. If you are not creating highly specific and targeted content, your ads will become lost in a sea of content. The best way to avoid this is through creative testing. You may wonder how to execute the survey methodologies we outlined above. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be a marketing expert. With aytm, it’s easy to run advanced testing methodologies to meet your needs.

Think you're ready to run your own creative test? Let's get started.

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