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Growth Insights: The Importance of Channel-First Creative

Published: June 22, 2020

Author: Lauren Dawson

Picture this: you’re tapping through your Instagram Stories, watching what all of your friends have been up to today. Sally went out for takeout and got a delicious-looking cheeseburger at her neighborhood burger joint, Jimmy is telling a hilarious story about the old lady who lives in the apartment next to him, and then BOOM, out of nowhere your feed is infiltrated with a poorly laid-out Instagram story with 15 lines of “Load More” text and a tiny, awkward stock image that clearly wasn’t made on the Instagram Story app:

Ugh, another ad that has nothing to do with anything you’re interested in. It’s almost offensive and feels like an invasion of your Instagram Stories space! You automatically SKIP through the ad and breathe a sigh of relief when you’re back to your regularly scheduled Instagram Stories content. WHEW!
Admit it: this has happened to you before. Whether it was Instagram creative, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, or LinkedIn, you’ve encountered horrible ads that clearly aren’t considering the purpose of the platform, or the benefit of the audience. This happens because of a typical creative process that tends to look like this:

  1. Take a historical top-performing asset
  2. Make iterations of that one piece of creative
  3. Make resizes of creative iterations for different channels
  4. Launch the same iterations on all your social media platforms

Quite frankly, this is just lazy. Think about it: people don’t behave the same on Facebook as they do on Pinterest. Users don’t go on to YouTube to view the same kind of video content that they are consuming on TikTok. Audiences are using LinkedIn for different purposes than they are using Instagram. Even within the same platform, people interact with Instagram Stories differently than they do their Instagram feed. And yet, companies are still using the exact same pieces or creative and best practices developed for one ad channel, for ALL of their different ad placements.
Why are brands doing this? Well, for one, coming up with a quality piece of creative is no easy feat. It requires many steps, lots of strategic thinking, and collaboration between many different parties: creative strategists (like myself), creative directors, designers, animators, photographers, project managers, marketing directors, brand managers – the list goes on. It can be costly and time-consuming to come up with one solid piece of creative.
By the time this process is complete, advertisers are eager to launch their genius ad right away and start getting learnings and actionable results for their teams and/or clients. But hey, nothing great comes easy. I am here to convince you that going the extra mile to take a channel-first approach to all of your creative is well worth the investment and will end up paying in the long run in terms of ad efficiency, ROI, and ROAS.
Over the next week, I am going to break down different discovery behaviors for each channel; this should give you a new perspective for strategizing the kind of creative you’re developing for every platform you’re advertising on – or might advertising on in the future. Stay tuned for channel-specific insights on Instagram, Instagram Stories, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

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