Creative Iterations for Social Advertising: Small Tweaks Make a Big Impact

by Sandra Rand 4 years ago

So I was inspired to address this topic after a parade of unfortunate creative has crossed our desks recently.

Usually, we ask for as many images or photos we can get from clients so that we have a library to choose from when setting up campaigns.

Sometimes even the specific ad unit dictates what kind of photo will work best. We want many to choose from if we try to test a theme or build a cohesive story for Facebook’s carousel ads for example, or we know what really will work best for Instagram, we’re able to try a bunch of different things to see what works.

Most companies have the best intentions and put some big money behind photo shoots and styling and post-production work.

But sometimes, despite all the effort that goes into it, the results fall flat and they simply don’t work for the channel they’re intended for.

So, we do the following:

Test it anyway, despite our instincts and experience.

Maybe boring or unnerving or weird or random works for an audience; you can’t make the assumption until you really try it out. Images are the first thing audiences react to – either they’ll be compelled to click, or they’ll continue scrolling.

Having a gut feeling that you know what image will get your ad clicked on the most is never a good enough reason not to test otherwise to be sure.

Request new creative. 

Armed with data on campaign performance and testing, we gently inform the client that we feel the creative might not convey the full benefits or use case of the offer and recommend that some tweaking or new imagery could really take our efforts up a notch.

There’s generally two rules of thumb when talking about creative iterations:


If your ad performance is not doing well – and you’ve tested other variables including bidding, targeting, the offer, copy, etc. – you’re better off exploring new images that are very different from what’s been used previously.

Time to test broad concepts.


If you have tested enough concepts and can identify themes that are delivering on your KPIs but there’s always room for improvement, start by making some minor creative tweaks rather than reinventing the wheel.

Now, if the client isn’t able to provide new imagery or they feel really strongly that it is the best stuff to represent their brand, we undertake some “post-post-production” work.

What are some of the ways to do that?

Cropping / Zooming

Focus in on certain details of an image. 10 coats in a closet can be cropped down to five just hanging on the bar. A zoomed out photo of a nurse attending to a patient can instead zoom in on the nurse’s hands taking the patient’s blood pressure.


Let Instagram inspire your creative and feel free to apply filters in various combinations to see what happens. You can also play around with saturation and brightness, color accents, blurring, and so on to mix it up a bit.

Borders & other Linear Elements

You can get creative here, try using arrows to point out features or go really 80’s crazy with starbursts or something (ok, not really), or you can do like we did here and go with an understated frame around the entire image, honestly there’s no limit to what you can do and highlight.

Text / CTAs

Check with your social media channel’s guidelines in terms of text overlays but we know that Facebook and Instagram for example have a 20% limit on the amount of text that can be within an image. With the space that you *can* use, convey urgency or repeat the value you have in your ad copy – FREE shipping, 25% off, 30-day trial, only 2 days left, etc. etc.

You should be doing this kind of rotation and testing even when your original creative isn’t weird/ugly/boring.

If you’re working with a really great set of creative images, but you’ve been running campaigns for awhile and notice your CTR and conversions declining, tweaking them like this and testing them to keep creative new and interesting for your audiences could be the right way to go to see significant improvements on your campaign performance before having to dig into the vault for entirely new concepts.

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