Performance Creative
7 min

Embrace the W.A.L.R.U.S.: The Simple Formula for Effective Ad Creative At Scale

Grayson Gilcrease Grayson Gilcrease Senior Content Writer

Audiences are smarter, savvier, and more cynical about marketing than ever. That makes our jobs as marketers significantly harder: how do we produce ad creative and messaging that can stop the scroll and actually capture attention? And for enterprise marketers, how do we it at scale?

It’s time to stop relying solely on what’s worked in the past and embrace an efficient, effective approach to creative that will actually power business growth.

Lucky for us, there’s a secret to unlocking your brand’s full creative potential.

How W.A.L.R.U.S. can help you build ad creative that grabs your audience by the whiskers

Marketers for enterprise businesses often forget one of the most powerful advantages of digital marketing over old-school advertising: agility. You can test new ideas and concepts and actually generate learnings in real time, then scale up and use those insights across channels to frontload the potential for success.

Your team needs to adopt a high-performance creative marketing mindset and revamp your creative process — from creation and production to activation and measurement. And there’s a easy formula to organize that transition: W.A.L.R.U.S.

  • What:
    • Assets can you leverage?
    • Learnings should you generate?
    • Resonates or works in your existing ads?
    • Use cases will drive conversion?
    • Spend do you have available?

The Simple Formula for Better Ad Creative At Scale

Let’s take it step-by-step:

Take account: What assets can you leverage to remix your ad creative?

From product photography to past campaign footage, unused b-roll to user-generated content (UGC), you’d be surprised at how much viable content is left on the cutting room floor.

When it comes to creating new assets, repurposing what you already have is crucial. After all, you’ve already spent the time, money, and effort to make this stuff, and you should milk all of the value you can for it.

Most brands are trying to drive performance with limited resources, and aren’t necessarily able to finance full production shoots or hire full-time editors. Making the most of what you already have will help you bring in results, start learning, and scale up your campaigns. That will actually open up more budget.

Take account of what you’ve got on hand, and explore how you can slice, dice, and combine older assets in different ways to generate new and compelling stories in your ads.

While cool creative is great, looking good is not the end game. Remember: strong, purposeful messaging and excellent creative execution are the key to success, not the most premium polished assets, particularly for campaign formats like Instagram stories or Snapchat.

Keep your eyes on the prize: business growth is the objective. So our next question is about what you want to learn from your campaigns to fuel future performance.

Get strategic: What do you want to learn from your campaign?

Once you’ve locked down what assets you’re going to use to build the ad, you need to consider the long-term value you’re going to get from a specific campaign. You need to think strategically about what you want to learn that will help you drive more results in the future.

Set down a specific hypothesis about your campaign with your team to test out. For example, let’s say you believe that a UGC ad focused around a message of sustainability is going to outperform a UGC ad with a message around product versatility. Once your campaign launches, you can apply those learnings before you scale and to your future campaigns.

creative testing elements by channel

When your campaigns are built to learn, you’ll get more data about what works and what doesn’t. And when those insights are informing your creative decisions, you’re more likely to get results for your business and build ads that truly resonate with your target audience.

Keep the best: What’s already working in your ad creative?

We are true believers in the power of innovation, but that doesn’t mean you need to throw the baby out with the bathwater when you’re planning your next campaign.

We just talked about frontloading success by building learning into your ideation process, but we can and should also look at what’s worked in the past and use that to inform future production.

What is already resonating with your audience? If your audience responds to text on screen, use text on screen. Of course, you still need to keep testing and challenging assumptions around performance, but you should also play the hits even as you’re verifying that those best practices are still getting you the results you’re looking for.

Consider bringing a mix of past creative and new ideas to your next creative brainstorm as well as data and learnings to make sure you’re getting the most out of your strategy. In order to keep your next creative brainstorm productive and moving forward—while bringing new and fresh ideas to the forefront—you need to invite diverse perspectives to the table and provide definitive direction.

The Creative Brainstorm Checklist: Don’t get started without these key elements!

Who to invite:

  • Any key stakeholders who will need to give input, feedback, or approvals
  • Account Manager/Media Manager
  • Creative Lead/Designer

What to bring:

  • Previous month’s data to inform decisions
  • Promo calendar
  • Any inspiration or ideas

Topics to discuss:

  • Previous month’s creative performance: What worked, what didn’t work, what learnings can we take away, were there any surprising results
  • Upcoming initiatives to take into consideration, like holidays or promotional periods
  • Priority products/seasonal products to push
  • Hypothesis informing next test and what learnings you would like to gain

Outside the Box Questions:

  • Why are we creating this?
  • What do our customers care about?
  • What’s the elevator pitch?
  • How can we visualize this idea?
  • What’s a different way to describe this?
  • What’s one brand new idea?

What you should leave with:

  • A clear plan for the next month’s creative
  • Hypothesis and testing plan

Identify key use cases: What kind of ad aligns with your campaign goals?

Remember that your creative isn’t just tasked with engaging, but performing. To scale, you need to understand what kinds of ads resonate and how they move your customers down the funnel.

Audience data helps you understand how to establish best practices that you can keep iterating on so it’s more likely your creative will perform the way you want it to. Is it supposed to re-establish connection with a one-time purchaser or introduce your brand to a brand new audience? Are you trying to capture an email address earlier in the funnel or drive a purchase decision?

Tying together what works, then aligning those efforts with your business objectives will help you adapt your most effective ads and scale them across formats and channels to drive results at scale.

creative strategy questions

Follow the money: Does your media spend align with your creative budget?

It might seem obvious, but your creative production should be aligned with your channel media budget. If you’re creating expensive assets for a certain channel and you’re actually spending far more on another channel, you’re not going to get everything you can out of the creative you’re spending money creating.

You need to make sure your creative allocation is in line with your ad spend so you can really see the results you’re hoping for; that’s the only way to set up a functional feedback loop.

Expensive creative that’s built in a vacuum without a strong campaign spend strategy backing it up won’t drive performance; pouring money into campaigns that aren’t leveraging your best creative will not make the maximum impact. 

Remember: great creative doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does require getting strategic about your testing and spend.

Ready to explore how to scale your creative and maximize results for your budget? Download our guide to When Creative Met Data: How to Drive Blockbuster Business Results with Performance Creative.


Creative Services Performance Marketing


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