matching your creative strategy to your campaign goals

Have you ever been ready to launch a digital ad campaign when you realized your creative is delivering the wrong message? Or worse, no message at all? The right creative can make or break your campaign. Before your ads fall flat on both your audience and your KPIs, check out these guidelines to make sure your creative strategy aligns with your campaign goals:

Set Clear Expectations

It is essential to align your creative strategy with campaign objectives early on. A good place to start is to outline what your goals are for the digital campaign before starting on the creative. What do you want your campaign to achieve? Is there a problem you are trying to solve? How will you measure success?

Your goals and KPIs will set the tone for what the creative is trying to accomplish and what elements designers should incorporate into the ads.

Ad Network
Ad Exchange
Demand-Side Platform
Centralized source for inventory — no need to buy from sites individually
Transparency — you choose which sites to buy
Bidding environment — you choose what CPM to pay
Data segments — use third-party or first-party audience data to enhance buy
Multiple inventory sources — DSPs connect to several ad exchanges and SSPs and offer several channels
Transparency — you choose which sites to buy
Bidding environment — pay what you think each individual impression is worth
Data segments — use third-party or first-party audience data to enhance buy
Lack of transparency — site reporting often masked
Fixed CPM — all impressions cost the same regardless of value
No automation — need to use an IO to contract each buy
Limited inventory — you can only access sites within the exchange
Specific channels — some exchanges specialize in video or mobile, requiring access to multiple exchanges to reach all channels
Steeper learning curve — multiple bidding options allow for greater precision, but it takes longer to master the nuances of buying
History: Ad networks were the first step in progressing from site-direct buys and are essentially simplified aggregators that can categorize and sell publisher inventory in an easy-to-understand way. The benefit to advertisers is they no longer need to contract dozens of individual sites to reach their audience at scale. The benefit to publishers is they get to sell inventory more effectively than site direct. There are many types of ad networks; most are specialized by vertical, demographic or medium.History: This digital marketplace was the next step in the evolution of digital media buying after ad networks, focusing on audience buying over site buying. The auction-based environment facilitates buying and selling from multiple sites or ad networks simultaneously, bringing efficiencies and targeting advances. Advertisers have better targeting through audience-focused buying, greater visibility into purchased inventory and the ability to choose how much to bid. Publishers can maximize profit by offering inventory to an ad exchange in addition to an ad network, increasing opportunity for ad sales.History: Demand-side platforms are the latest phase in digital media buying's evolution — going beyond site or audience buying and using data in a much deeper way. Programmatic has more data available than any other medium, and this can be used to evaluate each impression individually to determine what it is worth. Using a DSP provides buyers with more precision to reach the right person with the right message at the right time by allowing buyers to bid differently on various factors, such as time of day, geography, data segment and much more. Additionally, DSPs connect to multiple ad exchanges and SSPs, which provide buyers with a one-stop shop to buy all channels from a single source. Publishers benefit from the additional opportunities to sell their inventory.

Tell Users What to Do

What are you asking users to do? An ad that is beautiful but doesn’t drive users to do something won’t help you achieve your goals. Create strong messages that will get a response.

If you want to drive conversions or new leads, try creating a sense of urgency or scarcity in your message. Many of the problems that affect conversion rates are users thinking too hard, waiting too long, or simply not responding to the ad’s call to action. Raising the urgency level can cut through a lot of this delay and significantly improve conversion rates. If your ad is strictly for an awareness campaign, yor driver could be an emotional message and a website mention as the implied call to action.

creative strategy ad samples

Look at the Bigger Picture

How does your creative fit within the overall media plan? Having a creative message that resonates with what your audience is seeing elsewhere is one of the most important elements of a successful digital advertising campaign.

Remember, your audience may change depending on the reach of the flight, for instance, locally, nationally, or internationally. If you have the budget and the ability, it is highly recommended to tailor different creatives to different audiences while ensuring messaging for that audience stays consistent across all channels. Try also matching different goals to your different audiences to see better results.

creative strategy travel agency example

Track, Measure, and Adapt

Don’t wait until the campaign is over to decide whether or not your creative is working. Once your campaign goals and correlating creatives are in place, try out some basic A/B testing on your designs to see which creative treatment performs better for your audience. Here are some things to consider when setting up an A/B test:

  • Change only one element of the creative per test to isolate the catalyst
  • Tests can be applied across multiple creatives
  • Use the same size ads across the test
  • Collect at least four weeks’ worth of data before selecting a winner

Your test can be as simple as different calls to action or trying out different images. Whatever you test, it’s important to track how people are engaging with your assets and apply those findings across all platforms. Now it’s time to let your creative shine. With a creative strategy that complements your campaign goals, you’re sure to dazzle both your clients and your customers alike.

creative strategy A/B testing ads


More than just a seasoned digital marketer, Lindsay is an adventurer. She brings a passion for tackling the next big challenge — whether that’s summiting a new mountain peak or strategizing a multifaceted marketing campaign. As Digital Strategy Director at Goodway Group, she shepherds companies of all sizes through the evolving digital landscape to more successful integrated media plans. A true straight shooter, Lindsay shares ideas and tips that help marketers cut through the clutter in digital media.