How Marketers Can Use Creative to Lift ROI

By : Jill Gray


The mind-boggling rate of progress in AI – 10X the rate of Moore’s Law – is difficult to wrap my head around as a human and parent, let alone as a marketer.  I remember just a year ago seeing a version of Dall-e that trained a model to generate pictures of an avocado chair, and thinking “that’s cute” while simultaneously scoffing at the feasibility of training it with all of the inputs needed to leverage it commercially.  Barely a year later, and the computing power and AI capabilities have grown exponentially with real use cases to boost ROI across every facet of marketing, especially in creative production.


From Content Scarcity to Content Abundance

The explosion of digital and feed environments – from TikTok to Instagram to mobile apps to CTV – has put marketers in a constant state of content shortage. Until generative AI came along, marketers focused on designing all of the different versions of their creative for all of the places they wanted to be.  With the click of the mouse, marketers can create far more content than they could ever support with media dollars. 

The question marketers will now face is “How do I know WHAT content to make to drive my business?” The marketers that are trained on AI’s creative capabilities and how to write productive prompts will win in creative effectiveness by a long shot. 


Generative AI Brings Quantity, Marketers Must Focus on Quality

Generative AI is transformative to the creative development process.  But it is also fastracks commoditizing creativity in a race to the bottom on costs – there is only so much efficiency to be realized. In the quest for “cheaper, faster, better,” generative AI on its own only tackles the first two.  Data continues to prove that quality creative is the largest driver of a brand’s performance – up to 70% according to Google – far greater than the endless chase for media efficiencies that the industry has been focused on. 


AI is fast and cheap, and will become table stakes for markers to deliver the quantity of content they need to be present across every channel. The businesses that crack the code on effectiveness who will have a sustainable, meaningful advantage over the rest. 


To achieve effectiveness, marketers must:


  • Incorporate data into the creative process.  Reducing the time spent making different versions of creative for different platforms means that companies can increase the time spent testing and learning about what types of creative elements are most effective. Getting access to creative effectiveness data across every touchpoint sets the stage for a more analytical, iterative creative process.
  • Get the creative data that meets the needs of a marketer. Understanding which size or image works best is just the beginning. Marketers need more richness in order to truly understand why one creative is more effective than another. For example, understanding the emotion, and context, and how viewers react to music or the use of the product, can help create higher quality content.
  • Bring data and humans together. While AI is unlocking tremendous marketing upside, it has its limitations.  AI gets stronger when there is human interaction to react to outputs, provide feedback and train the algorithm. Any content produced by AI or insights about that content requires a critical eye. Our AI found that an “orange” banner did better than the other banner. Once our analytics team reviewed the creative against the data, they saw clearly that the “orange” color was actually a coffee cup that had milk in it, instead of black coffee. AI get better faster when humans are “in the loop.”


It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the noise of Generative AI, but at the end of the day, a marketer just needs to remember that getting creative made faster and cheaper only gets you part way.  As US retail magnate John Wanamaker famously once said, Half my advertising spend is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”  Thanks to AI, real implementable solutions to improving ROI through creative effectiveness are finally here, as long as you know where to look.