In the second post of our series, we review what impact COVID-19 has had on creative testing and messaging.2020 has brought new challenges, and marketers have been quick to react to adapting media strategies. However, relevant and effective creative is also required to ensure that the messaging resonates with customers in the new normal. We’ve collated our top four creative recommendations for challenger brands to achieve success. Test, learn & adaptWith COVID impacting people’s behaviour en masse, creative and messaging in many industries has needed to adapt quickly to reflect the wider context. We’ve seen rapid changes in creative style, with “lo fi” type content being adopted this year and it looks set to continue.One of the key advantages to digital is that you can test > learn > optimise in real-time. In order to drive effectiveness, activating a creative/copy split test enables advertisers to learn what works best with a relatively low-weight spend, then the majority of campaign budget can be invested into the top performing iteration. For example, across Facebook (dependent on the campaign objective/ set-up), a split test with robust results can be delivered for as little as a few thousand pounds; smaller brands can often be more agile & reactive, so this is a key way to out-smart your higher spending competitorsUse psychology to impact buying behaviourBetween March and July, global search interest in online shopping and how to buy online grew 2x. The growth in new customers for brands is providing an opportunity to harness these shoppers. Recent Google research has highlighted that social proof has been shown to be the most powerful behavioural bias; “Giving people evidence that other shoppers have already had a positive experience with a brand, product, or service is extremely persuasive”.In practice, to take advantage of this insight, incorporate positive ratings & reviews across all of you brand communications and marketing. This is especially important for smaller, less-known brands to build trust & could be a key tactic to persuade consumers to purchase from your brand, vs. a competitorAdvertisers should be asking themselves if there are there any other ways they could build brand authority, such as awards or endorsements? Drive impact & efficiency by intelligently using your dataThis year, with the increase in online shopping, many brands will have seen a surge of new customers. Over two-thirds of millennials and members of Gen Z have purchased or used a new brand since the start of the COVID-19 crisis (Warc). Consider the customer data you have available to you; how can you use this more effectively to deliver targeted messaging & achieve repeat sales? For example:- Customers newly acquired over the lockdown period – can you show them content to try and build brand affinity?- Lapsed customers – is there an incentive you can offer to increase their purchase rate?Segmenting audiences like this will have limited reach, so testing should only require a low-weight budget. This tactic should be used alongside broad prospecting, to achieve scale & growth for your brandTailor creative by platform to achieve the best resultsAs many of us have been stuck inside, away from friends and family, social platforms have been a key tool for people to stay connected. Usage has been up significantly this year (Facebook’s Daily Active Users +11% in March YoY), so it’s important ever for brands to be present, and displaying impactful content.User behaviour can differ hugely depending on what platform an individual is consuming content across:- YouTube is primarily viewed sound-on, with a forced 5s view – as this is a video platform (& users are therefore in the mind-set to consume video) they are more likely to watch longer-form ads. Video ad sequencing with bumpers can be an effective tactic to build frequency & lift brand metrics- For Facebook/Instagram newsfeed, there’s no forced view so the first couple of seconds are crucial to grab a user’s attention. Subtitles/text-overlays are key to convey messaging to those watching sound off. More simple assets (like images) can be used & made more engaging by displaying in a carousel/collection ad, or applying a poll- TikTok functionality may appear similar to Facebook, the content style is completely different (think challenges or dances). A brand’s content should be designed for the platform, in order to achieve the best responseGiven the current uncertainties many brands are facing, these creative recommendations can help to optimise your campaigns - providing the opportunity to test, gain insights & boost performance.Jessica Hughes, Account Director Read part 1 in the series here.