Five ways to diversify your creative to stand out in the new digital normal

Learnings from a Facebook study quantify the ROI of brands' test-and-learn approach

Header ImageBy Leanne Gibson

Standing out in the sea of sameness in the DTC digital marketing landscape was a challenge even before the pandemic, but the recent digital commerce surge has only made it more difficult to differentiate. Plus, with an increased industry focus on restricting advertisers’ access to consumer data, brands must draw in customers in new ways as they earn their trust and prove value.

In this new digital normal, the brands that win will diversify their creative by using a variety of formats and assets to reach and engage with customers. You’ll have to think differently about your creative approach and try tactics that others aren’t using. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of options available as you look to stay authentic to your brand while diversifying your creative and uniquely convey your value propositions to reach new audiences.

To break through, the most successful brands adopt an agile test-and-learn approach, using a combination of art and science to determine which formats resonate best with their customers. In fact, a Facebook-commissioned meta-analysis study found that adopting a testing and learning process to creative resulted in a 15% lower cost per ad recall and 26% lower cost per action (source: Facebook internal data, 163 campaigns, December 2019).

The following five stories describe brands that thought differently about their creative and tested new platforms and possibilities:

1. Test new formats 

The marketing team at the lingerie brand Adore Me explored a new way to reach customers by running video ads on Instagram and Facebook that opened into a full-screen, immersive Instant Experience. With a single ad, Adore Me’s customers could watch engaging videos and photos, and swipe through product carousels to explore the brand’s products. The ads drove a 25% increase in opt-ins to Adore Me’s subscription plan and improved the brand’s overall performance compared to its business-as-usual ads. And the Adore Me team could glean insights about customers’ preferences as they engaged entirely on Facebook platforms, allowing them to continue to personalize ad content to these audiences.

2. Test new personalities, tones and assets 

Showcasing video ads that focused more on the brand and storytelling over individual products wasn’t a typical strategy for Pura Vida. But teaming up with new partner Shark Week to create a video ad that showed a different side of the brand – balancing eye-catching lifestyle and product close-up photography with exciting footage of sharks in their natural environments  –  resulted in the brand’s top performing direct-response campaign.

3. Involve both micro and macro influencers 

The custom haircare disruptor Prose sought to understand whether leveraging content produced by macro influencers, who draw over a million followers, drove greater ROI and reach than leveraging content from micro influencers, who have fewer than 500,000 followers. To test their hypothesis, the team tested video ads on Facebook featuring macro influencers’ content, content from micro-influencers and content featuring a combination of the two. The team saw a 19% lower cost per purchase using the combination approach, showing that testing a diversity of approaches can pay off.

4. Harness machine learning to optimize creative 

The wine company McBride Sisters Collection had largely relied on in-store sales before the COVID-19 pandemic. But after stay-at-home orders required the company to pivot to an online strategy, the team used automatic placements to determine which ad placements performed best at the lowest cost across Facebook apps. Leveraging machine learning technology allowed the brand to customize creative messaging and distribute budget to the highest-performing assets in real time. As a result, the marketing team saw a 58% lift in purchases, a 60% lift in requests to find their store location and a 2x lift in ad recall.

5. Partner with creative experts

You can partner with agencies and teams with specialized skills in certain platforms to help you take your creative in new directions. For example, the Black women-owned eCommerce retailer Be Bougie partnered with Vimeo, a Facebook Business Partner, as they pivoted from static ads to optimized video creative. They saw a 15.7-point lift in ad recall as a result of the partnership.

These disruptive brands are all standout examples of how testing different creative approaches and formats can pay off big as customer behaviours and expectations shift in digital commerce.

With customers discovering new brands and products across more digital touchpoints, creative is the single best performance lever at your disposal to reach and engage with them so that they’ll remember you  –  and keep returning to your brand’s offerings again and again.


As Head of CPG, Automotive, Travel, eCommerce, and Retail for Facebook Canada, Leanne Gibson leads a consultative sales team, with a focus on strategic partnerships and digital innovation with partners. Gibson has over 20 years of digital media experience specializing in sales, product strategy, monetization, partner management and business operations, and her career spans multiple remits with Twitter Canada including Head of Agency Development, and she was Head of Advertising Products and Business Operations at AOL Canada. Gibson holds a BA Honours degree from Queen’s University, and is a mother of three, a mental health advocate and a marathon runner.