When it comes to video ad creative, how much should you customize?
Three key patterns emerged consistently across all 10 brands we tested, no matter the category or the country where the experiment ran. Below, we share the findings using a brand example to illustrate each. Think of these patterns as areas to explore in your own creative process.
Pattern 1: For short-form video ads, custom copy alone is enough to drive higher recall
Coty’s CoverGirl was among the brands we tested to explore the degree of customization required to have an impact. Using 6-second ads that ran in the United States, we built generic and custom creative for three different audiences based on signals: women who recently downloaded a networking app, fitness buffs, and women interested in career development.
In nearly all instances, the ad with copy-only customization outperformed or performed as well as the ad with customized copy and visuals. So in the case of short-form ads, the required production lift may be lighter than we expected. This held true across experiments. No matter the country, we saw that custom copy alone can help deliver more ad recall.
Pattern 2: For longer video ads, more customization may be required
A different outcome played out, however, when we tested 15-second ads. One brand we experimented with was Czech auto manufacturer Škoda. We tested the generic control against creatives specifically tailored to outdoor enthusiasts, people in the market for investment services, and people interested in exercise. In all three instances, the versions with customized copy and visuals drove significantly higher ad recall lift than the control ad. This held true across other brands and countries as well. So our original hypothesis — the more customization, the higher lift in ad recall — seemed to bear out with longer stories.
Pattern 3: Video ad customization may be particularly effective when trying to reach an audience based on a timely event
To explore the audiences for which customization is most effective, we focused on signals relating to timely events, decisions, or purchases. In these instances, we found that highly customized creative can be particularly effective. With Johnson’s Baby, for example, we tested the generic control against ads catering to three audiences rooted in intent-based signals: people who recently became a parent, working parents, and women who prefer products with no parabens, sulfates, or dyes.
The videos ran in India, and, in all three cases, the highly customized ads performed best — a pattern we consistently saw across other tests. For other brands, we also tested serving creative based on life event signals, like graduation. In those instances, we again saw that highly customized ads were particularly effective, because viewers were served tailored creative that resonated with a timely event or decision.
Where we go from here
While the scenarios for which creative customization matters most will vary by brand and product, these patterns can provide helpful clues and inspire new lines of inquiry as we continue to explore relevance in advertising. We didn’t find hard and fast rules here, but proof that creative experimentation is a best practice, particularly when it comes to determining how much to customize your video ad content. As audience signals unlock new opportunities to reach people in more relevant ways, experimentation will help you uncover specific audiences or formats where investing in customization can have the most impact.