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Posted by
Ritu Jhajharia
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January 26, 2023
Creative AI

3 reasons your creative optimization is broken (and how to fix it)

"The creative process requires more than reason. Most original thinking isn't even verbal. It requires groping experimentation with ideas, governed by intuitive hunches and inspired by the unconscious.' Most businessmen are incapable of original thinking because they cannot escape the tyranny of reason. Their imaginations are blocked."

  • David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man
Creative Processes

The advertising industry is full of creatives. After all, what would the world be like without beautiful images, catchy slogans, and witty commercials? But when it comes down to it, advertising creatives are often relegated to "artsy" roles where they aren't expected to understand and optimize their creations for performance.

I needed to read the above quote in his famous book more than once to wrap my head around what he was talking about. Just look at how the creative process is explained even by the likes of Mr. Ogilvy in his book. Like it's some abstract concept beyond the realms of shared understanding.

But is the creative process an abstract concept?

Can we not break it out into quickly tamable pieces and build a procedure around it?

Is creativity some proverbial spark in the minds of few and not a skill that can be taught and learned methodically?

These are some fundamental questions to ponder, especially in a digital world. How can the creative process stay untouched in a world where AI and automation are becoming so prevalent that we don't even notice it? And where technology has made it possible to optimize almost everything, what about creative agencies and marketing teams adopting an effective creative optimization process?

So how do we bridge this gap between art and science? And what does this mean for your creative optimization strategy? 

In this article, we'll look at the three reasons for your broken creative optimization process and how you can fix those.

Let's dive in!

Reasons for your broken creative optimization process and how to fix it

Creative Optimization

Creative optimization seems like a straightforward concept. It's not. It's hard. 

It takes a lot of time and effort to do the manual optimization, and getting those first optimizations right, down to the size of your fonts – is a huge advantage. 

But most marketers, advertisers, and creators I speak to are stuck in the slog. 

A recent Forrester study commissioned by Celtra found that 51% of brands listed increasing the speed of creative development as their primary goal in the next five years.

So why is AI-powered marketing automation not fueling this growth yet?

Why have designers and marketers yet to embrace automation in great numbers?

Why are marketers, creative agencies, and the design community lagging in optimizing their creative processes?

A lack of awareness plays a huge role in that. Creative optimization is a brand-new idea that differs significantly from the standard brief-idea-production-launch procedure that many marketers use.

Let's go ahead and scratch the surface more and see why your creative optimization process is broken and how you can fix it.

Reason 1: You can't optimize something that's not defined, documented, and analyzed

Image generated by Dall-E

It needs to be well-defined if you're trying to optimize something.

You can only optimize something defined, documented, and analyzed. 

This may sound obvious—but if you look around the marketing industry or even within your organization, it's clear that there is still a lot of confusion about what optimization means.

Creative agencies have been using creative optimization for years but need to learn how to do it well (or at all). 

Marketing teams have tried sending out an email blast with a few images and asking their clients which one they like best, only to find out later that they could have been optimized!

If you are trying to optimize something in your marketing process and need an analytical framework in place, then you can't do it. You need a process for developing the right questions and using them as part of your optimization strategy. 

This means that everyone involved in designing and creating content needs to understand how they will be working with their colleagues on the team or agency side of things so that everyone knows what they're doing when they work together (or how they'll work without each other).

When was the last time you saw creative designers documenting something?

When was the last time you saw a well-defined brief for a creative team?

Let's back that up with some data, shall we? 

According to the In-House Creative Management Report, 2020:

  • 46% of creatives claim that creative briefs do not provide them with enough information to begin a project
  • According to 72% of creatives, the task that takes the most time away from their creative work is dealing with inadequate briefs. 
  • Finally, a whopping 79 percent of creatives say they rarely or never receive feedback on the performance of their creative assets.

How do you expect to optimize something that needs to be more well-defined and documented? 

To optimize something, you need to be able to analyze the status quo and then build upon it appropriately. 

If you still need to get a well-defined process in place, it should be a surprise that your creative optimization process is broken.

How to fix it? 

If you understand the problem and its root causes, it's straightforward to fix them. First, acknowledge that your creative optimization process is broken, then understand the fundamental reasons. That'll be the first step towards improving it.

Follow the following steps for your creative optimization process and move in the right direction:

  • Define your creative optimization process
  • Document everything in easy-to-follow micro-steps
  • Suitably onboard relevant team members
  • Train them about your process
  • Set up checkpoints to keep your operation on track
  • Follow a regular review and analysis process
  • Apply the learnings and optimize your process

Reason 2: The Upside Down - You're managing more than creating 

Managing more than creating!

According to the 2020 In-House Creative Management Report from Insource and in MotionNow, 47 percent of creative teams spend an entire day per week on administrative tasks.

Yes, let that sink in.

The second reason your creative optimization process is broken could be a direct flipside of the first.

Could you be doing too much of a good thing, like a well-defined creative optimization process?

Indeed, you can. Organizations and large teams tend to fall for it more often than not.

If your creative team is managing more than creating, you may need to do more of the creative optimization process. 

The best way to identify this is by looking at how much time they spend on admin tasks versus actual creation. You should also ask yourself if there are other ways your creative team could do less procedural work and still make predictable progress toward your goals.

The answer here is yes because it takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with all the admin tasks associated with any complex process.

How to fix it?

Creative optimization is a complex process that involves many moving parts. To make sure you're getting the most out of your creative team and not overwhelm them with the sheer weight of your process, here are some tips for simplifying and optimizing the creative optimization process:

  • Get them onboard: Helping your creative designers understand how to optimize their processes will help them take on more projects.
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify: If they know what they need to do and why they'll be able to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time creating new work!
  • And finally, get out of the way: Once you secure buy-in for your easy-to-follow process, get out of their way, and let the process take over in an automated way. 
  • Constructive feedback goes a long way: Provide constructive feedback after careful reviews so your team can understand what needs improvement and optimization.

Reason 3: Creative tasks are fragmented and disconnected

Image generated by Dall-E

A whopping 79% of creatives say they rarely or never receive feedback on the performance of their creative assets.

  • As reported in In-House Creative Management Report, 2020

The third reason your creative optimization needs to be fixed is that the tasks need to be more cohesive, and teams are disconnected. 

This can be seen in many ways, but one of the most prominent signs is when you have a team of multiple specialists working on an individual piece of content or campaign.

For example, let's say you're an agency working on a marketing campaign for your client. Your agency has two separate teams: one focused on creative work (creatives) and another focused on technical support (techs). Each team has its process for creating content: creatives use their style guide while techs follow what they call "best practices."

However, when it comes time to execute this marketing campaign, things go south quickly because no one knows what everyone else is doing! It becomes difficult for anyone at any level within your organization—from top decision-makers down through middle management—to understand where each person's responsibilities lie within this large project because there isn't enough communication between departments regarding deadlines or expectations around quality control measures like testing before publishing content online.

How to fix it?

There is a straightforward way to fix the above issues - Optimize your creative process workflows:

  • Don't just define the process; also assign clear ownership of each stage
  • Make a clear query resolution process for your creative team
  • Let your creative team know when and whom to approach when they have questions
  • Use a centralized communication tool for your teams to collaborate and manage their workflows efficiently
  • Connect your workflow to reviews and approvals

Conclusion: Creative optimization is broken because creatives aren't thinking about numbers

Creative optimization is a process that involves running an A/B test on your creative, comparing the results, and making changes based on what you learn. It's used by companies like Spotify, Facebook, Google, and Disney to help them improve their creative output by testing new ideas with real people in real time.

But many creatives don't understand why it's essential to test different versions of their work (or even how), so they end up focusing on one idea at a time—which means no one gets enough data from which to learn anything useful about their audience preferences or needs.

The answer to all of these questions is simple: numbers. 

One needs to understand how their creatives work from a number perspective so they can make data-driven decisions that lead to better results. Yes, it's easier said than done, but there are tools out there that can help simplify the process. 

One of the core features of is built precisely to bridge this gap for creative teams. While designing creatives for your campaigns, on your dashboard, you can also see the effectiveness of your creative in terms of expected performance. This way, you can select the ones with the highest potential performance scores and build your campaign creatives with this data-based approach instead of shooting in the dark. And the best part is that you can do this right from the beginning instead of burning money and waiting for the insights to come in for the first round of optimization.

Another feature built within is its ability to draw insights from your campaigns for your creatives and make suggestions based on that. 

If you still need to start using these features, you're burning a lot of cash in suboptimal campaigns and leaving money on the table that could have been converted into revenue.

Also read about Celtra's pricing and best alternatives here.

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