Stop guessing and start testing: three marketing experiments you can apply to your next campaign

Marketing is an art and a science, correct? While we easily recognise the art of the craft, the science of marketing gets a bit more tricky. Even though consumer research helps to inform the creative approach, it can be hard to prove that one creative choice was better than another or that the right audience heard your message.

What if you could test your assumptions about your messaging, your audience and your creative in real time? Brands are doing just that by using video experiments, a testing tool that works with brand lift measurement and allows you to measure the impact of creative, audiences and formats on key metrics like awareness, consideration, purchase intent and more. Here are three marketing experiments you can apply to your own campaigns.

Give existing creative a new twist

Running a marketing experiment doesn’t mean that you have to create many new videos. Sometimes, an existing video just needs a fresh twist.

For the launch of its new drink, Bubly sparkling water, PepsiCo needed to reach millennials where they watch content the most: online. It wanted to make sure that its messaging resonated with the audience in a format that worked. Instead of creating entirely new videos, PepsiCo got creative. The company used existing assets and Director Mix to create 60 personalised six-second bumper ads that catered to different audiences, such as music lovers and life hackers.

“Consumers are savvy, and we know they expect brands to connect with them. To grow awareness for Bubly, we wanted to be the playful instigator, so we focused on delivering contextually relevant messages based on audience interests,” said Stacy Taffet, vice president of the water portfolio for PepsiCo.

Personalised messages like “add me to your playlist” were tested against their standard product-benefit messaging, “no sweeteners”. The personalised messaging drove best-in-class brand awareness, increasing awareness by 30% more than the product-benefit messaging alone. Creating personalised video ads does not have to be costly or difficult, but makes a sizeable difference in capturing awareness.

Go beyond traditional audience segments

While it’s tempting to stick to traditional age and gender demographics, this can limit the potential impact of your creative. WeDo was looking to increase awareness and reach in the crowded home services market in New Zealand. It decided to test the brand impact of YouTube campaigns on standard demographic audiences as well as more advanced audiences.

WeDo split its audiences into three groups: a traditional demographic group of men and women, aged 25 to 54, YouTube affinity audiences like Home & Garden and Lifestyle & Hobbies and advanced affinity audiences for new homeowners. WeDo was then able to measure the impact of each audience. Leaning into advanced audiences increased consideration by 76%, proving the importance of reaching the most relevant audiences.

“The ability to essentially predict intent and invest at this stage is really exciting,” said Tom Hunt, marketing lead at Spark New Zealand, the hosting service that powers WeDo.

Try out different lengths and formats

Brands can’t just rest on unique or compelling creative to engage an audience. They need their messaging to convert prospective buyers to customers. Online mattress company Nectar, a Resident company, wanted its campaign to maximise sales, which meant putting everything to the test. The brand used video experiments to develop data-backed guidance, reducing reliance on a “gut” feeling and increasing the focus on measurable results.

Nectar tested a variety of different creative executions varying in length and format against similar audiences. Using intent signals, ads were served to people in-market and actively looking for a mattress. While one might assume that the shorter ads would have worked better, the brand found that people were more engaged with the longer version of the ad, which also influenced purchase decisions. The longer creative lengths lowered the cost per acquisition and proved to be the most efficient format for helping people make a purchase decision. The brand also took a mobile-first creative approach, leading to a 10% better CPA on mobile when compared to desktop.

“We knew that having great creative was imperative for success, but we also employed a rigorous data-driven testing strategy to determine what would work best for our brand,” said Gil Efrati, chief marketing officer at Resident.

Why one-size-fits-all video ads are a thing of the past