Choosing Visual Elements that Drive Impact

Optimization is a word that marketers overuse. Put simply, it means we try and then test, rework and try again. Like medicine, marketing is a practice, and one that is finely honed over time.

On the first day of a campaign, any great marketer has put a lot of thought into audience segments, content artifacts and visuals. They’ve described, in painstaking detail, just how the campaign will go to market, launch, and convert. Landing pages or sections of a website have been built to collect and inspire action for users. This level of detail can’t be overlooked whenever a campaign is crafted, otherwise the conversions we all hope will come surely fall short.

But how does one know when a marketing effort requires new creative? At Advance 360, we often say that gut isn’t a strategy. Just because you feel that a piece of creative isn’t effective doesn’t make it so.

No campaign is ever as inefficient as it is on day one.

Ideas about Changing Creative to Entice Engagement


Consider using animation to highlight certain portions of the imagery or text. In this example, the ad’s behavior draws the eye and entices more interaction. In this case, the example is around casting for a local theatre’s upcoming performance. Notice how the ad, in the first position, is largely black and white. While appealing, it is positively illuminated when changing color. The contrast in the before and after views as well as in the difference surrounding the content is engaging and enticing.


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purplerosetheater_300x250_20150728_AT Choosing Visual Elements that Drive Impact

optimized ad with animation

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In this initial set of creative ad units our designer captured the concept of “a transparent experience.” Our clients were hopeful for units that truly told a story of building trust with their organization. They wanted their ad units to speak the way they spoke, and illustrated the many ways that they were available to talk. In this case, the artist chose white and pale grey as a way to illustrate this.

As this campaign progressed to a place wherein it was clear that clients understood and accepted this transparency as part of the brand, the use of transparent panels was a natural next step. Lacing multicolored, ombre panels over and behind the subject matter created a new, more colorful take on the ad units and the experience.


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sellersautogroup_300x250_20150724_Pre1 Choosing Visual Elements that Drive Impact
sellersautogroup_300x250_20150724_Pre2 Choosing Visual Elements that Drive Impact


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sellersbuickgmc_20160811_300x250_2 Choosing Visual Elements that Drive Impact
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When building material to live online, we must keep in mind the native space and how the web world is built. Crafted to fit together like building blocks, with one bumping up to the next in repeated grids, ad units can begin to look like wallpaper. Consider any design element that disrupts that concept, creating negative space to be interruptive to the eye.


Baby Boomers prefer more “meat” in their advertisements, and are not hindered by greater detail. Millennials, by contrast, prefer modern looks with a great deal of negative space. Generation Z needs us to break up swaths of text with icons, graphics, or images with a greater frequency than any generation that came before them. We don’t need to buy an ad space and display a single ad unit anymore. Split your audience types, and serve each their own ads.


Review the campaign’s performance. Is it pacing properly to achieve the number of impressions needed to create lift?

Are the audience segments well refined? Too broad and you aren’t maximizing your spend — instead wasting marketing dollars, hopeful that the wrong audience will engage.

Are you properly identifying behaviors that indicate a consumer is ready for more? In the engagement phase, use pixels wisely to remessage those that are already raising their hands.

Don’t concentrate on clicks. A solid CTR is a great thing to have, especially since true attribution is so rare. But don’t rely on this metric as the sole proof that a campaign is working. If organic traffic is noticeably up, your campaign is creating the awareness you desire, even if it isn’t seen in the direct click through.

These optimizations aren’t the only ones that should be considered. But these small adjustments in a design strategy can garner big results. Don’t adjust too frequently, or you won’t know when changed direction created impact. But don’t miss out on the chance to optimize creative for better performance.

Real World Example: Developing Conversions Online, and Testing your Theories

When we’re working with Business to Business companies, we think about site conversions differently. While the goal is to generate sales for the items our client manufactures, our B2B clients are selling to the seller of their goods, rather than the end user. As their agency, our job is to help them generate interest and measure the effectiveness of their marketing. One of the ways we do this is by using exit links.

Using Exit Links

Our client’s site offers plenty of great information on the products they manufacture. Photos, dimensions, and other details are readily available, along with where these items can be purchased. Enter the exit link: the spot where the consumer leaves the manufacturer’s site to purchase the item from their preferred retailer or find a distributor who carries it.


B-ExitLinks-Graph1 Real World Example: Developing Conversions Online, and Testing your Theories
B-ExitLinks-Graph2 Real World Example: Developing Conversions Online, and Testing your Theories

This graph identifies the sales volume found within each retailer, versus the percentage of times that site visitors on the manufacturer’s website clicked to each of these purchase locations. Retailers A, B, and C are no surprise. These are the largest, most well-known retailers for the industry. But the smaller distributors are outselling the pace of their exit link percentage. This might indicate an opportunity ripe for some strategic marketing in those areas, using co-op to generate a stronger partnership for the brand. Or, it might represent a consumer sentiment shift from big-box to small or independent retailer. Either way, this trend is something to watch, and should be used to confirm that the marketing activities are the right ones.

The Power of A/B Testing

If every conversion brings you closer to making another dollar, why wouldn’t you conduct experiments to increase the performance of your advertising campaign? A/B Testing leads to more awareness of your products/services and better sales.

When a particular piece of creative isn’t performing well, what can be learned? How can preconceived notions and long-term marketing campaigns create false-notions in the minds of our client and our own team?

See a real life example of A/B testing and the optimizations that resulted for our Partners at MLive Media Group here.