4 Steps to A Successful Multi-Merchant Ad Campaign

February 9, 2024
Elena Santa Maria

My second week at Smartly presented the opportunity of a captivating project to support a customer in their holiday campaign efforts. Picture this: More than 1,000 assets, 20+ merchants, 10 different sizes, three time stages, across two countries. Initially, it felt like an overwhelming mountain to climb, but Smartly’s Creative Services team embraced the challenge with a collaborative, divide-and-conquer strategy.

My initial role in supporting this robust holiday campaign was to translate existing graphics into a new design, easily templatized within the Smartly platform. The catch? To ensure the design shone across diverse merchant styles, especially at the upper funnel level.

Alongside the graphics, we crafted a series of copies based on the brand’s specific holiday concept and copy that showcased the various partner brands audiences could shop.  This added another layer of personalization, but even as a newbie to the Smartly Creative Suite, I was excited by the opportunity to solve the personalization puzzle utilizing the platform’s features. 

Customizing the opening image and headline for each merchant.

The platform enabled all of us creative collaborators to share our feedback and facilitate approval rounds. Noteworthy was our team's adept communication with both US and UK teams, streamlining feedback consolidation and adapting adjustments based on specific country requirements.

Building creative within the Smartly platform.

Going from static to motion within Smartly platform.

Let’s break down the steps to this amazing campaign creation: 

  1.   Strategic Design Insights: I started by creating base designs for all funnel stages, uncovering insights I hadn't considered in previous projects. For instance, I learned the importance of forward-thinking in layer ordering to streamline the animation process. Additionally, I recognized the significance of carefully naming assets during the design phase. This proactive approach proved crucial in preventing confusion and maintaining clarity throughout the various funnel stages, given the abundance of assets involved. Exporting assets from Figma and preparing images for templates presented a learning curve. Collaborating with my teammates revealed valuable tips for efficient export strategies and overall smarter work practices: like exporting images that would be used across different sizes in just 1 well-thoughted size that could fit them all, leaving the main focus at the center to prevent odd croppings.
Smartly asset library.

  1.   Dynamic Feeds: After the base designs were established, we then worked on a dynamic feed: a reverse puzzle where the finished design dictated personalized columns for each element. Going from a template to a dynamic feed helped me figure out the right number of columns and identify the key elements needed for personalization. From headlines to merchant images, every detail required thoughtful consideration. 

We then connected the feed to Smartly to reveal the magic—automatic asset creation for the complete feed. We utilized the platform’s  versatile functionality, including conditional rendering for design control and merchant categorization for cover images.

The magic of the Smartly platform.

3. Savvy Asset Management: After perfecting each template, we seamlessly renamed assets with the bulk renaming tool within the Smartly platform – renaming assets streamlined the process. Yet, a rookie mistake surfaced: I had two different headline variations for each merchant in some of the stages and after downloading the assets over each other, I had to go  back to add a “theme” column to the feed so I can make that distinction when bulk naming the assets, emphasizing the platform’s user-friendly nature in accommodating updates and changes on the fly.

Bulk renaming platform.

4.   User-Centric Design: We then completed template reviews and made required changes driven by the merchants’ feedback. This process highlighted the importance of making files user-friendly, naming layers explicitly, and considering the end-user experience—lessons crucial for every designer.

My Creative Cut: I am grateful for the transformative power of the Smartly platforms, which turned typically daunting, weeks-long challenges into a more simplified and seamless creative process. Automated creative production and customization capabilities significantly improved my design experience. Using the platform  to its full potential early in my career has been a rewarding learning-by-doing experience. This project's impact will forever resonate—showcasing not just what we achieved as a team, but how we delivered value to our clients by working Smartly.

Elena is a Senior Designer for Smartly Creative Services North America, a team of creative media experts that conceptualize, design and build creative ads that scale in the Smartly platform. You can email to get in touch!


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