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Searching for the Winning Ad: How to Keep Testing and Iterating Storylines

Jukka Mäenpää Mar 29 2021 6 PM | 5 min read

According to our study, 44% of brands will increase their use of dynamic creative assets in 2021, including animations and videos. As video has grown into one of the most powerful formats to connect with consumers, how do you know which videos resonate with your audience?

No need to worry - the answer is creative automation paired with creative testing! With Smartly.io’s Creative Toolkit, brands have access both to our Modular Creative Tool and Video Templates. Our Modular Approach automates the creation of numerous combinations of your video footage whereas the Video Templates allows teams to create multiple videos from one single template. When combined with Smartly.io’s creative testing, teams can find which combinations and storylines resonate with their audience and therefore drive performance.

Uber has been one of the early adopters of the Modular Video Approach. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how Uber, together with Smartly.io’s Creative Services team, created several storylines from one video and how they tested their way to the winning one.

Constructing Different Structures from Existing Ads

Uber_Driver_HVD_Case_Study_structure

Uber had created two different video ads to attract potential Uber drivers, highlighting their value propositions Support and Instant Pay. When teaming up with Smartly.io’s Creative Services, they first hypothesized that ads with emotional communication structures would be much more  likely to report high value returns over the long term. After the hypotheses, Creative Servicessuggested a variety of story arcs for said value propositions: the Rational and the Emotional arcs. 

The Creative Services team then broke down the existing video ads into different modules: scenes (video clips), on-screen text (super), and voice overs. They separated the modules and combined them into several variations, resulting in six different video ads that enhanced either an emotional or rational reaction to the ad. 

The team implemented a continuous testing plan to see if the ads would appeal to their audience and also to optimize the branding initiative on the fly. By testing the original structure versus the newly created Rational and Emotional structures, Creative Services looked to reach different parts of the high value driver lookalike audiences and test for brand consideration lift.

A Video Ad Highlighting the Value Proposition: Support

With the Support value proposition, Uber wants to convey all the possibilities they offer to support and take care of your loved ones by driving with them.

In the original ad, we see a woman who drives an Uber to support her elderly parents, whom she visits at the end of the video. With the ad, Uber wanted to convey the possibilities they offer to support and take care of your loved ones by driving with them.

The Original Video Ad Structure

Storyline-Uber-Support-Original

The original video ad opens with the driver in her car. We see a glimpse of a personal object, a photo of her family, that showcases her motivation to drive. After that, we see her interacting with the Uber app and getting support from an Uber employee. The ad then transitions to the driver’s personal environment and reason to work everyday, finally ending with the campaign's tagline: “what moves you, moves us”.

Smartly.io Creative Services'
Emotional Ad Structure

Storyline-Uber-Instant-Emotional

Smartly.io’s Creative Studio identified that parts of the storyline have a heavier emotional weight, for example, showing the drivers’ personal life and what they work for. Other scenes, on the other hand, were more informative for the viewer, such as interacting with the app or the value proposition itself. In the ad with the emotional structure, the viewer sees the personal motivation scene first, followed by the personal object, her parents in the car, and ending with the app interaction scene.

Smartly.io Creative Services'
Rational Ad Structure

Storyline-Uber-Instant-Rational

For the rational vide structure, the Creative Services team turned around the order of the footage. The ad opens with the app interaction scene, followed by the driving scene, and ending with the personal and emotional motivations. Exposing the audience to a completely different opening scene and message can catch a viewers attention in a different way. The first few seconds highly impact the emotional reaction to a video.

A Video Ad Highlighting the Value Proposition: Instant Pay 

The Instant Pay (Earnings) value proposition highlights the power/benefit of having your earnings available when you need them. The original video ad has a storyline of a father who  drives Uber because he gets paid instantly, which enabled him to pay for his daughter’s boxing classes.

The Original Video Ad Structure

Storyline-Uber-Instant-Original

Again, the Creative Services team analyzed the original structure and broke it down into emotional and informative scenes, on-screen text, and voice overs. They then combined  them into ad variations that  showcased the story in a rational and an emotional structure. In the original video ad, a father is driving with Uber. He has a daughter who boxes, and he uses his Uber earnings to support his  daughter’s hobby.

Smartly.io Creative Services'
Rational Ad Structure

The Smartly.io Creative Services team started the rational video ad with the informative app interaction. The viewer sees the father use Uber’s Instant Pay feature to secure his earnings, he then uses his earnings on his personal motivation: enabling his daughter to do what she loves.

Storyline-Uber-Instant-Rational

Smartly.io Creative Services'
Emotional Ad Structure

In the emotional structure, Smartly.io’s Creative Services team wanted to highlight the driver’s emotional motivations first to emphasize why he chooses to drive with Uber. The scene then moves on to the informative app interaction and how he can use his earnings instantly.

Storyline-Uber-Instant-Emotional-2

Final structure comparison
Storyline highlighting Support

Storyline highlighting Instant Pay

In the examples above, we can see all the ad variations: the original, the emotional, and the rational story structures for both the Support and Instant Pay value propositions.

Testing and Iterating to Discover Brand Lift in Creative Structures

Together with Smartly.io’s Creative Services team, Uber tested brand consideration lift with Facebook’s Lift Studies. They gathered all the learnings and analyzed them to see what kind of structures and value proposition combinations drive most lift in the targeted high value lookalike audience. 

Thanks to the results, the Creative Services team and Uber were able to confirm the next creative iterations and hypotheses, as well as guide their future video advertising efforts. 

The Uber team can repurpose the testing methodology and framework using structures and the Modular Approaches there is still a plethora of visual cues and structures to explore.

Author
Jukka Mäenpää
Product Marketing Manager

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