Survey of CMOs Reveals Leveraging Insights on Competitor Brands and Shifting Social Media Advertising Creative Is The Key to Better Results

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Survey of CMOs Reveals Leveraging Insights on Competitor Brands and Shifting Social Media Advertising Creative Is The Key to Better Results
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In April 2021, BrandTotal leveraged Pollfish to survey more than 500 CMOs of consumer-facing brands across America to understand how they are evaluating their advertising creative performance and impact. While the results were almost split exactly down the middle (for example, on the question what is the leading factor when it comes to a successful brand campaign, 48% of respondents said media and 52% said creative), additional insights illustrated that creative has a lasting impact on social advertising campaign performance, especially when tracking the competitive digital and social advertising campaigns of your competitors.

Key Highlights

  • Surprisingly, only 37% of respondents noted that they benchmark their creatives against their competitors’ advertising creative by using a creative intelligence tool, but 87% of respondents said they had a tool to measure the impact of creative performance — meaning, a majority of those who are using a creative measurement tool are not getting inputs or automated competitive insights and analytics on competitors’ advertising creatives on social media.
    • 82% of survey respondents shared they have shifted campaign creative based on what creative ads their competitors were leveraging in the market, creating inefficiency in how this data on competitors is getting to CMOs.
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  • Because a majority of CMOs reported that creative teams are stretched too thin, it’s surprising that more have not invested in an automated tool that would allow insights on competitors’ creative to come to them vs. manually screenshotting or discovering competitor’s creative campaigns from time to time (which 67% of respondents said they did).
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    • 86% of survey respondents shared that a shorter cycle from ideation to campaign launch would positively affect their marketing and advertising initiatives. This is especially important given tectonic shifts by consumer-facing brands into the fast-paced eCommerce, D2C, and Social Commerce marketspaces.
    • 58% of the same group shared that the primary reason this is not happening is because the current creative team is tasked with too much.
  • 82% of survey respondents admitted to shifting their brand creative because of what they saw a competitor doing and when the shift happened, 77% reported that it resulted in better campaign outcomes.
  • More than 90% of respondents noted that they employ A/B testing of their own media creative on social media with 41% noting the motivation is to improve campaign spend efficiency, and 29% noting this tactic is to improve conversion rate.
    • Only 25% of survey respondents shared their reason for testing is to ensure the creative appeals to consumers and they have a favorable opinion of the brand.
    • 86% of respondents saw better campaign outcomes when creative shifted.
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  • The survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of respondents rely on in-house employees to drive creative, with 22% noting that creative is driven by a C-suite leader such as the CEO or CMO. 25% have an in-house creative lead and 25% have created an in-house creative agency/team.


My perspective, formed by a previous role as an ad agency creative strategist, is that insights-based creative is most effective when you layer on category competitor knowledge and first-party data that is available to the brand. This will produce creative assets that stand out in the market landscape and tie back the most effectively to your brand. Leveraging brand marketing analytics and competitive creative intelligence will only make media spends more efficient, in terms of consumer engagement and sentiment and allow for better brand outcomes, making better insight-driven creatives, faster. Today’s CMOs should see this data as a wake-up call and ensure their own teams are architecting effective creative — and committing to measuring it.

Notable from the survey data is that CMOs are consistently seeing great results by shifting creative (especially if they are keeping an eye on their competitors). They are choosing to make it a manual process, and aren’t employing a tool that could provide competitor insights directly to them. BrandTotal creates a bridge between media and creative teams and ensures that marketers are supporting a message that is differentiated from competitors and resonating with their core consumer base.

Would you like to learn more about BrandTotal and how we can help your company benchmark its creative against your competitors? If you’d like to see what’s working, what’s not, and where the optimization opportunities are, please request a demo.

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