How to Create Ads with More Creative Variety

April 16, 2021

Every performance marketer has run an A/B test and found that A performs 20% better than B. Sometimes it's 50% better. Sometimes it's 100% better. Something about A is different to B, and that thing makes A work better. It follows that the more differences you can explore, the more likely you are to find winning ads. And the bigger the differences are, the bigger the potential winners.


Put another way, if you run the same kinds of ads all the time, you're going to get the same kinds of results. This is why creative variety is so important.


Pencil turns your assets into new ad ideas, and it tries to introduce as much variety as possible into the process automatically. Different copy, different layouts, different video scenes, different images, different branding.


Sometimes though, you might find that you want more variety. Here are a few things to think about, from the easiest/fastest to the slowest/hardest.



1. Try a different brief


Pencil "learns" what kinds of concepts you like from the concepts that you select and delete. This is especially true within the same brief. If you've deleted or selected a lot of similar concepts in the same brief, you may have boxed yourself into a corner.Try duplicating the brief and generating again, and you just might find better variety even if you don't change anything else.


2. Combine different assets


If you just provide a couple of product images, there's only so much variety that can arise. Pencil gets really exciting when you give it enough different types of assets that it can find new patterns, stories and propositions to tell. The best Pencil briefs contain multiple different types of asset.


Always try to include some product images (with backgrounds removed) AND some lifestyle photography AND some product video AND some UGC in the same brief. The more different kinds of assets you provide, the more varied the remixes and new concepts will be.


3. Loosen up your brand kit


Sometimes if you hold on to your brand too tightly, you miss opportunities. Even some of the world's most protected brands experiment with their own look from time to time. Don't be afraid of giving Pencil a bit more free reign. Remember that you can only get varied outputs if you allow varied inputs.


If your brand colors are grey and white, you might want to think of throwing in a bright color if only to help you stand out a bit more. The more colors you have, the more variety you can get.


If you have a very fine font face, you might want to think of adding a bold font to your style guide. The bolder your fonts are, the more visible your copy will be and the more its variety will shine through.


4. Prompt copy from left field


The wonderful thing about copy is that it never runs out. Even if your assets and brand stay the same, you can come up with new ways of talking about your product for ever more.


Pencil generates new copy ideas for you, and it's designed to maximise variety. But the generated ideas start somewhere, and if you give Pencil too little to start off with, it will have trouble giving you variety.


First, try giving Pencil a slightly longer brand description in your brand kit. Tell Pencil what your brand stands for. Explain who your ideal customer is, and what their problems and desires are. Describe your products in detail - not just their features, but their benefits too.


Second, try nudging Pencil in new directions by typing in a few headlines in your brief before hitting "Generate Copy". If you don't like all the copy that's generated, delete a few lines, edit others and generate again. Keep going until you feel like you've got a batch of copy that is different to what you've tried before.


5. Input different assets


This may sound a bit obvious, but at some point you will have tried all the combinations of the same old product images and video you've been using for the past few weeks or months. It's time to go out and get some fresh raw material.


You can use Pencil's insights to inform what kinds of assets you should go and get. Have you tried assets with people + product in them? Have you tried perfect "pack shots"? Have you tried footage of your product "in situ"? Have you tried B-roll or bloopers of people using your product to do weird things? Have you thought about each moment along your product's customer journey, and got photos or footage of it that customers may relate to?


You can also consider different places of sourcing new assets. You may have got lots of UGC, but have you spent a little money on a fancier shoot? Have you worked with a minor or major celebrity in your field? Have you got an agency to make some short films or tell some new stories around your brand purpose? Have you asked your own customers to tell you why they love your product? All of these assets, captured correctly, can be "evergreen" and pay off many times over, as you incorporate them into dozens or hundreds of ads over time.


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