It Takes Two (Or More?): How Turnkey Variations Can Boost Performance


  • Marketers can make their creative strategy work smarter, not harder, with turnkey variations.
  • By producing variations, marketers can make subtle adjustments to creative that can have a significant impact on the tone and message of a CTV ad.
  • With one ad, you can produce multiple creative iterations to target different audiences, objectives, and campaign types, from prospecting to retargeting.
  • Our first-party data shows that turnkey variations lead to improved performance, with lower Cost Per Visits and higher Return on Ad Spend.

About 15 years ago, there was a big video trend online where cinephiles recut trailers for classic films in completely different genre styles. One of the most viral examples was a recut trailer of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining that reimagined the famous ghost story about trauma and tragedy as Shining, a delightful family-friendly romantic comedy. What made it funny, of course, was the irony, but what made it truly masterful was just how natural the new version felt. As we watch this Shining, all we can say to ourselves is, “Wait, you mean this isn’t the actual tone of the film?”

How, exactly, were these cinephile-slash-creators able to make us believe these films weren’t what we know them to be? Did they shoot new footage, expanding on famous scenes with new perspectives? Did they completely recreate the trailer with amateur actors enacting famous scenes with new dialogue? These approaches would have been effective, but time-consuming (not to mention expensive). The internet moves fast; by the time the creators had uploaded their take, people would’ve moved onto the next viral trend.

Instead, they harnessed the power of the remix. They reordered the scenes, changed the music, and added new voiceover so the story could unfold in a different light. This is part of why the trend was so engaging. We were surprised at how little the creators really needed to change to dramatically alter the style, tone, and message being conveyed. All it took were some subtle tweaks, and suddenly, a famously bleak horror movie becomes something that’s fun for the whole family. All work and no play turns into all play and not that much work.

Why are we telling you this? Because the lessons of this viral trend are applicable to the world of performance-focused Connected TV advertising. You often hear how a CTV campaign needs a high volume of video creative. But that doesn’t mean you need a higher volume of net-new videos. Instead, work smarter, not harder, by producing turnkey variations of your video creative. 

This approach allows marketers to be more tactical with their strategies, producing various hooks, CTAs, and other creative elements so they can make subtle adjustments to target different audiences and goals with one hero video.

Two Birds Ads, One Stone Hero

Sure, we could explain to you the specifics of turnkey variations and how marketers can strategize for them, but why do that when we can show you one in action?

First, a little context. This example comes to us from MNTN client Rumpl. The blanket company knew from the beginning that they wanted to run simultaneous prospecting and retargeting campaigns that targeted two similar yet distinct audiences: the actively outdoorsy, and the aspirationally outdoorsy. 

First, let’s take a peek at the “actively outdoorsy” ad. Take note of the narrative they’re telling and then (more importantly) take note of how they are telling that narrative.

Great, right? Now, let’s look at the ad built to target the aspirationally outdoorsy.

So what was different about each ad? How did the vibes change? And what did the creators do to establish these different tones?

Let’s take that opening scene. In the actively outdoorsy ad, we begin with a woman staring out a window at an expanse of trees (while wrapped in a Rumpl blanket, natch) Somebody get Jack London on the phone, because the wild is calling

Just as your brain says, “This person camps,” we see a shot of blankets beginning to be packed away as our lead character gets ready for just that kind of adventure. The look of pleasant longing we see in the actor’s face as the ad starts establishes a specific tone that does all the heavy lifting to make this feel targeted towards a specific type of person. In other words, for the actively outdoorsy types, Rumpl made sure to get their narrative, and their products, outside as quickly as possible.

Now consider the opening scene for the aspirationally outdoorsy spot. Rather than starting on an actor vibing with the call of the forest, we see a group of friends together, bundled cozily in their homes as they make coffee, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company—all while still wrapped in Rumpl’s blankets.

Then, after this short interlude, we see the exact same “getting ready for an adventure” shot as the blankets get zipped away and the friend group takes a walk in the woods and a chilly dip in a lake. These are carbon copies of the exact same scenes used to conclude the other spot. 

Just like with the actively outdoorsy one, the opening of this ad establishes a specific mood for a specific audience. The group of friends at the beginning aren’t staring at the outdoors that they crave; instead, their energy is focused inward, finding value in friendship and community. This informs the narrative and our characters’ motivations, especially as we transition into the outdoor scenes. Enjoying nature doesn’t become a singular calling; it’s born out of togetherness, a thought process someone who is aspirationally outdoorsy might have. And as Rumpl is targeting more of the “indoor kids” crowd, they make sure that the ad intentionally spent time showing how their product can be used inside before ushering us outdoors.

As you see here, turnkey variations don’t require massive changes with new locations, sets, actors, and scenes. Just like those viral recut trailers, the smallest adjustments can make a big impact in altering the tone and mood of your hero video to target different audiences.

Creative Elements Tailor-Made for Variation

While the sky’s the limit with turnkey variations, there are still creative elements you can focus on to wrap your head around the most effective changes to make. The easiest to tweak: calls-to-action and voiceover.

Call to Action: These are typically used on the end card, directing the viewer to take action—like visiting your website or scanning a QR code. Turnkey variations of CTAs can be especially powerful for seasonal or retargeting creative. This allows you to swap in new on-screen text to accommodate for topical messaging, limited time offers, or simply drive a sense of urgency during a busy shopping season.

Voiceover: VO gives you tight creative control around your ads message. And because VO is typically recorded after the fact, you can be very precise with variations of your message so it’s tailor-made for specific audiences and goals. Like with their CTA counterparts, VO variations can further highlight timely promotions, both seasonally and for retargeting campaigns.

So how much impact do they have on performance? To support a seasonal holiday sale, Rumpl added new end cards and alternate voiceovers to adapt evergreen creative and highlight timely promotions. Over this period, they delivered 4.5x ROAS.

Conclusion: The Path to Scale is Also the Path to Greater Performance

Driving better performance on CTV really does require a higher volume of videos to fuel it—but that doesn’t mean net-new videos, just turnkey variations, yada yada yada, we know you just read this, so we won’t bother summarizing further.

Instead, we’re going to prove it with some cold hard stats.

Turnkey variations that allow for greater specificity in targeting audiences with unique messaging isn’t just a nice-to-have addition to your creative mix. It statistically delivers significantly better results.

With a fine mix of 3+ unique videos and creative variations, advertisers can deliver 31% lower Cost Per Visits and 63% higher ROAS, on average, than those who do not. That means that as you produce and distribute creative at scale, your performance will grow in tandem. It’s a one-two punch of exactly what a CMO wants to hear.

And the quickest way to get that scale is with turnkey variations. The adjustments you plan for may not be as drastic as transforming a horror film seamlessly into a rom-com, but the littlest changes can make a big difference driving your CTV campaigns straight to your performance marketing goals.

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