Mo’ CTV Creative, No Problems


  • Creative variations are key to a successful Connected TV campaign, boosting conversion rates by as much as 50%.
  • 67% of consumers want a variety of different storytelling approaches to avoid ad fatigue.
  • Investment in creative pays off. A dollar invested in a highly creative ad campaign has 2x the sales impact of a non-creative campaign.

“Good” creative: is it an art or a science? Turns out, it’s a bit of both. The case for creative variation is clear: more creative equals less ad fatigue, which equals more viewer engagement and, ultimately, better performance. This MNTN Research article breaks down this formula to success and explores the different paths that should be considered when developing Connected TV creative. 

The Pillars of Creativity

First, let’s take a step back and assess what constitutes “good” creative, anyway. Robert Smith, a communications researcher at Indiana University, redefined American psychologist Ellis Paul Torrance’s  measurement of creative thinking for a new era, based on these five pillars:

  • Originality: Featuring unexpected or out-of-the-box elements via visual or verbal cues.
  • Flexibility: “One item, multiple uses,” is the name of the game here. These ad elements link the product to various use cases or ideas. 
  • Elaboration: We see this in a lot of food and beverage commercials that try to emulate taste on screen (not an easy feat).
  • Synthesis: I.e. connecting the dots between otherwise unrelated objects or ideas. Take, for example, this 2018 NFL Superbowl 52 ad featuring Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. playing off of that infamous scene from Dirty Dancing (instead of playing football). 
  • Artistic Value: Production quality means everything here, from visuals and talent to audio and music. Think of a 15- or 30-second blockbuster-quality commercial compared to a run-of-the-mill ad for a new arthritis medication.

Why Creative Variation Matters

There are two big reasons creative variation is so important: ad fatigue and brand equity. A survey by analytics firm Dynata revealed that 67% of viewers crave variety and different storytelling approaches. However, advertisers also need to balance the books and weigh up their investment in creative and the potential gains. An analysis from the Harvard Business Review comparing 437 TV advertising campaigns for 90 consumer goods brands revealed that minimizing media spend and putting more money into creative production instead tends to drive more sales in the long run. Let’s look at two examples, each with a differing  creative ranking (from 1 to 7) and TV budget:

Campaign A:

  • Creativity Ranking: 3
  • TV Budget: $500,000 per week

Campaign B:

  • Creativity Ranking: 3.5
  • TV Budget: $400,000 per week

Campaign B ultimately yielded a 1.07% higher sales impact in the first week of airtime than Campaign A. That may seem minor, but that gap continued to increase exponentially over time, as consumers built up a knowledge of the brand over time.

In other words, reallocating the media dollars to creative usually resulted in a more impactful ad and better performance. However, brands don’t necessarily need to sacrifice one for the other. MNTN’s Creative-as-a-Subscription™ (CaaS) service combines both the media buying and creative production, with a quarterly output of creative variations to test and optimize. The payoff is clear: more creative variations drive up conversion rates than brands who don’t.

But multiple creative outputs is just one part of the equation. The majority (56%) of consumers polled in the Dynata survey said the creative assets they saw weren’t always relevant. Robert Smith’s study revealed several combinations of creative pillars on a scale of least, to most effective. Overall, originality and elaboration had almost double the sales impact than the less effective pairings. 

This further strengthens the case for creative testing and variation: more creative on-hand means more testing opportunities to figure out what audiences are resonating with, which ultimately drives better performance. Creative production solutions like CaaS offer Connected TV advertisers the flexibility to test various elements, like CTAs, against different audience segments, or even test performance based on the creative pillar pairings above. What fits one brand or category may not work for another.

High-Quality Creative Production Matters

60% of consumers cited in Dynata’s survey were bothered when ads or content didn’t match the brand’s website—again reaffirming how important creative consistency is when telling a cohesive omnichannel story. Creative variation not only equips marketers with key learnings on Connected TV, but it provides intel on what consumers want to see (or don’t) across other owned marketing channels, too. Ultimately, investment in creative variations is a must. Without it, you’re leaving money on the table.

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