Performance Marketing & Ad Auctions: How to Optimize Assets

Your creative assets are a critical—yet often overlooked—lever in performance marketing ad auctions. Watch the video above or read the highlights below as I cover ad auction basics and share key tips on how you can optimize your creative to beat the algorithms and reach more of your target audience.

RELATED: The 4 Best Video Formats for Performance Marketing


How to Optimize Creative Assets for Ad Auctions: Performance & Growth Marketing

How do ad auctions work?

There are a few different inputs into an ad auction algorithm, only some of which are within performance marketers’ direct control.

  • Targeting: This is probably something that most marketers are familiar with—what type of audience you want your ad to reach. You decide your target audience upfront, but this is a huge lever of optimization because the more you customize your audience, the smaller it gets.

You want to make sure that your audience is large enough that you increase the chances of your ad serving while still reaching your target demographic.

  • Objective: This is the KPI you are optimizing towards, such as conversions or clicks. The ad platform will find people within your target audience that are likely to meet your objective goal (e.g., click on your ad) and then serve your ad only to those individuals to ensure you are achieving your end goal as frequently as possible.
  • Bid: Platforms are mostly moving to a world where bids are automated. Even though we are giving more control over to the platforms each day, there are still ways to control your spending. You can still manually enter bids or limit your spending by setting a budget.

How does creative play a factor in ad auction algorithms?

The portion of the ad auction that’s often overlooked is that the creative has a huge impact on whether your ad will be served. The Targeting, Bid, and Objective are really cut and dry, and it’s clear why those levers succeed (or not) in an auction. The factor that marketers don’t have as much transparency into is why certain creative works and why an asset is served.

To explain how this works, let’s consider how Facebook ad auction algorithms work:

  • The first factor that the algorithm accounts for is your Bid, which is pretty self-explanatory.
  • The second factor is something called Ad Quality—which is a measure of whether people actually enjoy seeing your ad on the platform. If people are hiding your ad, not watching it through, or not taking any action on it, Facebook will lower your ad quality and you’ll be less likely to serve that ad in the future because of its low ad quality ranking.
  • The third factor in the algorithm is the Estimated Action Rate. Facebook estimates how likely a person is to complete a certain action (e.g., click), and then based on your objective and target, the platform will input that estimated rate into the overall algorithm to determine whether your ad will serve. In theory, if you are optimizing towards clicks, Facebook’s algorithm is designed to specifically serve your ad to individuals in your target audience who are likely to click.

If your ad creative is not resonating with audiences, and viewers are not completing your objectives, two factors of the algorithm will be impacted: Ad Quality and Estimated Action Rate. This is why it’s vital to optimize your creative assets specifically for your target audience and objective.

I’ve just used Facebook as an example here, but you’ll want to make sure your creative assets are similarly optimized for all platforms on which you’re publishing.

Learn More: Social Media Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

How do I optimize creative for ad auction algorithms?

Know the best practices for ad platforms.

Best practices are often widely published and platforms usually actually give you their best practices themselves. It’s super important to know these because not only will they help you in achieving your KPI, but they are also there because they function as rules that determine whether your creative will ultimately serve on the platform.

The rules that the platforms put out (e.g., text location, length, etc.) are often in the best practices, so you want to make sure you are following all of them to ensure you give your ad the best chance possible to serve.

Consistently audit your live ads.

You want to consistently audit the assets you are actively running. You may find disparities in performance when it comes to different platforms. For example, you may have an ad that’s performing well on Facebook/Instagram, but not meeting your KPIs on Snapchat. You can use this data to inform your future platform-specific creative production.

Implement Video Intelligence.

It’s really difficult to actually isolate what attributes in those videos are actually driving your KPIs. As a human being, you can only try your best to pinpoint specifics about your ads that are linked to performance. If you’re running 10-15 live ads, there’s really no way that you can accurately measure the variables driving your conversions.

QuickFrame’s Video Intelligence technology is designed to answer that exact question: why is my creative working? Video Intelligence can look at the different attributes within a video ad and confirm which attributes are linked to your specific KPIs. With Video Intelligence, you can isolate your brand’s specific best practices by platform, which you can then use to optimize your creative, increasing its chances of not only serving, but also performing.

How can I reach my target audience?

As a performance marketer, one of the #1 things I was frustrated by was feeling like there just wasn’t enough content. It’s so important for so many reasons to have a steady cadence of content flowing through your ad platforms.

  • One of the main reasons is that we are moving towards a world where audience targeting is becoming broader and broader. As you are speaking to these rather widespread demographics, you need a variety of content to make sure your creative is resonating with a variety of individuals. You need to make sure that a variety of different people will engage with a variety of different content.
  • The second main reason you want to make sure you have a steady flow of creative is that you want to make sure that you are consistently keeping up with the different platform- and placement-specific trends. If your ad creative is not keeping up with trends, it will likely seem dated, thwarting your likelihood of not only driving conversions, but even having your ad served.


How to Optimize Creative Assets for Ad Auctions: The Takeaway

Here are the three things you’ll want to do to optimize your creative to drive your audience to act and, in turn, increase your likelihood of winning ad auctions to beat and exceed your KPIs:

  1. Know the best practices of each platform.
  2. Take a data-driven approach to your creative leveraging tools such as Video Intelligence.
  3. Consistently produce new creative to keep up with trends, and experiment and learn over time.

You can apply a data-driven approach to your performance marketing with QuickFrame. We create placement- and audience-specific video assets at scale, backed by data that shows what’s working. Learn more here.

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