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How to Build an Inventory of Performance Ad Creative


December 8, 2022


December 20, 2022

Right Side Up (RSU) held a webinar on how to build an inventory of performance ad creative to drive customer acquisition, hosted by Alexander Parker, creative lead at RSU. The webinar featured insights gained from running RSU’s creative studio, which produces more than 10,000 visual deliverables for clients each year. Watch the full webinar for everything you need to know about setting up an ad inventory.

Good ad creative has the power to completely up your performance marketing game. But what exactly is “good creative” today? How do you craft it? And what do you need to do to keep things fresh while hitting customer acquisition goals?

Here at Right Side Up, our creative team serves up more than 10,000 creative deliverables each year for our clients, which include 400+ of the fastest growing brands, like DoorDash, Headway, and Brightwheel. And we’d like to think we’ve learned a thing or two about good performance ad creative along the way. At the most basic level, your ad creative process should:

  • Address and defeat creative fatigue
  • Lead to the development of new top-performing ads
  • Establish value propositions that resonate with your audience
  • Maximize creative performance across multiple paid acquisition channels
  • Streamline creative production

The Right Side Up Creative Process

For our clients, we focus on ad copy and static designs first. This helps us figure out what works before investing more heavily in creative resourcing. We work within web-based software, like Figma, Airtable, and Scenery, to make collaboration and automation easier. Once we learn what’s effective, we then expand into rich media or other ad types that build upon those winning static ads. Part of this process involves “batching” and sharing several creative iterations with the client at once. Why do we take this over-production approach? We’ve found that it:

  • Reduces feedback loops
  • Reduces creative lead time (especially on iterative testing)
  • Gives a better shotgun approach
  • Keeps both clients and creators happy by showing a range of possibilities at the start
The phases of the ad creative process includes strategy, strategy review, design, resign review, and exporting.

Tip: While good creative can be made internally, in-house designers are often overworked and don’t always have the time or specialized performance marketing knowledge needed to keep up with the ever-evolving algorithm changes and iterations required to deliver effective creative on a regular basis. ee how our creative experts can help you.

How to Build an Inventory of Performance Ad Creative

Before we get into how to create an ad inventory, let’s break down what an ad inventory actually is. An ad inventory (or ad library) is a database of pre-made performance ad creative that’s ready to go. Rather than making each creative deliverable request as needed, we predict what ad creative will be needed based on strategic goals. We then over-produce similar ads so that there are plenty ready to go when ads start to fatigue.

This cuts down on iteration time and avoids creative droughts that can cost your company valuable growth opportunities. In other words, imagine you run a cupcake shop—you bake trays of cupcakes ahead of time, not one in the oven for each order that comes in, right?

The first step of setting up your ad inventory is to nail your copy. We focus on messaging first because messaging is what sells—with visuals as support. 

Using copy strategy to guide the creative process

When your copy strategy is solid, it can serve as a helpful guideline for efficient ad creation. All of your strategy, calls to action, incentives, and persuasion happen in the ad copy. This includes your visual headlines, primary copy, and post copy. From there, your ad visuals build on that strategy by offering clarity, voice/tone, positioning, and brand identity. And finally, the ad type or placement defines your spec boundaries of size, orientation, and so on.

Cross-channel vs. channel-specific creative

There are a bunch of paid advertising channels out there. So can’t we just make one batch of performance ad creative and use it for all of them? Sometimes…but not always. Ads that look “native to the platform” tend to perform better. However, you can find ways to double dip with your ads. For example, a video made for a TikTok ad can work on other platforms, but ads made for other channels (like LinkedIn or Facebook) usually don’t work for TikTok. And as a general rule, square ads usually work across the greatest number of platforms.

If you’re not sure what’s going to work, start with static ads. These are cheaper and can get you baseline performance data from nearly any channel. And while it may be hard to accept, you should be prepared to learn that a bunch of your ads don’t work. Online advertising algorithms move quickly and you’re going to have a bunch of duds. That’s okay. Just be sure to promptly identify your losing ad creative and know when to turn them off.

Tip: While A/B testing used to be the gold standard for determining your best-performing ads, that’s not always the case anymore. People interact with ads differently based on when and where they see them, not necessarily based on whether your product is shown in blue vs. red.

Using Your Performance Ad Creative Inventory

You’ve locked in your copy and messaging strategy, created a few batches of static ads, and have a robust inventory built up. Now what? Begin by releasing your initial ad into the digital wild. Next, you’ll want to:

  1. Test messaging options that are similar to your initial ad and keep the design simple.
  2. Take the winners from Step 1 and try out visual iterations of those ads.
  3. Expand to a new channel or different ad type.
  4. If your messaging is still hitting, keep trying new visual iterations and see if that gives you a bump.
  5. At this point, you should try out a new creative format, like video.

After these rounds of testing and iteration, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what sort of messaging and visuals resonate with your audience. But just because you’ve found the best one in this round, you shouldn't stop iterating. Try to unseat your king creative from the throne by starting with something new and following that same process.

Follow different steps of iteration to test for your ideal ad creative.

Planning ahead

Iteration should be an ongoing process. Don’t wait until you see positive (or negative) performance to get your new creative ready. If you have a creative lag, the audience could cool before you’re able to strike again. It’s common to underestimate how long it takes to turn an idea into ads. When you find winning creative, you don’t want to let it fatigue before you try something similar or new. Over-producing gives you a library of approved ad content and ensures you’re always ready to keep things rolling.

And remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. Repurposing is your friend. Try resizing winning creative on new channels or testing different placements to get a longer lifespan from each design. Once you’ve found what works, that’s the time to establish a bigger media buy and go after a larger integrated marketing communication play.

Experiment with Evolving Your Brand through Your Ad Inventory

Since the ad inventory process described above involves testing different expressions of your brand identity, it’s the perfect sandbox for testing full brand identity evolutions. The decisions you make about visual iterations don’t have to be entirely random. If your brand team is experimenting with new visual identity decisions, incorporating those elements into your performance marketing is a great way to test those ideas and see how they vibe with your audience.

Focus on Finding Your Good Creative

“Good creative” is an ever-changing target. What works for your business now might not work in two months. And what worked for your competitor for years may never work for you. But finding out what your “good creative” is doesn’t have to be complicated. If you focus on developing a killer copy and messaging strategy, and then test several iterations of words and visuals on an ongoing basis, you’ll quickly build a comprehensive inventory of performance ad creative that you can use to drive your marketing results.

Do you want to break through creative fatigue to craft ads that drive growth? The experts at Right Side Up can help you set up an ad inventory that maximizes creative performance. Drop us a line at growth@rightsideup.co to get started.

Alexander Parker has established visual identities, ad libraries, and creative strategy for the world’s top brands including Andre 3000, Armor All, BioMarin, Credit Karma, Disney, Nerf, npm, Genentech, Visa and many others. In 2019, he founded a design studio that provided unique web-based creative processes for clients Apartment List, Digit, Yonder, and more. In late 2020, Alexander joined the RSU team full time to lead the creative department on both B2B and D2C clients including brightwheel, DoorDash, Earnest, Modern Fertility, Reddit, Zenefits, and nearly a hundred others.

Jes Parker is a writer and content marketer with experience creating B2B and consumer-facing assets that build brands and make complex concepts more human. She has worked with companies and nonprofits like Highstead Foundation, Trust for Public Land, Harvard University, the Museum of the City of New York, and Times Square Alliance to craft accessible and engaging content strategies.

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Let's talk growth

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