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Letters From the CEO: The Case for Investing MORE into Content in '23

Boost customer acquisition and stay ahead of the competition with a content-focused approach. With the potential of a recession and sticky inflation, don't fall behind - invest more in content generation and testing. Shift from "nice to have" to "need to have" messaging, reach new audiences and drive sales through innovative channels such as TikTok.
Tom Logan
January 30, 2023
April 11, 2024

Here we are in early 2023, and consumer brands are freaking out. Batten down the hatches, run for the panic room, the storm is coming! That storm, of course, is a potential recession on the horizon paired with Velcro-sticky inflation. 

This potential recession, particularly after years of prosperity that most recently concluded with a massive economic COVID boom, could turn out to be a disgusting concoction that even Fear Factor wouldn’t serve up to a contestant two months behind on their rent. 

So I get it, most consumer brands are looking for ways to cut costs. One area that consumer brands should look to invest MORE into? Content. If generated and deployed thoughtfully, visual and text-based content could very well be THE reason some brands thrive while others wither away. 

More Testing Beats Less Testing EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

You don’t know which creative is going to perform best on paid channels. I apologize if that hit you like a ton of bricks, but you just don’t. A recent study from our friends at Marpipe revealed that the average marketing professional can only predict winning digital ad creative in an A/B test 52% of the time. “Even sadder,” they went on to say in their synopsis, “is the fact that marketers actually fared worse than non-marketers who were able to predict the winners 53% of the time.” 

Facebook's own research found that the only measurable difference between top-performing advertisers and average performers was that the top performers tested 11x more assets. 

Vayner’s head of media buying put it perfectly in this TikTok video – Creative has become THE variable in media buying. In his words, the algorithm and workflows in Meta and TikTok’s ad buying process have become so good that oftentimes tweaking ad targeting actually does more harm than good. 

What this all means is that in order to find the winning creative that increases click-through rates and lowers customer acquisition costs (CAC), brands need to consistently invest in generating large volumes of diverse content. Without this commitment to testing, brands risk wasting ad spend on ineffective campaigns, getting crushed by ad fatigue, and losing out to competitors.

“Nice to have” → “Need to have!” 

Brands need to shift their messaging from "nice to have" to "need to have." In 2021, while most people were stuck at home, consumer buying behavior was fast and loose. Return on ad spend (ROAS) figures were through the roof, and even highly UNsophisticated marketers were crushing it with lazy creative and lazy ad buying and optimization. 

Today’s environment will separate the real marketers from the fake, the wheat from the chaff. It’ll separate the innovative, data-driven brands from the wannabes. Would-be consumers are looking for messaging that clearly communicates the value and utility of a product, not just mindlessly clicking the “Buy” button and stacking packages on their front porches and apartment lobby floors. Brands need to clearly communicate why their product is a "need to have,” and this messaging has to be consistent throughout the creative that they’re putting to use across their digital channels. 

Finding the New New

While many brands will "turtle" in 2023 and stick to familiar channels that they’ve consistently had success with in the past, forward-thinking brands can use this as an opportunity to establish new acquisition channels and deepen connections with demographics outside of their core audience(s). 

Example: TikTok is (still) a relatively untapped channel for many brands, but it has a huge potential to reach a new generation of consumers. TikTok is also playing a critical role in the consideration stage of the customer journey – in a recent article in Modern Retail written by Vidhi Choudry, the author notes that “Prebiotic soda brand Poppi, which is sold in Walmart, Target and Publix among other retailers, estimates that roughly 15% of its sales come from TikTok. According to Poppi founder Allison Ellsworth, anywhere from 80% to 90% of people who comment on the brand’s TikTok about where they bought Poppi said they bought the soda at a physical store, indicating that the video app is driving a significant lift in offline sales.”

That level of impact, stemming from TikTok-originated brand recall, is astounding. It’s another example of content acting as a significant tailwind for innovative brands, but it requires both investment and ongoing testing. 

Use Content to Create Separation in '23

By bucking the urge to cut content spend in ‘23 and zigging while others zag, a subset of consumer brands are going to create separation from their competitors, establish viable new acquisition channels, create valuable connections with new audiences, and completely spike their growth trajectory. Looking for a cleaner definition of what “investing more in content” means? Traditionally speaking, marketing teams have committed 5-7% of their ad budgets to net new content generation. This year, bump that up to 7-9%. 

This year, the “turtle” isn’t going to win the race.

Tom Logan
Founder & CEO