How to test creative on Paid Social

testing creative

Account structure, targeting and optimisation methods are important to a Paid Ads’ success. However, ultimately, if your creative is naff then the ad can only do so much.

64% of performance is down to creative, according to a study done by Nielsen in 2017. However, 6 years on, we now have TikTok. This means even more of users’ time is spent on Reels and Stories, where creative is arguably more important than ever. Also not to be overlooked, is Meta’s own ad auction Advertiser Bid x Estimated Action Rate + Ad Quality. Given its importance, we should place equal emphasis on how we test creative.


So how can we practically test creative on Paid Social to ensure we are maximising performance? 


Here are some general rules we suggest following:


  • Launch a separate campaign for creative testing which targets an audience you are already using in your BAU activity. Also ensure that it has the same optimisation event e.g purchase. Why?

    • This will minimise disruption to BAU performance but allow you to test new ads
    • Testing ads in as similar conditions to BAU as possible should mean the ads are more likely to perform the same way once transitioned
  • No more than 20-25% of your budget should go on creative testing to ensure account stability.
  • Testing duration should be a minimum of 7 days.
  • Include a benchmark ad in any creative testing you do. What is a benchmark ad? There are two ways to view it – the most average creative in your BAU activity or the best performing creative in your BAU activity. Including this in testing does what it says on the tin, it gives you a benchmark to compare to and adds context.


Using these general rules as a guide, there are different ways you can choose to test new creative. 


  1. A/B Testing: Use Meta’s AB testing functionality to ensure users don’t see both creative variations you are testing. This should create a fair test.
  2. Observational: Add the new creative to the same ad set and let the platform decide where it should invest.
  3. Manual A/B Testing (with a twist):  Create a campaign using campaign budget optimisation. Set a minimum ad, set spend limit per ad and set with one ad in each. Ensure the spend limits accounts for 85% of the total budget. Let the platform decide where the remaining 15% goes.


Once you’ve chosen your selected testing methodology, how do we measure success?


Overall, this is down to you but we’d suggest ranking the metrics as follows:


  • Main CPA (generally purchase for most clients)
  • CTR (Click through rate)
  • VTR (View through rate, 3 sec video views / impressions)
  • Upper funnel metrics (Add to Carts, View Content, etc)


Once you have completed your analysis, see how this compares to the new ads that were tested. Anything that beats the benchmark ad is considered a winner and can be transitioned to business as usual campaigns. If none of the ads outperform the benchmark, consider introducing one or two of the ads closest to the benchmark.


TLDR: Don’t sleep on your creative testing however you choose to do it.