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Hello, I’m Jane, Head of Design here at connective3. I oversee all the creative strategy and output, and I have a particular passion for paid social creative, and what makes a great ad.

James intro: Hello, I’m James, Business Director here at connective3. My role entails a collection of responsibilities that essentially aim to connect media strategy with healthy and constructive client relationships – a hybrid of the two, of sorts.  

Often, paid media and creative teams are siloed, and it becomes evident when ad assets don’t marry up to their intended purpose or utilise the nuances and learnings from previous campaigns. With the ever-changing landscape of social platforms, the need to keep up with high performing creative ads is more important than ever. Churning out basic and underwhelming ads is no longer enough. To get noticed amongst the noise of a busy feed of visuals, creative and paid media teams need to work together to achieve the best business results and stand out in the feed.

Data, AI and automation: understanding the digital marketing landscape

Something important to consider, is that we’re currently moving through a period of quite substantial change within the digital marketing landscape. New data privacy legislation and regulations are impacting the ways in which large advertising platforms think and operate. These platforms can no longer function as they once did and still provide advertisers with both the visibility and delivery of performance seen in previous years, without change. They’ll no longer have access to the same volume and quality of data – they must adapt.  

This is why we’re already seeing big advancements in the promotion of AI-driven campaign types such as Performance Max, Demand Gen, Meta’s Advantage+ etc. Equally, best practices are now centralised around automation and consolidation (for greater data flow), as well as there being an influx of new advertiser options for assisted ad asset and copy ideation – Meta’s Advantage+ suite of tools being a good example of this.  

Naturally, lower barriers to entry for brands looking to launch paid media campaigns, will likely result in a busier ad landscape. But something that remains a constant, is that creative is still controllable, and brands that adopt new tactics (in-keeping with channel evolution) whilst still ensuring their creative executions are informed by both data and human context are the likeliest to succeed. 

Make sure ads are informed by data, creativity your brand’s core principles

Here are c3, we believe that a collaborative approach is crucial when it comes to ad performance. It’s no longer a case of separate outputs between the two teams, now it’s all about utilising the creative minds and skills you have to enhance the whole process. And in-turn, you’ll produce well informed, data-backed ads.

Involving creatives in the decision-making process of campaign strategies opens up the opportunity for additional input, resulting in a well-rounded approach. Not only do you gain their expertise, but you also benefit from their understanding of branding, existing assets, budget constraints, timelines, and their ability to produce meaningful creative content that is fit for purpose and adapted for the right placements.

Looking through a paid lens, platforms provide a wealth of opportunity to segment data through various verticals. Meta, as an example, incorporates ad inventory that spans four separate channels and within those a range of formats and placements that adhere to different user interests and behaviours.  

Whilst platforms are looking to automate much of the initial set-up and targeting elements to this process, it’s still important that we understand how creative performs within this mix of inventory and we deliver a diverse suite of assets to maximise potential within each where appropriate. 

Without communication between the two teams, the onus is placed on the paid team to interpret these insights and formulate design briefs off the back them. But that results in less brand context and a more prescriptive, metric-based process – sidestepping the valuable input a designer can provide from an execution, positioning, and conceptual standpoint.  

What your paid social strategy should be focussing on

We’re currently placing a lot of emphasis on the psychology behind consumer actions – i.e. what is it that we as advertisers can control to stimulates certain responses. 

Every brand and industry are nuanced, but there are often similarities in the levers that can be pulled when it comes to core messages and visuals. This could be leaning into category heuristics – e.g. what are the common proof points consumers look for when exploring a particular product or service. When buying a mobile phone, do you automatically look at the camera quality, is it memory, or is brand affinity routed deeper than product specifications? Understanding, behavioural and social biases and the weighting we can apply to these, means we can better influence purchase decisions. 

Utilising User Generated Content

A strand within this is User Generated Content. This isn’t new, but it’s perhaps now more prominent and present, with more variation than ever. It’s native in feel, authentic and is an excellent full-funnel tool for engaging otherwise ad-blind consumers. We’re currently working on expanded roadmaps for the production of this type of content with a number of clients.  

Connecting the user journey across platforms

Equally, what remains as important as ever, is the need to not only optimise creative per channel, based on the intricacies of their functionality. But also, to try to better-connect the user journey across platforms also. Media fragmentation is challenging for advertisers to navigate. A drop in data visibility will only make this more challenging, so implementing tactics to ensure the right messages are served at the right times within a user’s journey towards a conversion is one of the best use-cases for connecting paid and creative teams. 

Top tips to improve processes and collaboration between teams:

  • Quarterly face-to-face client meetings
    We use these meetings to review previous performance and make informed decisions on priorities for the next quarter. We also review and plan new ad creative, get inspired by current ad trends, review content for new ads, and how we can angle refreshed creative based on previous learnings.
  • Collaborative account performance reviews
    Regular sessions between both teams to review campaign performance to keep up to date with results to inform upcoming campaigns and creative briefs.
  • Brief creation
    This phase is crucial for success. The brief must be clear and detailed, providing all necessary information for the creative team to produce purposeful ads. Paid media informs performance and best practices from past experiences. Creative interprets trends and research findings to develop concepts aligned with the ads’ purpose and desired outcomes. Additionally, creative highlights how brand and design elements can enhance messages and captivate audiences.
  • Justifying testing decisions
    When producing new ad creative, it’s important that assets are formulated with an agreed reasoning – rather than for the sake of just refreshing fatigued creatives. We often do this by reviewing a control vs variable. If asset A is performing well, is it the message, the visual, the format… How do we isolate these and then introduce new variations? As a result, assets can’t be forgotten about once formulated – they need to be interpreted from a performance perspective and used to inform further decisions.


Ultimately, the creative landscape is always changing. New tools, technologies and best practices are ever-present. But, to ensure your teams are set up to be able to adapt to these, they need to be talking to one another regularly first. The more each team understands how the other operates and the value they can provide, the easier it becomes to lean on each other’s strengths and not only see great results but capture even more valuable learnings.

This could start by simply setting up semi-regular internal meetings, repositioning the design briefing process to incorporate input from both parties, or providing more visibility of client comms and context internally. There will be a different starting point for everyone, but ultimately, better-connecting internal channels has produced better results for us, time and time again.