The person acknowledged as the “Father of Advertising,” David Ogilvy, founded advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather in 1948. Before dying in 1999, one of the memorable sayings he left behind was, “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

In today’s ever-changing landscape, understanding and knowing a brand’s customer is particularly important.

Surveys, focus groups, and A/B tests have been valuable tools in the effort, but one of the latest tools, creative testing, maybe even more helpful for brands that advertise on social media.

Creative testing is somewhat of a hybrid in that it takes elements of A/B and multivariate testing and blends in pictures and video. A side benefit is that it also helps break down some silos because its success requires close teamwork between a brand’s creative and marketing teams.

Past articles have extolled the popularity of pictures and video on social media, but their appeal can vary depending upon a brand’s audience. One way to determine which is trendier with a small budget is to run tests organically before deciding.

A highly popular picture or video can sometimes provide a strong enough case to lobby for an increase in the social media budget.

Another avenue into paid social media is boosting, a strategy like news feed ads. Paying a social media platform to amplify coverage by appearing on one or more of the following – current followers, targeted audiences, and/or recommended audiences – can generate a lot more exposure.

Regardless of the route a brand takes, marketers need to track and learn from the experience.

It takes a bit more effort, but organizing posts with tags is invaluable in gathering data and gaining better insights into customer behavior and preferences.

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But First

Before advertising on social media, it would be wise to first analyze the competition to see what ads they’re running and which ones appear to be the most successful. Checking out the “info and ads” tab on a competitor’s Facebook page reveals what ads they’re running. If it’s in the budget, there are tools available that provide the number of impressions and amount spent. Consumer comments also give hints about their popularity.

Internal Audit

Take a close look at the brand’s current call to action buttons, text headers, video lengths, and picture formats. What primary performance drivers could be a template for the future and work with its social media ads?

The Ads

With the information gathered, now’s the time to decide on pictures or videos. Brands then have a decision to produce and run traditional ads or consider prototype or concept ads.

The latter are “out of the box” ads that are at least 60% compliant with brand guidelines and give the creative team lots of freedom. They’re also great candidates for organic testing.


Brands deciding on creative tests now need to determine several things. These include the duration of the test, audience size, and KPIs. What’s critical is what an acceptable credibility factor is for the test.

According to Science Buddies, the margin error with 10 participants can be as high as 31.6% and decreases with a larger test group. It falls to 10% for 100, 7.1% for 200 and 4.5% for 500 participants.


As in most things, no one size fits all. Results from creative testing can be as unique as a brand. The key is to never stop testing and adapting and be aware that the marketplace is also changing rapidly.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.