A couple of months ago, Forma started dabbling in some small scale ads to test how different user groups react to our digital try-on product. We set up a bunch of different campaigns using Facebook’s fancy targeting tools: different countries, age groups, Facebook vs. Instagram, etc. And indeed we saw that the ads performed differently - the beauty of Facebook!
We knew that creative has a large impact on advertising effectiveness (it’s well-researched and documented, including ‘49% of sales lift from advertising is due to creative’ from Nielsen), but as a small startup we didn’t have resources (or expertise) to dedicate to creating fancy advertising videos. So we started with what we had: simple GIFs showing our tech:
Not quite earth-shattering, but this was what we could come up with quickly, and technically speaking it did cover Forma’s unique technology and product. The ads did reasonably well, at least compared to industry benchmarks we’d heard - but the reality was we had no benchmark for ourselves.
Then one night I was having drinks with a college friend of mine, and given he spends millions of dollars on FB per month at his gaming company, I asked him for his feedback. He asked, “Have you tried an iPhone video recording of somebody using your product?” Apparently they paid a top-tier agency 6 figures to create a super high quality ad that they were happy with, and on a whim they recorded a QA engineer playing their game and the latter performed 10x better in ads.
I had heard that creative can make a 10x difference, so we filmed a video of Heather, our partnerships lead, using our app in our office. 10 minutes of inexpert shooting with my iPhone and 15 minutes of inexpert editing in iMovie later, we had our new creative:
We won’t be winning any creative awards with this, but it works: literally changing nothing else, this ad performed Nx better than the previous ad! In our case I would say the new ad is better in demonstrating how our product and tech works than our overly simplified gif above, but it also gives us confidence that we don’t need a big-budget ad for a while.
We think this falls into the broader theme of the importance of authenticity. People are overwhelmed by choices and advertisements in the digital world, but rarely do they come across something honest and real that they can relate to. We see common threads in Instagram/Snap Stories, Tik Tok, and even Hollywood feature films shot entirely on iPhone (Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane) - clearly there’s still a lot of value in high-quality, high-production value creative, but the low-fi iPhone video worked for us. Would it work for you too?