Back off, Bots: How Facebook Dynamic Creative Optimization Helps Humans

Some might not expect this, but as a design team that builds top performing social advertising creative, we’re thrilled about Facebook’s recent Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) release.

What is DCO? By programmatically combining creative and copy variants to find better performing combinations, Dynamic Creative Optimization can automatically put the best performing ads in front of users, without our intervention.

As publishing multiple variants within an ad set has long been an advertising best practice, and Facebook’s ability to test and determine best performing creative leads to the better results, DCO helps improve our publishing efficiency by cutting down on time needed to build multiple creative iterations and, we believe, will yield improvements in campaign performance.

As Facebook and other platforms create tools like DCO, they aren’t trying to replace us with bots, AI or deep learning methodology (at least not yet…). They are actually trying to help us, real humans, be more efficient and more effective throughout the entire advertising workflow, from creative ideation to design to publishing to campaign management to measurement.

To effectively integrate into our processes, Facebook is encouraging publishers like us to measure the effectiveness of DCO vs. standard creative publishing by using split testing. Doing so will help prove that this tool does lead to better outcomes for our clients.

We work closely with many of HYFN’s advertising clients to develop creative concepts, working with our media team as well to publish and measure the results. Because HYFN handles this full workflow, we are uniquely positioned with visibility into media operations that drives true empathy for the creative & publishing process.

With the time cost of publishing creative decreasing, we can now introduce more potential creative winners into campaigns without burdening our publishing counterparts or increasing the time needed to launch a campaign. This, however, doesn’t mean flooding campaigns with ad unit variations is the right approach.

Facebook’s DCO allows us to take smart risks and have the freedom to build creative that is different. Here are a couple ways we’re incorporating this our work:

  1. Build more creative variants to get more distinct results that allow you to lean into best-performing thematics, colors and imagery in subsequent creative.
  2. Consider building fewer units to cut down on creative turn around time so we can design faster and launch our campaigns.
  3. Map out all creative and copy combinations ahead of publishing so image and copy don’t conflict.
  4. Spend more time with analysts to identify top performers and the reasons why they are rising to the top.
  5. With creative winners likely to more quickly rise to the top, be ready to review outcomes and use these insights to modify the creative for the current campaign and future ones for better results.

Remember that ad you built a couple years ago that you just knew would yield the best CPC but it didn’t get published? Now you’ll find out if you were actually right or wrong about it.

As the role of designing for social moves faster than it has before, we continue taking cues from Agile utilized by our developer friends. Testing creative in social has helped us all move past personal bias that can cloud opinions about creative performance before it enters the market.

We now rely on focus groups less as we get feedback almost instantly from in-market creative that is driving real business results while, at the same time, informing our creative perspective.

But all this change doesn’t mean the fundamentals have changed. To design successful social creative, you must still be people-driven, communicate real benefits and use brand-focused perspective.


Bree Blackman

Art Director at HYFN

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