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On this episode of the podcast, Taylor and Richard talk about a recent flap on Twitter around the best way to test creative, and dig into a controversial take: That iterative creating testing is a waste of time and money. Then they break down what really matters — building a marketing calendar that tells a unique story.

Show Notes:
  • Visit Parker today to learn how to scale with a focus on profitability. 
  • The Ecommerce Playbook mailbag is open — email us at to ask us any questions you might have about the world of ecomm.

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[00:00:45] Richard Gaffin: Hey folks. Welcome to the e commerce playbook podcast. I'm your host, Richard Gaffin, director of digital product strategy here at common threat collective. And I'm joined today in his Jack Henry shirt. Mr. Taylor holiday is the CEO here at commentary collective Taylor. What's going on today?

[00:00:58] Taylor: This is my, I'm recording content shirt. 

[00:01:00] Richard Gaffin: Excellent.

[00:01:01] Taylor: met, this is a fun story. I met this human who is like a self proclaimed guru that has all these like theories into the algorithms of TikTok and Instagram, these places, and that one of them is that they basically divide all visuals into blue and red.

[00:01:19] Richard Gaffin: Oh, interesting. Sorry,

[00:01:21] Taylor: favored in the algorithm. And there's people that consume certain color variations without them being conscious of it. and I was like, well, I don't know if I believe you at all, but I will wear shirt for fun. Today's about creative testing. And so this is like a, a fun theoretical theory

testing is like, does the blue shirt matter in

[00:01:39] Richard Gaffin: yeah, yeah. I'm going to say I got the, the Greg Norman's shark shirt. I'd like to think that the algorithm prefers those, but all right, folks. Well, yeah, so as you've alluded to, we're talking about creative testing today. We've been talking about creative a lot recently, and part of the, the impetus for this particular conversation is A little mini Twitter firestorm, I guess, the other day that brought on by Andrew Ferris talking about his creative testing methodology, which is of course, very controversial because it involves, as I understand it, essentially dumping all ads into a single campaign with a single CBO or a single budget, rather.

And then letting the algorithm just do all the work in terms of finding the winners and losers. And of course, this caused a lot of pushback in terms of people talking about like, Hey, you'll never get top of funnel ads will never perform. You're never going to get a new ad to work. It's just all going to be DPAs that win all that type of thing.

And I think what we want to do today is sort of insert ourselves into this conversation and talk about what we do. At common thread collective. So, and particularly how the way we think about creative testing has changed, I would say a lot in the last few years and the way we approach it with our larger nine figure plus brands.

So, Taylor, why don't you tell us a little bit about kind of what happened on Twitter and how you sort of waded into it and got involved with this.

[00:02:50] Taylor: Yeah, so Andrew posts about using that. He believes that using CBO and cost controls is the best way to creative test. And then very common counter argument to this is that cost control suppress spend. You get enough budget on new creative tests, and therefore you don't learn anything you don't have the opportunity to unlock. New, higher levels of performance off of the new creative that you're testing because they're being suppressed by cost controls. Andrew is providing a counter point to that. And I think all of it is just sort of inconsequential. I think that Andrew's strategy is certainly the best for profit maximization. Some brands aren't always looking to do that and they have broader initiatives. And so maybe you could do something else, but I don't find. The argument to be the most interesting thing. And I actually think that what we do is probably pretty distinct from both of them in that we do not have a single campaign in a meta account that we've created that set that's labeled creative testing. Like is no process for us by which we go from like, this is a campaign where we're testing creative and then we move it into a winner's campaign. Like we don't do any of that. campaign every day is a creative test against the outcome that we want it to generate a result for. it's been running before or not, or it's brand new, it is a test against the potential result that we want every single day. So I don't really, I've never really understood the distinction between a campaign labeled creative test and one labeled scale or whatever. And oftentimes I've seen campaign or accounts where it's like the creative testing campaign is spending twice as much as the scaling campaign, the idea that you would turn it off and move it is just absurd.

And so people just rename the syntax. So it tends to be this sort of like semantics debate that is like, Very inconsequential for how I think about how a brand produces growth and scale on the platform, which has almost nothing to do with iterations.

[00:04:40] Richard Gaffin: Right. Okay. So let's talk about that specifically iteration. Because our stance on that has changed somewhat like the time that I've been in here, certainly. And I think, you know, three, four, five years ago, a lot of the conversation around creative was around the specific granular, creative testing of this idea that like, Hey, this ad maybe, you know, has, has an X amount of watch time and people are dropping off at a certain point, but they're not buying.

Therefore, what we're not saying is that the entire ad is broken. And what we're saying is that. Maybe the end needs a little bit of a tweak. And this idea seems like it's persisting of doing these sort of constant mini iterations to ads to try to like get a winner or to take existing evergreen ads. And you just sort of tweak them a little bit, but it sounds like what we're saying now is what we're taking a completely different tack on that and saying, like every single ad we put into account, we're trying to have a hit with.

And if it doesn't work, then we just put a new ad in the account altogether. And we don't think of it in terms of these sort of mini iterations. So talk about the way that. Our thinking, your thinking specifically has evolved over the last few years when it comes to this particular topic 

[00:05:41] Taylor: the opportunity of getting to work with more mature e commerce brands is you begin to understand the patterns of behavior that got them to the place that they're at. and there are certainly exceptions. I think there are probably brands that have like iterative, iterative ever greened their way to big success. But my experience is that's not how most big brands build and drive demand for their products. if you follow CTC, what you'll notice is that the core. Marketing and growth planning for us lies in the marketing calendar. Well, what is a marketing calendar? A marketing calendar is a future forward looking calendar that plans initiatives, product releases, and messaging to meet the moment of the year. That the brand is speaking to, then the goal is to plan out the best possible story that you can across every channel of your business to pull collectively on the rope, to drive the best incremental contribution, margin and profit that you can over time. is a very different system of work than is the idea that next week, I'm going to launch a new set of ads and then I'm going to iterate on those.

And then I'm gonna try them again. And then I'm gonna try them again. And I'm gonna try them again. And I'm gonna try them again. And I'm gonna try them again until I can find the best ad ever. I don't think that's a very effective way to build and scale a brand in 2024.

[00:07:06] Richard Gaffin: because it doesn't take into account. I think that the, the actual human behaviors that drive purchase, which is essentially seasonality and seasonality in the sense too of like, okay, we've, we've created seasonality because by dropping a new product or whatever, it's like people buy because it's the time to buy.

And I think like iterating on evergreen ads is a very, there's almost like a very mechanistic. I'm just trying to like, Put, put tokens into the machine and see if they'll come back out rather than thinking about the overall idea of what I'm doing, which is selling to real people on the other side of this thing.


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