Conventional wisdom has it that the shelf life of social advertising is quite short—that’s actually wrong most of the time. You can run a social ad for as long as it is effective, and a good piece of creative (especially video) can run for weeks or months without seeing any downturn in results. This is even more likely if you follow best practices and have multiple ads within each ad set to give the algorithm room to optimize (and to not annoy your potential customers with overly high frequencies on a single piece of creative).
However, there is a real opportunity cost for not refreshing creative frequently: the loss of creative insights to inform new ads, and the improvement in results new ads could potentially achieve. The other consideration is that if a piece of creative turns out to be truly bad—one that does not perform—you will have trouble just getting the ad to serve within a few days. So, if you don’t have other creative in the works, your paid social campaign could come to a standstill.
And potentially the most important consideration is what you’re trying to achieve with the ad, as funnel stage and objective make a big difference. Read on for our guidelines.
1. Awareness Stage: Video Views/Brand Awareness
As the most passive of the ad objectives on social, because you aren’t asking much from the consumer except to stop and watch, these assets tend to last the longest and could span months. Advertisers tend to use the broadest audiences here, which also lowers the chance of achieving annoyingly high frequencies.
Opportunity Cost: On the media performance side, results for this objective tend to range within just a few cents, so optimization is of less concern and value.
2. Consideration: Site Traffic
Even if you could run the same asset for a few months, the fact is that what’s on your website likely changes by the week—new products, new blogs, new promotions, etc. Refreshed creative will help you better reflect the idea that there is something new to check out. If your website and offerings don’t change much, such as in accounting services, messaging can be more evergreen and good ad creative can likely sustain a run of many weeks.
Opportunity Cost: Clicks, or ideally landing page views, usually offer ample room for improvement both in efficiency and quality of visit. At enough spend, the cost of a few pieces of a creative will be far outweighed by the media savings provided by stronger performers.
3. Conversion: Purchases, Downloads, or Sign-Ups
The hardest working layer of your marketing and the closest to a brand’s ultimate business goal, this funnel stage is where you want the greatest variety of creative—but likely also the simplest, with single-minded messaging and visuals. Since this is the layer where advertisers likely have invested the most money against the narrowest, most targeted audiences, shelf life is the shortest here. A flight of several weeks is still possible, but it’s far riskier and not recommended.
Opportunity Cost: With direct revenue at stake, frequent but not necessarily complex creative refreshes (e.g. swapping an image instead of shooting a new 30-second commercial) are very likely to more than pay for themselves.
Looking for more specific advice on your social campaigns? Get in touch.