The Good, the Same and the Ugly – Creative Lessons From the News Feed

Facebook’s newsfeed is the crucible within which great performing ads shine through, after the dross has been melted away. There is so much competition for attention in the newsfeed, and Facebook’s strict controls on ad volume make it more so. On top of all this, there is only a three second window for viewability on mobile.


Why do Hipsters Try So Hard to Look the Same?


The problem with trying too hard to look cool is that you might start to look like everyone else. What happens in hipster-land also happens in ad-land.


All too often, ads within a category look frighteningly similar. Try the test yourself – look at three or fours ads from different advertisers in the same category. Cover the logo and ask yourself if you were a casual viewer scrolling past, would you actually notice that the ads come from different advertisers?


Chances are likely that you can’t tell one from the other. And if you, being informed and interested, can’t; which consumer can?


Ugly is the New Beautiful


When we started to implement our AI’s compositional analysis on ads, SHAKA (that’s the name of our AI) was recommending ads which I (as a career ad man) would consider to be ugly!


What is ugly? I am not imposing my subjective standards but the classic rules of design. Ugly is when colours clash and things are slightly out of proportion. Why on earth are people clicking on those ads?


With enough data, we realised that it was not because of any hidden design merit that these ads worked. These ads worked only because they stood out and were noticed. Such sweet irony! We worked hard with our advertisers and ReFUEL4’s design community to get these lessons to them.


How to Create Contrast within Context


So the primary learning is how to look different, while providing enough context to the viewer that the ad is relevant to the category that they are interested in. And what hacks can an advertiser implement to stand out?


Start with knowing yourself and the competition:


  1. Know that each category is different.

  2. Be clear what other advertisers in your category are doing.

  3. Understand intimately what is unique about your brand and product.

  4. Develop a hypothesis as to what the consumer truly seeks to find in your category.

  5. Take a creatively contrarian perspective.

  6. Cross your fingers that it works (We don’t have to, we have SHAKA who tells us).


Here are some category examples:


Online Gaming – MAKE IT REAL


Watch video here.

Gaming Collage 2

  • Extend reality into the virtual experience.

  • Tap on real life scenarios and experiences.

  • Show the most thrilling game scenes.


eCommerce – MAKE IT CLEAR


Watch video here.

eCommerce Collage

  • Online users have a short attention span. All ads need to be clear in its objective and message.

  • For short burst direct response ad categories (like betting and e-commerce), this is amplified as these ads have a shorter life span.

  • Show product options clearly. Use uncluttered designs to add an element of quality to your products.

  • Use themes via graphic element, color tones and backgrounds that complement the products.


mCommerce – MAKE IT ‘NOW’


Watch video here.

mCommerce Collage

  • Consumers can always buy it another time, elsewhere. Make them feel they have to do it now!

  • Show highly relatable scenarios in every day settings.

  • Highlight the time-saving benefits to customers who are constantly on the go.



Winner of Facebook’s Innovation Spotlight Award for Creativity, ReFUEL4 is the world’s leading data-driven creative platform. We deliver ad designs from 10,000 global creators backed by AI technology capable of predicting ad performance and fatigue. We own the world’s only automatic creative refresh platform that supports scalable production, intelligent selection, auto-swapping and auto-refresh of creatives for campaign optimization. Find out how we can ReFUEL your next Facebook or Instagram campaign.


Earl Allan

Living is an experience of adventures. Always open to trying different activities except maybe where my heart is going to jump out of my mouth!

No Comments

Post a Comment