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How Creative Strategists Do Competitive Analysis Differently

November 11, 2022
Evan Lee

Table of Contents

We have teamed up with Motion to create a three-part series that examines the role of the Creative Strategist in today's ad landscape. This is the final article in a three-part series. The previous article, which focuses on the creative strategy process, can be found here.

Creative Strategists are experts at marrying data and creative concepts to produce compelling, converting ad content. As brands cut their marketing spend amid economic pressures, the Creative Strategist has become the linchpin for success in paid social.

An integral element of the Creative Strategist's success is competitive analysis. 

Competitive analysis doesn't mean copying other brands' ads. Whenever a company launches a marketing campaign, the underlying elements (e.g. messaging, placement, format) are open to scrutiny by others. The Creative Strategist deconstructs the ad and uses the insight to find what works for a given audience.

Let's take a closer look at the Creative Strategist's unique approach to competitive analysis and how they leverage the data to produce high-performing creatives.

Competitive research for ideation

During the ideation stage, the Creative Strategist looks at data to form the set of assumptions that will determine the project's next steps.

But those assumptions are only as good as the data they're based on, and the Creative strategist must ensure they're asking the right questions. This side of ideation requires the Creative Strategist to follow be knowledgeable in all the major brands within the same sphere.

The problem: competitor data isn't public. The competitor could be repeating an ineffective ad, and the Creative Strategist would have no way of reviewing the performance.

If competitor data is sparse, an effective entry point for research is the Meta Ad Library. There, you can find ads running across Meta's different platforms—Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. The Creative Strategist could search for brands within the same niche and compare elements from their ads, like the CTA, messaging, and visual style.

Breaking down an ad into its base components allows the Creative Strategist to understand what resonates with a specific audience.

Taking a bird's-eye view

Sample sizes are a stumbling block to the creative process. It's often the case that the Creative Strategist only has access to in-house metrics or data from public databases, which could render their research less effective. That is why Creative Strategists who are lucky enough to work with multiple brands leverage the wealth of data available at their disposal.

Even if your data comes from different businesses that target different audiences, this "bird's-eye view" of multiple industries can be a valuable source of insight. The Creative Strategist can identify trends that work across different niches and use that data to spark ideation.

If you don't have access to a large database, create one. Proactive Creative Strategists will start their own ad library of competitor ads for to later reference during the ideation stage.

Speaking the buyer's language

Effective analysis also requires taking a closer look at your competitors' customers. Learning to speak the language of your shared audience allows you to approach ideation from an often ignored angle.

In many cases, the creative's assumptions are influenced by the marketing department. Brands always have an idea of what they want to look or sound like, and while they may adjust the creative based on external feedback, the process almost always takes a top-down approach.

A good Creative Strategist understands that current and potential customers are also a great source of insight and conducts research to understand how people talk about and use the product. They ask questions like:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What are their pain points?
  • Where will the ads appear?
  • Where do users congregate?
  • What placement will the ad use?
  • Is the messaging aligned with the landing page?
  • How much do users know about the product?

By taking a customer-first perspective, the creative strategist is empowered to produce creative versions that resonate better with the desired audience.

Experimentation through hypothesis

Competitive analysis is often a means to an end, but it can also be an avenue for experimentation. Using the baseline conclusions derived from data and analysis, the Creative Strategist develops a hypothesis to generate novel concepts.

The idea is simple: You create a hypothesis, test it, review the results, and iterate.

This approach starts with research. The Creative Strategist builds on the data they already have by seeking unconventional sources of insight. This could mean reading negative reviews on Amazon or reading conversations on Reddit communities. There, they look for angles that might not have come up in standard data analysis.

For instance, public comments and reviews can uncover new uses for the product or pain points for the creative team to test and exploit learn from.

Simplifying the workflow

Competitive analysis requires mountains of data to produce actionable insights, a labor-intensive process that doesn't guarantee results. Good Creative Strategists invest in tools that simplify their workflow so they can focus on what they do best.

Save time and manual effort for creative reporting, so you can focus on scaling creative winners with Motion.

Motion is a creative analytics platform that helps Creative Strategists generate visual reports and test project hypotheses with minimal effort. It combines performance metrics with creative assets to make it easier to discover insights and share findings across teams.

Visit to learn how to leverage their tooling to improve your campaign performance.

Evan Lee
about the author

Evan Lee is the Head of Creative Strategy at Motion.

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