Did you know that a Nielsen survey found that 47% of a brand’s sales lift from advertising came from the creative?

Making the best first impression and capturing interest requires careful attention to your ad design and creative ad testing.

With more advertisers and audience overlap than ever before, you can see why testing and optimizing your Facebook ad design (and every social channel) is crucial.

Here are seven ad design and ad testing best practices for optimizing the creative of your ads across Facebook and other social channels.

Your ad design and ad testing process is the cornerstone to moving paid social performance. All these platforms are so visual that you really need to have content that stands out to ensure your brand is being seen and heard.

Avi Ben-Zvi,  Director of Paid Social at Tinuiti


1. Design Your Ads With a Platform Focus


Have you ever been tempted to apply a “one-size-fits-all” approach to your social ad creative?

The truth is that this approach leads to lackluster results. Not only are ad specs different for each platform, but the audience and use case for each social platform is also very different.


creative best practices


Your Facebook Newsfeed ad creative won’t necessarily translate to success on a Story ad for Instagram or Snapchat. That Promoted Pin ad design may also not look right for a carousel ad on Facebook.

Understanding the nuances of each platform and what users expect to see are important considerations to make when designing your ad.


social ad design best practices for facebook instagram snapchat and pinterest


Much like your campaigns should be focused on a single audience and goal, your ad designs should also focus on a specific platform, it’s design guidelines, and the audience using that platform.


2. Fail Fast & Learn Fast With Split Testing


Split testing, also known as A/B testing or single variable testing, has long been a favorite method for marketers to discover which ad how to split test graphicoptimizations yield the strongest results for a brand.

Testing the creative variables within your ads is just as important as testing the actual ad format or audiences—and will only become more so as
creative becomes a key differentiator in a crowded marketplace of content.

By testing one variable at a time, you can more quickly identify which elements impact your performance in different ways.

For example, here are some basic split tests for ad imagery types:

  • Lifestyle Vs. Product
  • Professional Vs. User-generated
  • Illustration Vs. Photography
  • Light Vs. Dark Colors
  • Text Overlays, Price Badges, and Copy


With this type of testing, you can optimize towards making your winning ads perform even better. Find out which variable is driving that ad to crush your goals that you can then iterate on and see continued success.

For an in-depth look at creative split tests and best practices, check out The Brand’s Guide To Creative Performance On Facebook & Instagram.


3. Make Your Offers Pop With GIFs and Video Assets in Ad Designs 


One of the largest impacts we saw through creative ad testing was from using GIFs and videos. When tested against static images and long-form video, GIFs, in particular, saw higher CVR and revenue increases.


ownable social ad design gif performance.gif

Ad testing for Ownable resulted in GIF ad designs that drove top performance during a promotion. The GIFs highlighted the offers, but keep the product and brand up-front and clear.


Upon optimizing Ownable’s promo ads, we saw the following results:

  • 17% spend increase
  • 26% more revenue
  • 45% higher CVR


The reason for this was because the GIFs highlighted the promo offer while at the same time keeping the brand and product upfront and clear. They were eyecatching while staying to the point, creating an ideal environment to capture consumer attention.

Bare Necessities also saw an enormous performance increase just by altering their ad design to GIF format to make their offer pop more.


ad design for bare necessities on social media

With ad testing, Tinuiti’s creative & social teams collaborated to transform Bare Necessities’ static assets into GIFs. The new ads’ subtle movement caught users’ attention in the feed and lead to higher website traffic and revenue.


4. Capture Attention Fast-paced Messaging and Concise Text 


Another important ad test was to understand the ideal messaging length and pace on Snapchat. Specifically, whether 6-second ads were more effective than 15-second ones.


strayer university ad testing snap chat

Ad testing revealed that the faster-paced 6-second Snap Ad design drove higher and more efficient engagement. The winning ad showcased the value prop within the first 2 seconds and utilized more concise text overlays.


Collaborating with Strayer University, we learned that 6-second ads resulted in both a 50% lower CPE and a 32% higher CTR. The most effective ad featured their value proposition within the first 2 seconds and utilized more concise text overlays.


“Ultimately, what they found was that it’s so important to be using a faster-paced storyline to communicate your messaging.”

– Kelsey Miller, Paid Social Strategist at Tinuiti


5. Showcase Customer Reviews in Ad Designs For Social Proof


Our next creative ad test was to find out how including customer reviews in ad creative influenced performance. Working with Luca + Danni, we tested the below ad creatives against each other.


luca danni ad design on facebook

Ad designs that included customer reviews within the post copy drove more efficient site traffic and purchases than the top-performing evergreen headlines.


For this campaign, we performed a single variable test of their top-performing evergreen headlines against ads that were exactly the same but included customer reviews. The ad creative that included customer reviews performed significantly better:


  • CPC decreased by 26%
  • CTR increased by 19%
  • ROAS saw a massive improvement by 110%


When it comes to ad creative, consumers respond better to social proof. By including customer reviews within the ad itself, we were able to give the brand and product more social clout than it would have gotten with a headline and image alone.


6. Encourage Product Exploration With Shoppable Collection Units


Another ad test was to figure out whether Link Page-Post ads or Collection ads drove higher returns for sale periods. To do so, we tested out these two ads with Maurices


ad design with shoppable collections on facebook maurices

Collection ads dynamically pulling in products dramatically outperformed link page posts. The “sell products” ad design collection layout encouraged category exploration and increased purchase conversion rates.


What we found was that encouraging product exploration resulted in a 67% higher CTR and a 51% higher ROAS. Displaying a collection of products drew customers in and encouraged them to shop more actively for additional products than just those listed in the ad creative.

The key here is to make things easier for your consumers. By displaying collection ads that are relevant to the user, you’re making it easy for them to find products they’re interested in without the hassle of going to your website and scrolling through all of your products.


7. Showcase Your Products in Promoted Pins to Drive Traffic & Sales


Although it’s relatively unexplored as an advertising platform, more brands are beginning to branch out onto Pinterest.

We partnered with elf to find out whether brand campaign shots or product-focused Pins drove the highest website traffic and return on the social media site. 


elf promoted pin ad design for pinterest

In this phase of Pinterest ad testing, product-focused pins outperformed across Pinterest. Close-up product shots encouraged off-site clicks at a higher rate than featuring the products on an influencer.


Product-focused Pins outperformed brand campaign shots across multiple KPIs:

  • 81% lower CPC
  • 125% higher CTR
  • 154% higher ROAS


Close-up product shots consistently encouraged more off-site clicks at a higher rate than simply featuring an image of the products over an influencer. 


Case Study: Luca + Danni Sees 4X Increase In Conversions With Optimized Facebook Mobile Video Ads


luca danni case study for facebook

The handcrafted jewelry maker partnered with Tinuiti to successfully combine an effective sales objective, mobile-first creative and clear branding in its Facebook video ads for a 4X increase in conversions and a 24-point lift in brand awareness.


Conclusion: Prioritize Creative Ad Testing to Improve Ad Design Performance


If creative testing isn’t a part of your advertising strategy yet or you’re not seeing the results you want, remember these key takeaways to get the most out of it:


  • Tailor creative for each advertising platform. They all have different rules, guidelines, and algorithms, so what works on one may not work on another.


  • Establish your KPIs and testing goals before testing your creative. This way, you’ll be able to collect relevant data to analyze for future campaigns.


  • Keep your tests simple. Throwing in too many different factors can result in unreliable data.



“Tinuiti is an idea-driven creative team that executes on any type of creative piece that makes sense for the audience. Whether that be an original produced video, animated ads, experience (canvas) ads, connected carousels and even now Augmented Reality ads. Many times it’s a combination of these that deliver the best results –  but it always starts with a strong idea that can deliver both inspiration and action.”


– Tom Olivieri, VP of Creative Services at Tinuiti


Want to talk to our Creative Services Team?

Tinuiti Creative Services


Want to learn more?

The Power Of Ad Creative [And How It Impacts Your Social Strategy]

The Brand’s Guide To Creative Performance On Facebook & Instagram

Snapchat Ads: The Brand’s Guide

Facebook Ads Guide: Setup, Strategies And Tips From The Experts

Instagram Ads Guide: Tactics Brands Use to Generate Revenue


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