Creative is the #1 mechanism behind the performance of your ad account. This is how you make ad creative that converts.

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As consumers in the digital world, we eat and digest our information visually. Social media platforms are brimming with exciting content designed to engage us, stealing our attention for seconds at a time, just for another post to do the same only moments later.

Our attention is the prize in a competition designed for creators and companies. This competition has reached a pinnacle in creative design, where companies have split-tested and iterated on their content so many times that they've honed right into what optimally grabs attention. In this competition, those who stand out, and deliver the best experience, win. So how do you compete with that?

In performance creative, a few key principles can be used in your creative development process to inch ever closer to finding that 'holy grail' piece of ad creative – The one that hones in on your audience, speaks directly to them, gets them engaged, hooked, and ultimately, purchasing.

While there are many strategies required to make your ad creative win, let's start at the beginning with a core concept called 'frameworks.'


What are frameworks? Simply put, they are templates of tried-and-true ad creative formats. These are designed to answer the question: What core elements does a piece of ad creative need to have in order to speak to consumers on a psychological level?

There are several frameworks that you can use, but the all-time most popular is the AIDA framework – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Here's how it works:

  • Attention: Grab your audience's attention. Tell them something interesting that you can relate to your product, show them your product being used in an interesting way, etc. Immediately, you want to grab the consumer's attention, which is why this stage is often called 'the hook.' More about that later.
  • Interest: Capture the consumer's interest. Tell them a bit about your product, but primarily what's so great about it?
  • Desire: You want your consumers to desire your product at this point. This is where you appeal to their needs directly. What problem does this solve for the user? Why do they need it?
  • Action: Inspire the action you want them to take. This can be as simple as an end card with the classic 'Shop {insert product name here} Now,' though something a bit more inspired might go a longer way.

Of course, this is just one example of a framework. You can use many different frameworks, but a personal favourite (and one that I made up, no bias here!) is the APASTA framework. Here's how it works:

  • Attention: Same as before – grab the consumer's attention with a hook – this is where you make it count with a hook. Of all the content consumed online, this is how you stand out from the crowd.
  • Problem: What is a problem that the consumer faces and your product solves? Describe that problem.
  • Agitate: Lean into that problem by illustrating how that problem is holding the consumer back somehow. Why should they even want to solve this problem?
  • Solution: Introduce your product as the solution to the problem described before. How does your product solve this particular problem for consumers and thereby make their lives better?
  • Testimonial: This is where you demonstrate your social proof. Show the consumer that many other people, just like them, have used the product and loved it. Bonus points if you have testimonials from customers talking about it (UGC) and how it solved the problem described above for them.
  • Action: Inspire action. Again, this can be as simple as 'Shop Now' or as involved as 'Get Your {insert problem remedy described} Today.'

The key principle here is to be deliberate when communicating with your customer. The information given to them should be diligently considered, ensuring that only the most important details are communicated, eliminating all fluff.

Interestingly, Fraser Cottrell recently shared a visual on Twitter that perfectly illustrates how to use frameworks in winning ad creative. Following a certain order of operations for your communication items is important, as well as what you use within each of those items. Check out his tweet here for his own framework, which is very similar to what we discussed above:

Lastly, as mentioned above, an important consideration is the order of operations. As you can see in the frameworks, we begin with a hook to capture users' attention and make them stop scrolling to see what's next. Now that we have their attention, what next? If your product solves a problem – which it should – then you need to communicate the problem it solves in a way that is relatable to consumers. Make them say: "Yes, that's something I deal with all the time!". From there, you deliver the solution (your product) and explain why it's great and why others love it. A no-bullshit approach to your frameworks is your #1 way to build performative creativity.


Generally speaking, a full-funnel structure in your ad account should look something like this:

  • Top of Funnel (TOF): Prospecting and scaling cold audiences
  • Middle of Funnel (MOF): Reengaging users that have interacted with our brand
  • Bottom of Funnel (BOF): Retargeting users that have shown heavy interest/purchase intent

The copy you use for each funnel stage should look a bit different. TOF copy is about problem/solution, selling your product to an audience who has never heard of you before and convincing them of its value. MOF is all about building trust with users who have already engaged with your brand and understand your product to some varying degree but haven’t purchased it yet. At this stage, it might make sense to double down on user reviews and testimonials to build trust with our audience. BOF copy is very direct and usually includes a strong CTA. The audiences in this funnel stage know your product, and likely already trust your brand, so now we can add an incentive to get them across the line.

Understanding how frameworks work is important, but it's also important to make sure you are adapting the order of operations in the information you're communicating based on which stage of the funnel the ad will be used.


A 'hook' in video ads refers to a brief, attention-grabbing element at the very beginning of an ad intended to capture the viewer's interest and entice them to continue watching the ad. The goal of the hook is to make the ad memorable and to encourage the viewer not just to stop scrolling in their feed to watch the ad but to continue watching it after the hook has ended.

To give you an example of a good hook that utilizes all of the elements above, we can look at Hismile – a brand specializing in teeth whitening. Check out the ads to get an idea of how a hook can be scroll-stopping, shocking, but also relevant and memorable. In fact, take a look at their entire Ads Library here. There are quite a few gems.

Getting your hook right is tough, so it requires a lot of testing to find variations that work well. That said, there are a few common denominators among most hooks. So, what comprises a good hook?

  1. Brief: The hook should be brief and to the point so that it can be communicated effectively in a short period of time. Ideally, this is up to three seconds long and no longer, while some exceptions apply.
  2. Memorable: A good hook should be memorable and easy to recall after viewing the ad. This can be achieved through a catchy phrase, an emotional appeal, or a surprising reveal. Shock your viewer if need be – many brands these days will use a quick video that appears gross at a glance but is actually their product in an obscured position.
  3. Attention-Grabbing: A good hook should grab the viewer's attention and make them want to watch more of the ad. This can be achieved through bold imagery, dynamic graphics, or an interesting storyline. You want to stand out in the feed among all those other posts and ads you're competing against. Think about how your ad would look when scrolling quickly through your feed. Make it pop!
  4. Relevant: The hook should be directly related to the product or service being advertised and help to communicate its key benefits. You can easily go the route of making it shocking to get the thumb to stop scrolling, but if it is unrelated to the product, the viewer is unlikely to stick around beyond that three-second mark.

Sure, standing out amongst the competition in a user's feed with a snappy, colourful, enticing hook is great, and it might secure the 'thumbstop*,' there is one more element to this, which is, as usual, psychology. To save you from making this article any longer than it needs to be, check out Chris Mikulin's recent thread on this topic. It's short and sweet and gets right into the facts: your hook is influencing users' subjective thoughts and feelings really, really quickly.

*For those who don't know, 'thumbstop' is a metric you can monitor to get an idea of how effectively an ad stops people from scrolling in their feed – or how quickly we can stop their thumb from scrolling. To build this metric in your dashboards, simply divide your total 3-second video views by your total impressions. This will give you a percentage of impressions that stopped to watch at least 3 seconds of your video.


Beyond what you're saying in your ads, how you say it is just as important. An acronym that applies extremely well here is KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid. You're speaking to the average consumer, not your marketing department, so try to keep the fluff to a minimum. Would the average consumer say they will 'utilize' their new skin serum? No, and neither should you.

Adjectives are also really important. When I say to remove 'fluff,' I mostly mean to remove jargon. Sure, customers are pretty savvy and can spot language designed to entice them, but at the end of the day, this language still works at large. When describing your skin serum to customers, using words like 'glowing' or 'silky' is a great way to describe the outcome the customer would hope to achieve with the product. Too many brands use literal, sterile language when describing their product. Make it sound enticing, catering to the desired outcome of the product and the benefit to the consumer.

To better understand what you should actually be saying, let's take a look at this tweet from Jess at Fireteam. A major component of your creative is the message you plan to convey. Here, Jess illustrates a Venn Diagram helping you determine exactly what that message is: it's what lies at the center of what you can say that's true, what the market wants to hear, and what your competitors can't say.

There's a lot of gold in that thread, so I'd recommend taking a look, but first, a final note on scripting: UGC content matters a lot.

Many brands will send influencers their product and put the content they produce into their ad, hoping that the representation of a real person will seal the deal. This is simply not enough these days. Customers have a very sharp eye for fake UGC. In most cases, it doesn't appear authentic, which makes sense because it's not.

Instead of having your influencers talk about what they think you, the brand, would like to hear, give them cliff notes. Using clips where it feels casual and candid is preferred. If it feels authentic and touches on important details that you want to communicate to consumers, it will perform far better than the alternative (which is relatively dry, stock UGC).


I know this sounds obvious, but read your copy and ask yourself what words can be removed, then read it again and ask the same question. Attention spans are deteriorating, and a single word can lose your audience’s attention, especially on social media. This is even something that I still personally struggle with. I love writing and can often get carried away (I mean, we're like 2,400 words in here, get to the point, right?!).

Although adjective-dense buzzwords sound great, they will not impress your audience. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should only write copy that’s one or two sentences; it means that you should make sure all your sentences are as short as they can possibly be without losing impact or foregoing important information. When it comes to copywriting for ads, it's critical that you be concise and economical.


As the length of an advertisement increases, viewer engagement and retention tend to decrease. Viewers become less interested and less likely to pay attention to an ad as they are exposed to it for a longer period of time. This is especially true for ads that feel unstructured, bombarding the consumer with information haphazardly.

It's worth noting that the threshold for this drop-off can vary depending on the ad's content and the audience it is targeting. Some viewers may be more engaged with longer ads, especially if the content is particularly interesting or informative.

However, as a general rule, shorter ads tend to be more effective at maintaining viewer engagement and increasing the chances that viewers will take action after watching the ad. These days, ads as short as 15 seconds in length are testing extremely well for most brands. The unfortunate truth here is that our attention spans are getting shorter.

In Meta Ads Manager, view time data is available for your video ads in an especially useful chart format. You can use this chart to set goals for yourself based on discoveries around at which points audiences drop off most. Simply navigate to any video ad, click 'View Charts' and scroll down to the bottom.

Note: This may or may not appear for you. It seems like it was randomly removed from some accounts when writing this, so it's still worth checking. Classic Meta.

Using this chart as an example, you can see that this ad retains ~5o% viewership through the 3-second hook and then drops off to ~18% viewership at the 10-second mark, where it holds relatively strong throughout the duration.

With some variation in the actual viewership %, this is what you generally want to see. It's natural for there to be a drop-off at the beginning, but if you can retain around the same % of viewership from post-hook to the end, then your order of points communicated has kept people engaged.

You can use this information to determine where the greatest points of drop-off are and revise your ad to resolve that. Do you have 80% of viewers dropping off after the hook ends? Then maybe it was far too irrelevant to the remainder of the ad. Are people dropping off halfway through? Then perhaps you can look at the information communicated at that time stamp and either revise it or cut it altogether.

Zlatan Vano shared the following thread on Twitter recently that perfectly illustrates the information above. How to monitor the view time taper in your dashboard using the 'watched %' metrics and extracting optimizations from that. Check out his thread here, accompanied by a handy gif for demonstration:


I recently wrote a Twitter thread discussing this concept in detail, so I'd recommend heading over there for the crash course. Still, it's important that we're on the same page: testing is a delicate act that requires intentionality.

When testing ads, there are two parts: creating variations of ads that are doing well and how you're building your ad campaigns to support testing those new variations. Today, we will ignore the latter and focus on the former instead.

We are beginning to understand how to make an ad that performs well, but what do you do once you discover a winner? Well, first, read my thread above to ensure you don't let that winner crash and burn, but to answer the question: you iterate! It's naive to think that after getting a bit creative, we've made the best ad possible. The following process will help you turn a sapling into a mighty oak.

Your first step after discovering a winning ad is deciphering what's 'good' about it. Look at the view time chart and determine if it's holding people for a long time, check if there is a low drop-off after the hook, etc. Write down what the talking parts are in point form, getting the order correct. What visual elements are used? Does it start with a shocking visual, followed by a product image, followed by UGC? Spending significant time breaking this down to its core elements is essential in understanding why it's working and preparing yourself to iterate.

Once you have this, you can begin the process of iterating. We will produce five new ads based on this winner – just so we don't have too many ads testing in the ad account at once, among other reasons – so copy and paste the 'winning' elements of the first ad you wrote five more times. For each of these, you are going to do some editing. Is there anything in here that feels weak or could use improvement? Your second ad will resolve that. Is there anything you could swap out, such as UGC visuals over your testimonial section instead of studio product videos? Your third ad will resolve that. Maybe you love your first ad, so all you're going to do is swap out visual elements – one studio product shot for another.

At the end of this process, you'll have five new videos that are slightly different from one another but all based on something that has won for you in the past. When you test these and find the ones that perform better or worse than the original version, you'll have data on which path to take next. From here, you'll know, through a process of elimination, which elements are actually driving performance for you instead of having to arbitrarily interpret that on your own.


If you've made it this far, thank you. I know there was quite a lot of info to sift through here, but I'm glad you made it. Hopefully, using the tactics outlined above, you can start producing top-performing ads for your ad accounts and impress everyone you know. If there's anything I missed or anything that could require a deeper analysis, please let me know! All feedback is both welcomed and appreciated.


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