How the Ad Council used AI to optimize its mental health campaign

Results for Seize the Awkward show how responses to the creative varied on Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

How the Ad Council used AI to optimize its mental health campaign

Most creatives know that you can’t simply cut and paste a piece of creative across social media platforms. 

The Ad Council proved that theory with the results of its campaign, Seize the Awkward, which deployed custom content tailored to Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok to talk to teenagers about mental health.

Campaign flight analyses since February show that custom creative led to a 21% increase in page engagement on Instagram. On Snapchat, swipe rates on custom graphics grew 120%, more than doubling over the same campaign in 2020. TikTok, which was not used in last year’s campaign, garnered a 112% click through rate. 

The results reflect the strength of ongoing campaign optimization, said Burr Purnell, executive director of social good at VidMob, the creative management platform that powered the campaign. 

“Intelligent, creative optimization actually does work, but you can't just let it sit there. You have to continue to optimize it along the way,” he said. “Platform-first design is absolutely essential.”

The Ad Council worked with VidMob and Dentsu, which offered their services pro-bono, to use AI to measure and adapt creative on an ongoing basis. 

For instance, The Ad Council learned that sound and short-form video was most effective at driving engagement on Instagram, while using the word “you” and running longer videos led to better results on Snapchat. TikTok saw the best results when videos contained characters and the phrase “you good?” 

“Brands that are incorporating data into their creative development and planning processes are unlocking the most value,” said Rebecca Ganswindt, global partnerships at Dentsu.

The Ad Council will continue to work with Dentsu and VidMob to measure campaign effectiveness and determine best practices across its campaigns moving forward. 

“Our ads are meant to inspire people to change lives for the positive,take action and change behaviors on a number of different issues,” said Laurie Keith, VP of media, social and emerging at The Ad Council. “Being able to make sure that this creative is impactful, resonates and drives people to take actions, it's a win-win situation.”

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