Market Trends

Written by Kat Peake August 29, 2019

What is creativity and why it matters for your online ads

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According to a Nielsen study, 47% of sales contribution comes from ad creative. And The Harvard Business Review found in their research that a euro invested in a highly creative ad campaign had, on average, double the sales impact of a euro spent on a non-creative campaign.

Creative is key when it comes to the performance of your online ads, and it’s becoming even more essential as platforms become increasingly visual. Networks like Instagram and Snapchat place emphasis on images and video above all else. And even networks that have more been associated with text are going visual. Google announced gallery ads in Search at Google Marketing Live this year. And Twitter recently announced new video ad bidding options.


How to define creativity?

Let’s take a step back. What do we actually mean when we talk about creativity? There are many ways todescribe the concept, but one of the pioneering psychologists in defining the concept of creativity was Ellis Paul Torrance. He established the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT), a structure used to assess individuals capacity for divergent thinking and problem-solving skills in the business world and in education. The TTCT is scored on four scales: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.

The 5 dimensions of creativity in advertising

In the early 2000s, the Indiana University communications researcher Robert Smith and his colleagues adapted the TTCT for advertising. They defined 5 dimensions of creativity most relevant to an advertising context. Here is what they look like, with some real advertising applications from our clients!


An original ad comprises elements that are rare or surprising, or that move away from the obvious and commonplace.

This creative from a Privalia campaign is original in its playfulness and interactivity. By creating a memory game in the Facebook Playable ads format, Privalia found a way to successfully engage users and stand out among other ads.



Flexibility is about the ideas behind your ad. An ad scoring high on flexibility smoothly links the product to a range of different uses or ideas.

These Mango creatives advertise a collection of clothing, but showcase the items in specific contexts. This brings the products to life in a way that simple catalog images could not.

Mango ad creatives


Many ads contain unexpected details or extend simple ideas so that they become more intricate and complicated.

This ad from Audible France offers users their first audiobook download for free. The ad borrows imagery from The Lord of the Rings, overlayed with text asking, “Can you resist it?” creating a playful ad with multiple layers.


View this post on Instagram


Le Seigneur des Anneaux enfin en audio fran’e7ais ! ‘bb Votre 1er livre audio est offert sur l’appli

A post shared by Audible_fr (@audible_fr) on


In advertising, this is blending objects or ideas that are unrelated. The effect of synthesis in advertising is surprising the viewer, which in turn creates a memorable ad experience.

In this Lays ad, the snack transforms into something else in this case something to backflip off of! Assimilating the product with a landscape element is unexpected and makes for a memorable creative.

Lays NL ad creative

Artistic value

Ads with artistic value can be defined as having aesthetically appealing verbal, visual, or sound elements. Their production quality is high, their dialogue is clever, their color palette is original, or their music is memorable. The artistic value really brings ads to life.

In the Instagram ad below, leather goods brand Velasca uses high-quality video to show details of the production process of their shoes, putting an emphasis on the craftsmanship and the quality of the materials.


View this post on Instagram


There’s a Velasca shoe for every occasion

A post shared by Velasca (@velascamilano) on

The Paragone Creative Center

We know the importance of creatives, but managing them across multiple networks, with multiple collaborators, can be a challenge for any marketing team. It’s not always easy to see which creatives are performing best across networks. And sharing results and creatives happens through many different channels, making it tricky to have a holistic vision and inform future creative development.

Creative Center SS 1


The Creative Center is here to help! This actionable, intelligent creatives library aggregates and adapts creative assets for the major digital media channels, giving you an overview of creative performance across networks.

Its collaborative nature allows brand, creative, and agency teams to work together efficiently, eliminating the need for endless emails back and forth, file transfers to all kind of stakeholders, and more headaches.

Our e-book

We wrote a whole e-book on creativity in digital advertising to help you understand the impact creative has on performance, and give you tips on building a great creative strategy.

Download the guide today to learn:MMR_LandingPage_CREATIVITY

  • How to define creativity in advertising
  • How creativity impacts performance
  • How to build a great creatives strategy, along with some best practices and expert tips
  • Creative ad formats across networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google, plus best creative practices for each network
  • Tools to help you build better ad creatives
  • How to measure creative performance

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