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A creative's view on how to make a successful ad

We sat down with Richard Sheridan who heads up our Create division to find out what makes a successful ad in his view.

What makes a good creative brief?

Creative briefs need to be detailed, but succinct. They need to communicate the overarching business objectives, as well as providing a clear focus in terms of who is the target audience, what are their motivations, and where are they within the customer journey. This is particularly important because a good ad should be tailored to the audience’s needs, with the format, style, visuals and messaging all playing a part in meeting this.

What are the common mistakes you see in creative briefs?

Being too broad. Briefs should be specific to a point in the customer journey, so the creative output can be 100% tailored and targeted. Being too broad will inevitably lead to a one size fits all approach, in terms of format and messaging, which is inefficient and ineffectual.

How do you make an ad stand out?

Relevant, impactful visuals and slick animations, where possible & necessary. Context within the distribution environment is also incredibly important; if the content of the ad is out of context, then the ad may still stand out but it won’t make sense and thus the impact will be lost.

Which is more important, the visuals or the message?

Visuals and messaging are often the same thing, as visuals can be a key component of the message the ad is trying to communicate. However, in a simplified view, the visuals are important to draw attention and then the messaging adds context.

How important is it to maintain brand consistency?

Brand consistency is incredibly important across all touchpoints & journeys. It helps drive affinity, trust and engagement.

Does a good ad need big budgets?

You don’t need big budgets to create a good ad. All you really need is to make your ad appealing to people, which can be done through a good idea or by making the ad targeted, engaging and relevant. It’s about delivering on the old adage right person, right place and right time too, in order to increase the chances of your ads being successful. Given how difficult it is to know exactly what people want, a sensible approach is to test different creatives and then focus your budgets and creative iterations on the best-performing ones.

What is the role of technology in ad creatives today and what should it be in the future?

Technology platforms help us to deliver better ads. They offer simple & efficient production for ad creatives, making it easier to ensure ads are brand consistent, are relevant and facilitating more extensive testing programmes to find the approach that works best. They can also help with measuring creative performance, providing vital insights which can be used to guide optimisation and identify new opportunities.

Is media more important than creative or vice versa?

Media is easier to measure and hence it gets a lot of the headlines, but in my view, media and creative are equally important. Good creatives in the wrong environment will lead to ineffective campaigns and vice versa. The solution is to plan them both together, starting by mapping out the customer journey and all the touchpoints along the way. Then the ad delivered at each point in the customer journey can be tailored to ensure it is right for them and in turn that will deliver the best performance.


Thanks to Rich for his time and for giving us such valuable insight into the inside track of the ad creative process.

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