Why Adopting A Creative Subscription Makes So Much Sense

22 Jul, 2022

Goodbye inevitable creative budget blowouts. Hello cost-certainty and creative agility. Creative on subscription is the new and improved way of paying for creative, argues Shuttlerock's VP EMEA, Darren Jacobs.

Here’s a question: what do the creative and construction industries have in common? 

The answer: inevitable budget blowouts. 

It’s an unfortunate truth; one that is generally taken as a given and as a result, accepted. 

As a marketer, you can attempt to forecast how much of your budget will be taken up by creative. However, these forecasts—more often than not—will fall short of what you actually end up spending. 

Why is this? 

The simple answer is that the way creative is priced is no longer suitable for the current digital advertising landscape. Most creative agencies still operate on billable hours or per unit set costs. The problem with both approaches is that they make it extremely difficult to predict how much you will actually end up spending and will often lead to an underestimation. 

This is because despite how rigorous you are in planning the creative assets you need for the upcoming quarter, deviations are almost impossible to avoid. There are just so many eventualities in digital that can—and will—happen. For instance, you may want to quickly turn around some new creative to jump on a social trend, create additional localizations, swap out a product or add a new format into the mix. The list goes on and on, with each—at least under traditional creative pricing models—leading to an increase in cost.

On the flip side of this, you may not have the approval to increase spending on creative or it might take a lot of time to secure. Both would lead to missing the boat on new opportunities. And to swim rather than sink in the sea of digital media, you wanna be on those boats.  

What marketers really need is a method for paying for creative that secures cost-certainty and enables them to be agile with how they produce assets. 

Introducing: creative on subscription

This method has arrived in the form of Creative as a Service (CaaS) solutions which offer creative subscriptions to marketers in simple, fixed-cost pricing plans. Like well-known SaaS or PaaS models, CaaS is the modern way to price and consume cloud-based creative production services. 

Marketing teams are able to utilize a creative subscription in order to produce all the creative they need for a fixed price. This removes the added costs that occur with additions such as extra formats or localizations. Creative on subscription enables marketers to replace incremental costs with incremental value: the more creative produced, the lower cost-per-asset you achieved. 

So, that’s the gist of how a creative subscription functions. Let’s look at the benefits they offer to marketers. 

1. Cost-certainty

The major benefit of creative subscriptions from a price and budgeting perspective is that they replace those all-too-common budget blowouts with cost-certainty.  

If you’re a CRO or CMO, cost-certainty can be a godsend, especially in a period of economic uncertainty. It provides a clear vision of upcoming creative costs, making budgeting a lot easier and more accurate; turning what was once a notoriously unpredictable facet of marketing planning into one that is consistent and fixed.

2. Creative agility

With cost-certainty, marketing teams are then able to be much more agile. 

What does this mean? 

Well, imagine that a new popular trend has arisen on TikTok. Your marketing team comes up with an idea of how your brand could drive engagement by referencing the trend in some new creative. With a CaaS creative subscription, it wouldn’t be a problem that this wasn’t included in the original quarterly creative budget. Your team would be free to quickly create some new assets and take advantage of the trend without worrying about additional creative costs. 

This is creative agility. 

In the fast-moving digital landscape, the importance of being able to move fast, make changes and jump on trends cannot be underestimated. It can be a game changer when it comes to your campaign performance. 

3. Test, learn, optimize

Once you’ve removed the restrictions of incremental creative costs or billable hours, you can not only make the most of new opportunities, you can also fine-tune the performance of your creative. 

This can be achieved through the process of testing, learning and optimizing. 

Testing is done by producing numerous creative variations; changing variables such as copy, featured products or even music. You then run each creative alongside one another and analyze the performance. From these learnings, you are able to refine your creative approach. 

Rinse and repeat and your creative will only become stronger and stronger. 

A creative subscription is highly conducive to this process as it encourages marketers to be “always-on” in their approach to creative production. Instead of producing all the creative you need for a campaign in one go, creative subscriptions see marketers continuously producing new assets and making refinements in an ongoing process. The end result: better performing ad creative.  

Creative subscriptions at Shuttlerock

There you have it. The major benefits of paying for creative on a subscription: cost-certainty, creative agility and the ability to test, learn and optimize. 

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