Creatives are an essential part of every mobile growth strategy. Generally, there are three types of creatives – static images, videos and playable ads. Top publishers often have hundreds of creatives simultaneously active in their user acquisition (UA) channel mix as they are the most important element of driving UA activities.
Even if aesthetically you have the most amazing creatives, without proper testing methods, analytics and evaluation you can still fail. This is why the evaluation of your UA data is key and that data being accurate is paramount. If you fail to properly evaluate the performance of your creatives, budgets will be wasted, efficiency will decrease and your whole growth strategy could fall apart.
Whereas, if you are correctly evaluating your creatives, both your UA efforts and the company tend to benefit in the following areas:
- Budget savings – With correct data, you can better develop a creative strategy and therefore, avoid wasting the time of your creative team
- Learnings – Allowing you to build new creative ideas and push your production quality forward
- Effective production – Means replacing random tests of multiple creative concepts addressed to your target audience with idea-making based on reliable data
Why publishers and mobile marketing agencies might struggle to determine the best-performing creatives post-IDFA?
A major factor for publishers/developers is lacking the proper data infrastructure for performance tracking on a creative level. This has become even more apparent in the post-IDFA world.
Other mistakes we often observe:
- Applying a winning creative from one UA channel to all channels – Different channels have different audiences i.e. A video that works on Instagram will most likely not work as a rewarded video on ironSource.
- Using the same creative strategy for both Android and iOS – Creative performance differences between platforms have significantly increased post-IDFA. The push to broader targeting resulted in higher quality creatives being used, especially on iOS.
- Ignoring creative fatigue – Your champion creative can carry performance for around 6-10 weeks. If you don’t do frequent creative tests and apply methods for developing and finding new champion creatives, your marketing efforts will eventually fail.
The Importance of playable ads for achieving a sustainable growth strategy post-IDFA
IDFA disrupted the whole mobile marketing industry. One of the early answers was UA channel diversification and budget shifting. Therefore, spending increased on ad networks such as Unity, ironSource and AppLovin.
In 2022, playable ads are now a must in order to have an effective UA channel mix. Playable ads / interactive end cards are required for running UA campaigns on the previously mentioned networks and so they have become a necessity for an effective marketing campaign.
How to test mobile creatives and learn from the results
If you want to achieve a successful testing and learning experience, you have to build a well-thought-out creative strategy beforehand i.e. a plan that contains steps towards achieving specific goals.
When developing a strategy, always remember that it needs to be created with the target audience in mind. For example, suppose your target audience is women who are 50+, you wouldn’t want to take a generalist approach like say, Apple as they have to appeal to a much broader target audience.
Now let’s say you have built a creative based on your strategy and it is now working effectively. Great! Save those findings. Create a document or even open your Notes and save the progress of your testing. You can come back and reuse your findings to build new ideas based on them.
Remember that different platforms have different users. The creative statics or videos that work well on Meta might perform badly on Unity, so adjust your strategy for different ad networks.
Technical Creative Testing
Integrated A/B testing tools are not available on all UA channels so, if you are not a fan of these anyway, there is a two-step creative testing method that can be done on almost every UA channel:
- Test a new batch of creatives in your creative testing campaign and set up benchmarks for evaluation (i.e. CPI, IPM, CTR, CTI).
- Test the winning creative(s) from step 1 and add them to your evergreen campaign – Be patient if your new creative is not getting traffic right away.
Cross Team Learning
Set up testing processes and periodic meetings of UA & creative teams. Before launching any creative test, you must set the following:
- Short-term and long-term goals
An example of a short-term goal could be creating a shared creative testing timeline for the next 12 weeks. And from there, a long-term goal could be achieving and sustaining a top 100 ranking in your game’s category on both platforms in the US market for at least 2 months.
- The most important KPIs / metrics
Selected KPIs must be based on reliable data and should be relevant for both teams. KPIs must reflect upon your product type and business goals. Generally, you can’t go wrong with KPIs which describe installs and/or cost-effectiveness such as:
- IPM (installs per thousands of impressions)
- CTI (click to install)
- CPI (cost per install)
- ROAS (return on ad spend)
Benchmarks are tied to selected KPIs. They are flexible and can change due to product or market changes, UA channel, optimization, etc. Try to set realistic benchmarks and keep them for at least 6 months.
- Performance tracking
Sheets, presentations, internal or external tools? There are many options to choose from when collecting and analyzing data. Choose the one that suits both UA Managers and the creative team. The least effective way is crawling through data on the UA channel platform during the meeting. Ideally, you want to collect (manual or automated) the selected KPIs for each creative tested in a selected period of time and highlight the top performer(s).
After you have successfully implemented all the steps mentioned above, you are ready to start with the creative testing. The final learning step is analyzing winning creatives and applying the learnings toward building high-performing creatives for future tests. This step is complex and probably deserves an article of its own, so stay tuned as we will certainly write about this in the near future.
What are often the best performing mobile game creatives?
In short, the ones with the best insights into your target audience! What creators often do is look at the creatives from their perspective and not from the eyes of the target audience. It is easy to forget that you’re not making creatives for yourself but for people who have different interests, opinions and perhaps prefer a different visual style. Minimalism and ‘2022 design’ are not for everyone, so try to leave emotions out of creatives.
Here are some quick tips and tricks if you’re struggling with ideas:
- Follow the market trends and your competitors – If you see your main competitor running a creative for a few weeks, try it yourself
- Play with your target audience – Put something in your creatives your target audience has a connection with. It could be memes, movies, characters, pop-culture stuff or social media trends
- Check casual/hypercasual creatives – You will be surprised, ideas from these types of ads may also work on your game
- Make it fun – If you can make people laugh, you are halfway to making them download your game
How SuperScale can help with your UA creatives
At SuperScale we have a wide range of skills in our creative team consisting of graphic designers, illustrators, 2D & 3D motion designers and playable programmers. We can help you create and resize the best quality banners, illustrations and videos specifically tailored to different ad networks.
But the creatives are just the final piece of the puzzle. We usually start with creating a strategy to identify what works best for your target audience, so you spend efficiently on creative production. Our ideas are based on our industry-leading data solution ‘Analyze’ as well as complex market and competitor research.
Areas of creative production that we offer:
- Competitor and market research
- Creatives suited for each UA network
- Static images, videos, playable ads, live action
- Store assets
- Concept testing
- In-game assets
- Special offers creatives
When it comes to methodology and execution of creative testing across multiple ad networks, we provide a full solution that includes budgeting, UA networks prioritization, creative volume and frequency of tests to limit creative fatigue. Get in touch here for a 15-minute introductory call.