Growth 16 min read  - February 8, 2021

The best Ad Creatives for Mobile Games – Successful UA Campaigns

If you want to tweak and improve the Ad Creatives & Video Ads of your User Acquisition Campaigns for your mobile games, then, keep reading.

It is not an easy job to produce the best Ad Creatives for Mobile Games.

This is the fourth article of a series of blog posts focused on creating successful User Acquisition campaigns for your Mobile Games. In previous blog posts, we talked about Growing the Retention Rates of your Mobile Games, how to Boost the LTV on Mobile Games, and even how to Master the ARPU & CPI of your UA Campaigns.

With all these articles, we hope to give you a strong foundation, so now you can start launching your mobile apps and games in the app stores.  

In this blog post, we are going to aboard questions we often from Indie Game Devs to help you produce the best Ad Creatives for Mobile Games & your UA Campaigns. Most of the questions we get are “what can I do to boost my Video Ads?”, “why their CPI’s are so high (compared with the industry average)?” or even “how can I improve the metrics of my ad creatives?”.

If you want to tweak and improve the Ad Creatives & Video Ads of your User Acquisition Campaigns for your mobile games, then, keep reading.

Summary for this blogpost:

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Questions before producing Ad Creatives for Mobile Games

We have prepared a set of fundamental questions that you should ask yourself before starting any Video Ad to promote your mobile game.

To set the bases of your communication and create an effective ad, first, you must know what you want to say, to whom, which channels and platforms are you going to use, among other things.

Use the following list of questions to find tips and ideas that will help you create more successful video ads. And go even beyond this list. You can even create more questions that you think we haven’t approached.

Take your time to think about them. Even if these suggestions seem obvious, many mobile game developers miss answering them when they produce their ad creatives for mobile games.

What is the “Uniqueness” your Mobile Game has to offer?

As once Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”.

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Google Play and iTunes are full of clones of other games that offer slight differences between each other. If you promote the same way, show the same features and the same art that other games have, you will make it harder for yourself to stand out.

Find what’s unique in your game. It may be a distinctive feature, an uncommon mechanic on the genre, a game-changing powerup, a graphic enhancement, or a new perspective that you come up with.

Something that stands out from your competitors. That “something” that will allow you to create a strong “wow effect” or “punch line” in your video ad.

Who is the Ideal Player (Audience) of your Mobile Game?

The most effective Video Ads adapt the tone, style, and overall communication to their audience. Think about the people who will receive your ad creative in a demographic, psychological, and behavioral aspect.

Marketers usually create “user-personas,” a concept that you won’t probably know unless you’re familiarized with marketing or analytical psychology.

A User Persona (sometimes just Persona) is a fictional representation of your ideal player. He is the individual that represents all his group.

Creating a user persona is an exciting experience that may help you identify new ways to reach your potential players. Giving a name and a personality to your segments may become more comfortable for you to find opportunities to approach, communicate, and engage with them.

If you want to know more about that, there’s plenty of content about this topic on the internet, from useful articles and tools to make user personas, templates, and even lists of examples.

Imagine the day-to-day segment of people around 25 to 35 years old who spend 2 hours a day with their phone. What dialect do they speak? How would you communicate with them? What’s their state of mind when you approach them? How would you tailor your content to this audience?

No clue, right?

But now imagine a 28yo guy named Roberto. He plays arcade/casual mobile games. Every day, on his way to work, he spends one-hour watching TikToks. He also spends another hour watching YouTube videos while eating dinner.

Here now, you can tailor your content to this guy with more precision. Now you understand how to communicate with him, which style you should use, what he likes, and even where you will find him.

And this leads us to the next question:

Where to find the Audience for your Mobile Game?

There’s plenty of articles, guides, courses, webinars, masters, and content on promoting a mobile game on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook Business Manager is an excellent platform to set up highly sophisticated hyper segmented video ads. Same as Google Ads and many other advertising platforms. There is a universe of ad tech so vast that you can get lost in all the possibilities.

Here you have to be cautious. Everyone will try to sell you their book. I included, which just reminds me to tell you how great is the new Appodeal Growth Platform for Mobile Game Developers.

That sounded like a joke, but honestly, you should give it a try to the new Appodeal Growth Platform. We’re doing many changes in our monetization tools, adding app intelligence to help you better understand your players and detect growth opportunities. We have even launched a publisher/accelerator for mobile game devs, with tons of useful resources like this article!

But coming back to what we were saying, you may have the most advanced platform or tool in the market, that if it doesn’t adapt to your needs, you won’t be using it.

Let’s come back to the previous example. We said that Roberto uses TikTok and YouTube. You can throw millions of video ads on Facebook, but you will never get Robertos there. You may reach Marias (45yo woman who plays match-3 games), Krishnas (Indian 15yo PUBG gamers), or even Michaels (45yo USA casino players).

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Facebook Business is a powerful tool, and it is super beneficial for a lot of mobile games. But if your ideal players are Robertos, then let’s find them where they are.

Pro tip: The top-performing video ads feel native in the platform they are being displayed.

YouTube works excellent with 16:9 panoramic videos, but they won’t perform that well on Facebook. Square videos would feel weird on YouTube, but it’s perfect for Instagram feed. However, if you want to promote your mobile game on Instagram Stories, then a 9:16 vertical video would may be even more appropriate.

No matter what platform you end up using, adapt your video ad and make it feel right for the viewer.

What do you want to Achieve with your Ad Creative?

Installs. Next question!

But wait, that’s not everything.

Of course, you want installs and, if possible, from high spenders. But are you trying to get installs from people who already know your game? Are you looking for volume or quality? Do you need users to test a specific feature or to calculate the LTV?

Depending on how you answer that question, your video ad may differ a lot.

Let’s use some examples:

  1. Sometimes you may want to generate a user acquisition campaign to develop “brand awareness”. You want to reach as many people as possible, just to let them know you exist. Installs are not just a thing, maybe you haven’t even launched your game, and you want to create hype.
  2. Some other times you may want to create “burst campaigns”. Their goal is to attract as many installs as possible for a very short range of time. It is a useful strategy for some stages of your game, such as when you want to test your servers’ resilience, when you want to find bugs, or even when you want to boost your organic installs (the latter one is called a burst campaign).
  3. But if your game it’s been in the market for a while, and you have a lot of data from your current and churned users, you may want to create a “remarketing campaign”. You will then reach to users who have played your mobile game. They may have churned at some point, but you want to recover them because they were, for example, high spenders.

In each situation, you will need three very different types of Video Ads.

The first one will have to be a Video Ad that teases. Something that shows just a bit to make them vibrate, but not enough, to keep them fantasizing about all the possibilities. If you know about Cyberpunk 2077, you know what I mean.

On the second, you may want to show way more of your game, still with lots of spectacular stuff. You don’t want your audience just to wonder, but to desire and crave your game in that right moment. Something that pulls them to install.

And in the third case, the audience may not have the best memories about your game. They may not want to see the same they already know. You’ll have to convince them that your mobile game has improved, and what they will get this time, if/once they come back, is much better.

When does the Fun start after They’ve Installed your Mobile Game?

People usually enjoy most of the products right after the purchase. Imagine a kid buying candy. That kid will start enjoying the candy once he purchases, unwraps, and puts them into his mouth.

But mobile games are not like this. Players have to install the game, open it, accept all the tiresome disclaimers and popups, sometimes even register, finish the tutorial that may take several minutes, and — if they’re new — learn the game mechanics. After all that extenuating process, they may say, “oooh, I get that, here’s where the fun starts”.

Consider your users’ journey through all these steps when you think about how to promote your game. If your ad creative promises a joyful experience with a piece of content that only can be unlocked after several hours of playing, they will feel cheated when they don’t find it in their FTUE (First-Time User Experience). If that happens, they may churn and never come back. Then, it will be harder for you to seduce them again.

When targeting audiences that have never played your game, you may want to promise them experiences that resemble what they will get in an early stage of their game experience.

I’m not saying you can’t show a super epic battle of a “badass over 9000 player”. If those battles are a core mechanic of your game, then go big! Put your camera where the action is!

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But if your ad focuses on a specific feature, let’s say, strategic spaceship battles, and you start the game being a spore with casual-arcade gameplay, then maybe your Video Ad may have some issues converting users. Remember Spore?

Still, that “strategic spaceship battle” may be a good video ad to use for remarketing purposes and bring back old users that churned and were already on high levels and using these mechanics.

Again, think of your audience.

The structure of an Effective Video Ad Creative for Mobile Games

Show the Cool Stuff at the beginning of your Ad Creative

Nowadays, the span of attention of mobile players is just a few seconds.

Nobody wants to spend precious seconds watching a -probably- unwelcomed and intrusive video ad.

However, almost every platform forces the user to watch the Video Ads for a few seconds.

And this is all you have to seduce them. Use those three first seconds wisely. Impact, generate a strong impression, raise a doubt, or whatever you need to make that potential player stay for the rest of the ad.

Our best tip for you is: show your coolest stuff in the first seconds of your video ad.

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What will that be? Depending on your genre, your art, your game mechanics, etc. It’s your mobile game; you’ll probably already know what’s that. Isn’t it?

Get fast to the Punch-Line

Again, people don’t want to waste time, much less watching an unsolicited advertisement.

So, unless you seduce them at the beginning of your ad, they will spam the screen area where the “skip” button will display. Sometimes your ads will be skippable since the first second. 

With that in mind, the best place to show your punchline is as soon as possible.

It is not easy to find ways to get to your punchline fast and, at the same time, keeping the integrity of the message. But at the same time, you don’t want to produce an ad creative that is not well crafted, or people won’t respond to your message the way you want.

You may end up trimming some of your best ideas to get the job done, but if your ad’s performance gets better, it will pay up.

Never forget a Clear Call-to-Action

Which action do you want me to do right after watching your ad? Install your game? Visit your website? Engage in your community? Share your content?

Then, say it. As literal as you can. You can even place a button so they can click on it.

Sometimes indie developers produce their ad creatives for mobile games as if they were to be displayed on the TV. Then, you end up showing a spectacular advertisement that ends abruptly, and people don’t know how to react. They’re left thinking, “Was that a teaser?” “Is the game already on the app stores?” “is this feature already on the game?”.

It’s common practice to place the CTA (call-to-action) at the last seconds of the ad. But that does not mean you can’t put it anywhere.

You can place your CTA anytime in your ad, even at the very beginning of it.

Example of a Voice over for a video ad with multiple CTAs: “Try the new Appodeal Dashboard for Mobile Apps & Game. Connect your UA, monetization, and analytics data, to find out new opportunities to grow. Sign up now & unleash the full power of data. {button = Sign Up Now}”

Your CTA can vary. Find synonyms, use visuals, audio, and even text.

Unless you have a crazy load of money to promote your game through teasers (which you, an indie dev, probably won’t), don’t leave people wondering what they have to do. Make it crystal clear for them.

Keep your Video Ads under 30-Seconds

There are successful ads that are longer than 30 seconds.

However, producing them becomes more complex and riskier. Ads over 30 seconds force you to use more visual resources, spend more time on it, and even create a complex narrative to keep the audience engaged.

Again, if you’re an indie developer, you may not want to put all the eggs in one basket. You will surely get better results with a bunch of short video ads.

Also, the channels to promote ads over 30 seconds may have different specifications. 

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YouTube lets you promote “non-skippable video ads”. The video ads, however, must be under 15 to 20 seconds long. If your video ads are over 20 seconds, YouTube will let the user skip after three seconds.

Ask yourself, what would you prefer: a thousand people watching your 20-second ad to completion? Or dozens of thousands that they only get to hear, “Destroy your enemies in Hearthst…”?

Don’t take more than necessary to communicate your message. And keep it punchy.

Don’t put All the Meat on the Grinder

If you can’t make super long video ads, and your creatives must be concise and punchy, then be selective on what you put in your ad.

When users receive too much information, they are only able to retain a few bits of it.

Putting all your game’s features into one single ad may be counterproductive. Producing short ads works in your favor here.

You can split your content and promote one in-game feature on each ad creative. Then, check which ads had better performance. The data will tell you which features are more enticing for your users. Detect them and create more ads in that direction.

Set the mood with the SFX & Music of your Video Ad

Some indie developers use the same music they used in their games. Some others instead use royalty-free music libraries.

No matter where you find your audio assets, be aware that they will set your viewers’ mood and affect how they react.

The most common approach for mobile game developers is to think of your ad creative, cut your in-game footage, edit it, produce the visual, and in the end, add the SFX and background music that goes along with it.

Usually, video ads to promote mobile games tend to have energetic music. This way, people will follow the CTA with more enthusiasm. If you’re not sure of that, you may want to A/B test your ad creatives for mobile games with different types of songs and SFX and see what works best for you.

When choosing between two good songs, maybe it won’t make a big difference. But if your audios are not aligned with your visuals, your ad creative may not perform as well.

How do I know if my Ad Creatives for mobile games are effective?

It is pretty obvious to say that you must check your analytics and statistics. 

When you do, you must check specific parameters on your Appodeal Dashboard. We have a dedicated article on CPI, ARPU, ROAS & other monetization metrics that you should check.

Reminder: ARPU (Average Revenue per User), CPI (Cost per Install), CTR (Click-Through Rate), CPM (Cost per a thousand ad impressions), IPM (Installs per a thousand ad impressions), ROAS (Return over Ad Spending)

If you are already familiarized with the standard metrics on user acquisition campaigns, we have prepared some of the situations you may encounter.

High ROAS, IPM & CTR; but low CPI.

This would be the ideal situation for your ad creatives. Your costs per install are low, and the users you’re acquiring are returning a high sum of the investment over your ad spending.

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Here, you can try to optimize your ad to boost their performance a bit more. 

Analyze which elements you display, which in-game features are you promoting, the visuals, and the text you’re pushing. By doing so, you can produce more ad creatives in this direction. With just a few minor variations, you may end up producing an ad creative with higher ROAS. 

High CTR & CPI; but low ROAS & IPM.

When people watch your ad, they click on it. That increases the CPI of your ad creative. However, if they don’t’ install the app, you have no chance to monetize them. You’re losing money.

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The data tells you that your ad creative is driving users to your app store but, for some reason, they don’t install your app. Check then if your ad creative and your app store are aligned. If you’re showing two different things, users may feel deceived when reaching your app store pages. 

You may solve this by showing more gameplay on your ad creative, updating the pictures in your App Store pages, or even aligning your ad & your game as much as possible.

If you have already done that, try different concepts in your ad creatives for mobile games, or even check if fraudsters and bot-clickers are messing with your ads. Appsflyer has anti-fraud systems that may help you against bots.

High CTR & IPM; but low CPI, ROAS & ARPU.

Your ad creatives for mobile games are attracting users to your App Store Pages, and once there, they even install your game. However, they churn pretty fast, or even if they play, it gets hard to monetize them.

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There are mainly two reasons that can cause that.

First, check if your ad creatives & app store pages lead your users to think that your game is different from what they get. If they open your game for the first time, and what they see is not what they expected, they will be disappointed and leave. 

Second, there is a possibility that you just simply can’t monetize that target audience. Even if you’re attracting users who love your game, some people are unwilling to take any action that will generate revenue. 

Many factors can make a user unable to be monetized. Your users may be playing your game, but: they don’t spend enough time playing your game; they can’t afford your IAP (In-App Purchases); they play offline and never send ad-requests or receive ad-impressions; etc.

What you can do here is to break down the CPI of your ad creative. Identify the in-game behaviors of those users, and segment them between those that drive revenue and those that don’t. Then, target your ad creative on those that you can monetize.

Use retention metrics and LTV to find the reasons behind an ad creative with a low ROAS.

You can also check with your media buyers which audiences are getting the cheapest installs and see if they match your target audience. If so, maybe you want to adapt the creative to that key audience to lower the CPI.

High ROAS, ARPU & CPI; but low CTR, IPM.

In this case, what your metrics are telling you is that your ad creative is attracting a very profitable audience. You get to monetize those who install your app, even if the cost per install is expensive. However, the creative does not compel many users to click on it, and the few ones that reach your app store pages, most of the time, don’t install your game.

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Having metrics like this in an ad creative is uncommon, but sometimes we may find ourselves in this situation.

In this case, you must tweak the ad creative until you end up with a more compelling version. At the same time, optimize your App Store to drive more installs.

You may have found the right target audience. Your CPI may be high because of the low CTR & IPM. But maybe, once you improve your ad creatives for mobile games and get higher CTR & IPM, your CPI may decrease significantly.

Low CTR, CPI, IPM, ARPU & ROAS.

When all your ad creatives’ metrics are low, it means that the concept that you’re pushing on your ad creative is not working for that target audience. Your ads are not attractive for the users you’re reaching. 

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If the same ad creatives are working on other markets, you may be missing something. Check any possible misinterpretations of your ad due to cultural or historical influences. 

In the history of advertisement, there are plenty of memorable ads that had a poor performance due to lack of proper localization. 

Remake the ad creative, change the concept, the tone, and start all over again. 

Start small, A/B test, and iterate.

 

Summarizing: The perfect Ad Creative for your UA Campaigns on Mobile Games

Now you know all the perfect theory on making the perfect Ad Creative for the User Acquisition Campaigns of your Mobile Games.

There’s a lot to process in this article. Don’t stress yourself out. There is no need to remember or apply all these things we’ve mentioned. Just use those tips and strategies that will work better for your audience and your mobile game.

You already have all the tools and knowledge to create the most successful User Acquisition Campaigns that this world has ever seen.

It is up to you to leverage the time and cost it will take to produce your Ad Creatives for mobile games, and do minor modifications to your current paid campaigns. You probably are an indie developer or a game studio. Just start with small but practical improvements, A/B test before taking major risks, and iterate on what works best for you.

If you have enjoyed this article or learned something useful from it, please share it on social media.

And If you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback, do not hesitate to contact us!

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Marc Llobet
Product Marketing & Growth @ Appodeal

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