I have created and tested over 400 video ads in 2021 alone. I did this for 33 different games and prototypes and I wrote over 70 marketing data analyses. I’ve been part of a team that worked hard to create epic experiments to improve metrics. And on top of that, I’ve taken the time to dive deep into the skills I want to master. And in doing so, I’ve collected a bunch of learnings that I’m now ready to share.
How to design a winning creative
We all know that most of our creatives fail. Out of all the creatives I’ve tested this year, only 1-3% fit into the winning category. And I’m not the first one to figure this out. Big publishers and marketing agencies have shared findings like mine. This means that, to find that special unicorn ad, you have to test a lot of ideas. Sadly, Creatives can lose their effectiveness due to a bunch of reasons. Short attention spans, quick changes in the market and ad-fatigue, to name a few. This means that if viewers see the same or similar ads many times, they won’t engage with it anymore. That’s why you need to keep moving, even if you have been so lucky to find your unicorn ad. You can do this by testing new ideas and by iterating on the best performing ads you already have.
Types of creative ideas
Let’s divide creative concepts into 3 categories: Experiments, research based ideas and iterations. I’ll start with what they should all have in common:
- All ideas should have a theory of why they could work. You should have reasonable confidence of the theory and excitement about the idea.
- All ideas have to fit within a reasonable timeframe. In our marketing team we don’t work with tight deadlines. Even so, I like to only pick ideas I can finish within the next project release date. I’ve found that if I commit to a bigger project it always has to be lower priority. And lets be honest, no one has time for low priority tasks.
Now for the differences:
- Experimental ideas follow the least amount of rules. They can come from anywhere and haven’t really been proven to work yet. They are accepted within a team because people get excited thinking and talking about it. Experimental ideas can be risky, but they also got an opportunity to get ahead of a trend or be the first in a field.
- Research based ideas come with the confidence that an idea has either worked in the past, or is currently working for one of your other games or for competitors. They can also come from current trends and events or viral happenings on the internet.
- Iterations are ideas that have already proven their worth, with one big change. It’s important to only change one thing per ad so it’s easier to draw conclusions from a test. If you change too many things at the same time it will be hard to determine which change had the most impact on your data.
Proven marketing mobile game ideas
I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here are the 5 best proven mobile game marketing strategies. These have proved to work well in 2021, and are guaranteed to be future proof.
1. Clear gameplay footage
You only have 15-30 seconds to convince the viewer to play your game, use this time well. You might enjoy looking at complex gameplay, but to a fresh audience it might only be confusing. Your job is to make it easy for people to understand what’s going on. It’s difficult to get excited about something you don’t understand. Make sure to remove anything that is not helping to explain the game. And add anything that could help with this.
2. Gameplay that includes choices
Games that have simple A or B choices have been skyrocketing in the App Stores this year. It wouldn’t hurt to use this same principle in your ads too. To achieve succes, the choice needs to feel meaningful. This means that the outcomes of either choice needs to have a big impact.
3. Fail gameplay footage
Have you ever seen anyone play a game for the first time and failing at it? Don’t you want to take over and show them how its done? This is the type of creative that keeps performing very well and understandably so. For this idea to work, you need to think of a couple things. The gameplay needs to be easy to understand. The player needs to make the obvious wrong choice while the right choice is right there on the screen.
4. Gameplay that evokes emotions
As much as we love to think how rational we are, humans are actually feeling creatures first. This means that we’re more likely to respond to something if it emotionally affects us. Think about how you can make your audience feel something. And what do you want them to feel? Do you want your audience to feel accomplished and powerful? Negative emotions like frustration and fear are also strong motivators to engage with content. There’s a reason horror games are still popular. If you know how to use emotions in your ad well, you might have a winner on your hands!
5. Gameplay with big contrasts
Contrast might be a vague term to add to this list but it is an important one. Examples of big contrasts that have proven their worth are: Big vs Small, Bright vs Dark, Slow vs Fast, Chaos vs Calm and Noob vs Pro.
How to learn from testing so many creatives
It can be pretty overwhelming to test so many different ideas. That’s why it’s important to keep things organised. This can mean different things to different people. The marketing managers before me loved spreadsheets, but I found them difficult to read and, without any context, hard to learn from. I decided I needed something more visual. I started documenting data outside of spreadsheets. I included color coding for different benchmarks, and screenshots to visualise what I was talking about. As I was working on this structure I often asked and received feedback from different people within the company. They shared what they found most useful. I suggest you find out what your team needs to get the most out of the data you’re collecting.
Don’t forget to check your own results with what your competitors are doing! Most ideas aren’t new, and chances are that people have already spent money testing the exact same thing. Doing this research can save you a lot of time and money. Speaking of doing your research, did you recognize all mobile games in the header?