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IDFA Killing Lookalike Audiences, Now What?

  • Data analysis representing $122 million in paid social mobile app ad spend reveals how IDFA loss is killing lookalike audience targeting and causing a rise in unattributed organic revenue, resulting in a sustained negative impact on ROAS.
  • Since late April, ROAS and click-to-install rates have plummeted for broad, lookalike, and interest targeting.
  • Android ads are not immune to the larger ecosystem effects of IDFA, as Android performance simultaneously declines across social networks.
  • Facebook warns against the reliance on lookalike audiences: “By continuously using the same optimization tools and same lookalike audiences, advertisers risk limiting themselves to the players they’re familiar with, which can in turn limit growth.” 
  • As insights into user behavior deteriorate, a user’s declared interests are critically important to target based on motivation, intent, and persona-led creative.
  • Experimentation with agile creative is critical as we await tools from social platforms that enable ROAS-positive, effective probabilistic targeting tied to interest targeting and contextual advertising.

IDFA Loss Has Killed Lookalike Audiences, Now What?

Earlier this month, Consumer Acquisition shared data on the devastating impact IDFA loss is having on iOS app advertisers with iOS advertisers experiencing revenue drops of 15-20%. We’ve been discussing the potential fallout since last year (Hey Apple, You Suck!, IDFA Armageddon Part I, IDFA Armageddon Part II, IDFA Armageddon Part III) and while we’ve already seen skyrocketing CMPs, as iOS 14.X distribution grows, we anticipate a clearer view of the negative financial impact to KPIs and LTVs by the end of August 2021.

In our review of over $250 million in ad spend for our initial IDFA impact report, we knew the reach and effectiveness of lookalike audiences (LALs) across social ad platforms would decrease as iOS 14.6 adoption increased. And as most advertisers use LaLs derived from revenue events like purchases, the loss of IDFA effectively destroys one of the most common and profitable audience targeting tactics. In their Big Catch Playbook, even Facebook warns against the reliance on lookalike audiences: “By continuously using the same optimization tools and same lookalike audiences, advertisers risk limiting themselves to the players they’re familiar with, which can in turn limit growth.” 

But our experience managing over $3 billion in creative and social ad spend means we know how to find new opportunities. Analyzing ROAS for lookalike audiences, broad audiences, and interest groups on large social networks over the past twelve months, we have recommendations to reach your ideal audience in a post-IDFA world. 

Lookalike Audience Targeting

Prior to the loss of IDFA, lookalike audience targeting was reliable, effective, and efficient; it offered limitless opportunities to slice and dice revenue events to uncover new high-value users. A strong lookalike audience could scale and run for a month or more; but now, ROAS might be 0.5% when it was previously 15%. As a result, advertisers have been decreasing social ad spend for iOS by 40-50% each month since ATT enforcement and are consistently shifting more ad spend over to Android. However, Android ads are surprisingly not immune to the larger ecosystem effects of IDFA. Android performance across social networks is declining, as well. With GAID going strong, the inflated CPMs aura effect on Android advertising means everyone needs to get more creative.

According to Facebook, creative must speak to the distinct motivations of different types of players; they identify this as a massively underutilized opportunity for ad efficacy as user tracking declines. They recommend, “…as gaming advertisers look to diversify their strategies in response to an evolving ads ecosystem, motivation-led creatives provide a future-proof solution.” For user acquisition teams, experimentation with interest groups may unlock pockets of efficiency, and persona-led creative help advertisers design an experience to meet the target user’s expectations, needs, and desires. Like appealing to motivation, Branch’s 2021 Mobile Growth Handbook recommends aligning ad creative with user intent.

While much of the industry has been focused on user behavior, the deterioration of lookalike audiences and the black box of deeper funnel events means a user’s declared interests are critically important for insights into motivation and intent.

ROAS Campaigns

To provide a perspective on how the loss of IDFA is impacting audience targeting, we analyzed data representing $122 million in paid social ad spend. The following graphs show ROAS for lookalike audiences, broad audiences, and interest groups on large social networks over the past twelve months.

Disclaimer: Consumer Acquisition performance reports are based on limited proprietary datasets; actual marketplace metrics may vary.

Campaign A: Simulation  Game

Ad Spend: $7.91m

Period: July 2020 through July 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS/AndroidCP

Notable: In Q2 CPMs for LALs, interests, and broad targeting all increased. Curiously, this effect was more dramatic on Android than iOS. Q2 2021 CPMs were 2x that of Q2 2019 (pre-pandemic) CPMs. In Q2 click-to-installs remained stable for Android Broad and Interest targeting but plummeted for LAL audiences. Most impactfully, despite paying high CPMs, ROAS and traffic quality has steadily declined since January, for both iOS and all targeting types, with no end yet in sight.

Simulation Game Lookalike Audiences

Campaign B: Role Playing Game

Ad Spend: $1.45m

Period: January 2020 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS

Role Playing Game Lookalike Audiences

Campaign C: Adventure Game

Ad Spend: $1.21m

Period: January 2020 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS

Notable: For IOS, both LaLs and Interest targeting CTI declined precipitously since May resulting in 90% of investment moving to other platforms. Android LAL performance fared better throughout the period, outpacing Interest targeting performance in Q2.

Adventure Game Lookalike Audiences

Campaign D: Adventure Game 02

Ad Spend: $1.94m

Period: January 2020 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS

Notable: Lookalike performance decreased sharply on both platforms (Android/iOS) in Q1-Q2. Full transition into AEO+AAA (broad) helped maintain portfolio ROI as VO performance collapsed. Small, lookalike pockets of efficiency have emerged in Android over the past 30 days. This is likely driven by new creative wins and decreased auction LAL competition.

Adventure Game 02

Campaign E: Casino Game

Ad Spend: $23.38 Million

Period: January 2020 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS

Notable: For iOS, both LALs and interest targeting click-to-install rates declined precipitously since May, resulting in 90% of investment moving to other platforms. Other channels with better broad-based targeting maintained more consistent click-to-install post-ATT.

Casino Game

Recommendations

As insights into user behavior deteriorate, a user’s declared interests are critically important to target based on motivation and intent. The necessary shift to interest-based targeting has increased competition for the most obvious keywords; however, along the periphery of popular interests are inconspicuous affinities where new audiences are waiting. Through ongoing UA experimentation and agile creative tailored to varying demographics, high-quality top-of-funnel installs driven by genuine enthusiasm are attainable.

Persona-led creative is critical to engage audiences efficiently. It also allows the algorithms to identify and cluster users based on their preferences, performance data, and response rates to creative styles. With this insight, mobile app developers can tie events based on the probability of monetization within the first 48 hours and guide consumers into an appropriate onboarding funnel in their app.

 

Creative Tips

 

UA Tips

  • Until paid social advertising is thrown a lifeline, we recommend all advertisers diversify their acquisition portfolios across paid social channels and SDK networks to uncover all pockets of efficiency.
  • The strongest performance we’re seeing is coming from top countries, localized ad copy with AEO or Broad targeting.
  • Areas of exploration are interest clusters coupled with persona-led creative.
    • Facebook’s Big Catch Playbook outlines how ads they’re seeing are not speaking to the distinct motivations of different types of players; this is a critical oversight as the ability to track users declines. Pair creative with onboarding, tag to an event and allow Facebook to deliver qualified audiences.
    • Similarly, Branch’s 2021 Mobile Growth Handbook recommends aligning creative with user intent to earn more high-quality top-of-funnel installs
    • Persona-led creative developed through a creative journey helps advertisers design a solution to meet the target user’s expectations, needs, and desires.
  • Restructuring your Facebook ad account for iOS 14.6+ is critical to adapt and thrive.

 

App Developer Tips

  • For iOS, focus on tutorials to identify consumers that indicate a propensity to monetize in the first 48 hours post-install. Also, establish onboarding as events to educate the algorithms on what changes to make.
  • Mobile app developers often succeed or fail based on how effectively they measure and improve retention, revenue, and LTV.  Most companies focus on new updates, new features, and revenue.
  • To stay ahead of and measure creative fatigue and enable a steady stream of fresh creative assets, we are advising app developers to break down the silos between product and marketing teams.

 

How We Can Help

  • As research into this post, we have spoken with twenty large spenders. They agree that fully loaded costs of internal UA teams are 6-8% of media spend. Consider leveraging the expertise and optics that an external agency provides. This will give you a broader understanding of the highly evolving IDFA impact.
  • Founded in 2013, ConsumerAcquisition.com is a technology-enabled marketing services company that has managed over $3 billion in creative and social ad spend for the world’s largest mobile apps and web-based performance advertisers. We provide a creative studio and user acquisition services for Facebook, Google, TikTok, Snap, and Apple Search social advertisers.
  • We can provide your internal user acquisition team a perspective on iOS14 impact across paid social providers. Our Hollywood-based team of storytellers can produce a steady stream of persona-driven creative ideas to stay ahead of creative fatigue.
  • Contact Sales@ConsumerAcquisition.com to work with the team.

IDFA’s Crushing Impact: How to Survive & Thrive

  • Data analysis representing $300 million in paid social spend reveals the devastating post-IDFA impact on click-to-install (c2i) traffic quality, iOS CPM spikes, decrease in mobile app value and event optimization performance, and decreases in lookalike audience effectiveness.
  • iOS advertisers are experiencing a 15-20% revenue drop and inflation in unattributed organic traffic.
  • Only 20% of consumers say yes to the ATT prompt allowing apps to personalize ads.
  • Without deterministic attribution, advertisers lose the ability to effectively attribute revenue and are experiencing an erosion of LTV and the effectiveness of LTV models.
  • In a post-IDFA world, Facebook, Branch, and Consumer Acquisition recommend focusing on persona-led creative to regain efficiency by allowing paid social algorithms to cluster users based on behaviors and creative trends.
  • We suspect Apple will roll back or soften IDFA changes by Black Friday and Google would benefit from going full Minority Report!
  • Check out Brian Bowman’s full interview with VentureBeat for more in-depth analysis and thoughts

Post-IDFA Crushing Impact: How to Survive & Thrive

For months we have been sharing insights about the loss of Apple’s IDFA and its profound impact on the mobile app ad ecosystem (Hey Apple, You Suck!, IDFA Armageddon Part I, IDFA Armageddon Part II, IDFA Armageddon Part III). After reviewing $250 million in ad spend, we now have a clearer picture of how dramatically Apple has hurt iOS app advertisers and we have recommendations for how to survive and thrive in this post-IDFA world!

By breaking down paid social spend, we tracked how the quality of traffic has steadily decreased since January 2021. For the purposes of this study, the erosion of traffic quality is measured by users’ click-to-install rate (c2i). We are using this c2i to avoid the noise generated by CPMs across genres and countries. Scroll down to the bottom of this article to see the devastating impacts.

Tracking c2i alongside the loss of Apple’s IDFA and the subsequent operating system updates, we see the decline of traffic quality accelerating. Most notably after Apple began pushing the upgrade of iOS 14.6 in late May 2021. Based on the adoption rate, Apple’s iOS 14.6 may achieve 80% user adoption in late July 2021, which means the full financial impact on KPIs and LTVs could be known next month, August 2021!

post-idfa iOS 14.5+ adoption by week

Post-IDFA Trends

We can already see the trends. Only 20% of users are allowing apps to personalize their ads by allowing the app to track them when presented with the ATT prompt. For the traffic we evaluated, as personalization and tracking drop, paid social value bidding performance has faded. Across paid social platforms, down-stream event optimization and lookalike audience performance are also eroding. As a result, iOS advertisers are experiencing a revenue drop of 15-20% with inflation in unattributed organic traffic, but not enough to cover the financial loss.

post-idfa iOS 14.5 users give app permissions

Based on data and conversations, due to the adoption rate of iOS 14.5+ and material erosion of traffic quality and performance, advertisers have shifted their iOS campaigns to SKAN. Apple’s SKAN threshold is 25-30% null installs and clients are seeing a large increase in organic revenue due to unattributed traffic.

Ad Spend

As for deterministic attribution declines with accelerated iOS 14.6+ adoption, advertisers will no longer be able to effectively attribute revenue. They are experiencing an erosion of LTV and the effectiveness of their corresponding models. If advertisers cannot track revenue effectively, ad dollars spent on iOS advertising will drop as it becomes less efficient due to restricted measurement and poor personalization capabilities. Branch’s 2021 Mobile Growth Handbook shows that as iOS advertising has dropped, Android advertising has increased 8-21% due to Google maintaining advertiser’s ability to personalize and customize ads properly.

shift to android ad spend

According to eMarketer, at the 2021 peak of ad spend on iOS, during the week of February 2 to 7, marketer budgets were split relatively evenly between operating systems: 43.84% went to iOS app install campaigns, and 56.16% went to Android, according to mobile analytics firm Singular. (However, Singular notes that spending may have been artificially high as advertisers scrambled before ATT went into effect.) By the week of June 14 to 20, Apple’s share dropped to just 29.71% while Android claimed 70.29% of the budget.post-idfa iOS ad spend dropping

Post-IDFA Data Analysis

To provide a perspective on what is going on with the loss of IDFA, we analyzed data representing $300 million in paid social ad spend. We focused on click-to-install (c2i) rates for Android versus iOS, SKAN versus non-SKAN, CPI versus c2i, value optimization, event optimization, and mobile app optimization. The following graphs show how dramatically the loss of IDFA has impacted iOS mobile app advertisers. Disclaimer: Consumer Acquisition performance reports are based on limited proprietary datasets; actual marketplace metrics may vary.

CPM Overview Chart:

Ad Spend: >$300 million

Period: February 21, 2021, through July 4, 2021

Region: US

Platform: Android and iOS

Notable: iOS has consistently been more expensive than Android, depending on the flow of our client’s genre, we see the gap between operating systems close. However, you will notice an increase in iOS CPMs tied to the launch of iOS14.6 vs stable Android.

iOS v Androids CPMs post-idfa

Campaigns

A: Click-to-install (c2i)

Ad Spend: >$250 million

Period: January 2021 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: Android and iOS

Notable: Using c2i as a proxy for traffic quality, notice that Android c2i remains steady and increases in June while iOS c2i erodes both for SKAN and non-SKAN tied to IDFA loss. iOS traffic quality traffic has eroded with the rollout of iOS 14.5 and 14.6 while CPMs have skyrocketed.

Android vs iOS NON-SKAN vs SKAN

B: Cost-Per-Install (CPI) vs. Click-to-install (c2i)

Ad Spend: $42 million

Period: January 2021 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: Android and iOS

Notable: June, CPI spikes while click-to-install (c2i) erodes post-IDFA loss, indicating lower quality traffic at increased CPMs.

Cost-Per-Install (CPI) vs. Click-to-install (c2i)

C: SKAN vs. Non-SKAN

Ad Spend: $180 million in spend

Period: January 2019 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS, Top 5 Gaming Genres & Entertainment

Notable: Comparing SKAN c21 (blue) to non-SKAN (red) c21 there is a noticeable drop in c2i performance as COVID hit in March 2020 and another dip in March 2021, with an accelerated drop in June 2021 due to the increased adoption of iOS 14.5+.

post-idfa SKAN vs. Non-SKAN

D: Value Optimization (VO), Click-to-Install (c2i)

Ad Spend: $50 Million

Period: January 2020 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS, Limited to Top 3 Gaming Genres

Notable: In June 2020, drop-in traffic quality. January 2021 did not recover as expected, while eCommerce advertisers exited the holiday marketplace; we believe other advertisers front-loaded Q1 2021 spend to get ahead of potential negative impacts due to IDFA loss. The larger drop in June 2021 corresponds to the iOS 14.6 update.

post-idfa Value Optimization (VO), Click-to-Install (c2i)

E: App Event Optimization, Click-to-install 

Ad Spend: $33 Million

Period: January 2020 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS, 2 Gaming Genres

Notable: Steady decrease in event optimization click-to-install performance during COVID. C2i stabilizes Aug > Dec 2020 with an additional loss in c2i corresponding to iOS 14.6 June 2021.

post-idfa App Event Optimization, Click-to-install

F: Mobile App Optimization, Click-to-install 

Ad Spend: $140 Million

Period: January 2020 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOS

Notable: Large increase in traffic quality in June 2020 may be due to advertisers in our marketplace but our overall c2i quality drops starting January 2021, additional loss of c2i quality near the end of April 2021, and further erosion with the iOS 14.6 update.

post-idfa Mobile App Optimization, Click-to-install

G: SKAN vs. Non-SKAN

Period: January 2021 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOs

Notable: non-SKAN c2i (red) drops -46% vs January. SKAN c2i (blue) swings wildly with traffic eroding through June 2021.

post-idfa SKAN vs. Non-SKAN

H: Android vs. iOS, Click-to-install 

Period: January 2021 through June 2021

Region: US

Platform: iOs and Android

Notable: We are seeing a significant movement in ad spend from iOS to Android. Comparing Android vs. iOS blended (with and without SKAdNetwork), Android c2i increases in June whereas c2I for iOS declines -55% since January 2021.

post-idfa Android vs. iOS, Click-to-install

Before we get to our recommendations, here’s my take:

 

Apple will roll back or soften IDFA changes before Black Friday.

  • As with Apple’s prior failed attempts at launching ad networks (iad), they lack the mettle to build an ad experience that consumers will enjoy. Also, with Netflix and Amazon, consumers have come to expect thoughtful, AI-driven suggestions based on usage data and do not prefer human-curated content. Without the willingness to personalize the merchandising of apps, Apple’s ad network will suffer the same fate as TV commercials. Which are ignored, and skipped by consumers, relegated to the heaping pile of poor user experiences. When Apple realizes they lack “Steve Jobs’ innovation” and that consumers prefer to be delighted by personalized ads and want to maintain “free apps”, Apple will re-enable a version of IDFA to allow reputable companies like Facebook, Google, TikTok, Amazon, Snap, and others to do what they do best and merchandise apps that delight consumers.
  • What is the alternative? Apple forces app developers to offer their products for free, without the ability to recover development costs or improve monetization through usage data? Having said all that, I do believe the underbelly of app advertising—the weird ads that follow you around due to 3rd party trackers—will be permanently relegated to the “trash heap” of inappropriate advertising. As a guy who likes to bet, Apple will start to roll back IDFA policies by November 2021, before the Black Friday holiday.

 

Mobile App Developers Beware!

  • Apple is not just reducing the efficiency of paid advertising. They are also hurting app developer retention, LTV calculations, and product development iteration testing. We would like to issue a warning that the KPIs you are testing to tune performance, retention, and LTV may need to be thrown out as of the rollout of iOS14.6. Or, you may consider combining data with organic due to Apple’s SKAN restrictions.  Either way, the stability of data and reporting of hundreds of thousands of developers are likely to be questioned.

 

Why is Android performance suffering?

  • Our expectation was that advertisers would move to Android as a safe, haven from iOS chaos, leverage the learnings, audiences, and unobstructed creative optimization, and then port the learnings to iOS. Conceptually, it does not make sense that the performance of Android has taken a hit. Sure, Travel, Restaurants, Auto, Entertainment, SMB, and other COVID-impacted advertisers are back in the market but why would mobile app event bidding on Android across social platforms produce lower ROAS? CPM increases cannot be the only driver.

 

Why are lookalike audiences collapsing so quickly and what replaces them?

  • With only a 20% ATT adoption rate on iOS, we expected the reach and effectiveness of lookalike audiences to decrease. However, the rate of performance degradation across social ad platforms has outpaced the adoption rate of iOS 14.6 and the normal refresh rate of custom audiences and their corresponding deterministic lookalike (LaLs) audiences. Yes, most LaLs are derived from revenue events like purchases but why is LaL performance dropping so quickly?

 

Unless legally forced to do so, as with their delay in killing pixel tracking, Google will NOT kill GAID!

  • Google is one of the world’s best companies at identifying what people want next and delivering it to them.  If Sundar Pichai were to ask my option on IDFA (which, for the record, he has not), I would advise him to go full “Minority Report”!  Do what you do best and delight consumers, like Netflix, by guiding them on what they may enjoy next based on AI, quantitative analysis, and behavioral dynamics.

 

Where are we headed?

  • My new least favorite phrase is probabilistic targeting. Mainly because it connotes lower quality recommendations (e.g., spam) and lowers ROAS / net profit. Since it looks like Apple is willing to burn down their own iOS marketplace and they do not appear to be budging…why aren’t the large social ad platforms offering a tool that allows advertisers to import custom audiences and generate a contextually targeted interest cluster of users? While the deterministic financial efficiency would still be less, this could allow most existing advertisers to maintain their investments and historical learnings and may function as a bridge into the new probabilistic ad world. If you then enhance that data with the massive treasure troves of 1st party data coupled with interest audience segments tied to persona-led creative, we may have a sustainable path forward.  As the data shows, it is certain to be a less profitable path forward, but it is still a path forward.

 post-idfa Snap UI: audience mapped to interests

Snap UI: audience mapped to interests

 

To me, the above does not add up! We are clearly in the throes of a transition. Companies appear to be positioning themselves to maximize their own internal revenue. The juggernauts have yet to offer a viable probabilistic alternative that leverages 1st party data. So, until they do, here are our recommendations for what you can do when “nothing is making sense”!

 

POST-IDFA RECOMMENDATIONS

Deterministic tracking is eroding on iOS devices. Large social ad platforms continue to simplify and automate their media buying algorithms. So, the most efficient lever for sustained profitable user acquisition is creative optimization. Our recommendation is to develop persona-led creative that allows the algorithms to identify and cluster users based on their preferences, performance data, and response rates to creative styles. This insight then allows mobile app developers to tie events based on the probability of monetization. Which will guide consumers into an appropriate onboarding funnel in their app.

 

Creative Tips

post-idfa unicorn ads

UA Tips

  • The first two weeks of July have been highly volatile across paid social channels. Profitable scale is difficult to achieve and sustain. Lookalike audiences appear to burn out in only two weeks. Until paid social advertising is thrown a lifeline, we recommend all advertisers diversify their acquisition portfolios across paid social channels. We also recommend SDK networks to uncover all pockets of efficiency.
  • The strongest performance we are seeing is coming from top countries, localized ad copy with AEO or Broad targeting.
  • An area of exploration is interest clusters coupled with persona-led creative.
    • Facebook’s Big Catch Playbook outlines how ads they’re seeing are not speaking to the distinct motivations of different types of players; this is a critical oversight as the ability to track users declines. Pair creative with onboarding, tag to an event and allow Facebook to deliver qualified audiences.
    • Similarly, Branch’s 2021 Mobile Growth Handbook recommends aligning creative with user intent to earn more high-quality top-of-funnel installs
    • Persona-led creative developed through a creative journey helps advertisers design a solution to meet the target user’s expectations, needs, and desires.
  • Restructuring your Facebook ad account for iOS 14.6+ is critical to adapt and thrive.

 

App Developer Tips

  • For iOS, focus on tutorials to identify consumers that indicate a propensity to monetize in the first 48 hours post-install. Also, establish onboarding as events to educate the algorithms on what changes to make.
  • Mobile app developers often succeed or fail based on how effectively they measure and improve retention, revenue, and LTV.  Most companies focus on new updates, new features, and revenue.
  • We are advising app developers to break down the silos between product and marketing teams. This will enable them to stay ahead of and measure creative fatigue. Resulting in a steady stream of fresh creative assets.

 

For More Background On Our Perspectives Around Post-IDFA Loss

 

How We Can Help

  • As research into this post, we have spoken with twenty large spenders. They agree that fully loaded costs of internal UA teams are 6-8% of media spend. Consider leveraging the expertise and optics that an external agency provides. This will help you gain a broader understanding of the highly evolving post-IDFA impact.
  • Founded in 2013, ConsumerAcquisition.com is a technology-enabled marketing services company. We have managed over $3 billion in creative and social ad spend for the world’s largest mobile apps and web-based performance advertisers. In addition, we provide a creative studio and user acquisition services for Facebook, Google, TikTok, Snap, and Apple Search social advertisers.
  • We can provide your internal user acquisition team a perspective on iOS14 impact across paid social providers. Our Hollywood-based team of storytellers can produce a steady stream of persona-driven creative ideas to stay ahead of creative fatigue.
  • Contact Sales@ConsumerAcquisition.com to work with the team.

Mobile App UA & Creative Roundup July 2021

This month, get insider info on IDFA’s crushing impact and how persona-led creative can help you recover efficiency. In a post-IDFA world, ad creative that targets specific user motivation helps regain efficiency by allowing paid social algorithms to cluster users based on behaviors and creative trends. Scroll down to see July 2021 creative guides—from RPG to entertainment to casual, get tactics you can use to improve your campaigns today.

Why is persona-led creative critical? Check out IDFA’s Crushing Impact, providing a deep dive into over $300M in ad spend, comparing install rates for Android versus iOS, SKAN versus non-SKAN, and CPI versus installs. The data shows just how devastating the loss of IDFA has been for iOS app advertisers.

But don’t despair. Dean Takahashi from GamesBeat says, “Advertisers aren’t helpless. In a post-IDFA world, Facebook, Branch, and Consumer Acquisition recommend focusing on ‘persona-led creative’ (or marketing to a type of person) to regain efficiency by allowing paid social algorithms to cluster users based on behaviors and creative trends.”

Persona-Led Creative & Creative Trends

 

persona led creative

Persona-Led Creative

What motivates a player to choose one app over another, or to click on one ad over another? The answer lies in a concept called “horizontal segmentation” which began with consumer research to find the perfect sweetness for Pepsi. There is no perfect ad. But there are perfect ads if you know who your audience is.

match 3 July 2021

Match 3

From creative that leverages SFX and bright colors to combining gameplay with simple character situations, we break down successful match-3 ads for Toon Blast.

RPG July 2021

RPG

See how role playing games attract players interested in unlocking levels, characters, power, and narrative through our deep dive into Electronic Arts hit Star Wars – Galaxy of Heroes.

card game uno

Card Game

Challenging players to make a move and appealing to nostalgia are among the winning tactics for Mattel’s Uno, a leader in the Card Game genre.

hyper casual july 2021

Hypercasual

See how simple gameplay and provocative headers are attracting players to Hypercasual apps like Voodoo’s Draw Climber.

hidden object july 2021

Hidden Object

For Hidden Object games like Manor Matters from Playrix, winning creative includes pickers and puzzle concepts combined with narrative progression.

casino july 2021

Casino

See how Playtica’s Bingo Blitz dominates the Casino app genre with creative featuring discounts, social connections, and influencers.

romance july 2021

Romance

Highlighting relatable, quirky, and diverse characters in quick vignettes, we break down successful Romance creative for Pocket Gems’ Episode.

simulation July 2021

Simulation

See how injecting narrative while showcasing gameplay is driving Simulation Game creative for Storm8 Studios’ Home Design Makeover.

How To Expand Your Assets

CA+ is better, cheaper, faster, premier creative services offering:

  • Live Action Video ProductionCA Plus July 2021
  • Photography Production
  • Game Capture: Unity/Unreal Engines
  • Full Post-Production Services
  • 3D Computer Animation
  • Branding
  • ASO Icons, Screenshots, Videos

 

Featured Article

idfa crushing impact

 

  • Data analysis representing $300 million in paid social spend reveals the devastating post-IDFA impact on click-to-install (c2i) traffic quality, iOS CPM spikes, decrease in mobile app value and event optimization performance, and decreases in lookalike audience effectiveness.
  • iOS advertisers are experiencing a 15-20% revenue drop and inflation in unattributed organic traffic.
  • Only 20% of consumers say yes to the ATT prompt allowing apps to personalize ads.
  • Without deterministic attribution, advertisers lose the ability to effectively attribute revenue and are experiencing an erosion of LTV and the effectiveness of LTV models.
  • In a post-IDFA world, Facebook, Branch, and Consumer Acquisition recommend focusing on persona-led creative to regain efficiency by allowing paid social algorithms to cluster users based on behaviors and creative trends.

In Other News

Angry Birds 2

 

With one of the world’s most recognizable brands, Rovio wanted a fresh approach to promote Angry Birds 2, the new arcade mobile game in the billion-dollar franchise. In a departure from cartoon cardinals and canaries, Rovio wanted a live action ad with real actors to highlight the universal appeal of the game across every demographic and device.

Through our agile production process, we efficiently captured hundreds of video and photo assets in one shoot. To understand user motivations and the competitive landscape, we incorporated intensive research from our creative learning agenda to generate persona-led creative. Beyond an entertaining ad, our agile production approach provided Rovio with multiple variations to test, including different character reactions, different narrative progression, and different gameplay. The ad is optimized for multiple platforms and for iterative testing, allowing Rovio to sustain profitable ad spend. See our expertise in action in our Angry Birds 2.

Check Out Our Creative Work

consumer acquisition reels

More Creative Trends

Helpful Content

For more information on persona-led creative or IDFA impact, please contact sales@consumeracquisition.com.

Angry Birds 2 Live-Action Commercial by Consumer Acquisition

Real-World Rovio: Creating an Agile Live-Action Commercial for Angry Birds 2

No matter your budget or your IP, your best-performing Facebook ad has about 10 weeks before creative fatigue sets in. 90% of your new creative concepts will fail to outperform that ad. So, finding your next winner takes 20-50 new original concepts. To keep our clients’ ads outperforming those of their competitors, our quantitative creative development process yields fresh creative concepts for ongoing testing, while maintaining advertising efficiency at scale. Here’s how we did it for Rovio’s Angry Birds 2.
Angry Birds 2

The Challenge

With some of the world’s most recognizable IP, Rovio needed a fresh approach to promoting Angry Birds 2, the new arcade mobile game in the billion-dollar franchise. In a departure from cartoon cardinals and canaries, Rovio wanted a live-action ad with real actors. This allowed them to highlight the universal appeal of the game across every demographic and device.

 

Our Solution

Through our agile production process, Consumer Acquisition is able to efficiently capture hundreds of video and photo assets in one shoot, saving time and budget. We script and film multiple performers, narrative arcs, and endings while using downtime to capture stills and behind-the-scenes footage. Our creative learning agenda incorporates intensive research into the game genre, personas, and user motivations as well as understanding what ads our target users are responding to in other markets.

Angry Birds 2

This approach was ideal to develop unique creative for Angry Birds 2 and differentiate the game in a crowded category. Angry Birds 2’s competitors include Toon Blast, Toy Blast, Candy Crush franchise, Charm King, Cookie JamGardenscapes, and Homescapes. The target demographic for the game spans generations of players age 8+ and is equally popular among men and women.

Analyzing creative and competitor trends in the category, we found the following themes among high-performing ads:

  • Player-Focused/Player vs. Player (PVP): Concepts featuring players competing against one another or different types of players in the game (Candy Crush Friends Saga)
  • Gameplay: Real and modified footage of ideal gameplay action(Toon Blast, Candy Crush Saga)
  • Achievement: Primary focus on mastery of a game (Toy Blast, Charm King, Cookie Jam)
  • Puzzle with Purpose: A puzzle where the solution helps a character complete a challenge (Charm King, Fishdom, Gardenscapes)
  • Puzzle Challenge: Brain teasers and other challenges, often tied to IQ (Fishdom, Gardenscapes, Homescapes)
  • Progressive Puzzle: A puzzle that requires the player to complete multiple levels (Fishdom, Gardenscapes, Homescapes)

With a massive target audience and diverse creative trends to leverage, we focused on gameplay. We also featured PVP to appeal to players. Using our demographic research on affinity interests, we tailored the narrative arc of the ad to the real-world passions of our potential players.

Angry Birds 2

The Result

Based on our research, we developed narrative devices to illuminate the passion that players of all ages bring to the game. Using location, wardrobe, hobbies, and age to contextualize characters, we were able to move swiftly from player to player. A rhythmic cadence and engaging character progression bring the viewer along to a humorous conclusion, where we reveal the unlikely antagonist. Competition and a sense of community are proven motivators for our target audience.

Beyond an entertaining ad, our agile production approach provided Rovio with multiple variations to test. This included different character reactions, different narrative progression, and different gameplay. The ad is optimized for multiple platforms and for iterative testing, allowing Rovio to sustain profitable ad spend. By shooting the commercial in 4K, Rovio can also capture still photos from the digital footage for social posts and single-image or carousel ads.

Rovio’s Live-Action Commercial by Consumer Acquisition


Consumer Acquisition has partnered with Rovio since 2019 to generate original story-driven ads for Angry Birds Dream Blast, Small Town Murders, and Sugar Blast. Today, we’re providing thumb-stopping creative for their RPG, Darkfire Heroes.  

Marko Pohjosmaki, Producer of Rovio Entertainment Corp, said, “It was great to work with Consumer Acquisition and their new talented live action & CGI team. The production pipeline was handled with care and respect by CA – from the early steps of pre-production to the final delivery. These guys knew our product so well beforehand that approval rounds were even smoother than expected. Production of Angry Birds “No!” commercial excelled and I can recommend them for similar use cases with pleasure.”

How We Can Help

Click to check out our other creative examples.

Consumer Acquisition can help produce a steady stream of fresh creative ideas and fresh assets. This allows you to maintain profitability from your mobile app advertising. Through our Creative Studio, we provide better, cheaper, faster asset production through our agile shoots and creative testing.

Founded in 2013, ConsumerAcquisition.com is a technology-enabled marketing services company that has managed over $3 billion in creative and social ad spend for the world’s largest mobile apps and web-based performance advertisers. We provide a creative studio and user acquisition services for Facebook, Google, TikTok, Snap, and Apple Search social advertisers. Contact Sales@ConsumerAcquisition.com to work with our elite Hollywood storytelling creative team. They will provide you with breakthrough creative ideas and gameplay capture assets to power your mobile app advertising.

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