April 2022 Mobile App UA and Creative Roundup

April 2022 Mobile App UA and Creative Roundup

Drama drives profitable UA. Our April 2022, Mobile App UA and Creative Roundup shares insights into how dramatic storytelling works across app genres to drive installs. Just like Lily’s Garden or Merge Mansions, story-based episodic ads are increasingly popular for app marketers. Similarly, see how cinematic ad creative attracts paying players at record rates for mobile RPG Genshin Impact. And make the most of your best video assets with our cheat sheet infographic on ad specs that work across TikTok, Snapchat, and Reels.

As a follow-up to last month’s UGC white paper, I’d like to invite you to our 4/28 Webinar: Increase Ad Engagement with Influencers and UGC for TikTok, Snapchat, and Reels. Discover how to efficiently incorporate micro-influencers and user-generated content into your multi-channel app marketing.

This month we celebrated our 9-year anniversary as a company and are thrilled to enter our tenth year with the support of Brainlabs. Want to discuss our full suite of mobile app marketing services? Let’s talk!

 

See Our Live Action and CG Creative Work 

UA and Creative Trends in April 2022

 

Video Ad Specs

[Infographic] TikTok + Reels + Snapchat: Video Ad Specs That Work Across Channels

From file types to creative filters, find out which ad specs ensure proper optimization and improve video ad results across media channels.

 

episodic ads

How to Make the Best Episodic Ads for Your Mobile Game

Every game genre can drive viral installs with episodic ads and deliver the promise of “to be continued…” Discover the pitfalls and pointers from our team of Hollywood storytellers and animators.

 

Genshin Impact Cinematic AdsHow Genshin Impact Attracts US Spenders With Cinematic Ads

Mobile RPG Genshin Impact attracts high-value spenders by capitalizing on key consumer drives with high-quality animated cutscenes and cinematics.

 

ugc advertising in 2022 infographic banner

[Infographic] Influencer & UGC Advertising in 2022

See how influencer and UGC ads increase conversions, get insight into the growing UGC Market, and discover UGC advertising trends.

 

tiktok ugc ads creative guide[Whitepaper] TikTok UGC Ads: 2022 Creative Guide

UGC on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram is driving profitable UA across all app categories and presents a massive opportunity for marketers.

 

Google Paid Search Best Practices

Paid Search Best Practices: Responsive Search Ads

As advertising ecosystems increase Paid Search automation, Responsive Search Ads are a critical capability to drive higher performance.

 

Infographic: Video Ad Specs That Work on TikTok, Reels & Snapchat

video ad specs across channels april 2022

Download our newest infographic for ad specs and creative recommendations that will work across TikTok, Reels, and Snapchat. 

TikTok, Snapchat, and Reels are increasingly popular channels for contextual video ads, particularly for mobile games. But testing new channels and mastering their respective formats can be daunting, especially for a UA team with limited creative resources. Check out the infographic to maximize your efficiency with video assets that work across channels without extra revisions.

 

Upcoming Webinar in April 2022

April 2022 Webinar

Register for our 4/28 Webinar: Increase Ad Engagement with Influencers and UGC

Discover how to efficiently incorporate influencers and UGC into multi-channel app marketing and drive mobile ad engagement across all app categories.

Join this webinar to learn about:

  • Common mistakes in influencer and UGC ad creation
  • Influencer and UGC ad effectiveness
  • Leveraging video assets across TikTok, Snapchat, and Reels
  • Influencer advertising creative trends
  • Motivational triggers for UGC ads
  • The growing influencer market

From micro-influencers and reaction videos to captions and meta-commentary, UGC ads across social networks— and on TikTok in particular— are a critical part of any successful growth marketing strategy. Bring your questions!

Join Our Team!

We are hiring across all departments for global, remote positions! Since our founding, we have been fully remote and thrived in this model for nine years! We have proven how working remotely has immense advantages for both employees and employers alike. Come work with us as we enter our 10th year with the support of Brainlabs!

9 years anniversary April 2022

See all of our Global-Remote openings

  • User Acquisition, Senior Manager
  • Group Account Director, Client Services
  • Junior Creative Director
  • Engineering Product Manager
  • Sales and Marketing Manager, Corporate

 

Consumer Acquisition in the News

 

Check Out Our Creative Reels!

Reels April 2022

More Creative Trends

Helpful Content

For more information on the UA trends we will be watching in 2022, please contact sales@consumeracquisition.com.

TikTok + Reels + Snapchat: Video Ad Specs That Work Across Channels [Infographic]

As mobile app marketers diversify their media buying, UA budgets are splitting out across channels. TikTok, Snapchat, and Reels, on both Facebook and Instagram, are increasingly popular for contextual video ads, particularly for mobile games. However, testing new channels and mastering their respective formats can be daunting, especially for a UA team with limited creative resources. In this infographic, we’ve summarized video ad specs and recommendations across channels so you can get the most traction out of your best video assets.

We create and test 100K videos and images each year for clients so we know it takes 20-30 new concepts to find your next winning creative. Resizing, localizing, and scaling across channels before you have a winner simply multiplies your failure rate. However, if you want to try a new channel or test across channels, you can maximize your efficiency by making video assets that work on TikTok, Snapchat, and Reels without extra revisions. Here are the video ad specs that will work across these channels.

 

 

Video Ad Specs That Work Across Channels

TikTok + Reels + Snapchat

Video Ad Specs Across Channels
Sources:
TikTok Auction In-Feed Ads | TikTok For Business
Facebook Video Ad Specs for Facebook Reels | Facebook Ads Guide
Facebook Video Ad Specs for Instagram Reels | Facebook Ads Guide
Snapchat Ad Specs and Dimensions | Snapchat for Business

 

 

Want better results from video ads for TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or Snap?

Our industry expertise comes from managing over $3.5 billion in creative and paid social spend for the world’s largest mobile apps and performance advertisers, including Glu, Roblox, Wooga, Zynga, and Skillz. Our proprietary full-stack marketing platform AdRules provides real-time business intelligence and creative research from 3.5 million video ads across social channels.

As the mobile advertising ecosystem has evolved, we have focused on being a reliable source of mobile app industry insights and trends. Our strategic analyses of IDFA loss and media buying automation, along with tactical guidance for user acquisition and creative teams, has helped advertisers remain profitable during an unprecedented era of change. Our industry expertise has earned coverage from CNBC, Forbes, SeekingAlpha, Business Insider, VentureBeat, TechCrunch, Mobile Marketing Magazine, and many more.

Working with a knowledgeable marketing partner that can provide extensive quantitative creative testing ensures you get the best performance from your UGC ads. Email us at sales@consumeracquisition.com to discuss your user acquisition goals.

DOWNLOAD VIdeo Ad Specs Infographic NOW

How to Make the Best Episodic Ads for Your Mobile Game

In today’s post, we explain how to make the best episodic ads for your mobile game. If you are considering a series of narrative ads to drive new players and profit, read on to hear about the following pitfalls and pointers from our team of Hollywood storytellers, animators, editors, and producers:

  • Appeal to specific gaming motivations
  • Build out your main characters
  • Use a three-act structure
  • Don’t skip the storyboard
  • Establish a memorable visual style
  • Leverage an agile production process for live action

 

How to Make the Best Episodic Ads for your Mobile Game

Virality. Profit. Suspense. Scandal. Mobile games Lily’s Garden and Merge Mansion reached international meme status through provocative episodic ads for their match-3 and merge games, respectively. More often associated with AAA console games, sophisticated narrative-based commercials are increasingly popular for mobile game user acquisition. As app marketers diversify their portfolios to YouTube pre-rolls and connected TVs, high-quality video is critical. (Interestingly, this trend stands in stark contrast to the massive popularity of ads with scrappier user-generated content, which we’ve reported on as well.) Just as cinematic mobile game trailers gain momentum and attract spenders, ads that tell a story over several “episodes” are proving to be successful for app marketers. Every game genre can drive viral installs with episodic ads and the promise of “to be continued…”

If you’re considering a series of narrative ads to drive new players and profit, read on for pitfalls and pointers from our team of Hollywood storytellers, animators, editors, and producers.

 

Appeal to Specific Gaming Motivations

To attract high-quality top-of-funnel users, persona-driven creative is critical. Ad creative tailored to users’ motivations, behaviors, interests, and preferences ensure media buyers can understand what is working and how to do more of it. This insight is crucial in light of aggressive privacy regulations.

As part of our creative process using our Ad Concept Model, we identify different user motivations within an app category to target users based on their emotional drivers. Below are typical user motivations for playing games. It’s easy to stereotype how certain game genres map to user motivations. But critical to the success of Lily’s Garden and Merge Mansion ads was the excitement of a narrative-driven scandal inside of these otherwise calm and casual mobile games. Irrespective of game genre, test ad creative targeting different motivations and you might be surprised with what actually works.

ad concept model standard gaming motivation for episodic ads

Build Out Your Main Character 

After analyzing target users and their motivations to play your game, consider what type of character will appeal to those motivations. A relatable main character is foundational for a viewer to connect with your content. Remember that relatable doesn’t have to mean likable. The main driver of your story could be a protagonist, antagonist, or a morally ambiguous mysterious other. Even if your game doesn’t have one main character or even a narrative, creating one for this type of ad is a proven tactic. The main character should be recognizable and idiosyncratic enough to be memorable throughout a series of ads. And they must be interesting enough to lead a three-act drama.

 

Three-Act Structure of Episodic Ads

Before attempting a thirty-episode arc, work the tried-and-true three-act structure: introduce the conflict, build to the climax, then offer a resolution. The main character should embody the user motivation you’re trying to trigger and the story will bring the audience along. With typical episodic ads running from 10 to 30 seconds, the full story arc needs to be tight and punchy and each individual episode needs a clear focus.

 

Don’t Skip the Storyboard

You’ve thought about what you want to happen, who it’s happening with, and now it’s time to visualize it. A storyboard ensures the whole production team understands the expectations and acts as a tool for collaboration. It also reveals inconsistencies or missed opportunities, and ultimately helps keep everyone focused on the same goal. Our storyboard for Wooga’s Switchcraft is below and you can read the full case study here.

wooga switchcraft episodic ads
©Wooga Switchcraft

 

 

Establish A Memorable Visual Style

A critical part of making episodic ads work is that each ad on its own is instantly recognizable as part of the larger narrative arc. Art-heavy games like RPGs can use their best in-game assets for their paid social advertising. This includes cutscenes animated in 2D and 3D, resting-state 2D character sprites, and open-world third-person exploration. Other examples include game footage battles and rigged character illustrations. But what if your game has no 3D assets or lacks truly cinematic cutscenes? Then you may need a little help to tell the story.

Casual games studio, Wooga, was seeking compelling ad creative for the soft launch of their first story-driven puzzle match-3 game, Switchcraft. They were striving for market differentiation among competitors such as Gardenscapes, Lily’s Garden, and Small Town Murders. Wooga wanted to highlight their dramatic relationship-driven storyline, diverse characters, and magical gameplay. In-game assets had a unique painterly art style. But Wooga wanted to bring the story to life with 3D cinematics that combined realism and comic-book aesthetics.

Through our creative partnership with Wooga, Consumer Acquisition developed a 30-second CGI game trailer, 50 original concepts, and over 150 videos. We created entirely original 3D computer animation along with motion graphics. We also created 2D animation and FX, text animations, lighting effects, character rigging, illustrations, and character design.

 

Agile Production Process for Live Action

An agile production approach to live action will ensure UA and creative teams have multiple variations of an ad to test, while efficiently capturing hundreds of video and photo assets during the shoot. Be sure to include different character reactions, different narrative progression, and different gameplay or app features. Shoot in 4K and you can capture still photos from the digital footage for social posts and single-image or carousel ads. An agile shoot also means post-production resizes and optimizations across channels will be easier.

 

How We Can Help

episodic ads testimonials

Our Creative Studio provides clients with bespoke ad creative driven by Hollywood storytelling and quantitative analysis. Mobile app marketers and web-based performance advertisers come to us for end-to-end, outcome-oriented creative, integrated user acquisition, and creative optimization. Through our proprietary technology AdRules, we make creative and media buying decisions based on our clients’ real-time financial performance.

Our creative expertise comes from managing $150m in monthly ad spend across Facebook, Google, TikTok, Snap, and Apple Search Ads. Creating and testing 100K videos and images each year for clients provides us unparalleled insights into the evolving mobile advertising ecosystem. From our strategic analyses of IDFA loss and media buying automation to tactical guidance for A/B testing, we ensure our clients can adapt and thrive. Contact us at sales@consumeracquisition.com to work with our elite creative team.

How Genshin Impact Attracts US Spenders with Cinematic Ads

Mobile RPG Genshin Impact attracts U.S. spenders through Instagram at record rates. Read our newest report on Genshin’s ad creative used to acquire these high-value players. Get expert analysis on:

  • The Explosive Growth of Genshin Impact
  • Genshin’s Monetization Structure and Gameplay Mechanics
  • Growing the Playerbase through Cinematic Ads on Instagram
  • Analyzing Genshin’s UA Ad Creative
  • How to Leverage Assets Without Cinematics

 

How Genshin Impact Attracts US Spenders With Cinematic Ads

Mobile RPG and Open World UA Creative Trends

In an app industry shakeup, U.S. consumer spending in mobile action games rose 69% in 2021 largely driven by one open-world RPG: Genshin Impact. This report analyzes how Genshin Impact attracts high-value users in the United States and how RPG games can leverage that proven success in their own user acquisition.

Genshin Impact

Launched in September 2020, Genshin Impact quickly became a major contender in the mobile game market. The innovative gameplay combines an alluring open world with long-term RPG progression mechanics, proving to be a very successful formula. As of January 2022, Genshin Impact had earned over $3 billion in revenue from mobile players, while enjoying very high user retention rates by gradually releasing new characters and areas to explore.

Genshin Impact US Mobile Games
Source: SensorTower

 

 
Genshin’s main genre competitors in the US are Raid: Shadow Legends and RPGs built on strong IPs such as Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Dragon Ball. Genshin remains the most profitable anime-based game by far, as its main competitors are mostly Western releases. By revenue, Genshin is bested only by Western app giants PUBG and Honor of Kings, reaching a comfortable third place in top-grossing App Store games in February 2022.

The game has had an important influence on the mobile action genre and is largely responsible for the massive boost in mobile action game revenue in 2021, reaching $966.8 million. Player spending in the open-world adventure subgenre increased by 3.5x last year, a category in which Genshin enjoys little to no competition whatsoever.

Genshin Impact Gameplay
Source: Genshin Impact gameplay

 

 
Genshin Impact is developed by miHoYo, a Chinese company that incorporated typical elements from the Japanese video game industry into the game. However, Genshin has a key advantage over most games in the Japanese market: the substantial revenue generated overseas. In 2021, Genshin’s US revenue was a whopping $400 million, nearly double its closest competitor in the US market. The New York Times said Genshin’s “success points to a shifting balance of power in the $200 billion-a-year global video game industry, which has long been dominated by Japan and the United States.”

 

Monetization Structure

Savvy in current mobile game trends, miHoYo takes a simplified approach to monetize its free-to-play game. The game caters to both small and large spenders alike, offering few but enticing options that cleverly blend with the game’s progression system. Genshin Impact’s core monetization mechanic is through the Japanese-inspired gacha, a random lottery where players spend virtual currency for a small chance at getting desired characters, weapons, and gear. The term derives from gachapon, the real-world vending machines that tempt buyers with limited-edition collectible toys in plastic capsules. Gacha monetization is growing in popularity among US mobile games, including those with known IP.

Top 10 Gacha Games
Source: Sensor Tower

 

 
Genshin’s currency can be purchased directly in bulk, but small spenders can take advantage of two lower-cost deals as well:

  • The monthly package lets players earn small amounts of currency every day they play. Players forfeit the reward for any day they don’t log in which drives retention and DAU.
  • The season pass offers substantial in-game resources to facilitate progression, together with a useful amount of premium currency.

Along with gachas, season passes are an increasingly popular monetization mechanic among free-to-play mobile games with half of the top-grossing titles currently implementing a season pass system.

Top grossing titles with Season Pass
Source: SensorTower

 

 
Genshin employs the tried-and-true mechanics of the stamina-based progression and the cycling of time-limited content, typical of free-to-play mobile games. With the stamina system in place, players can play the game in short bursts every day, unless they choose to pay. This leads to both higher user retention and monetization since meaningful progress can only be seen after having played for an extended period of time.

Floor 9 Chamber 3
Source: Genshin Impact gameplay

 

 

Growing the Playerbase through Cinematic Ads

Genshin Impact is an award-winning mobile game that could easily pass as a AAA release. Irrespective of later-game monetization, the rich world-building and anime aesthetics on their own are striking enough to attract new players. In fact, Genshin has substantially increased its player base month-over-month since its release, reaching nearly 60 million monthly active users by March 2022. The quality of the initial open-world experience, heavily inspired by Nintendo’s beloved 2017 release “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” has allowed the game to reach communities that may not typically engage in mobile gaming.

Genshin Impactin-game scene
Source: Genshin Impact in-game scene

 

 
For years, anime-style mobile RPGs have consistently included the highest quality animated cutscenes and cinematics, often resulting in longer load times than typical mobile games. However, as devices, networks, and mobility capabilities evolve (see Nintendo Switch), visually arresting storytelling on mobile will attract more and more players. A clear benefit of in-game cutscenes and cinematics is the ability to use those high-quality assets for user acquisition. And Genshin Impact does just that.

 

Analyzing Genshin Impact’s UA Ad Creative

Based on MobileAction data, Genshin Impact is advertising almost entirely on Instagram and Facebook. Facebook Ad Library and MobileAction show that the ads leverage the most popular creative trends for RPGs, open world, and gacha games. Some of these ad creative trends include:

  • Cinematic Trailer: Dramatic, high-quality story showcasing characters and action, often 3D animation
  • Gameplay: Game overview showcasing user experience, core objectives, and game features or mechanics
  • Characters: Highlighting game character personalities, powers, origins, and vignettes
  • Player Focused: Player types, player interviews, and PVP gameplay
  • Testimonial: Leveraging player experiences, influencer reviews, and user-generated content
  • Level Progression: Footage of mastering levels, increasing stats, or unlocking the content
  • Competitive: Comparing the game against other similar games or gameplay experiences

Genshin Impact uses all of its best in-game assets for its paid social advertising: cutscenes animated in 2D and 3D, resting-state 2D character sprites, open-world third-person exploration, game footage battles, and rigged character illustrations. Based on MobileAction, two of their most popular styles of ads are cinematic trailers and gameplay, with a strong focus on character vignettes.

Many of the video ads incorporate several types of assets and art styles at once. The still shots below show several art styles that were utilized in one high-performing Genshin Impact cinematic trailer on Instagram. This ad focused on one character’s personality, style, and capabilities in battle.

Genshin Impact Yae Miko
Source: MobileAction

 

 

Ad Concept Model

As part of our creative process using our Ad Concept Model, we identify different user motivations within an app category to target users based on their emotional drivers. Below are typical user motivations for games.

 

ad concept model standard gaming motivation

As evident even in the still shots from video ads, Genshin Impact’s creative appeals to users driven by many of these motivations.

For players seeking escape, open-world ads show an immersive fantasy land to explore; character-driven ad creative offers rich lore and story progression to live the fantasy firsthand.

Genshin Impact
Source: MobileAction

 

 
Genshin’s gameplay ads appeal to players seeking excitement by showcasing fast-paced battle action and thrilling elemental reactions. For the success-seeker, footage of acquiring and leveling powerful characters, completing quests, and beating bosses are very attractive. Players wanting to exercise their expertise will be drawn to challenging content and mastering game mechanics strategically.

Genshin Impact
Source: MobileAction

 

 

No cutscenes? No problem. 

One of the most impactful ad creative trends gaining momentum is the high-fidelity cinematic trailer. More often associated with AAA console games, mobile games are employing increasingly sophisticated commercials for user acquisition. As mobile app marketers diversify their portfolios to YouTube pre-rolls and connected TVs, high-quality video is critical. (Interestingly, this trend stands in stark contrast to the massive popularity of ads with user-generated content, which we’ve reported on as well.)

An anime-style RPG like Genshin Impact naturally lends itself to visually arresting, dramatic cinematic trailers. And, it already has plenty of in-game assets to use. But what if your game has no 3D assets or lacks truly cinematic cutscenes? Then you may need a little help.

 

2D Assets Get a 3D Makeover

Casual games studio Wooga was seeking compelling ad creative for the soft launch of their first story-driven puzzle match-3 game, Switchcraft. Striving for market differentiation among competitors such as Gardenscapes, Lily’s Garden, and Small Town Murders, Wooga wanted to highlight their dramatic relationship-driven storyline, diverse characters, and magical gameplay. In-game assets had a unique painterly art style but Wooga wanted to bring the story to life with 3D cinematics that combined realism and comic-book aesthetics.

wooga switchcraft
Wooga Switchcraft©

 

 
Through our creative partnership with Wooga, Consumer Acquisition developed a 30-second CGI game trailer, 50 original concepts, and over 150 videos. We created entirely original 3D computer animation along with motion graphics, 2D animation and FX, text animations, lighting effects, character rigging, illustrations, and character design. View the official Switchcraft trailer below.

Nathalie Wood, Marketing Manager at Wooga praised the results:

“Consumer Acquisition was able to provide us with fresh, breakthrough ad creative that performed to meet different goals, from installs at scale to targeting high-value players. We were truly impressed by how Consumer Acquisition took our 2D assets and brought them to life. The creative process was collaborative and Consumer Acquisition tested all types of concepts and art styles to ensure we found what worked best. For our official game trailer, Consumer Acquisition created compelling 3D assets from scratch under a very tight deadline and we are thrilled with how it turned out. Consumer Acquisition’s commitment to creative research and rigorous creative testing was evident in the excellent results.”

See the full Wooga Switchcraft case study here.

Wooga Switchcraft
Wooga Switchcraft©
Wooga Switchcraft
Wooga Switchcraft©

 

 

Want better results From UA?

Email us at sales@consumeracquisition.com.

 

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