Three Creative Strategies to Boost ROAS in User Acquisition Campaigns…

AI and machine learning have radically simplified the optimization algorithms of Facebook and Google. As such, creative has become the ultimate driver of user acquisition ad campaign performance.

In order to run successful campaigns on these platforms, advertisers need to produce a high level of winning creative that can scale to serve a multitude of audiences. Use our top creative strategies, including rapid creative production, A/B creative testing, and audience expansion to gain a competitive advantage and boost ROAS when running user acquisition (UA) advertising campaigns on Facebook and Google.


Creative Strategies

1. Rapid Creative Production

UA advertisers should always be developing new creative that is optimized to match a user’s device, location, and experience. Whether you are developing new concepts, variations of existing concepts, or refreshing concepts, it is important to ensure you are producing and distributing winning creative in order to optimize campaign performance.

Unfortunately, 95% of all tested creative fails to become winning creative. And, by failing, we mean creative does not outperform the best ad in your portfolio. By that count, your chances of launching a successful video are about 1 out of 20.

So, how do you deal with the significant challenge of video ad creation? By designing prototype ads and employing the use of new concepts, variations, and refreshes:

Prototype Ads

In essence, prototype ads are concept ads. When prototyping ads, you create and test many limited versions of an ad. These ads can have slight variations in copy, text, colors, characters, or other visual elements. This practice saves you both time and money by allowing your team to make data-driven decisions while still largely adhering to brand-driven guidelines.

A best practice when prototyping ads is to aim for at least 60% brand compliance. But, don’t sweat the small stuff. You may have errors with font and color, but that’s okay. The goal of this exercise is to test imperfect ads to find the winners.

Once you create your prototype ads, test them, find your winning creative, make your winners brand-compliant, and run with them. Simply shut down the losing prototype ads, and start creating new ones.

New Concepts, Variations, and Concept Refreshes

Concepts, variations, and concept refreshes are three different routes advertisers can take when developing creative at high speed.

New Concepts

A new concept is a big-picture idea you’ve never tested or created before. These ads are high risk, high return, and take a lot of brainstorming and refining. However, this work can pay off in a big way, since concepts are often the source of breakout ads.

A tip for developing ideas for new concepts is to start by looking at competitors’ ads. What works for your competitors may also work for you.


Variations are small changes made to an existing ad concept. These little tweaks allow you to test individual elements in your creative. Creating multiple variations of an ad means you will have a higher chance of developing a successful ad. With each variation, you should change only one thing about the existing ad.

For example, you can change the headline, footer, color, or add or remove emojis from your advertisement. If you make multiple changes, you will not be able to determine which change drove ad success.

Once you’ve developed your ad variation, use A/B testing to find the winning combination of ad elements.

Concept Refresh

Concept refreshes keep your winning concepts alive. Refreshes require you to make one large variation to an existing concept. With a refresh, you change the main content of your ad but keep your winning header and footer.

Once you have created new content, you can move on to creative testing. Testing will allow you to separate your winning content from your losing content, and give you a higher chance of ad success.


2. Rigorous Creative Strategies in Testing

Creative testing helps you develop superior creative by breaking down the aspects of an ad and determining winning elements. For example, a red headline may outperform a blue headline, and a cat character may outperform a mouse character. Whatever the winning element may be, creative testing can help you figure it out. From there, you can adjoin tested winning elements to create highly optimized creative strategies with higher ROAS.

A best practice for creative testing is to test 80% variations and 20% new concepts. The success rate of variations is higher, the cost of converting ad spend is lower, and running them is overall more sustainable.

Below we have outlined the phases of creative testing that you should follow to determine your best creative:

Competitive Analysis

Get inspired by your competitors. Identify your competitor’s best ads by going to the Info & Ads Tab on their Facebook page or using Facebook’s ad library. You can also use 3rd party ad spying tools to help you do this. Once you’ve identified your competitor’s best ads, you will have a large supply of tested concepts to work from that will help reduce your ads’ failure rates.

Simple Variation Testing

Simple testing can increase return on ad spend (ROAS) immensely. This process involves testing text headers, aspect ratio, and video length. Some elements you can test for better ad performance:

  • Text Headers
    • Placement
    • Length
    • Color
    • Font
  • Aspect Ratios
    • Horizontal
    • Square
    • Vertical/Story
  • Video Length
    • 6 seconds
    • 10 seconds
    • 15 seconds  
creative strategies
From here:

Advanced Variation Testing

Like simple testing, advanced variation testing can further increase ROAS. With advanced testing, you are testing the success of more developed ad features. Try testing for:

  • Start and End Cards
    • CTAs
    • Colors
  • Color Usage
    • Primary
    • Secondary
  • Text in Image/Video (non-header)
  • Backgrounds
    • Simplicity
    • Color
  • Layout
    • Split screen
    • Grid
    • Horizontal
    • Vertical
  • Image Type
    • Stock
    • User-Generated
  • Logo Placement
    • Top
    • Bottom
    • Left
    • Right
    • Off-center

creative strategies

Benefits & Demo in Motion

If you have limited assets, you can easily leverage still images to create videos. To do this, try Facebook’s Create to Convert feature and employ Benefits in Motion, to animate your benefits, and Demo in Motion, to demonstrate an app, website, product or feature. These features allow you to tell your story effectively.

Keep in mind you should get your point across in 6 words or less. Also, remember to front-load the video so that your audience understands your message in the first 6 seconds. These best practices and Facebook features will help you create a successful video with limited assets.

New Concept Ideation

In order to run a successful ad campaign, you must always be generating new concepts. This way, your audience doesn’t experience creative fatigue and your ads stay fresh. Follow these best practices for help with creating new concepts:

  • Review competitor’s ads to see what’s working for them – this may work for you, too.
  • Focus on emotions.
  • Use storytelling with app characters.
  • Read AppStore reviews to better understand your fan’s favorite features – and exploit them in your ads.

3. Audience Expansion to Scale Ads

Once you have tested and selected winning creative to run on Facebook, it’s time to launch your ad. However, you must also work to scale your ads in order to improve and extend campaign results. This can be done by expanding the target audience.

During this process, remember to avoid making significant edits while the learning phase is running, as this will create extreme performance vulnerability. Significant edits include pausing and adjusting budgets, bids, creative, and audience targeting.

In order to effectively scale spend without significant edits, we recommend the following audience selection best practices:  

Create High-Volume Lookalike Audiences

Using both Facebook data and first-party data, create lookalike audiences that resemble your best customers. Lookalike audiences target new users that act like your best existing users.

Build Audiences in Bulk

Create custom audiences from users who spent early in the customer journey. This way, you are creating an audience you know has a high chance of purchasing your offer.

Clone Ad Sets

If you have an ad that is performing particularly well, clone that ad set and adjust only the budget. For example, if you start with an ad set with a $100 budget and see it performing really well, you can clone that ad set and increase the budget. This way, you are maximizing ad spend without triggering a significant edit event.

In addition to these practices, you can use the workflow optimization feature, found in our AdRules tool, to spin out thousands of audiences with just a few clicks.


Final Thoughts about Creative Strategies

The role of the UA manager will shift over the next few years. Less quantitative analysis and more creative analysis will be necessary for success. By employing the best practices listed above, you can develop and test for winning creative, and successfully target new and existing users on Facebook and Google to increase UA campaign performance and ROAS.

For more information on creative strategies to boost ROAS in your user acquisition campaigns, see Consumer Acquisition’s panel discussion from Mobile Growth Summit 2019: 


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