It is a mobile world. With more apps and app discovery channels than ever before, the opportunities for advertisers are simply proliferating. The trouble is, your competitors know this, too. They are advertising like a house afire, further distracting your already distracted audience. So how do you stand out? Having a great brand matters, of course. And the type of ads you run can make a significant difference. Video app ads have risen to the fore of creative strategy for many high-performing app advertisers. This followed numerous studies that have shown video app ads to be particularly effective. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their versatile and dynamic nature.
We have seen hundreds of clients get great results with video app ads, even if they are only adding motion to static images. Glu’s interior design gaming platform, Design Home, increased their return on ad spend by 70% with new video concepts and variations from our Creative Studio.
Not every video ad you make is going to lift ROAS by 70%, of course. We rigorously test creative. Usually, it takes about twenty tested ad concepts to find one ad that’s good enough to beat the control.
These seven best practices can help get you there:
1. Emphasize the user’s experience over your app’s description.
Video ads for apps and traditional TV-like ads are different animals. We interviewed Miao Xing, a Google product manager who oversees the company’s app ads creative solutions. She tells us “app users don’t need to be set up with sweeping establishing shots or touching montages.” While TV ads hinge on emotional appeal, she says, “video app ads should get to the app experience as quickly as possible.”
Storytelling and buildup are less important in-app ads, except for highly complex or sensitive products, such as finance or healthcare apps.
Try tightly-framed shots that help viewers focus on features they can use in-app. Streamline storylines and zero in on your app’s capabilities and benefits. Given how short app ads are, the best way to do this is the old “show versus tell” approach. Showing the app’s capabilities and benefits often work better than telling viewers what they’ll get.
2. “Be brief, be brilliant, be gone”
Brevity is the soul of wit – and engagement and action. This is especially true for video app ads. So keep your ads between 15 to 30 seconds, and consider testing even shorter lengths.
Why so short? Because mobile users have short attention spans.
We’ve found that ads are the most effective if they can grab viewers’ attention within the first 2-3 seconds. One way to make that very brief window work is to introduce a few quick cuts early to deliver a “moving” sense of the app experience.
3. Don’t forget audio.
Want to add a whole new level of depth and meaning to your video ads? Then crank up the audio. It’s an easy way to create another connection with users.
Audio captures attention, but it also gives you another tool to help you compress a lot of meaning, action, and fascination into the fleeting seconds your ads will run. We particularly like adding an audio punch to enhance branding and calls to action.
4. Brand early; brand often.
We’ve had success with using branding as part of apps UI (in shots), on the sides (in vertical ads), and through audio cues. Or try a combination of all three. If your brand has strong characters, use them in your ads, too.
You can get dramatically better results if you upload videos with multiple aspect ratios. Is this more work? Yes – and it’s worth it.
At a minimum, create versions of your videos in landscape (16:9), portrait (2:3), and square (1:1). Also, vary video lengths to maximize ad reach across Google channels. We like to have at least one version that is 10 seconds long, another 15 seconds long, and yet another version that’s 30 seconds long. Then let the algorithm figure out where and to whom to show the different ads.
6. Test. Test again. And then test your video app ads more.
We’ve tested tens of thousands of video app ads. As mentioned earlier, only about one in twenty will perform well enough to beat an account’s current control. True winning, game-changing ads take work.
To accelerate this process of testing and to minimize the costs of it, we’ve developed a creative testing methodology we call Quantitative Creative Testing. Quantitative Creative Testing starts with analyzing your competitors’ video ads so you can see what’s working for them. It will also spark your own ideas for new creative concepts.
Those new concepts then get tested as efficiently as possible in order to find big wins. Then we test dozens of variations on the most successful new concepts to fine-tune the ads for optimal performance.
Once we’ve found the unicorn ad, we’ll very carefully roll it out to specific audiences in a way that maximizes reach and lifespan. Then we start the creative development process all over again. Our brand new ad won’t perform well forever.
7. Keep your video app ads fresh.
Last but not least – ad fatigue happens. And the larger an audience your ads reach, the faster it will happen.
You have to regularly develop and test new creative to stay ahead. Even smaller advertisers need to refresh their videos every 2-3 months. Large advertisers often need refreshed creative every other week or more.
To minimize fluctuations in performance, gradually rotate low-performers out in favor of new content. Don’t just cut the old ads and launch new ones all at once.
How Consumer Acquisition Can Help Your Video App Ads
Not sure exactly how to apply these video app ad best practices to your campaigns? Don’t have enough time to make your successful ads into three different aspect ratios, much less three different lengths (3 x 3 = 9!). Don’t know how you’re going to tease more creative out of your already exhausted creative team?
We can help. Consumer Acquisition is a Google App Preferred Creative Partner. We develop best-in-class videos and creative assets for app campaigns, as well as for lead gen and user acquisition programs. See what we can do for you.