The Definitive Guide to Unity & Unreal Gameplay Capture

Most game developers focus solely on adding new updates, features and retention. Unfortunately, this leaves little time to generate enough creative assets like gameplay capture to stay ahead of creative fatigue and maintain financial performance. The lack of fresh assets has been detrimental to the successful mobile app A/B creative testing.

Additionally, developing winning creative concepts is difficult to do. 85% to 95% of new Facebook ads fail to beat the top-performing ad in any portfolio of creative assets. The ones that do become winning creatives, suffer creative fatigue and die after only 10 weeks.

Why This Matters

Why does creative matter? Apple killed the IDFA, and Facebook and Google are fully automating media buying. Creative is the only meaningful lever UA teams have to drive sustained net profit. To survive and thrive in a post-IDFA / automated world, fresh creative concepts are needed to maintain ROAS. Therefore, product and marketing teams need an asset creation pipeline﹘especially if you want to effectively incorporate gameplay capture into your strategy.

What is Gameplay Capture?

Gameplay capture provides authentic footage of your game. The best marketer and writer can’t capture the excitement of your game in action. A picture, after all, is worth 1,000 words. The Verge claims there are two main factors behind why a viewer would watch gameplay capture:

  • The ability to observe professional-grade skill.
  • Buying advice/recommendation.

However, there’s one thing you need to be aware of. Gameplay capture provides less of an opportunity for what Andrew Fox, Senior Game Capture Director at Ayzenberg, refers to as “hiding of crimes”. “What you see is what you get with gameplay capture footage, so you can’t include elements that make you look better﹘or worse﹘than you are,” Fox says. “But, don’t assume producing [gameplay capture] is easy. Make sure you give yourself ample time to produce them. They’re essentially live-action shoots. Each game is its own art form. For one game, you’re creating oil paintings, and when you move on to a new game, you’re making sculptures.”

So, how do you best incorporate gameplay capture into your creative? Here are our creative recommendations.

Creative Recommendations

Make Sure There’s Lots of Action

No one wants to watch a slow-moving video devoid of any excitement. This isn’t French cinema. So, make sure you showcase the exciting gameplay. “You don’t necessarily want to do something that’s very teasery ﹘like focusing on a title card run,” Fox adds. “This doesn’t show off the game. Instead, focus on the fun aspects of the game.”

gameplay capture

For example, Body Race uses actual in-game footage to show one of the main character’s plumping up. The goal of the game is to promote body positivity. They achieve this by having runway models continually eat as they fatten up to reach the end of the runway. Characters need to avoid obstacles like weights to reach the end. The gameplay capture footage they use is of a model in a red dress eating all the food she can to reach the scale﹘or the end of the level.

Remember, game developers know the best levels, action, and other elements of the game. They need to guide the conversation for marketers. You need to involve them so you can make your gameplay capture footage as compelling as possible.

Showcase Important Characters

If you have a franchise or an IP, you need to show the main attraction﹘established characters. Your game’s characters, in a sense, become brand ambassadors. Take advantage of this!

gameplay capture

Look at Mario Kart Tour. In their gameplay capture footage, they highlight staples of the Mario universe. You see clips of Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser racing. Anyone who’s familiar with Super Mario games knows who these characters are. These four characters are as iconic as the Mario Kart series, which launched in 1992.

Highlight Important Game Tools

Also, if there are important elements to your game, showcase them. Tools are a big allure to potential users and app developers alike. For players, they provide a way to ‘level up’ their performance. For you, they can be an in-app purchase (IAP).

gameplay capture

Take, for instance, MARVEL Strike Force. Their gameplay capture features Deadpool and his two katanas, and Heimdall and his uru. These weapons are an instant draw for fans of MARVEL, so mimic this strategy for your app for critical tools.

Camera Break-Off

Fox recommends you utilize this feature if your game uses a third-person camera angle. This is when users are able to have the camera “break off” from the main character. “Viewers can see what the game world is like, and if it’s interesting to them,” Fox suggests.

gameplay capture

In Garena Free Fire- World Series, you participate in the ultimate survival shooter. Their gameplay capture footage boasts a lot of the action you’ll experience in the game. Also, it does a camera break-off that shows the environments where you’re on the remote island pitted against the 49 other characters. This displays the game’s graphics, so you can inspire potential users with how cool your game is.

Call-to-Action

Finally, don’t forget to have your splash screen at the beginning and/or ending of your footage. This should feature key details of where users can buy/download the game. Call-to-actions inspire potential users to perform what you want them to. So, if you want them to purchase your app, tell them in your splash screen.

Pocket Styler features a call-to-action﹘Play Now!﹘at the end of their gameplay capture. This is after enticing potential users with the cool gameplay and app features footage.

Capture Your Gameplay Now

Now that you have some creative recommendations to get started, you can create your own gameplay capture footage. You can do this using two different engines:

Both engines have different origins. Unity started as a Mac OS X-exclusive cross-platform game engine. Since then, however, it has gradually expanded its market to support desktop, mobile, console and virtual reality platforms. Today, it’s commonly used by iOS and Android mobile game developers. You can develop both 2D and 3D games through the engine, and its ease of use makes it a favorite among indie developers.

Unreal was developed as a first-person shooter engine, but has evolved into a 3D engine. It boasts a high degree of portability that allows it to support a wide range of desktop, mobile, console and virtual reality platforms. It’s still very popular among PC and console game developers. Like Unity, Unreal is written in C++.

Depending on which engine you use, you’ll have to take different steps.

How to Gameplay Capture in Unity 3D

Import the Video Game Plugin

This step-by-step guide is for the Unity 3D Game Kit Lite. First, you need to download either the Free Version of Video Capture or purchase the Pro Version of Video Capture. After you choose which version, you import the video game plugin. Then, you need to place Video Capture prefab in your game scene and attach it to your character. This ensures your camera will follow the character’s movements. Remember, you can adjust the prefab and camera’s position and rotation to ensure you’re happy with the capture angle.

Start the Video Record Session

Now, you play the game and start the video record session. You should use the F1 shortcut to hide your mouse. The final step﹘play the game!

Make a 360° Video

Also, you can make a 360° video to more fully showcase your game’s environment. To do this, you need to reset the Video Capture prefab. Then, you place it in the position you want to capture your video. Next, config the Capture Mode to 360, Projection Type to EQUIRECT and Resolution to 4K. If you have the Pro version, you should enable GPU encoding option to boost the performance.

Play the game, start the video record session, and use the F1 shortcut to hide your mouse. Finally, play and capture!

How to Gameplay Capture in Unity 2D

You can also create gameplay capture footage in Unity’s 2D engine. The process is very similar to what you do for 3D. Here’s a breakdown:

Import the Video Game Plugin

First, decide whether or not you’re downloading the free version of the pro version. Once you do that, you need to import the video game plugin. Once it’s installed, you need to place the Video Capture prefab and attach DontDestory.cs script if your footage involves loading a new scene. Then, you start the video record session and play the game.

How to Capture Video in Unreal Engines

Use Sequence Recorder

If you want to get gameplay capture in the Unreal engine, you need to use the sequence recorder. This can be done during level editing or once the game is finalized. Under Window in the menu bar, choose level sequence. Keep in mind, you can choose to record Actors that are spawned (such as particle effects, other characters, etc.). Also you can determine the naming convention and save location, and change other settings like the duration to record or delay before starting to record.

Main Editor Toolbar

After you’ve determined the name and if you want to delay the recording before you capture, you play the game. You begin a Play In Editor (PIE) session. Similarly to Unity, Shift + F1 gains mouse control. Then, you choose Sequence Recorder window and click the add button. Finally, click on Add a New Recording.

Add a New Recording

Next, you’ll click on the new recording. It will come up as None. You’ll need to click Actor to get gameplay capture footage. Once you do that, click the drop-down menu and choose ThirdPersonCharacter. Remember, you need to specify which character you want to film. So choose the Actor (character) to record. If you want sound, you need an attached microphone. You’ll need to adjust the audio gain levels with your recording too. Once you start the sequence, the audio will begin as well.

Start Your Recording

Now, you click on the record button. If you want to delay the recording, you can choose Record Delay. This will begin the recording four seconds after.

How We Can Help with Gameplay Capture

Consumer Acquisition can help produce a steady stream of fresh creative ideas and assets like gameplay capture. 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 that enable agile production 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 that will provide you with breakthrough creative ideas and gameplay capture assets to power your mobile app advertising.

UA Hot Tips For June 2021!

What’s working for Facebook UA? Check out our hot monthly UA tips.

Smoking Hot UA Tips, June 2021!

  • Apple killed IDFA.
  • Social advertising algorithms are rapidly evolving as we move from deterministic to probabilistic modeling.
  • To help, we’re sharing what we see working in UA – right now!
  • We’ll cover suggestions for Facebook, Google UAC, TikTok, Snap, and Apple Search Ads.

June 2021 Here’s What’s Working In Facebook UA:

  • Facebook’s App Event Optimization (AEO) is doing great.
  • Value Optimization (VO) is struggling.
  • We’re finding solid success and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) by rebuilding top VO campaigns as AEO.

Need More Scale?

Do you want to get additional scale and pockets of efficiency from your Facebook apps that run multiple languages? Try the following:

  • AAA + AEO + Single Country + Localized creatives for that country + language targeting for that country.
  • Example:  AAA+AEO Purchase targeting France. Use French text, images, and videos. Set language targeting to French. Set ample budget to exit learning phase within 1st week.
  • Identify top creatives from your AAA campaigns. Then, launch a new test campaign with CBO+AEO Purchase + France + French language + Top Interest Groups and LALs. Note: Be careful with LALs as recent performance is significantly fluctuating. Use your top 2-3 videos/images and top 1-2 copy variations. Aim to have 4-6 ads per ad set.

Why Trust Our UA Tips?

  • Founded in 2013, we are a technology-enabled marketing services company and creative studio that has managed over $3 billion in creative and social ad spend for the world’s largest mobile apps and performance advertisers.
  • We provide end-to-end creative and user acquisition services for mobile app marketers via performance-oriented creative storytelling, integrated UA, and creative optimization.
  • We provide game-changing results driven by quantitative optimization and a relentless focus on increasing your net profit driven by client-specific, creative learning agendas.
  • Need fresh assets to get ahead of creative fatigue? Check out our CA+ premium asset creation services which include: Live-Action, Video Production, Photography, Production, Full Post-Production Services, 3D-Computer Animation, Gameplay Capture (Unity & Unreal Engine), Branding, AppStore Icon & Video Design and A/B Testing, Illustration Asset Creation. Asset delivery across all major platforms: TV, OTT, DOOH, Social, Mobile Ad Networks, and more.
  • Clients, We’ve Helped Grow: Roblox, Glu Mobile, Disney, Zynga, Rovio, Jam City, SuperCell, Wooga, NBA, MLB, Ford, Sun Basket, Lion Studios, MobilityWare, and many others.

Want Better Results From UA?

Email us at Sales@ConsumerAcquisition.com

Check out our creative work:

 

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.

Better, Faster, Cheaper – Facebook Asset Production & Agile Shoots

Can you guess how much of your new creative ideas fail to outperform the best ad in your portfolio? 85% to 95% fail. This means only 5% – 15% of Facebook ads become winners, and Facebook creative fatigues and dies after 10 only weeks. These facts highlight the need for continuously new ideas and asset creation, which can be achieved through agile live-action shoots.

This is why the creative journey exists. The creative journey provides UA teams the only meaningful lever they have left to drive financial success. With the Apple IDFA dead, and Facebook and Google fully automating media buying, UA must adopt a creative is king approach, or risk becoming dinosaurs.

Become Creatively Unstuck with Breakthrough Creative

Creative ideation that generates sustained profit from Facebook mobile app advertising is very difficult. It is common for in-house creative teams to get tunnel vision. They stop thinking outside the box or taking the risks required to unlock breakthrough original creative ideas. As a result, many app advertisers copy competitor’s ads. This creates a similar look and feels across an entire genre. Most company’s creative strategies tend to only follow a two-pronged approach. First, they review the performance data from their ads to determine quantitatively what works, what fails, and why? Then, they study competitors’ ads to discover trends across their competitive set. While leveraging other company’s best ideas unlocks a higher success rate, it invariably results in all ads in a genre looking similar.

So, how can you uncover original creative ideas that leverage the best attributes of your app, speak to your target audience motivations, and are visually unique? A developed custom creative learning agenda will provide a roadmap for sustained and profitable success. A creative learning agenda uses historic performance data, competitive analysis, user personas, and creative trends to craft a structured process for creating, testing, and optimizing mobile app creative.

Creative Journey

Asset Creation Pipeline

A creative learning agenda powers successful advertising across all platforms (Facebook, Google, TikTok, etc). You leverage a structured testing process to generate fresh assets, gameplay capture, un-influencer/UGC short-form video content, and app store optimization. So how can you possibly create enough assets for all these mediums and use cases?

Agile live-action shoots﹘also referred to as mondo shoots﹘drive an asset creation pipeline. This production style can build up your asset library quickly if you’re launching new features, new levels, or rebranding / increasing advertising efforts.

What are Agile Live Action Shoots?

agile shoots

Agile live-action shoots enable better, faster, cheaper asset creation and are becoming a best practice in the advertising/pro-co industries. The traditional agency model﹘which, along with nebulous pricing﹘ is dying because it’s expensive, rigid, and built to win vanity awards vs driving net profit. In the past, you would shoot as many variations and takes of the single concept as the director deemed necessary. If your budget was $500,000, that’s a lot of time and effort spent on one vision that may or may not drive profitable advertising. And, for live-action/DOOH/OTT/TV, what if this vision doesn’t resonate with your audience? You spent all that money for a failed creative. This isn’t even incorporating production costs to extend the assets for use in other mediums, like social advertising and social media.

Agile shoots allow you to use your resources to the fullest by capturing extra assets. You do this by using multiple actors/actresses and different endings and taking advantage of the downtime to capture stills and behind-the-scenes footage. Instead of needing three shoots﹘TV, social, and photo﹘you plan for and shoot them all at once. This provides you hundreds of assets through agile production. The cost may be marginally higher, but you’ll pay less for one agile live-action shoot than you would multiple shoots for various mediums.

More importantly, with an 85% to 95% failure rate for all creative, it is statistically very rare that “one person’s vision” will result in a successful ad. The smartest plan is to assume that no one, including award-winning directors, knows what will be successful. Instead, provide a library of assets that can be mixed and recut to provide a pool of different ideas. This increases your potential for success.

How to Set Up Agile Live-Action Shoots

The basic concept is, you get all the teams you need to create assets for campaigns. You’re filming for 10-12 hours per day, so you have time to accomplish multiple things. An agile live-action shoot should include:

  • Several variations of the script
  • Multiple actors playing the same roles.
  • Production Team B
  • Social Media Team
  • Dedicated Photography Team

Start with the Script

Again, the point of agile live-action shoots is to build hundreds of assets during one shoot. You can do this through script variation. You should have your writing team create several versions of the script. For example, you’re shooting an ad for your mobile card game app. You can have one script that features three men having a virtual card night. Then, you have another version with three women doing the same, and one with three couples.

With multiple versions of a concept, you’re enabling testing and optimization. Your UA team can A/B test the variations of your asset. When you find all the winning elements, then you can create your proven concept. This is critical for TV ads, where traditionally you had little choice but to risk your media spend on a failed ad. Now, you can test on digital to ensure your TV ads will be winning creative.

Also, you can test different endings for spots. Humor is extremely subjective, so if you have a funny concept, you can film three punchlines. You can have one be the straight delivery, another version has a middle-of-the-road joke, and a final one with a joke that some may find offensive. This allows you to discover which resonates with your target audience.

Choose Your Location(s)

agile shoots

Once you write how many variations of the concept you want, you finalize your location(s). During shooting, you can film all of the versions instead of the singular commercial you would’ve in the past. But, there become some logistical issues depending on one major decision﹘on set or on location.

If you film at a soundstage, you can set up multiple sets simultaneously. This enables agile production, so you can seamlessly gather assets with different backgrounds. Keep in mind, soundstages can cost around $5,000 per day.

However, if you film on location, this can be more complicated. For instance, you want to shoot your mobile card game app concept in an apartment. This now limits other setups you can have simultaneously because you’re restricted by the apartment’s square footage. Also, this doesn’t factor in if you shoot outside and have to worry about natural lighting.

Hire Actors

Agile shoots help enable A/B testing for live-action assets. Your goal is to have as many variations as possible to test, so you can iterate on the winner. If you have a script that calls for one actor, you should consider hiring two or three.

If you’re a finance app, you want to hire a spokesperson who appears credible. This is a great opportunity to unlock invaluable insights into your target demographic. You can film two or three actors performing your script, and﹘like with the script itself﹘test to find out which performer your potential audience responds to most favorably.

Build Your Film Crew

agile shoots

You need your standard film crew you’d use for a live-action shoot. This can range between 7-50 people. This crew is the main focus, and their work has to remain the priority. All ancillary production needs must leave the film crew unperturbed.

Choose Your Production Team

Your production team can swell or reduce, depending on how many actors you use. The more actors you hire, your production team grows exponentially. You need a bigger makeup and wardrobe crew to accommodate the increased number of talent. So, if you have a limited budget, you need to consider all production costs and what your most important needs are.

Get a Social Team

Social media teams are typically very nimble, and they feature 2-3 people. This makes them easy to include during an agile live-action shoot. In-between takes, there are 10-15 minutes where the talent is either standing around or back in their trailers. Your social media team can use this time to get campaign assets while the crew is setting up the next shot.

Here are some creative recommendations:

  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Call-to-actions
  • Pre-roll
  • End cards
  • Action shots
  • Footage for gifs
  • App use to capture pictures/videos
  • Short live Q&A sessions with the actors
  • Upcoming holiday- and seasonal-themed content
  • Live polls
  • Video stories
  • Film the actors announcing the app’s features
  • Use the actors to solicit UGC content
  • Create contests and have actors announce the rules
  • Vlog guides
  • Announce upcoming events
  • Have the actors take over social media accounts
  • Film the actors participating in the latest social media trends
  • Post teaser shots/videos of the content

Remember, UGC is particularly powerful content for Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok because these platforms value authenticity and less polished content. Why not get the best of both worlds and get professionally produced creative that inspires UGC?

Add Photography

Photography is the easiest team to add to an agile live-action shoot. A photography team is usually three people who hover around the main set unobtrusively. From this add-on, you can increase your asset library by as much as 4x. It’s extremely cost-effective too since a photography team costs around $5,000.

They capture still images to build your asset library for the life of the campaign. They also can shoot behind-the-scenes footage that can be used in the future. Or, they can take pictures off to the side in-between takes or during set-up. Remember, shoot first, edit later.

If you cannot add a photography team to your shoot, you can still capture assets for different mediums. Make sure you use a 4k or above camera to shoot in. Because the resolution is so high, you can use still images of what you shoot.

How We Can Help with Agile Live-Action Shoots

Consumer Acquisition can help produce a steady stream of fresh creative ideas and assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue. 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 that enable agile production 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 that will provide you with breakthrough creative ideas and an asset creation pipeline for your mobile app advertising.

TikTok Platform Creative Strategy

Creative is a mobile app advertiser’s best opportunity for a competitive advantage in social advertising. The combination of Facebook’s and Google’s Media buying automation with Apple’s removal of IDFA makes ‘winning’ creative ﹘the five percent of Facebook videos that are successful﹘of paramount importance. Here we break down mobile app advertisers on TikTok with competitive trends & creative recommendations, so you can learn from their creative best practices. Here is our definitive TikTok creative strategy.

Check out our TikTok Reel!

Leading Mobile App Advertisers on TikTok

  • Game of Thrones: Conquest, Fit & Squeeze, Bubble Ouch, Beat.ly, Hair Challenge, Tile Master, VivaCut, Mini War, Tally, Experian, Wish: Shopping Made Fun, Instagram, Soundcloud, Amazon Shopping

TikTok: Competitive Strategy and Trends

  • tiktok creative strategyGameplay/Music Combo: Simple app or game capture combined with music. (Fit & Squeeze, Bubble Ouch, Beat.ly, Hair Challenge, Tile Master, VivaCut, Bubble Ouch)
  • Testimonial: Player reviews of the game or demonstrating app benefits. (Game of Thrones: Conquest, Mini War, Tally, Experian)
  • Testimonial/Music Combo: Lip-syncing to music with testimonial and effects. (Quadpay)
  • Influencers: Using celebrities or influencers to deliver the primary message. (Soundcloud, Amazon Shopping)
  • Game Trailer/App Overview: Overview of how to use the app. (Wish)
  • Image/Music combo: Still image with music. (Instagram)
  • UGC: User-generated content. (Instagram)

tiktok creative strategy

TikTok Demographics

According to TikTok, as of February 2021:

  • TikTok has ~80 million monthly active users in the United States.
    • 60% are female
    • 40% are male
    • 60% are between the ages of 16-24
    • 26% are between the ages 25-44
    • 80% are between the ages 16-34
  • Full age Breakdown
    • 10-19: 32.5%
    • 20-29: 29.5%
    • 30-39: 16.4%
    • 40-49: 13.9%
    • 50+: 7.1%

tiktok creative strategy

TikTok Creative Strategy Recommendations 

Trend: App Capture/Music Combo

Create concepts using app or gameplay footage of your app, set to music:

  • Test multiple lengths
  • Good opportunity to test different music genres
  • Visual FX with app content (set to music)

Apps utilizing trend: Fit & Squeeze, Bubble Ouch, Beat.ly, Hair Challenge, Tile Master, VivaCut, Bubble Ouch

Player Motivations: Targets TikTok demographic as well as players unfamiliar with the app

tiktok creative strategy

Trend: Testimonial

Create concepts centered on user testimonials:

  • Experiment with split-screen and inset testimonials
  • Try testimonials that skew younger
  • Try testimonials featuring young male users
  • Test different music genres

Apps utilizing trend: Mini War, Tally, Experian

Player Motivations: Targets TikTok demographic as well as players unfamiliar with the app

testimonial

Trend: Testimonial/Video Meme

“Testimonial” that demonstrates emotional benefit:

  • Funny and simple visual, combined with SFX or GFX
  • Communicates as simply as a meme, but with the engagement of video
  • Good concept for demonstrating emotional benefits of the app

Apps utilizing trend: Tally

Player Motivations: Targets TikTok demographic as well as players unfamiliar with the app

testimonial and video meme

Trend: Testimonial/Music Combo

Try testimonials with a visual & musical element:

  • Lip sync with the music
  • Experiment with visual FX
  • A simple way to try something different in category

Apps utilizing trend: Quadpay

Player Motivations: Targets TikTok demographic as well as players unfamiliar with the app

testimonial and music

Trend: Influencers

Try testimonials with entertainment influencers:

  • Leverage existing app relationships
  • Try Cameo to enlist young actors/musicians/celebs to talk about why they love the app

Competitors utilizing trend: Amazon, Soundcloud

Player Motivations: Targets TikTok demographic as well as players unfamiliar with the app

Influencers

Reveal more Mobile App Advertiser TikTok Secrets!

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Breakthrough Creative Ideas For Facebook App Ads

Apple killed the IDFA, and Facebook and Google are pushing for fully automated media buying. These events have created a seismic shift for mobile app advertising. To survive and thrive in a post-IDFA / automated world, creative is now the most important lever to achieve and sustain financial profit. Developing breakthrough creative ideas and concepts, however, is difficult to do. 90% of Facebook ads fail to beat the top-performing ad in any portfolio of creative assets. The ones that do become winning creatives, suffer creative fatigue and die after only 10 weeks.

breakthrough creative ideas

Creative is king, and the teams that adapt to a creative-first mindset will be successful. The ones that don’t, unfortunately, will go extinct.

Hard Mobile App Advertising Truths

breakthrough creative ideasThere are hard mobile app advertising truths that prevent sustainable profitability:

  • Mobile app developers often succeed or fail based on how effectively they measure and improve retention, revenue, and LTV.
    • Their focus is on new games, new levels, game assets, and revenue.
  • Mobile app developers are not creative-first because…
    • Their product and marketing teams are kept in silos.
    • They don’t provide marketing with a steady stream of fresh assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue.
    • They do not measure creative fatigue as intensely as retention.
    • Creating fresh ad content and assets is not as important as developing new levels and game content.
  • To survive and thrive in a post-IDFA / automated world, mobile app developers must tear down their marketing and product teams right now and rebuild them to embrace a creative-first approach. If they don’t, they will become dinosaurs.

 

How To Begin Formulating A Creative Strategy

breakthrough creative ideasYou begin formulating your creative strategy with a two-pronged approach. First, you review performance data to determine what works, what fails, and why. This allows for performance-based creative recommendations. Then, you study your competitors’ and genre’s ads to discover creative trends across your creative competitive set. This enables competitor-based creative recommendations for broad ideas based on best-performing ads and trends. Also, you’ll incorporate user motivations and player personas into your creative recommendations.

Keep in mind, your competitors fail at that same 95% rate as you do. If you only follow these two steps, it may result in a creative strategy that feels like your category is copying each other. This yields a pool of similar ads.

 

What is the Creative Journey?

A creative journey is the roadmap performance advertisers must take to deliver sustainable and repeatable financial results over many months. This quantitative process results in fresh creative ideas with the goal of staying ahead of creative fatigue. The creative journey involves the following steps:

Creative Journey

One major component of the creative journey is a creative learning agenda. This is instrumental in unlocking new breakthrough concepts and avoiding tunnel vision. In fact, your ability to develop a creative learning agenda is in part contingent on player personas/marketing segmentation analysis.

Why Player Personas Matter

Player Personas are a model of a target user for a product or service, such as an app or a game. A player persona summarizes the target user’s background, motivations, goals, and needs. This player persona helps you design a solution to meet the target user’s expectations, needs, and desires.

Just ask Howard Moskowitz. He famously utilized horizontal segmentation﹘the concept of breaking down your target audience into even more granular groups to tailor to their needs more acutely﹘in several instances. First, Pepsi hired him to find the perfect level of sweetness. However, Moskowitz found the task impossible. There wasn’t one perfect level of sweetness according to his research, but rather perfect levels of sweetness. Pepsi wasn’t sold, but thankfully a pickle company bought into the idea of horizontal segmentation. Moskowitz pitched them several perfect pickles﹘classic, zesty, etc.

The pièce de résistance, though, was Moskowitz’s work for Prego. He did a deep dive into customers’ preferences for pasta sauce and presented Prego with not one perfect sauce, but multiple perfect sauces. Most famously, Moskowitz suggested chunky sauce, something no other company was doing or knew their customers wanted at the time. Prego listened and launched a line of chunky pasta sauce. It went on to make $600 million over the next few years.

The point is, there is no one idea that will resonate with your audience. There are multiple concepts that will speak to different segments. If you’re cognizant of player motivations, you can tailor content to potential app users.

breakthrough creative ideas for player motivation
https://quanticfoundry.com/gamer-motivation-model/

How to Incorporate Player Personas To Generate Breakthrough Creative Ideas

To generate breakthrough creative ideas, you need to incorporate these player personas into your creative learning agenda. Here are two examples of how to become creatively unstuck leveraging player personas, and user motivations.

Romance App

Advertising in the romance app category was saturated with ads that were visually and creatively similar. We saw fatigue across the category, with competitors copying our best-performing creative, and to be fair, we copied their best ads too. We wanted to create ads that stood out from the competition and needed a strategy that could help us develop new ideas that would appeal to the best users of the app.

To develop these breakthrough creative ideas, we first examined the category for outliers that we hadn’t yet implemented. Then we expanded our creative trend analysis to non-competing categories that would still appeal to the best demographic (Female 18+). These categories included Shopping, Dating, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Design, and Social categories.

Within the category, we identified narrative devices we hadn’t yet tried or tested. In non-competitor categories, we examined each for trends that would appeal to our player motivations (story/narrative and design/customization). For Shopping, Dating, and Entertainment categories, we identified testimonial and influencer trends to implement in our creative strategy. In Design, we saw that Timed and Budgeted challenges were performing well, and could be adapted to our concepts in a way that appealed to player motivations.

From this process, we developed a creative strategy that incorporated elements of competitor and non-competitor trends to refresh the category, while resonating with our target demographic and player motivations. We’re testing these concepts and will use their performance to implement our next round of creative.

Here are the creative trends for romance apps we discovered:

Romance App AdsRomance Creative Trends

  • Female Story: Women overcoming obstacles and misbehaving men (Hooked, Choices, Chapters, Readict, Dreame, Kim Kardashian.)
  • Female Story/Pregnancy: Pregnancy and the challenges of motherhood featured prominently. (Choices, Chapters, Dreame, Readict.)
  • Choices: Choosing an option that directs the narrative. (Chapters, Choices.)
  • Testimonial: Focused on a player’s review and/or experience of the game. (Hooked, Wattpad.)
  • R-Rated Humor: Risque, bawdy, sexually suggestive, and other adult humor. (Choices, Chapters, Dreame, Readict.)
  • Pop Culture: Concepts that leverage pop culture and trends. (Hooked.)
  • Relaxation: Concepts that tout relaxation as a primary benefit. (Dreame.)

Also, these are competitive trends within the category:

Competitive Trends

  • Female characters in peril: Females suffering and crying, but overcoming the obstacles and ultimately having the last laugh.
  • Mean Girls: Cruel characters making fun of unpopular/weak girls, but ultimately losing against them.
  • Time Progressions: Narrative style ads where present conflict is explained by going back in time or forward to the future.
  • Outfit Selections Montage: Showing many outfits or make-up choices. Dressing up girls for an event/date/contest.
  • Choosing between two interests: Main character torn between conflicting interests (Best friend and lover, two lovers, money or love).
  • Awful Dates: Female characters enduring awful dates/relationships, but finding a better partner in the end or having to decide what outcome to choose.
  • Competitive Nature: Friends competing for better date/outfits/more likes on Instagram/popularity.

 

Home Decorating App

The Home Decorating App advertising category consisted of ads that were primarily in the design challenge trend. These ads utilize a picker to choose different furnishings to complete a challenge. Competitors had copied our creative element, even using some of the same stock assets to advertise their game. As you can imagine, creative lines began to blur and creatives across apps began to look similar.

To develop breakthrough creative ideas that would stand out in the category, we created new concepts focusing on primary and secondary player motivations, as well as implementing non-category trends that focused on a high-value demographic (Female 30+).

Market research and player motivations revealed that the primary motivation was relaxation and relieving stress. We iterated on recent creative and developed new ideas focused on relaxation trends. These ads ranged from designing spaces for meditation and relaxation to decluttering and only keeping things that “bring players joy”. (We used a cue from Marie Kondo, a design influencer our target demographic follows.)

A secondary motivator for players was creative problem-solving. We designed concepts featuring narratives around a demanding client who has a design challenge. This also helped us add narrative to engage players interested in other game genres.

Lastly, we examined categories targeting the same player demographic and motivations but for other genres and non-related apps. This led to our recommending creative that incorporated elements of high-performing Match 3 ads. This appeals to Female 30+ players interested in creative problem-solving. We are testing these concepts and will use our client’s performance data to implement our next round of creative.

Here are home decorating app creative trends:

Property Brothers HomeCreative Trends

  • Design Challenge: Room and home design, often using a picker and/or budget. (Home Design: Caribbean Life, Design My Room, Property Brothers, Design Home, Redecor, many others.)
  • Design Challenge/Client: Room and home design, often using a picker and/or budget, with the added element of a demanding client. (Home Design: Caribbean Life, Design Home, Redecor, My Home Design Story: Episode Choices.) 
  • Renovation Challenge: Home renovation, often using a picker. (Redecor, My Home: Design Dreams, Homescapes, Gardenscapes, Design Home, many others.)
  • Game Trailer: Overviews of the app showcasing gameplay, graphics and more. (Redecor, Decor Dream: Home Design Game and Match-3, many others.)
  • Noob vs. Pro: Amateur versus experienced gameplay. (Decor Dream: Home Design Game and Match-3.)
  • Relaxation: Design centered on relaxing themes. (Design Home, Redecor.)
  • Female Story: female-driven narratives that drive the need for design and/or renovation. My Home: Design Dreams, Lily’s Garden, Word Villas, Homescapes, Gardenscapes.)

How We Can Help Maximize Net Profit From Mobile App Creative Strategies

Consumer Acquisition can help provide a custom creative learning agenda for your app. This allows us to produce a steady stream of breakthrough creative ideas and assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue and maintain profitability from your mobile app advertising. Through our Creative Studio CA+, we provide better, cheaper, faster asset production through our mondo shoots that enable agile production 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 begin your creative journey and get your creative learning agenda to improve the profitability of your mobile app advertising.

Creative Is King, Adapt Or Go Extinct!

Apple has killed the IDFA, and Facebook and Google are pushing for fully automated media buying. These events have radically reshaped the mobile app advertising landscape. To survive and thrive in a post-IDFA / automated world, creative has become the primary driver of financial success for UA teams. Creative is king! If mobile app developers are not tearing down their marketing and product teams right now and rebuilding them to embrace a creative is king approach, they will quickly become dinosaurs. So learn how to adapt or go extinct.

Adapt Or Go Extinct!

Today, many mobile app developer’s businesses often succeed or fail based on how effectively they measure and improve retention, revenue, and LTV KPIs. Their primary focus is new games, new levels, new game content, and revenue optimization.  But this is only part of the equation for sustained growth and profitability from paid user acquisition.

What is stopping companies from adapting to a creative-first world? Why are the product and marketing teams kept in silos? How come there isn’t a robust pipeline to provide the marketing team with a steady stream of fresh creative and assets so they can stay ahead of creative fatigue? Why don’t app developers measure creative fatigue with the same intensity as retention? Shouldn’t creating content and assets be as important as developing new levels? Is your team ready for this change? Are they ready to adapt or go extinct?

Ready or not, here’s why creative is key to your financial success with advertising on Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Snap, in this post-IDFA world.

Why Is Creative King!

95% of new Facebook creative ideas fail to outperform the best video or image in your portfolio.  If you run the 2nd, 3rd, or 10th best creative, you profit. Now, here’s the kicker! Even if you’re fortunate enough to discover a new best-performing unicorn ad, it will only last 10 weeks.

To maintain advertising efficiency, you need a steady pipeline of new creative ideas and content to test. When successful, a new creative concept can lift performance by 200% or more. This performance increase is worth the cost, time, and risk that’s inherent with testing new concepts.

What is a Creative Journey and How Can it Help You to Adapt or Go Extinct?

A creative journey is the path performance advertisers can take to deliver sustainable and repeatable financial results over many months. This paradigm shift will enable long-term stability as opposed to “unicorn chasing.” The idea isn’t to catch lightning in a bottle﹘it’s to provide a quantitative process that results in fresh creative ideas with the goal of staying ahead of creative fatigue.

This process involves the following steps:

 

Creative Journey

The Challenges of A/B Testing on iOS

The loss of A/B Creative Testing will require a new strategy for creative optimization. Unfortunately, the trifecta of IDFA loss, account simplification required by SKAN, and media buying automation through Facebook’s AAA or Google UAC will have an immediate impact on creative testing and creative strategy. Most major platforms (Facebook, Google, Tik Tok, Snap) will have limited account configurations due to iOS14 SKAN tracking limitations. iOS14 accounts will be restricted to 9-11 campaigns with 5 ad sets per campaign, meaning you’ll have 45-60 permutations. It will be difficult to justify burning these ad sets on testing. Therefore, new concepts will be the most important lever for your UA team. Your creative journey that incorporates a custom learning agenda will be instrumental in your asset development.

Get Started to Adapt or Go Extinct

So, you’re ready to adapt to a creative-first world. Here’s how to start. First, focus on analyzing your internal performance data. The goal is to analyze what concepts work/fail and why. The goal is to not repeat the mistakes or wins. Rather, it’s to find new ideas and areas for creative exploration.

great artist steal

Then, study your competitors and genre ads to discover creative trends across your creative competitive set. Your competitors are failing at that same 95% rate. Unfortunately, we have yet to uncover any meaningful shortcuts in the process of creative discovery. However, a properly done competitive SWOT analysis can unlock an endless supply of tested creative ideas leveraging your competitor’s best ideas. Sometimes, innovation takes the form of tried-and-true tactics.

To highlight the importance of studying your competitors, Pablo Picasso said that good artists borrow but great artists steal. Then Steve Jobs ripped him off!

Fortunately, there are many sources where you can find millions of ads to study. Facebook Ad’s Library is a free resource to see every ad currently running on their ad network. Missing from that tool is duration and velocity of success. For implied success metrics, you can use Mobile Action, SensorTower, or AppAnnie’s competitor libraries. AdRules, our SaaS platform has 3.5 million videos. It’s also user-friendly and updated daily.

 

creative journey

A/B Testing

Next, we perform A/B testing. Here, we test and adjust our strategy based on performance data. Our current A/B testing best practices involve creative testing through qualification stages. The goal of our A/B testing is to provide rapid results while minimizing financial waste. The principle being, the more you test and smarter your testing process becomes, the sooner you can uncover a new winning concept and then iterate on what’s working.

 

We begin our creative testing in cost-effective economical geo like the Philippines or India. During Stage 1, we vet creative for higher install per impression (IPM). Next, Stage 2 requires we take the IPM winners from Stage 1 and create a separate campaign to monitor KPI targets like return on ad spend (ROAS). Finally, Stage 3 pits assets winnowed from the initial stages against historical winners (the control or Unicorn Ad).

This process on average yields a 15% win rate across many app market segments like gaming and eCommerce. And, app advertisers also waste less of their budget by not having to spend 85% on running ‘losing’ creative out to statistical significance.  Yes, this process can generate false winners and false losers, but you are likely to spend $200 to $2K on testing to discover ads that reach the standard successful creative rate vs $20K if you allow the platforms to self-optimize.

Here is our process for IAP (in-app purchases) vs IAA (in-app ads).

Creative Testing for IAP

adapt or go extinct

Creative Testing for IAA

adapt or go extinct

Finally, we review assets. We analyze the depth, limitations, and brand guidelines of the current assets.

Learning Agenda

Next, we recommend you create a learning agenda process that typically takes 3-4 months. Start by doing intensive research into your mobile app genre and leverage your marketing segmentation personas or user motivations. Based on personas, you can develop a bespoke creative strategy based on user motivations. User motivations allow you to expand into new categories based on user demographics and behaviors. The goal is to look outside of gaming or eCommerce to understand what other types of ads your users are best responding to.

Also, the creative learning agenda is critical to unlocking breakthrough ideas. It is important to craft original concepts and storytelling tailored to your unique target audience. To do this, you’ll need to think outside the box and have the freedom to explore new ideas broadly. To offer a more native experience, if you are advertising on Instagram, TikTok, and SnapAnd, we recommend experimenting with user-generated content (UGC).

Finally, the learning agenda should influence your asset expansion plan. Since you now understand your user’s motivations for using the app and what they read, watch and listen to, we can enhance existing assets to better speak to those target users. And, then produce new assets to enable multivariate creative testing. We recommend a robust production process that enables mondo shoots that deliver agile production of hundreds of assets vs one final video or commercial. Think of deliverables as a bucket of Legos the creative team and use, combine and recombine into hundreds of new tests.

The Learning Agenda Month-to-Month

The learning agenda is a process to provide a steady stream of fresh creative ideas and assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue. It doesn’t just happen overnight.  If done right, it provides long-term strategic value in maximizing net profit from your mobile app advertising campaigns.

Month 1: Review Performance Data & Analyze Competitors

In the first month, analyze internal data and competitors. This affords you a holistic view of your genre. Which previous concepts worked and what didn’t? What concepts are working for your competition? Remember, you have to assume that your competitors have tested their concepts too. So, their ads are top-performing ones. You can use these learnings to jumpstart your content pipeline and create ads that you know resonate with your target audience.

Month 2: A/B Testing Results & Iterations

Then, focus on A/B testing results and iteration ideas in the second month. Try the testing approach we mentioned above, we unlock winning creative concepts. These winners are iterated, so that sustained performance can be achieved for your mobile app marketing.

Month 3: Competitive Trends & Asset Needs

Now, deep dive into the competitive trends within your genre. Do testimonials move the needle for casino games? What about fail ads﹘ones that focus on a player losing in an epic fashion﹘for romance game apps? You need to make sure you go down the rabbit hole and do an exhaustive analysis of your competitors. If you only look at a handful of your apps, you’ll only get a glimpse of what’s happening in the genre. A deep dive will enable you to find some creative trends you may have otherwise overlooked.

Then, use this information to create a plan of action for what assets are needed to move forward. In fact, you can view our latest creative trends here:

adapt or go extinct

Month 4: Expand Creative Strategy With User Motivations

Next, get even more granular by analyzing user motivations. What drives someone to download and use your app? Do they enjoy the sense of accomplishment by reaching new levels? Do they like to relax or kill other players? We uncover these motivations by carefully combing through your game reviews, so we discover what users say about your app. Also, we couple user motivations with the target audience to create concepts that drive action.

adapt or go extinct

Month 5: Develop Breakthrough Creative Across Platforms

During the fifth month, take all these learnings to develop breakthrough creative. Bespoke assets are designed to use across all social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Google, Snap, and Apple. We don’t use templates because they don’t drive meaningful results the same way custom assets designed for your target audience do.

Month 6: Develop New Assets From Creative Learnings

Finally, develop new assets from all the creative learning you’ve done. The goal is to keep your asset pipeline regularly running, so you prevent creative fatigue. Also, this combats creative tunnel vision. Unfortunately, creative teams can get stuck on one concept or copying a small group of competitors and then all their ads look the same. The creative learning agenda allows for new learnings to constantly occur. These learnings are then incorporated into your marketing strategy to produce new concepts.  Again, this creative journey process is a key component of improving the profitability of advertising and allowing you to adapt or go extinct.

How We Can Help You Adapt or Go Extinct

Consumer Acquisition can help provide a steady stream of fresh creative ideas and assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue and maintain profitability from your mobile app advertising.  Through our Creative Studio CA+, we provide better, cheaper, faster asset production through our mondo shoots that enable agile production 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 begin your creative journey to improve the profitability of your mobile app advertising. Adapt or go extinct.

Creative Is King, Adapt Or Die!

Apple has killed the IDFA, and Facebook and Google are pushing for fully automated media buying. These events have radically reshaped the mobile app advertising landscape. To survive and thrive in a post-IDFA / automated world, creative has become the primary driver of financial success for UA teams. Creative is king! If mobile app developers are not tearing down their marketing and product teams right now and rebuilding them to embrace a creative is king approach, they will quickly become dinosaurs. So learn how to adapt or die.

Adapt or Die

Today, many mobile app developer’s businesses often succeed or fail based on how effectively they measure and improve retention, revenue, and LTV KPIs. Their primary focus is new games, new levels, new game content, and revenue optimization.  But this is only part of the equation for sustained growth and profitability from paid user acquisition.

What is stopping companies from adapting to a creative-first world? Why are the product and marketing teams kept in silos? How come there isn’t a robust pipeline to provide the marketing team with a steady stream of fresh creative and assets so they can stay ahead of creative fatigue? Why don’t app developers measure creative fatigue with the same intensity as retention? Shouldn’t creating content and assets be as important as developing new levels? Is your team ready for this change? Are you ready to adapt?

Ready or not, here’s why creative is key to your financial success with advertising on Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Snap, in this post-IDFA world.

Why Is Creative King?

95% of new Facebook creative ideas fail to outperform the best video or image in your portfolio.  If you run the 2nd, 3rd, or 10th best creative, you profit. Now, here’s the kicker! Even if you’re fortunate enough to discover a new best-performing unicorn ad, it will only last 10 weeks.

To maintain advertising efficiency, you need a steady pipeline of new creative ideas and content to test. When successful, a new creative concept can lift performance by 200% or more. This performance increase is worth the cost, time, and risk that’s inherent with testing new concepts.

adapt or die

What is a Creative Journey and How Can it Help You Adapt?

A creative journey is the path performance advertisers can take to deliver sustainable and repeatable financial results over many months. This paradigm shift will enable long-term stability as opposed to “unicorn chasing.” The idea isn’t to catch lightning in a bottle﹘it’s to provide a quantitative process that results in fresh creative ideas with the goal of staying ahead of creative fatigue.

This process involves the following steps:

 

Creative Journey

The Challenges of A/B Testing on iOS

The loss of A/B Creative Testing will require a new strategy for creative optimization. Unfortunately, the trifecta of IDFA loss, account simplification required by SKAN, and media buying automation through Facebook’s AAA or Google UAC will have an immediate impact on creative testing and creative strategy. Most major platforms (Facebook, Google, Tik Tok, Snap) will have limited account configurations due to iOS14 SKAN tracking limitations. iOS14 accounts will be restricted to 9-11 campaigns with 5 ad sets per campaign, meaning you’ll have 45-60 permutations. It will be difficult to justify burning these ad sets on testing. Therefore, new concepts will be the most important lever for your UA team. Your creative journey that incorporates a custom learning agenda will be instrumental in your asset development.

Get Started to Adapt

So, you’re ready to adapt to a creative-first world. Here’s how to start. First, focus on analyzing your internal performance data. The goal is to analyze what concepts work/fail and why. The goal is to not repeat the mistakes or wins. Rather, it’s to find new ideas and areas for creative exploration.

Then, study your competitors and genre ads to discover creative trends across your creative competitive set. Your competitors are failing at that same 95% rate. Unfortunately, we have yet to uncover any meaningful shortcuts in the process of creative discovery. However, a properly done competitive SWOT analysis can unlock an endless supply of tested creative ideas leveraging your competitor’s best ideas. Sometimes, innovation takes the form of tried-and-true tactics.

To highlight the importance of studying your competitors, Pablo Picasso said that good artists borrow but great artists steal. Then Steve Jobs ripped him off!

Fortunately, there are many sources where you can find millions of ads to study. Facebook Ad’s Library is a free resource to see every ad currently running on their ad network. Missing from that tool is duration and velocity of success. For implied success metrics, you can use Mobile Action, SensorTower, or AppAnnie’s competitor libraries. AdRules, our SaaS platform has 3.5 million videos. It’s also user-friendly and updated daily.

 

creative journey adapt or die

A/B Testing

Next, we perform A/B testing. Here, we test and adjust our strategy based on performance data. Our current A/B testing best practices involve creative testing through qualification stages. The goal of our A/B testing is to provide rapid results while minimizing financial waste. The principle being, the more you test and smarter your testing process becomes, the sooner you can uncover a new winning concept and then iterate on what’s working.

We begin our creative testing in cost-effective economical geo like the Philippines or India. During Stage 1, we vet creative for higher install per impression (IPM). Next, Stage 2 requires we take the IPM winners from Stage 1 and create a separate campaign to monitor KPI targets like return on ad spend (ROAS). Finally, Stage 3 pits assets winnowed from the initial stages against historical winners (the control or Unicorn Ad).

This process on average yields a 15% win rate across many app market segments like gaming and eCommerce. And, app advertisers also waste less of their budget by not having to spend 85% on running ‘losing’ creative out to statistical significance.  Yes, this process can generate false winners and false losers, but you are likely to spend $200 to $2K on testing to discover ads that reach the standard successful creative rate vs $20K if you allow the platforms to self-optimize.

Here is our process for IAP (in-app purchases) vs IAA (in-app ads).

Creative Testing for IAP

creative journey adapt or die

Creative Testing for IAA

creative journey adapt or die

Finally, we review assets. We analyze the depth, limitations, and brand guidelines of the current assets.

Learning Agenda

Next, we recommend you create a learning agenda process that typically takes 3-4 months. Start by doing intensive research into your mobile app genre and leverage your marketing segmentation personas or user motivations. Based on personas, you can develop a bespoke creative strategy based on user motivations. User motivations allow you to expand into new categories based on user demographics and behaviors. The goal is to look outside of gaming or eCommerce to understand what other types of ads your users are best responding to.

Also, the creative learning agenda is critical to unlocking breakthrough ideas. It is important to craft original concepts and storytelling tailored to your unique target audience. To do this, you’ll need to think outside the box and have the freedom to explore new ideas broadly. To offer a more native experience, if you are advertising on Instagram, TikTok, and SnapAnd, we recommend experimenting with user-generated content (UGC).

Finally, the learning agenda should influence your asset expansion plan. Since you now understand your user’s motivations for using the app and what they read, watch and listen to, we can enhance existing assets to better speak to those target users. And, then produce new assets to enable multivariate creative testing. We recommend a robust production process that enables mondo shoots that deliver agile production of hundreds of assets vs one final video or commercial. Think of deliverables as a bucket of Legos the creative team and use, combine and recombine into hundreds of new tests.

The Learning Agenda Month-to-Month

The learning agenda is a process to provide a steady stream of fresh creative ideas and assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue. It doesn’t just happen overnight.  If done right, it provides long-term strategic value in maximizing net profit from your mobile app advertising campaigns.

Month 1: Review Performance Data & Analyze Competitors

In the first month, analyze internal data and competitors. This affords you a holistic view of your genre. Which previous concepts worked and what didn’t? What concepts are working for your competition? Remember, you have to assume that your competitors have tested their concepts too. So, their ads are top-performing ones. You can use these learnings to jumpstart your content pipeline and create ads that you know resonate with your target audience.

Month 2: A/B Testing Results & Iterations

Then, focus on A/B testing results and iteration ideas in the second month. Try the testing approach we mentioned above, we unlock winning creative concepts. These winners are iterated, so that sustained performance can be achieved for your mobile app marketing.

Month 3: Competitive Trends & Asset Needs

Now, deep dive into the competitive trends within your genre. Do testimonials move the needle for casino games? What about fail ads﹘ones that focus on a player losing in an epic fashion﹘for romance game apps? You need to make sure you go down the rabbit hole and do an exhaustive analysis of your competitors. If you only look at a handful of your apps, you’ll only get a glimpse of what’s happening in the genre. A deep dive will enable you to find some creative trends you may have otherwise overlooked.

Then, use this information to create a plan of action for what assets are needed to move forward and adapt. In fact, you can view our latest creative trends here:

creative journey adapt or die

Month 4: Expand Creative Strategy With User Motivations

Next, get even more granular by analyzing user motivations. What drives someone to download and use your app? Do they enjoy the sense of accomplishment by reaching new levels? Do they like to relax or kill other players? We uncover these motivations by carefully combing through your game reviews, so we discover what users say about your app. Also, we couple user motivations with the target audience to create concepts that drive action.

creative journey adapt or die

Month 5: Develop Breakthrough Creative Across Platforms

During the fifth month, take all these learnings to develop breakthrough creative. Bespoke assets are designed to use across all social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Google, Snap, and Apple. We don’t use templates because they don’t drive meaningful results the same way custom assets designed for your target audience do.

Month 6: Develop New Assets From Creative Learnings

Finally, develop new assets from all the creative learning you’ve done. The goal is to keep your asset pipeline regularly running, so you prevent creative fatigue. Also, this combats creative tunnel vision. Unfortunately, creative teams can get stuck on one concept or copying a small group of competitors and then all their ads look the same. The creative learning agenda allows for new learnings to constantly occur. These learnings are then incorporated into your marketing strategy to produce new concepts.  Again, this creative journey process is a key component to adapt and improving the profitability of advertising.

How We Can Help You To Adapt

Consumer Acquisition can help provide a steady stream of fresh creative ideas and assets to stay ahead of creative fatigue and maintain profitability from your mobile app advertising.  Through our Creative Studio CA+, we provide better, cheaper, faster asset production through our mondo shoots that enable agile production 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 begin your creative journey to adapt and improve the profitability of your mobile app advertising.

Apple & Google App Store Optimization Essentials

When it comes to app store optimization (ASO), an icon’s importance cannot be overstated. People are visual learners, and love at first sight is very real for potential app users. Storemaven claims less than 30% of users ever go past the first impression frame of your app store page.

In the Apple App Store, the icon is prominently displayed in the following browse pages: today, games and apps page. And, it plays a role in search results and the actual product page. With so much depending upon the icon, it’s unsurprising the median potential conversion rate (CVR) is 18%.

In Google Play, the icon is a crucial feature of browse pages. Also, it’s the only creative marketing asset shown on the search results page. A strong one is therefore critical to your success. With this in mind, the median potential CVR on Google Play is 11%.

Here are the app store optimization essentials for both Apple and Google.

What is ASO?

First, let’s begin with the basics. According to App Institute, app store optimization is the process of optimizing a mobile app and mobile app store listing to maximize its visibility in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This allows an app developer to boost free traffic and improve conversion rate to generate the maximum volume of downloads and improve net profit. At Consumer Acquisition, we believe the most effective focus of app store optimization is creative optimization.

Apple Doesn’t Allow Optimization Testing

app store optimization

Currently, about 70 percent of users actively use Apple App Store search with the express intent of purchasing new apps and games. To be effective, ASO requires testing to ensure your app is as visible as possible.

Yet, Apple doesn’t allow for App Store testing optimization. Instead, we use Google for A/B testing and carry over winning concepts to Apple. Apple changes (outside of promotional text) require developers to include in a new version update (build push to app).

On the other hand, Google Play permits multivariate test components without a version update. You can do this through the Play console. Google Play is a substantially more advanced platform and more advertiser friendly than Apple.

Our Multivariate Testing Approach

At Consumer Acquisition, we use a multivariate testing method for app store optimization. Here, we focus on the elements that drive the greatest financial returns: icon, feature graphic (or first graphic), and video. We found that these three elements are the most effective to increase the financial performance from your app’s listing. With Google as our sandbox, we test, discover winners and port them to iOS.

We utilize the following methods to deliver the best creative recommendations for the three categories.

Icons

The icon is the only visual element that still influences a user after install. Since it’s placed on a user’s home screen, it factors into engagement and app opens. Therefore, it’s imperative your icon is not only attention-grabbing, but also adaptive so it looks good on any device.

Also, you want to create a graphic that stands out among your competitors. As App Annie claims, there are approximately 2 million iOS App Store apps and 4 million Google Play Store apps. In a saturated market, it’s critical to be noticed. You can do this by using bright/primary colors, depending on your app’s target audience. These colors are attention-grabbing and have different subconscious associations with them. Therefore, consider your app’s users and what message you want your color scheme to convey to them.

Finally, don’t overstuff your icon. The temptation may be to put a character plus text plus an important game element into one icon. However, you need to realize icons are only 512 x 512 pixels. That’s not a lot of real estate to highlight your whole app’s universe.

Design with a Purpose

Instead, design your icon with a purpose. Because apps serve multi-functional roles, they require specific design goals for each step of the funnel. Its immediate objective is to help create an emotional connection between your user and your app. Or, if your mobile game features an intellectual property (IP), the icon reinforces the definitive nature of the app. Finally, it can be used to define your value proposition. A mobile app that pays you to fill out surveys may want to highlight how users can profit through increased usage.

Now, there are some specific ways to achieve these three goals. Here are some creative best practices.

Highlight a Prominent Character/Element

app store optimization

You should consider highlighting a prominent character or element from your app for the icon. In fact, this is a great way to establish an emotional connection between your user and your app. Clue: The Classic Mystery Game features Miss Scarlet, the classic red-piece character from the game. Since the first version of the Clue board game was created in 1943 in the UK and first published in the US in 1949, the iteration of the character will immediately connect potential users with the app.

Also, you can do the same thing with an element or object from your mobile game app. NBA Jam is a popular sports game series that debuted in 1993. One of the most fantastical elements from the game was a player’s ability to be “on fire”. To get on fire, you’d have to score several baskets in a row without letting the opposing team score. Once the player was on fire, the player would be able to essentially score from anywhere until they were no longer hot.

app store optimization

The NBA Jam app’s icon is a picture of one of the most recognizable elements from the game﹘the basketball on fire. This immediately sparks nostalgia in a user that played this wildly popular game series.

Leverage Your Brand

Your icon should leverage your app’s brand. You can achieve this by using the same color palette for the graphic as you do for your brand standards and interface. Consider Pokėmon GO. Their icon image is of a poké ball. More importantly, the app reinforces the intellectual property﹘Pokémon﹘which makes potential users know this is a definitive app.

app store optimization

In fact, Pokėmon GO also follows other creative recommendations you should incorporate for app store optimization. They use the same color palette as their brand standards. The poké ball graphic is in the easily recognizable red-and-white design that’s associated with Pokémon.

And, the icon leverages the brand. Pokémon’s tagline, “Gotta catch them all!” is an essential element of the app’s gameplay. Users hunt for Pokémon in the real world while using the app. The icon highlights a key aspect of the gameplay﹘catching Pokémon﹘so potential users know what to expect from this app.

Define Your Value Proposition

app store optimization

Finally, you can consider designing your icon so that it defines the value proposition. You can choose elements like the graphic that highlight your app’s purpose. For example, Cash App is an app designed for users to spend, save and invest their money. The icon is of a dollar sign, so users know the app’s associated with money. And, it uses a light-green color so users associate it with growth and optimism. All of these elements factor into attracting and gaining new app users.

app store optimization

How to Test Your Icon

Again, the profound impact your icon has for app-store optimization cannot be expressed enough. Your icon is involved in every phase of the funnel. Therefore, it’s critical to test it. As Storemaven claims, an optimized Icon has the potential to boost conversion rates (CVR) by up to 30%.

So, when you test your icon, you should keep in mind the following.

What/Why are You Testing?

First, you want to have a strong hypothesis for testing. A hypothesis such as what difference the colors you use isn’t necessarily a good basis for a test. Keep in mind, this is a factor in icon optimization, but there needs to be more of a reason behind why the colors are significant.

Instead, consider crafting a hypothesis based on what one of the three purposes you’re serving when designing your icon. If you have a kids game, you’ll want to design it with the target audience in mind. Your hypothesis can then be crafted like this, “I am testing to see how to best design my icon to attract our target demographic.”

Then, you not only have a reason why you’re making the changes, you can pinpoint specific differences. But, it’s not as simple as testing different combinations of characters/elements and colors. You need to even optimize image placement and shades of color. Storemaven used Google Experiments to test their client Gameloft’s distinct icon designs. Because each design was so distinct, they learned valuable insights﹘visitors didn’t respond well to a character in the icon. Potential users responded more to gameplay mechanism icons. They clearly know which elements are instrumental for the winning image.

Target Meaningful Metrics

Also, you need to target meaningful metrics to be able to declare the winner. For example, if you have a romance app, your target demographic may be 18-49. This is important because if you’re driving different users﹘say kids between the ages of 4-8﹘the metrics won’t be as impactful. This should make you reevaluate how you’re sending users to your app too. Attracting users in general shouldn’t be as important as getting users you’re trying to attract.

Some important KPIs to help you determine your winning icon graphic include app store engagement data and CVR-related data. For app-store optimization, app store engagement data is one of the most critical measurements to understand your audience and the creative that’s driving their actions. Remember, your icon isn’t an isolated asset. It’s shown in conjunction with videos, screenshots, feature graphic (for Google), etc. If you reuse the same graphic over and over, this can repel potential users. Remember, variety is the spice of life.

For CVR data, you need to monitor:

  • Overall CVR.
  • Browse CVR, or conversion of users who discover your app through top charts, featured app pages, or navigation tabs.
  • Search CVR, or conversion of users who discover your page by directly searching for your brand, or by searching relevant keywords and seeing your app in the Search Results Page.
  • Referral CVR, or conversion of users who arrive from paid campaigns through sources such as Facebook, Google, or network traffic
  • CTR Search and Organic.
  • ITI (impression to install) of Paid Referral Traffic.

All of these KPIs are critical data to help you find your winning icon.

Feature Graphic

app store optimization

Feature graphic is the image that highlights Android apps on Google Play. These images are native to Google Play, and they’re the first thing potential users see when they open your app store’s listing. In fact, because it occupies 1/3rd of the screen on most Android smartphones and tablets, it has a significant impact on conversion rate. It could lead to a 31% lift in conversion rates, making it an essential aspect of app store optimization.

Creative Best Practices

While a lot of the creative best practices for icons apply to feature graphic﹘incorporate characters/elements, leverage your brand, etc﹘there are some unique aspects for feature graphic you need to consider. Let’s start with the general recommendations.

General Recommendations

First, you should note how much space you’re working with when creating the graphic. The feature graphic size (a 1024 x 500 pixels) is bigger than the icon (512 x 512 pixels). This is a significant difference, as you have a bigger canvas to consider. This also reinforces the need to have adaptive designs.

Also, the file format for the feature graphic varies from icons. The feature graphic requires a JPEG or 24-bit PNG image. On the other hand, the icon’s specifications are for a 32-bit PNG image.

Now, here are the three design recommendations for feature graphics.

Create a Clean Graphic Without Too Much Text

According to Hotpot, Google Web limits each line of characters to 30-40. This is a good rule of thumb if you’re including text for your feature graphic. Remember, your feature graphic is like a billboard﹘users will only view it for a few seconds before moving on.

Look at WebToon. The name of the app perfectly describes the app’s purpose, and they use text to convey their message. The text isn’t crammed either, so users have a clear sense through a clean graphic of what they’re getting from the app.

app store optimization

Maintain Brand Standards/Interface Design Elements

app store optimization

Again, this is similar to our creative recommendation for icons. It’s critical you maintain brand standards to leverage your brand for a consistent user experience. You can achieve this by using a color palette that highlights or compliments your brand. For example, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features a black and white color scheme throughout its feature graphic. The fonts and color palette leverage the larger Grand Theft Auto series’ brand standards.

Also, you should consider your target audience for your color scheme. The game app Hair Challenge is designed for people of all ages, but specifically targets women. The feature graphic boasts bright colors, and the character is reminiscent of a Disney princess. Within the game, the color scheme is exactly the same, so users are constantly being reinforced of the app’s aesthetics.

app store optimization

Include Your Logo

Finally, you can design your feature graphic to include your logo. This reinforces the marketing principle of seven touchpoints before a potential customer will internalize and act upon your CTA. In other words, the more times a potential user sees your logo, the more likely they will become your customer.

Monopoly abides by this rule. Their feature graphic not only has the traditional color scheme and font that make up the logo, they also have the iconic Monopoly Man. The game Monopoly was first published in 1935, so potential users also have a strong nostalgic connection and recognition of this iconic game.

app store optimization

Video

The final element we focus on for app store optimization is video. Videos are the not-so-secret weapon of 21st-century advertising. App Annie argues that videos impact conversion by 24%, while Storemaven claims videos can improve your CVR by up to 40%. The takeaway is, video can increase conversions at a significant rate.

For starters, video length is a vital element. Keep videos short, since MobileAction notes you only have 5 seconds to convince a user to watch the whole video. After that, you can expect about 10% of users will drop off every five seconds! Also, show your strongest messages first. The days of waiting until the end of a :30 spot to show your CTA are over. You need to frontload critical information.

However, while both the Apple App Store and Google Play allow videos, both apps display them slightly differently. App Store allows three video previews that autoplay on mute, and appear in the search results and product page. Remember, these videos can only be up to 30 seconds, so follow the old writing adage K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, silly). On the other hand, Google Play only permits one video via YouTube. The video is displayed on the top of the product page. And, make sure you don’t use a restricted video, or else potential users won’t be able to view it.

Here are some general recommendations for your videos.

General Recommendations

app store optimization

For Google Play, the new layout means the Gallery is now a critically important visual component. Before, the feature graphic was at the top of the page, and the Gallery was below the fold. Now, the Gallery is fully visible in the first impression frame. This layout change has increased explorer rate by 30-50%. Also, the Gallery Scroll rate has increased by 3-6 times the original one, so visitors are now 60% more likely to watch videos.

There are three types of Gallery options. Since the range of sizes of screenshots varies, so will how images and videos are displayed in the Gallery. Here are the options:

  • Portrait﹘Between 2-4 full screenshots.
  • Landscape﹘If you had a video and a feature graphic in the old layout, the video is now the first asset in this option. The asset takes up almost the full Gallery, with a small portion of the second asset visible to encourage scrolling.
  • Hybrid﹘Video is displayed first, and portrait screenshots are resized to match the height of the video.

For Apple App Store videos, there are also several requirements. Mobile Action claims you must do on-screen gameplay capture within your app. You’re prohibited from doing over-the-shoulder angles or fingers tapping on the screen. (Be on the lookout for our upcoming blog that’s everything you need to know about gameplay capture!) Also, you need to make sure you have the correct resolutions for different devices. This means making sure the specs for portrait or landscape are both accurate. And, you need to disclose if anything featured in the video is an in-app purchase.

Remember, your video isn’t an ad. Don’t be tempted to include how much the app costs. Focus instead on what will sell your app.

Here is the major creative recommendation for your video.

Highlight Features

app store optimization

For your video, you want to make sure you highlight the most important features that attract users to your app. For Farming Simulator 20, their Google Play video demonstrates how you can drive more than 100 different authentic vehicles and tools. The footage focuses on some of the different types of tractors, plows and other vehicles you can use.

app store optimization

Also, you want to use captivating sounds and visuals to showcase gameplay. Star Wars™: KOTOR II uses gameplay features with everything you’ve come to know about the franchise. The sound effects in the video are of blasters, lightsabers, and an operatic score. There is also epic dialogue to give potential users a sense of the plot. And, all of the lightsaber duels, shootouts, and spaceship dogfights are shown throughout the video.

Finally, you should use actual app footage. This gives users a true sense of what they’re getting. Pocket Build showcases footage of all the different worlds you can build, from rustic farms, coliseums, fortresses, to exotic temples.

app store optimization

Consider Other Recommendations

While we give recommendations for icons, feature graphic, and videos, you should incorporate all these ideas into your app store optimization when appropriate. This means leveraging your IP to reinforce you’re the definitive app for a brand. Or, don’t shy away from including your main characters in any asset. As we mentioned earlier, make sure you don’t use the same graphic or image in everything because it will become stale. Instead, feature your main character in unique ways to still leverage your brand while showcasing other aspects of your game.

How We Can Help

These Apple and Google app store optimization essentials can drive conversions. If you need more help, you should contact us today. Consumer Acquisition has managed over $3 billion in paid social spend for the world’s largest mobile apps. Plus, with the launch of CA+, we now specialize in app store optimization for your mobile app. Our Creative Studio and Managed Services work side-by-side to deliver new assets for creative sets for multivariate tests for ASO. And, our broad view into creative and UA trends makes your advertising profitable. So, please reach out to Sales@ConsumerAcquisition.com for creative driven by performance for app store optimization.

Facebook Creative Fatigue

We’ve recently evaluated over $150,000,000 in spend and over 1m creatives and have found that 85-95% of Facebook Ads fail. This means you only have a 5-15% chance a new creative outperforms the best asset in your portfolio. And, if a new asset doesn’t outperform your best asset, you lose money running losing ads. While it’s challenging enough to unlock these ‘unicorn’ ads, you also have to simultaneously deal with Facebook creative fatigue.

At some point, your creative will provide diminishing returns and will need to be replaced to maintain financial performance. So, how long can you run an ad before creative fatigue is evident? We analyzed millions in media spend to craft the following suggestions.

 

Facebook Creative Fatigue

 

Why is Creative King?

The changes implemented due to the loss of Apple’s IDFA mean creative is still king! Ad account structure changes mean slight variations of winning creative no longer yield massive performance lifts. It’s therefore hard to justify burning finite account slots for testing on iOS. So, while the risk of new concepts failing is exponentially higher than minor adjustments to top-performing ads, the reward is also greater. The potential for success is between 20-500%!

How can you find these unicorn ads, though? A good rule of thumb is that it takes 20-30 original creative concepts to uncover winners. Some accounts, in fact, take as many as 40-50 new concepts to discover unicorn creative.

We created a customized A/B creative testing process to unlock these top-performing ads. (You can learn all about our unique process here in our whitepaper.) Due to iOS14.5 tracking restrictions, all of our creative testing is now done on Android, then ported over to iOS.

Unicorn Ads

Facebook Creative Fatigue Takeaways

There are several major takeaways we uncovered. First, a unicorn ad can be responsible for 20% of total media spend alone! Moderate winner ads also can account for 10-15% of total media spend. These two creative types therefore can be responsible for 35% of your media spend performance. Again, the question becomes, for how long?

Facebook creative fatigue for unicorn and moderate winning ads sets in between 10-14 weeks. At this point, they will no longer provide meaningful volume. We do not recommend pausing and unpausing these ads. Instead, if you want to rest and re-launch winners, pause the content for 8 weeks. Then, relaunch the ads as fresh ads. This results in stronger performance from your recently relaunched content.

What Losing/Testing Ads Look Like

Losing Ads Creative Fatigue

When we test ads, we frequently see “the hockey stick” performance﹘also known as logarithmic decay﹘among losing concepts. This is when creative starts off strongly, but by Week 2 spend drops to <50% of Week 1. The precipitous drop in spend is a result of humans killing weak ads.

Moderate Winners Creative Testing

Moderate Winners Creative Fatigue

Unfortunately, creative testing of moderate winners showed these ads were unable to achieve ROAS scale. These ads quickly die Weeks 4-6.

To successfully exit creative testing, moderate winning ads must exhibit solid KPIs. These include IPM, CTR and initial ROAS. These KPIs are indicative of an ad’s capability to engage in scaled spending. However, the performance of moderate winners frequently erodes as spending is increased. Therefore, it’s critical to keep the total percentage spend to 10-15%.

Unicorn Ads Testing Creative Fatigue

creative fatigue

While we see a correlation between moderate and unicorn ads early in the process, that’s where the similarities end. Both types of creative exit testing with good KPIs. But, moderate winners will start to scale in Weeks 2-3 as the creative is launched for new audiences. Their total percentage of the portfolio spend, though, is less. By Week 6, moderate ads performance drops below Week 1 performance. From there, they fall off a cliff.

Unicorn Winners

Accounts with <$500k in monthly spend take 2-3 weeks for unicorn ads to reach maximum scale. One major factor is an abundance of caution from the UA manager. In order to get the most performance out of an ad, the UA manager will hold back opening the creative to too many audiences. Once the ad proves it has legs, however, they expand the creative’s audience delivery.

Unicorn Ads Creative Fatigue

Facebook creative fatigue

Unicorn ads can be between 5-10% of the total account spend. However, around Week 10, spend drops below the Week 1 level. Facebook Creative fatigue has set in, and the ad is no longer providing meaningful traffic. The ad’s scale opportunity is past, so you need to replace it.

Similarly, accounts with >500k in monthly spend don’t reach their peak spend until Weeks 4-6. Again, this is because of the UA manager’s cautious approach, so the creative can last as long as possible. Even with this approach, high-spending accounts still experience creative fatigue at Week 10. As you can see, the spend drops significantly between Weeks 10-12.

Greater Than 500k Monthly Spend Creative Fatigue

Facebook creative fatigue

Best of the Best

Some very large accounts can spend $1m+ on a single ad. In fact, the “best of the best” creatives can account for more than 20% of the total account spend. Creative fatigue sets in slower than average, and these ads can last 14 weeks.

Best of the Best Creative Fatigue

Facebook creative fatigue

Reactivating Old Winners

Finally, common industry practice is to give winning creative “a rest”. UA managers will pause these ads for as little as a few weeks or as long as a few months. Our data suggest that old winners are only able to achieve 50-60% of their original spend velocity. Again, our recommendation is to rest a unicorn ad for 8 weeks before relaunching it. Rather than pausing and unpausing ads, we suggest you launch fresh ads.

Old Winners Creative Fatigue

creative fatigue

How We Can Help with Facebook Creative Fatigue

Our Creative Studio provides breakthrough creative ideas for the $150+ million in monthly spend. Consumer Acquisition boasts an elite Hollywood storytelling creative team with vast animation and social advertising experience. Our creative strategy and competitive analysis unlock original concepts that make Facebook, Google, Tiktok, and Snap advertising profitable. So, please reach out to Sales@ConsumerAcquisition.com if you would like to get creative driven by performance and combat creative fatigue and combat creative fatigue.

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