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.
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
- 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
You 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 competitors’ best-performing ads & 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:
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.