What are the latest Facebook and Google creative trends for Match 3 games? Both Facebook ads and Google ads provide powerful ways to reach and target your current and potential customers. And, as the algorithms for these ad targeting platforms have become more sophisticated, marketers should lean more on the platforms to do the heavy lifting for targeting, bidding and optimizing their ad campaigns. So what’s left? Creative.

Creative is king in a world rapidly moving towards automated media buying. And, optimizing creative is the most effective way to drive ROAS for Facebook and Google. To be effective, generating fresh creative ideas has to be strategic, efficient, and ongoing. So knowing the latest creative trends is a great first step in this process.

Creative trends change fast and they also change vary dramatically across genres. While it is good to know broad creative trends, you’ll also want to hone in on your particular niche, such as with Match 3 games, if this is relevant for you. Here’s an overview of the latest Match 3 Puzzle Games Trends:

 

Competitive Analysis – Know and Study Your Competitors

  • Competitors: Fishdom, Gardenscapes, Homescapes, Mansion Blast, Home Design Challenge, Wildscapes, Slices, Township Farm & City, Wordscapes, Clockmaker, Meow Match, Home Design Makeover, Jelly Juice, Lily’s Garden, My Home, Paint by Number, Sweet Road, Vineyard Valley, Brain Out, Candy Crush, Cookie Jam, Disney Magic Kingdoms, Fashion Blogger, Fashion Boutique, Museum Story, Sweet Escapes, Tropicats, Tropic Trouble, Choices, Dragon City, Episode, Hustle Castle, Lost Island, Merge Dragons!, Party in My Dorm, The Simpsons, Covet Fashion, Klondike, Minecraft, Clash of Clans, June’s Journey, Panda Pop, Manor Cafe, Home Blast, Hidden Resort
  • Top Competitors: Match 3: Toon Blast, Farm Heroes Saga, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Toy Blast, Candy Smash Mania, Jewel Crush, Jewel Fever, Candy Blast Mania, Candy Pop, Sugar Blast, Cookie Jam Top Match 3 game.
  • Top Competitors: Building: Matchington Mansion, Homescapes, Gardenscapes, Township, Fishdom, Coin Master

View competitive videos here.

Match 3 Competitive Analysis

Creative Trends

  •     Puzzles: Locks & Gates and other puzzles that challenge users to free a game character (Fishdom, Gardenscapes, Homescapes, many others)
  •     Picker Videos: 3D or 2D situations with picker, often resulting in disastrous fails. (Township, Sweet Escapes, Manor Cafe, many others)
  •     Hidden Items: Videos or still images that contain hidden items the user must find. (Meow Match, June’s Journey)
  •     Design Challenges: Tasks that must be completed within allotted time or budget. (Design Home, Sweet Escapes)
  •     Real Player Gameplay: Split screen featuring a player and gameplay. (Jelly Juice)
  •     Female-Centered Vignettes: Women overcoming adversity and men behaving badly in soap opera situations. (Lily’s Garden, Choices, Vineyard Valley, My Home: Design Dreams)
  •     Choose Your Adventure: Series of situations where you choose between two actions. (Choices, Episode)
  •     Game Controller: Picker that mimics a game console, guiding character through levels. (Candy Crush, Hustle Castle)
  •     Lifestyle and Gameplay: Showing lifestyle footage and gameplay that matches image (Toon Blast, Farm Hero Saga)
  •     Gameplay + Side Character: Gameplay elements leaving screen to interact with character (Candy Blast Mania, Candy Smash Mania, )
  •     Mixing gameplay with narrative: Storybook narration, Coloring book style (Bubble Witch Saga))
  •     3D effect: Characters “floating” above gameplay (Farm Heroes Saga)
  •     Funny but still cute: Evil character getting hit by gameplay, mentioning how you can’t get weight by playing candy games (Candy Blast Mania, Bubble Witch Saga))
  •     Incorporating game to solve a problem: Using gameplay to find key to escape a room (Candy Smash mania)

Match 3 Creative Trends

Player Motivations – Understand Your Audience

Sample motivations for playing:

  • Stress relief
  • Complete levels or beat score
  • Killing time
  • Escape from “real life”
  • Socialize with friends, family or other people

 The Most Common Primary Motivations for Women are Completion and Fantasy

Match 3 most common motivations for women

Completion is the Most Low-Risk, High-Reward Motivation

match 3 Completion Graph

Source: Quantic Foundry, 7 Things We Learned About Primary Gaming Motivations From Over 250,000 Gamers

Game Player Motivations

Match 3 Puzzle Players Graph Puzzle Players by Clusters

Concept: Faux Hidden Items Gameplay

Faux “relaxing” games are interrupted by exciting interactions/fights between characters:

  • Begin video with slower games like hidden items or word games, with a header like “Find 5 Bats”
  • Characters breakthrough painting as others chase with a (baseball) bat.

Competitor/Share of Voice:

  • N/A

Player Motivations:

  • Decorative/creative opening could attract puzzle players

match 3 Faux Hidden Items Gameplay Match 3 Faux Hidden Items Gameplay

Concept: Locks and Gates

  • New 2D animation style
  • Try characters in “How to Loot?” where a lock releases sweets or allows her to escape
  • Test “What’s Next?” vs FAIL – to appeal to new users
  • Leverage “dumb ways to die” assets

Competitor/Share of Voice:

  • Gardenscapes: 96%
  • Homescapes: 36%

Player Motivations:

  • Engage puzzle players who want to complete challenges

Match 3 Locks and Gates Match 3 Locks and Gates

Concept: Connect the Dots

Create videos where finger connects dots to create characters:

  • Simple background
  • Engages the viewer’s curiosity
  • Can speak to game truths like Clockmaker’s “We know you’re tired of Match-3 ads..”

Competitor/Share of Voice: 

  • Sweet Escapes, EA

Player Motivations: 

  • Targets player need for creativity and narrative in games

Match 3 Connect the DotsMatch 3 Connect the Dots

Concept: Serial Storytelling

Serial storytelling style: 

  •  Soap opera clichés and adult situations to capture the attention of the 25-54 female demographic
  • Minimal scenes (“UP” style opening)
  • Rival characters fighting over a love interest
  • Female characters overcoming odds and bad male behavior

Competitor/Share of Voice: 

  • Lily’s Garden: 91% SOV

Player Motivations: 

  • Targets player need for narrative in games

Match 3 Serial Storytelling Match 3 Serial Storytelling Match 3 Serial Storytelling

Concept: Perilous Situations

  • Rescue situations: Feature characters. Leverage pop culture, movies, or just mini-games. 
  • Character holding rope bridge (Indiana Jones) 
  • Character holding a clock (Harold Lloyd). 
  • Dumb ways to die concepts
  • HS/GS “in a theme tied to the game”

Match 3 Perilous Situations Match 3 Perilous Situations Match 3 Perilous Situations Match 3 Perilous Situations

Concept: Character Countdown

Feature various characters in a countdown: 

  • Showcases animation style, range of characters and attributions
  • Generates engagement (curiosity over list of characters)

Competitor/Share of Voice: 

  • Rise of Kingdoms: 28% SOV

Player Motivations:

  • Targets completionists seeking to master levels/characters

Match 3 Character Countdown Match 3 Character Countdown Match 3 Character Countdown Match 3 Character Countdown

Concept: Pop Culture

  • “Nailed It” TV show, predicted winner, iterate with new items (gingerbread) 2 item pickers, new fail, new kitchen items.
  • Best Fiends throwback ad featured familiar “I Love Lucy” black and white opening. Leverage familiar TV show opens with characters that speak to our target demo.

Match 3 Pop Culture Match 3 Pop Culture

Concept: Hidden Objects

Count off hidden items or count the difference between side by side images of environments.

Match 3 Hidden Objects Match 3 Hidden Objects

Concept: Comedic Voice Over

Create videos that juxtapose gameplay with funny voice over:

  • Showcases gameplay and graphics
  • Mimics player dialogue
  • Uses subtitles

Competitor/Share of Voice: 

  • Icing on the Cake: 54% SOV
  • Rise of Kingdoms: 72% SOV
  • Questland: 8% SOV

Player Motivations: 

  • Mirrors social aspect of puzzle games

Match 3 Comedic Voice Over Match 3 Comedic Voice Over Match 3 Comedic Voice Over

Concept: Character Competitions

Feature game characters in different competitions:

  • Slap Off
  • Strip Poker (word search removes items of clothing, will keep it PG)
  • Funny way to show character in new environment

Competitor/Share of Voice: 

  • Slap King: 100% SOV
  • Slap Master: 100% SOV
  • Sinful Puzzle: 13% SOV

Player Motivations: 

  • Targets competitive players

Match 3 Character Competitions Match 3 Character Competitions

Concept: Off to the Races

Create videos featuring game characters in different races

  • Water slide race, Car race, running race
  • Dress up characters as mascots at baseball game, make it interactive with “see who wins”
  • Showcases characters in new game environment
  • Engages viewers who’ll want to see who wins

Competitor/Share of Voice: 

  • Aquapark: 83% SOV

Player Motivations: 

  • Targets competitive players

Match 3 Off to the Races Match 3 Off to the Races

Concept: One Word at a Time Stories

Simple text-based videos with attitude that entice or antagonize viewers:

  • Simple background
  • Easy to make and test
  • Can speak to game truths like Clockmaker’s “We know you’re tired of Match-3 ads…”

Competitor/Share of Voice: 

  • Clockmaker 83% SOV

Player Motivations: 

  • Targets player need for creativity and narrative in games

Match 3 One Word at a Time Stories Match 3 One Word at a Time Stories Match 3 One Word at a Time Stories Match 3 One Word at a Time Stories

Concept: Incorporate gameplay cleverly

Audience Profile: Completion & Design

  • Make the gameplay a crucial component of the ad story.
  • Examples
    • Gameplay allows you to open a door to escape room
    • Gameplay gives the key to save a character
  •  Use various shapes to present gameplay (heart-shaped, flower, circle)

Match 3 Incorporate gameplay cleverly Match 3 Incorporate gameplay cleverly Match 3 Incorporate gameplay cleverly Match 3 Incorporate gameplay cleverly

Concept: Mix Lifestyle and Gameplay

Audience Profile: Fantasy

  • Opening ad with lifestyle that matches gameplay/characters
  • Adding elements of game characters to lifestyle footage
  • Make Lifestyle part of the story 

Match 3 Mix Lifestyle and Gameplay Match 3 Mix Lifestyle and Gameplay

Concept: Maximize Gameplay Blocks

Audience Profile: Fantasy, excitement

  • Make gameplay parts interact with other elements of ad
  • Examples:
    • Gameplay blocks hit evil character
    • Then, Gameplay blocks come to life and take over screen
    • Or, Gameplay blocks talk to each other discussing ways to make a big move

Match 3 Maximize Gameplay Blocks

Concept: Risqué Ideas

Audience Profile: Destruction and

Excitement

  • Less brand focused 
  • Irreverent elements
  • Examples:
    • Inclusion of gross items
    • Physical discomfort
    • Can’t look away style
    • Humor

Match 3 Risqué Ideas Match 3 Risqué Ideas

Concept: Target Different Player Motivations

Target Different User Clusters

  • CTA always on in non-picker: Play Now, Try Yourself, etc.
  • End Card “FAIL” appeals to certain users, test “What’s Next?”, “Try Yourself”, etc.

Match 3 Target Different Player Motivations Match 3 Target Different Player Motivations

Concept: Test Gameplay Elements

  • Continue using hand style creative, but make it have a purpose 
    • Selection crucial to narration
    • Selection moves ad forward

Match 3 Test Gameplay Elements Match 3 Test Gameplay Elements Match 3 Test Gameplay Elements Match 3 Test Gameplay Elements

Concept: Add Narrative

  • Add narrative to best performers transitions to explain the story better
  • Help understand what the goal is

Match 3 Add Narrative Match 3 Add Narrative

Concept: Test Level Completed – Player Motivation

  • Ad levels completed to gameplay best performers (Audience main motivation is completion)
  • Emphasize the amount of levels 
  • Challenge user to get to higher levels

Match 3 Test Level Completed - Player Motivation Match 3 Test Level Completed - Player Motivation

Concept: Test Mini Fails vs One Big Fail

  • Show a succession of mini fails followed by the big fail ending
  • Add fail sounds to emphasize mistake

Match 3 Test Mini Fails vs One Big Fail Match 3 Test Mini Fails vs One Big Fail

Creative Testing to Optimize Advertising

It’s not enough to just stay on top of Facebook’s creative and Google creative trends, it’s also important to remember to continue testing, testing, testing.

Quantitative Creative Testing is an A/B split-testing methodology we’ve developed for ad creative. It’s designed to be super-efficient with both time and ad spend, to find the sort of breakout ads that can replace a campaign’s previous control. To do Quantitative Creative Testing effectively, we take batches of new Concepts and run them against each other in an ad set. Each new Concept gets about 50,000 impressions before we decide if it’s a winner or a loser. If it’s a winner, it gets moved up into another ad set where it will run against another winning mobile ad creative, including the current control. If the new ad can outperform all the other ads in that ad set, then it gets moved into another, primary ad set and gets the bulk of the campaign’s spend.

You can also check out our video and whitepaper on creative testing best practices:

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, while knowing general creative trends is helpful, dig deeper into the trends most relevant for your product. Further, you’ll also want to overlay all this creative development and testing with actual performance data. As a result, you’ll want to chase trends that boost ROAS, not just chase every trend that comes along. So, keep testing, and testing, and if you have any questions on how to streamline your creative testing process, reach out to us to discuss.

 

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