Are you ready for NFL kickoff?  Check out what’s working right now for NFL sports apps ad creative.

  • Discover user motivations for sports app users
  • Compare top creative trends
  • Get fresh creative trends

NFL & Sports Apps: High Performing Ad Creative


NFL starts this week and mobile app advertisers competing for the attention of fans will have to get really creative. As we have reported, the loss of IDFA has caused massive disruption to the mobile ad ecosystem, and the erosion of lookalike audience targeting alongside automated ad management means app advertisers must focus on persona-led creative designed for different motivations and interests to unlock new audiences and Facebook just published Creative Prototyping and The Big Catch Playbook full of recommendations. Krystel Bitar, Global Gaming Product Manager at Facebook emphasized in a recent article about Automated App Ads (AAA) how critical creative diversification based on motivation is: “it’s time to make different creatives inspired by these motivators. The more unique these are, the easier it will be to ultimately determine what has attracted its audience.”

Why people play mobile games in the US

With the loss of deterministic tracking in full effect, insights into player behavior continue to deteriorate and a one-size-fits-all ad creative limits advertisers to the players they’re already familiar with. Now is the opportunity for mobile app advertisers to adapt. Tailoring creative to different interests, motivations, and desires of players will attract high-quality top-of-funnel installs from new audiences that were missed by more broad advertising, making creative the most efficient lever for sustained profitable user acquisition. Our creative learning agenda incorporates intensive research into game genre, personas, and user motivations as well as understanding what ads our target users are responding to in other markets.


Here are competitor trends we’re seeing for sports apps ad creative: 

  • Gameplay and game overview that showcase graphics and players (Home Run Clash, NBA 2K, Boxing Star)
  • Distance or performance challenges for viewers to propel an object to reach a target (Baseball Boy, Slap Master)Creative Journey
  • Competition videos dramatizing head-to-head competition between rival players or teams. (Darts of Fury, Home Run Clash)
  • Noob vs. Pro videos displaying bad and good gameplay (Darts of Fury, Mini Golf King)
  • Real player footage replacing game characters and gameplay (Tennis Clash, Sniper Arena, Draft Kings)
  • Cinematic techniques like slow-motion and camera pan utilizing game characters (Johnny Trigger, Mr. Bullet, Sniper Arena, Tennis Clash)
  • Augmented gameplay adding illustrations, emojis, talk bubbles, and voiceovers to gameplay or characters (Mr. Bullet, Draft Kings, Flip & Dive 3D)
  • Game controller overlay on gameplay to give it a game console effect (Tennis Clash, City Fighter Vs. Street Gang)
  • UGC styles leveraging influencer and player interviews and reviews (Underdog Fantasy)
  • Team creation scenarios and what-ifs

Mapping these creative trends to game player motivations, such as those identified by market researcher Quantic Foundry, we can break down why they work and find more opportunities for unique creative storytelling.

  • Real player footage and cinematic techniques provide immersion, fantasy, and excitement
  • Distance challenges and Noob v. Pro videos appeal to mastery, competition, power, and fantasy
  • Player rivalries appeal to competition, mayhem, action, challenge, power, and fantasy
  • Gameplay and controller overlays appeal to immersion, excitement, challenge, and competition
  • Augmented gameplay provides social appeal and story immersion
  • Team creation scenarios appeal to creativity, customization, strategy, and making decisions

person-led creative


Here’s what’s working in sports apps ad creative based on MobileAction data and Facebook Ads Library:


Head-to-Head Player Stats

DraftKings showcases NFL player’s pics with head-to-head stats between rival players, appealing to users who value achievement, challenge, and competition.

DraftKings DraftKings


Team Creation

SuperDraft also showcases NFL player’s pictures and fantasy team stats, appealing to users who value strategy, decision making, creativity, completion, and challenge.

SuperDraft sports apps ad creative


Head-to-Head Team Rivalry

WinView games showcase head-to-head team rivalry appealing to users that value community, achievement, challenge, competition.

WinView sports apps ad creative

Head-to-Head Players

FanDuel showcases individual NFL players to appeal to users who value strategy, making decisions, achievement, and competition.

FanDuel sports apps ad creative


Underdog Fantasy uses side-by-side player discussion to appeal to players who value a connection to other players.

nfl sports apps ad creative

Dramatic Gameplay

Baseball Clash dramatic cinematic techniques applied to gameplay to appeal to players who value immersion, fantasy, and excitement.

sports apps ad creative

Performance Challenge

Tennis Clash uses an overlay of a player’s hand to guide shots, appealing to players who value mastery, competition, power, and fantasy.

sports apps ad creative

Simple Gameplay

Golf Rival uses simple progressive gameplay and mellow music to appeal to players who value immersion and mastery.

nfl sports apps ad creative

Noob vs. Pro

Pool Ball Night uses gameplay footage of cringe-worthy shots overlaid with a player-in-picture and request for help from the viewer, appealing to players who value achievement, mastery, challenge, competition, and community.

nfl sports apps ad creative

Sports Apps Creative Concepts


Create videos that incorporate statistics into the gameplay

  • Overlay graphics to show the distance of tape measure shots and challenge viewers to play
  • Overlay stats graphics on characters, challenging viewers to beat their opponent
  • Appeals to players motivated by competition, power, challenge, excitement

Create a countdown of featured players in the game

  • Showcases animation style, range of players, and stats
  • Style graphics like collector cards
  • Spark curiosity about who is (or is not) included
  • Appeals to players motivated by completion, surprises, competition, community, and power

Add trash talk over gameplay

  • Showcases gameplay and graphics alongside subtitles
  • Appeals to players motivated by competition, community, being on a team, mayhem, interacting

Feature gameplay with emoji overlays and talk bubbles to communicate emotions

  • Humanizes and adds humor
  • Showcases game graphics
  • Appeals to players motivated by community, being on a team, interacting, fantasy, and surprises

Intercut gameplay with real footage, so that it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s the game

  • Showcases game graphics and simulation
  • Appeals to players motivated by immersion, fantasy, action, discovery

Re-create the feel of a famous announcer calling a legendary game with gameplay and voice over

  • Creates emotional “what if” scenarios
  • Engages viewer’s curiosity
  • Highlights the passion of sports fans
  • Appeals to players motivated by community, being on a team, immersion, fantasy, action, discovery

Create videos using cinematic techniques and voiceover to up the emotional ante of the game

  • Showcases game graphics
  • Utilizes nostalgic sports documentary feel
  • Appeals to players motivated by community, being on a team, immersion, fantasy, action, discovery

Create side-by-side videos of good (Pro) versus bad (Noob) gameplay

  • Shows the difficulty of the game
  • Highlights both “wins” and “fails”
  • Appeals to players motivated by competition, power, challenge, excitement

Create a sing-along music video of gameplay with a famous sports chant

  • Most chants are in the public domain
  • Showcases graphics and gameplay
  • Appeals to players motivated by community, being on a team, immersion, fantasy


Why trust our UA and creative recommendations?

  • 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.
  • Clients we’ve helped grow: Roblox, Glu Mobile, Disney, SuperHuman, Rovio, Jam City, Wooga, NBA, MLB, Ford, Sun Basket, Lion Studios, MobilityWare, and many others.


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