What’s the best way to get more results from your user acquisition advertising? We say it’s video ad creative.
After spending over a $3 billion dollars on user acquisition advertising in the last four years, here’s where our biggest wins have come from:
- 60% from creative testing
- 30% from audience expansion
- 10% from other tactics
If you drill down into which creative elements drove the results from creative testing, it breaks out like this:
- 60% of videos or images
- 30% text
- 10% headlines and calls to action
While videos and images do share first place for their impact on results, videos tend to outperform images. You can see this in almost any study of social media ads or content done in the last few years: Video content almost always outperforms still images. Side note: we have found that Facebook Carousel ads work great for B2B apps and websites.
With ads, the likelihood of a video beating a still image goes even higher. This is why Facebook and Google (and creative partners like ourselves) have gone to such lengths to make adding motion to ads easier. Facebook launched its “Video Creation Kit,” and we’ve spent a lot of time developing our own best practices for how to add motion to still images and AdRules offers a video editor and bulk sheet editing to create thousands of videos for localization, resizing and quick additions of end cards and start cards all done inside our Creative Studio.
So if creative testing delivers the most improvements for user acquisition campaigns… and video delivers the bulk of those creative testing improvements… if you could only do one thing to improve your advertising, it would be to create better videos.
That’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this post.
Quantitative creative testing for user acquisition campaigns is essential now, of course. And we’ve written about it in several posts. So let’s approach video advertising best practices by breaking video ads down into their essential parts. Those would include:
- Ad copy
- End/start cards
- Calls to action
- Use of animation/motion
- Text placement
- Video ratio/ length
Here’s how to optimize each of those elements:
We strongly recommend checking your competitors’ ads to see which ad copy they’re using over and over again. A simple twist on what’s been working for them could help your ads a lot.
But while your competitors’ ads can be helpful, there’s one golden rule to follow: Use emotion.
Use emotion as often and as strongly as you can. Emotion rules over rationality, especially for game and lifestyle apps.
This is basically a new spin on that old ad copy rule of “sell benefits, not features.” The most fundamental (and powerful) benefit ever is how a product or service makes people feel. So always focus on emotions. They’re the ultimate product experience.
Here’s how Gardenscapes leverages emotion and empathy to urge users to come back to play their game.
Speaking of old-school advertising tricks – if you had to distill any ad down to two things, they would be the headline and the call to action. The ad copy in a video ad serves as the headline. Buttons are the call to action.
Once again, checking your competitors’ ads can be helpful, but don’t stop there. There are plenty of ways to test buttons. Try using “my” on your buttons instead of “you” – this is yet another old direct response trick that still works in 2019.
Whatever you do, make the copy on your buttons clear. Confused people don’t take action. And you’re pitching to people who are scrolling through a river of information; even the slightest whiff of confusion is enough to suppress conversion rates.
Start and end cards
Not using these as part of your video advertising? We think you’re missing out.
Here’s why start and end cards work so well:
- Tell the story of the ad.
- Create a powerful first frame visual.
Start cards are simple. They usually include just the name of the app. Try that, but also try going a step further. Adding a call to action can help a lot.
Some apps use calls to action or phrases that introduce gameplay or explain to the user what they should do, almost like a mini-tutorial. For example, Gardenscapes will use a CTA like “Save Your Garden!” or “Make a Choice to Save Them!”
Some apps try to draw in the consumer’s attention by using phrases such as “The Best Matching Game” or “It’s Harder Than It Looks!” on their start cards. These kinds of phrases draw the consumer to watch the video instead of scrolling past it.
While start cards are not as important as end cards, they serve an important purpose: They can stop people from scrolling past your ad when it shows up on their timeline or social media feed. And if people never see past the start card, they’ll never see any other part of your ad.
End cards are used to pique interest in the game based on the call to action and the brand slogan.
They work in part thanks to a psychology principle called “the recency effect.” When consumers are looking for new apps, they are more likely to remember apps whose ads use end cards.
Most end cards have the app’s name and a call to action like “Accept the Challenge!” or “Try it Yourself!” Some include a button, too, with copy like “Download Now!” or “Play Now!”
Many advertisers also include prompts to download their app on the app store/Google Play, but we don’t recommend that. Including the platform logos frequently drop conversion rate by 10-15%.
You can try blurring out the gameplay in the background of the end card. We’ve seen it work well, and lots of gaming apps use that tactic.
Text placement, fonts, colors, and emojis
How text looks and where it’s placed can have a big effect on conversion rates. Again, you can get some ideas from your competitors’ ads in the Facebook Ads Library and other tools, but we like to position text towards the top and bottom of the screen and to use bright, pure colors for optimal response rates.
These aspects of an ad are important in another way, too. They’re good examples of elements best chosen by Creative teams. User acquisition managers or teams may want to manage these aspects of ads:
- Call to actions
- Headers and Footers
But Creative Teams should be given authority to pick the text attributes we’ve just mentioned, plus background images, button colors, and fonts, and video ad aspect ratios and ad lengths.
Video ad ratio
Landscape, square, or horizontal? But this aspect of your ads can have a huge effect on performance.
We recommend every advertiser use at least these three aspect ratios in their campaigns:
Of course, creating videos for every ratio and placement size is a lot of work. This is why only your highest-performing video ads should be made into every possible size and aspect ratio. Otherwise, you’ll just waste a lot of time and budget creating endless versions of low-performing videos.
That said, because Facebook and Google’s media buying is mostly automated now, any video you run may be seen across a huge array of properties. This is part of why we recommend using videos so much – we’ve found that 45% of total impressions on iOS are from video ads.
Also consider creating more than one video, even if you can’t afford robust video ad creative testing. We’ve found that adding just two videos to almost any campaign will increase conversions by 25%. The more you spend, the more videos you need, too. Advertisers spending even $50,000-$75,000 per month should create at least four new high-performing videos per month.
Google has one other interesting recommendation: Make videos that flex in length. So even if you stick with one video aspect ratio, create three versions of that same video ad. One 10 seconds long, another that 15 seconds long, and one that’s 30 seconds long. Then let the algorithm figure out where to show the different ads.
If you haven’t been using many – or any – video ads for your user acquisition campaigns, that needs to change right now. Videos convert. They’re more than worth the extra investment.
Or maybe you’re a step ahead of that. But if you’ve only been creating one or two videos at a time, it’s time to upgrade your advertising to develop more video assets, stat. You need to be testing multiple ads, and then when you find a winner, make multiple versions of that winning ad in different aspect ratios and in different video ad lengths.
Giving Facebook and Google good, flexible creative like that lets the algorithms do their work far more effectively. It will get your user acquisition campaigns considerably better return on ad spend, too.