As we continue to see automation become a part of almost every part of a user acquisition strategy, creatives are one of the few remaining pieces where a human touch matters. Devising an innovative creative strategy that makes an impact by attracting and engaging users is essential for an effective UA campaign.
To give your creative strategy a boost, we spoke with Elad Gabison, Creative Lead and Game Designer at ironSource Playworks, about how to improve mobile game creatives and hook users into next year.
1. Adopt a squad mentality
Balancing excellent ideas for game creatives with great execution can be a tricky balance. Waiting too long to go from ideation to execution could prevent your creatives from ever getting off the ground or hurt the success of the overall strategy as you rush the design. The ideal situation is to execute your good idea quickly while maintaining quality. And to do this, you should adopt a squad mentality.
Rather than keeping teams separate and moving the creatives from one group to the next, a squad mentality means involving the performance, operations, and creative teams all together in the creative strategy. Or if you’re a lean operation and one person represents all 3, then the goal is to make sure the creative strategy is aligned across all parts of the business. When all parts of the game execute on creatives together, it improves the efficiency and quality of the creatives while ensuring the designs remain true to the idea of the game. In general, players aren’t likely to be game designers so comments from people outside your creative circle - like a developer from the performance team - can reveal important findings about the creatives. And, getting feedback from different people in your organization can help inspire new and unique creative ideas.
2. Hyper-casualize your designs
Think about how hyper-casual creatives are easy for users to understand, quick, and engaging - this attracts a much wider audience. Thinking like a hyper-casual creative designer when you go to optimize your own creative strategy can help you simplify your design or tap into player emotions to boost engagement and conversions.
For example, we’ve seen success with testing a version of creatives that frustrate players, such as a playable or video showing a deeper level or boss level of the game. Hyper-casual games are defined by their simplicity and increasing difficulty as players progress - as they get deeper into the game, frustration is often a theme that emerges and encourages people to keep playing, since they want to win. Showing failure or frustration in your creatives inspires a feeling in the users that they can do better themselves and can encourage conversions.
3. Use data to inspire your creativity
Creative decisions backed by performance data are more likely to succeed, so be sure to check on the creatives from other apps that are shown in your game, the apps that you’re advertising on, and the KPIs of your competitors’ apps. Taking into account the data from all of these sources can help provide a more complete view of the performance of your creatives and affirm your findings.
Before launching your creative set, look at data from apps that are performing well and incorporate lookalike visuals or mechanics to try to attract traffic. You already know that users enjoy playing this type of game because supply-side, demand-side, and/or competitor data proves it - so you can design your creatives to appeal to that game’s players.
Analyze data after a creative launch, too, so you can use this information to balance quality of users and scale. If your KPI is retention, and you notice initial IPM was high and then users dropped off, it could indicate that the quality of the users was low as they didn’t stay to keep playing your game - something could only know this by checking your creative’s performance after launching. To fix that, look at previous creatives that met your quality benchmarks and see what parts you could apply to your current creative set. For example, it can help to expand the number of levels in a creative, so users get a fuller game experience and feel more emotional buy-in.
4. Hook users with mini-game playables
Mini-games are trending across game genres because they increase engagement and encourage users to play for longer - making them effective as creatives, too.
Even if you don’t have mini-games implemented, you can still use the concept to inspire your creative strategy. Try out playables that highlight different types of mini-games, mix up the mechanics, or highlight various characters, to see what meets your KPIs. Just make sure the mini-game relates to your game’s theme and mechanics - you want users to understand your game’s concept and still be excited to play once they go to the app store to download it. And depending on how well the creatives perform, results could indicate mini-games would be an engaging addition to your game. This is one of many trends, so keep your eye out for other ones to use and adapt in your creative strategy and always be testing to find the balance between quality and scale.
Gearing up your creative strategy for 2021
If you’ve read until here, then we should tell you - don’t take these 4 mobile creative tips as the be-all-end-all. A great creative strategy is all about reinventing yourself, finding what’s relevant for your game, and rebuilding every tip we’ve given you here so it’s adapted for your game design. Try out one of our suggestions - or all of them - and see what sticks. And if you have an idea for a fifth tip that you think we’re missing, then let us know! Send over your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.