This is the second episode of our podcast series on ad creative optimization. In the first episode, Dan Greenberg, Chief Design Officer at ironSource and founder of Playworks, shared how he built a world-class creative team. In this episode, Elad Gabison, Creative Lead at Playworks studios, discusses how his team comes up with concepts for ad creatives and what they do to ensure quality execution. 

Listen to the episode or read the edited highlights below.

Maybe you’re just born with it?

1:55 Elad - “Everyone needs to believe that creativity is not a god-given gift. It’s a muscle in your brain and you need to practice it. Let’s be honest, everyone has ideas but the good ones come to those who know how to ask the right questions. In the beginning of cracking user acquisition and creative, the people around your creative team have more answers than the creative people themselves. This is why they have a heavier role in this creative process and they are creating the creative vibe in your organization.”

Getting started with a concept 

3:42 Elad - “Just open the App Store or Google Play and download the app. I think the most important issue is to close the loop and to understand that the beginning is the user acquisition but the end of the funnel is the conversion or CVR. The people at the end of your user acquisition will jump to the store and decide if this is an important click and if they’re going to install it. For me, this is the first place to start your journey, to see the app store, to see what’s going on over there, and to download and play it a bit.”

Insights into how to get insights

4:28 Elad - “It starts from the basic stuff, reading the name of the app, the subtitles, the colors, so you can understand what the meaning of the app is and what the users are expecting to see in the store. We also have experience on ASO, so we know people don’t bother to read the marketing text on the app. But, as a creative reading that, you will find a lot of answers and a lot of insights and clues and I think it will help you in the process.”

5:23 Elad - “Next, I will go to the dashboard. The new skill that creatives need to adapt and evolve to is brainstorming with the dashboards. This is how it should start and you need to learn it before you go to your squad or your members. Then, you can challenge everyone and brainstorm together. But, in the beginning you have to open the dashboards and drill down to the numbers to understand what is going on out there.”

“I will divide this into external data and internal data. If you are trying to crack another campaign, first, you need to see what the previous campaign runnings are and what the performance is over there. You will probably know what the benchmark is for you and what you are trying to achieve. For example, maybe you want to do a localization. If you see a huge scaling in a specific country, maybe this should be your approach and maybe you will take it a step further and try culture localization because this is a specific country you want to challenge yourself with. This is the front end, the internal data dashboard. 

On the external one, you have a lot of outer info. You can go to App Annie, Sensor Tower just to see what’s going on in the ecosystem, what kind of creatives are running and to get inspiration from similar apps just by watching the creative. Another one is social media and it always surprises me. If you go to Instagram and type in a hashtag of the name of an app, you will see thousands of ideas. The most exciting is the fan art from people who have already downloaded the app, installed it, and enjoyed it and are creative people who have already created some themes and ideas. You can take this and just test this on your user acquisition because those are exactly your audience.”

8:12 Elad - “My motto is to be a sponge. You need to get inspired from everything around you and your real life and then bring your real life to the job.”

10:00 Elad - “Sometimes, we struggle to get clients to share their assets and stuff but I think this is one of the key elements to success. Creatives, when they see their own assets, ideas come from those. When you see the raw assets, you just need to connect the dots. This is the time to see meta games and ideas in the app and try to create from this and run user acquisition campaigns.

The critical funnel

11:11 Elad - “I think there are a lot of critical points in the funnel. What’s beautiful in our ecosystem, the programmatic one, is that you can split them into A/B tests. If you are not sure, A/B test it! You need to A/B test all night. But, if I had to point to a specific area, it would definitely be tutorial. We saw a good correlation between people starting to play or communicating with our ads to the end results to the IPM. We have a new slogan in the studio, “overlay is the new black.” If you are focusing on the users for one specific action you want to take from them for the playable, your engagement rate will probably be higher. So, you need to work really hard on the tutorial. From the other side, the end is the time to complete. You need to be very curious and test how much time this ad is going to take and where does the X button appear. You don’t want to lose users because you created too long of an ad or playable. 

Let’s execute this 

12:42 Elad - “First of all, understand that concept is not execution. Sometimes, people say they have ideas and a concept but don’t understand that to create from a concept is a long journey. You need to take into consideration a lot of time and details but also understand that not all of those tiny details are highly relevant for this specific ad. You have a time to market for specific apps and the time to market is more critical than if you are going to do a red swipe or white swipe.”

Collaboration station 

14:00 Elad - “We are working today as a squad. You want creative people to sit with analysts, operations, motion designers, developers, etc. so that everyone can bring their own knowledge and problems with the specific project. To work with squad members is really fun because they will challenge you and this is how you’re going to be agile and you will change during the process. This is not a one man show.”

“Fake” ads? 

15:30 Elad - “If it’s my app, I won’t do this kind of ad, not in V1, V2, V3 or even V8, But I understand that if you’re coming to a large scale of user acquisition and you’re trying to push the barriers, this is a legit process. Also, if you’re doing a soft launch, so you want to test your marketability and to challenge yourself, it’s legit. It’s all about the balance between the IPM and the quality users. You need to start with a good app and if you have a good app and know how to convert your users already, try this kind of approach but be curious and data driven enough to check the quality coming from those users. 

It’s all a struggle 

16:45 Elad - “Since we are pioneering this industry, a lot of other companies are asking for suggestions from us on how to build the team. We are looking to share knowledge. We have seen in the last couple of years the process of in-house creative in a lot of companies so we have adapted to this change. I think now, we will see those clients asking for help from outside. I think that if you are working too hard in-house on your app, sometimes you need someone external to challenge you.”

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