In this LevelUp episode, Melissa gets into building the dream creative team with Vitaly Gladkov, Creative Department Lead at AppQuantum. They attempt to finally answer the question: does it just make sense to move your creatives all in-house? Bonus content includes: why do you need a creative team anyway?

Tune in here or keep reading for the highlights:

The common theme behind good creatives

“Understanding your product and your audience. Thinking about who they are, and how they consume media and content - that’s the most important thing and that’s never changed. We have a lot more instruments right now to unpack this, but in score, it's always been about understanding your product and your audience.” 

Getting an edge with creatives

“Creatives in the gaming industry are what give you the competitive edge. There’s a lot less influence that UA managers can have on which audience you can target with your ads. Creatives are becoming the main tool to reach the audience you want.”

In-house creative teams are like scientists

“When you have an in-house team, you can dive deeper. You have a better understanding of the product and the audience. This understanding is always evolving. We see ourselves as scientists, we do a lot of experiments. And with every and each experiment, we get a better and better understanding of who likes to play our games and how to reach them in a better, more efficient way. It’s hard for an external outsourced creative production to go this deep. We usually say at the start you don’t know anything about the game and the audience. If you want to go deep, in-house is better.”

It’s all about striking the right balance 

"We actually use both approaches but in a different ways. Our creative team is fully in-house, so they’re salaried, but our production team is part in-house and part freelance-based. So, we think the creatives should be in-house, but the bulk of the production team could be freelancers, that's the approach we use." 

Start small, grow big

“I think when you’re starting and your team is small, it makes a lot of sense to work with a small in-house team because communication is easier - you don't need an overhead of project managers, producers, and so on. You can bring in just one creative and two or three motion designers and start working from there. These people could grow into leads and knowledge-keepers who can bring in more people after a while.”

Structuring a hit-making creative team 

“At AppQuantum we have an internal creative team, we have creative producers and creative directors. Creative producers define the strategy of a project and directors are basically the people who come up with the ideas, write the scripts, and overlook the production of the creatives. They’re responsible for how the creative looks and works. Creative producers are responsible for the strategy. In our production team, we have project management teams that find our freelancers, communicate with them, talk over prices, help to find materials, and everything like that. We also have art leads, people who come up with how things should look and help motion designers to develop their skills and we also have a couple of motion designers and artists in-house.”

A key piece of advice for unlocking in-house creative teams 

"Start small. Start small with senior-level personnel, grow your own expertise, grow slowly, and grow naturally. You don’t need to build a team of 50-70 people from the start. I think the better way is to find a couple of key roles that are experienced in the industry - they understand what they’re doing and they can start developing your creatives. Then, grow from there."

The future of mobile game creatives

"Greater segmentation. Each genre has creatives which work for their genre that don't easily transfer to another game, another project, or another genre."

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