Why is mobile game ad creative testing necessary?
Mobile marketing teams often ignore testing because it requires extra time and investment. It's easier and faster to start placing ads immediately without performing additional steps for sure. However, it's better not to ignore testing. In the long run, these tests will save you effort, money and time.
- Testing helps eliminate 80% of ineffective creative and saves human and financial resources.
- Defining the best advertising ideas among all the successful ones and making the most of them.
- Identify the combinations that bring in profits.
- Figure out what kind of audience you're dealing with: what they're interested in and what topics they're likely to focus on.
- Avoid a situation where the creative "burns out" and there is no replacement. The more ideas you have in stock, the more ads you can place.
Questions to ask before creating a creative for a mobile game
We have prepared a series of basic questions that you should ask yourself before starting any video ad to promote your mobile game.
Use the list of questions below to find tips and ideas that will help you produce more successful video ads. Go even beyond this list. You can even ask more questions that we haven't addressed yet.
Take some time to consider them. Even though these suggestions may seem obvious, many mobile game developers neglect to answer them when creating ad creatives for mobile games.
What is the "uniqueness" that your mobile game must offer?
As Pablo Picasso said, "Good artists copy, great artists steal".
Google Play and App Stores are full of clones of games, with subtle differences between them. If you promote in the same way, showing the same features and art as other games, you will have a harder time standing out.
Find out what's unique in the game. It could be a unique feature, an uncommon genre mechanic, a game-changing ability, a graphical enhancement, or a new perspective that you come up with.
Something that stands out from your competitors. That "something" that allows you to create a powerful "wow effect" or "punch line" in your video ads.
Click "Learn More
" to drive your apps & games business with ASO World app promotion
Who is the ideal player (audience) for your mobile game?
The most effective video ads will adapt the tone, style and overall communication to the audience. Consider the demographic, psychographic and behavioral aspects of the people who will receive your ad creative.
Marketers often create "user personas," a concept you may not be aware of unless you are familiar with marketing or analytical psychology.
A user persona (or sometimes just a persona) is a fictional representation of your ideal player. He is the individual who represents all of his group.
Creating a user persona is an exciting experience that can help you identify new ways to reach potential players. Giving your segment a name and personality may make it easier for you to find opportunities to reach, communicate and interact with them.
Imagine the daily lives of people aged 25 to 35 who use their cell phones for 2 hours a day. What dialects do they speak? How would you communicate with them? What is their mindset when you approach them? How will you customize your content for this audience?
No clue, right?
But now imagine a 28-year-old man named Roberto. He plays arcade/casual mobile games. Every day on his way to work, he spends an hour watching Tiktok or Reddit. He also spends another hour watching YouTube videos while eating dinner.
Now you can tailor your content to this person more precisely. Now you know how to communicate with him, which style you should use, what he likes, and even where you'll find him.
Where can you find your mobile game's audience?
There are tons of articles, guides, courses, webinars, gurus and content about promoting mobile games on Facebook and Instagram.
The Facebook Commerce Manager is a great platform for setting up highly sophisticated hyper-segmented video ads. Same with Google Ads and many other advertising platforms. The world of advertising technology is so vast that you can get lost in all the possibilities.
Let's go back to the previous example. We talked about Roberto's use of TikTok and YouTube. you can place millions of video ads on Facebook, but you'll never get Roberto's presence there. You might reach Marias (a 45-year-old woman who plays triple-play), Krishnas (a 15-year-old PUBG gamer in India), or even Michaels (a 45-year-old American casino player).
Facebook Business is a powerful tool, and it's very beneficial for many mobile games. But if your ideal player is Roberts, then let's find them where they are.
What do you hope to achieve with your ad creative?
Of course, you need installs and if possible, from high-value users. But do you want to get installs from people who already know your game? Are you looking for quantity or quality? Do you need users to test specific features or calculate LTV?
Depending on the way you answer that question, your video ads may vary greatly.
Let's use some examples.
- Sometimes, you may want to generate user acquisition campaigns to increase "brand awareness". You want to reach as many people as possible and just let them know your exist. Installing is not just one thing, maybe you haven't even launched your game yet, and you want to create hype.
- Sometimes, you may want to create "burst campaigns". Their goal is to attract as many installs as possible in a very short period of time. This is a useful strategy for certain stages of the game, for example when you want to test the resilience of your servers, when you want to find bugs, or even when you want to increase organic installs (the latter is called a burst campaign).
- However, if your game has been available for a while and you have a lot of data from current and lost users, you may want to create "remarketing campaigns". You will then reach out to users who have played your mobile game. They may have churned at some point, but you want to recover them, for example, if they are high spenders.
In each case, you need three very different kinds of video ads.
The first has to be a video ad that is teasing. Something that just makes them vibrate, but not enough to make them fantasize about all the possibilities. If you know Cyberpunk 2077, you'll know what I mean.
Secondly, you may want to show more of your game with a lot of great stuff. You don't want your audience to just be curious, but to be eager and craving for your game at the right moment. Something to pull them to install.
In the third case, the audience may not have the best memories of your game. They may not want to see what they already know. You have to convince them that your mobile game has improved and that they will get it this time which will be much better if/once they come back.
When is the fun moment after they open your mobile game?
People usually enjoy most products immediately after purchase. Imagine a child buying candy. Once that child purchases the candy, opens the package, puts it in their mouth, and he will start enjoying it.
But that's not how mobile games work. Players must install the game, open it, accept all the tiresome disclaimers and pop-ups, sometimes even register, completing a tutorial that may take a few minutes, and - if they are new to the game - learn the game mechanics. After going through all the processes that can be mitigated, they may say, "Oh, I get it, this is where the fun begins."
As you think about how to promote your game, consider the journey your users take to complete all of these steps. If your ad creative promises an enjoyable experience by playing content that can only be unlocked after a few hours, they will feel cheated when they can't find that content in FTUE (first time user experience). If that happens, they may churn and never return. You will then have a much harder time seducing them again.
I'm not saying you can't show a super epic battle with "over 9000 players". If those battles are the core mechanics of your game, then go for it!
However, if your ads are focused on specific features, like strategic spaceship battles, and you start the game with casual arcade gameplay, then your video ads may have some problems converting users.
Remember Spore? Nonetheless, this "strategic spaceship battle" may be a good video ad to use for remarketing purposes and to bring back old users who are lost and already at a high level and using these mechanics.
How to prepare for ad creative testing
In order to not fly blind and get the most out of creative tests, you need to prepare them properly. The following are the key points for obtaining objective results and designing the most effective ad creative.
- Choose the audience and geographic area where you will test your advertising material. It is worth choosing the options that you will deal with after conducting the tests.
- Set up test criteria - benchmarks. in addition, you need to use the same audience groups and optimization settings for all ad materials.
- Define the key metrics that will be used as indicators of whether the material passes the test. It is best to focus on click-through rate (CTR), install rate (IR), conversion rate (CR) or retention rate (RR). If the project has already done user acquisition before, then you should set benchmarks. If the project is new and no data is available, you should look at internal benchmarks from other applications in similar verticals.
- If you are looking at metrics that are out of scope, set up internal auto rules to exclude ad material from rotation for an extended period of time. However, if the ad platform does not support automatic rules, you will mainly face this phase.
- Determine the test budget. The budget and traffic must allow you to get the least statistically significant results.
The right order for testing ad material
There are 3 options for ad material testing: simultaneous, sequential and A/B testing.
Testing all ad materials at once can save valuable time. When you have a large number of creatives completed and ready to publish, it is best to test them in order.
There is debate about how effective it is to run a large number of creatives at the same time. Let's say you are running a Facebook ad campaign. Out of all the creatives, the Facebook algorithm will select only a few top creatives to run further. They will win and consume all available traffic. And you can't have a large number of creatives bidding at the same time. In any case, it's always a rotation: the old ones die out and give way to new, fresh approaches.
If we are talking about a large number of ads in a campaign (up to 50), sometimes this works better than running 5-7 ads. But you can't predict in which case it will work. Either way, you should test it. There is no clear pattern for this option, but it is mainly related to the game project.
Automated or manual testing?
Let's assume that Facebook is your main source of traffic. If you upload multiple ad creatives to an ad group, the social network will direct most of the traffic to the ad that will bring the most conversions according to the Facebook algorithm. Sure, this is convenient and optimizes the UA manager's job, but with this test format, there is a risk of missing out on potentially good creatives simply because they are not getting enough traffic. According to Facebook's internal algorithm, ad material can lose traffic because there is a "stronger" creative in the ad group next to it.
That's why it's important to test manually, directing traffic to the ad material separately to estimate key metrics. Only after a few successful hypotheses have been collected can they be combined into a comprehensive campaign.
During the testing and search for working hypotheses phase, only manual campaigns are run using Dynamic Creative, Facebook's in-house feature, gets involved when additional insights based on valid creative emerge. This tool automatically creates new settings: image/video + text + headline + CTA. it then optimizes the ads on its own, showing only the ones that work best. As a result, you can see the statistics - in which creative, which element is more effective than the others.
The two methods are combined in the whole campaign. Sometimes it is impossible to work without manual testing, otherwise, you will not be able to understand the actions actually performed. But sometimes it is better to use automation, because it simply does not make sense to waste the buyer's time.
How to evaluate the test results
We analyze the test results in the same way as we set benchmarks.
Comparing the results of the test creatives with the average of the project metrics.
Be sure to adjust the KPIs and their benchmarks you are viewing and evaluating based on the platform and format you are testing. For example, on YouTube, you want to consider viewership as one of the most important funnel KPIs, which is not the KPI you would consider when evaluating Facebook ads.
Different channels also tend to bring in different qualities of users, so you may need a different number to achieve statistical significance when testing bottom-funnel metrics.
If the ad material meets the benchmark, we will run a second test. This will allow you to eliminate the possibility of randomness.
Finally, launch a proven creative and start attracting a lot of traffic from it.
How has testing changed since the launch of iOS 14.5+?
Too little time has passed to draw objective conclusions: not all users have switched to iOS 14.5+, and not that much time has passed so far. But the effect of the iOS UA campaign has changed dramatically. All data is now available only at the ad campaign level, not at the ad material level.
If each ad group targets a different audience, we can't objectively assess the effectiveness of a particular ad - because we receive events for the entire campaign.
But there is a solution: test ad material on Android and transfer successful ad material to iOS.