Building a Data-Driven Creative Framework

Today I’m going to walk you through the creative framework I use, but we will be also talking about understanding of your target audience and how it’s super important. Least but not last you are going to read about the creative framework and audience and where to get some inspiration.

This interview and presentation originated as a part our webinar from Mobile Action.

Let’s just dive into the creative process. First of all when I start to work with some games I try to analyze the past data and if we don’t have any data then also looking at the at the competitor analysis and trying to find out what are the competitors using in different channels, in different UA channel.s Then with these this type of data and trying to bring those into the brainstorming sessions where I talk with the motion designers and idea makers. And then also what I found out was really important and beneficial for the whole creative process is to bring game designers or product managers into the brainstorming process because it’s really interesting to hear their angles and their perspective of the game and the perspective of the target audience and from these brainstorming sessions what the result should be is the creative brief. Because the creative brief is very important for all the creative process and the creation and basically everybody is on the same page when there is a creative brief there is everything inside that. You have all elements that you want to see in that video or static image. If you are working as an agency or as a consultant this is the brief you are sending to the to the client so everybody is on the same page and everybody see and can expect the final result. Afterwards there are some first sketches and feedback and preview before that obviously where client, PM or UA manager is choosing the idea based on either the past performance or the competitor analysis or sometimes it’s based on your gut feeling. And then like first sketches and feedback back and forth with the colleagues and then going to the creative testing and evaluation. Obviously like creative testing I’m trying to do mostly on facebook but can be done on other channels. And then based on based on this testing they’re looking at the dashboards and trying to evaluate the winning idea, winning creative and then just all these processes start all over again. 

 

So in terms of the competitor analysis and I’m using the mobile ad intelligence. I hope you can hear the sound right and these are from the Mobile Action ad intelligence and then basically here I can see all these competitor creatives. Not only what they’re using on facebook but also on the other ad networks which is really important. Before I was using the facebook ads library but now this is like more comprehensive and that gives me more data to work with and also to the motion designers. it’s pretty user friendly also motion designers or any creative team can deep dive into this and see what works and what doesn’t.

 

And as I mentioned like these brainstorming sessions I was used to do this like face-to-face but in these COVID times when I’m in my home office – kitchen office is what I’m having at the moment – we just found out that the google drawings is very nice tool to work with the brainstorming sessions and you know you have everybody there everybody can participate comment create ideas let’s draw whatever else and it’s really nice tool when you don’t meet face to face everything can be done remotely.

Basically this is how does it look like from the sketches and ideas perspective and really back and forth between the let’s say account managers or motion designers or UA managers to the to the client or your colleague depends on where you work. And regarding the testing obviously you can test a lot of things and you can have a testing framework as well in terms of how the test campaign look like how- But also what can be tested and what I like to test from different perspective is not only the sound and the music because of the music I found out the music is really important even though there are some benchmarks that almost nobody is scrolling the facebook news feed or whatever news feed with the music on but then you have the ad networks where you can have the music on because you play the game and I do play the games with music and my airpods on. And then besides that multiple color schemes the contrast and endings and all these orientations and lengths for different networks and formats these are some structure testing that can be done. You know these navigating hands you know these days we started testing navigating hand but we’re having the cat themed game we are also using the paw from like white paw to gray and whatever else that can be also tested. It’s actually really nice thing to test – it can have pretty nice and different results. What’s really important is that the last part is the evaluation and you should be able to have the creative level ROI and the ROIs numbers because obviously the CPIs and IMPs and all these profound metrics are important at least from the beginning but it all comes down to the revenue and the ROI on the creative level. And that’s how I try to think about the creative perspective of creative performance. You should be able to build these dashboards internally or you can use any other tools that can provide the creative level data which is really important to create or to evaluate all these creatives.

That’s very briefly the whole creative process. I mean yeah it’s really important but the understanding of your target audience is even more important, because you need to understand who the creatives are for and how does those creative resonate with your target audience. Mostly I use a combination of tools. This is facebook audience insights but I also use and try to combine it with the quantic foundry and gamerefinery and also similar apps within the Mobile Action which I’ll show you just very briefly after this. What I’m looking at here and what I’m trying to find out is these interests but not only game related interest but also you know video game publisher, toys, games, advertising, artists whatever else. But then what is really important is these tv shows and I see here the Rick and Morty which is really important for me because this indicates the type of the humor of the target audience and it’s very related and similar to mine because I do love Rick and Morty and Family Guy and these kind of tv shows. And we see that this is working pretty well for the target audience and these are the shows they like as well that’s the type of the humor we are trying to focus in in these creatives. And this is also the page in terms of the facebook audience insights and combining it with the Similar Apps helps me to also do the competitor analysis more efficiently. These are the types of the reaction I really want to see you know, when we are running these ads you know these comments are just amazing and amazing to read and you know this is why I think the understanding of the type of audience is really important. Because you know you see the feedback here in the comments under the video let’s play the video a little bit.

I was showing and playing videos in this part of the presentation, if you want to see them feel free to watch the webinar here.

This is first video of many that I want to show you. But why we want to see these comments is not only because of the great feedback but also because this is really helping in terms of UA, in terms of facebook auction. Because these comments, shares, emotions that we see here drives positive feedback and in this case this creative just blew up and I was one of the best performing creatives ever for that game.

But then we have also like with these different perspectives of these games. This is one of the older creatives that we published and again you can see how the people and the players really love the games. And in these times when you just see these fake ads that are not that relevant to the games this is really interesting to see.

We just wanted to leverage the different perspective of the of the gameplay and show the villain in this interview. I think like this was even way before Raid started doing these therapy sessions with their characters. That is also a creative idea which is brilliant I mean probably like super high production cost but that idea is just amazing and I saw some really nice presentations on some conferences about that and I just love the idea. That’s how you can just do something else and be a little bit crazy outside of the  original creatives that you can see in there.

After I introduced this video into the creative mix it just immediately took off and I started seeing this these comments you can see on the right side. And this idea just came up from the slack channel in the random group where just game designer posted this balancing video and just commented like wow this this toad is really overpowered. But then we thought like okay let’s just use it for the creative video and then let’s see like how the players will resonate and how it resonated with the target audience actually blew up pretty nicely.

And that’s actually kind of connected to this claim “process kills creativity” a little bit because I mean of course you need to have these processes in place and to be honest I hate all the processes and when I just need to do something at the specific time just sometimes kills all the creativity in me and I just can’t brainstorm right now for the creatives. I like to think during the day about how to leverage different ideas within the games that I work with and this one for example this is like real life brainstorming session we had one day during random time in connection with my friends from game industry and the motion designers I work with. Basically he just posted this this video.

It is basically his dog barking at the other dogs in television and immediately just started debating like okay her name is Porky and Porky barks all the time.  She sees something in the window and she barks. I came to visit them and she started barking all the time when I was there. And then suddenly we just started like brainstorming and start discussing like okay let’s use like anything dog related. And then this chief like appeared in the in our slack message and we’re just starting to laugh starting to laugh a lot and we said okay let’s put this dog inside a tank and why not? Let’s see how that will work basically after that this video was created.

I know it doesn’t make any sense but I laughed a lot doing this and then also like next version a little bit more connected to the gameplay was created as well.

And immediately after this video was introduced it was like the best performing creative ever. Even better performing than the fish KO video we saw on the previous slides and this is the type of the humor that the target audience of this game really like. That’s why this works well. So what I wanted to showcase here in this slide it’s not only about the creative process you know. You have all these elements inside the process but the brainstorming and the process happens during the day. It can happen when you’re walking outside. And this is connected to the fact that you’re playing the games that you manage and create the creatives for. You just start having these ideas during the normal situation not only during that creative process.

So where do we find this inspiration? I already showed and spoke about the creative the competitor analysis and these are like two creatives that were you know created because of the competitor analysis and like try to imitate the competitor creatives.

VIDEO, VIDEO

But actually none of these two videos performed really well. It can have a lot of reasons but what I’m trying to say is like don’t copy the competitors. But instead let’s think about how you can have some inspiration from those competitors creatives but also like how can you leverage that ideas into your gameplay and connect it to your gameplay.  Not only just one-to-one with the competitors. And like during the COVID times back in february or march, probably more march we just thought that okay let’s ask people about what they like to eat during the quarantine and what are their favorite snacks. You know we connected this static image with this very simple question and we started seeing a lot of answers and you know players just commented like you know I like to eat salad and there was a lot of pizzas as well. No chicken, no spaghetti or mac and cheese – just salad and pizza and then we tried a little bit of the spin with these static images you know spin it to favorite restaurant food than people stopped commenting and we were thinking about okay let’s just rework this idea and since the players were commenting about salad and pizza let’s just use junk food or healthy food and this one actually started working pretty well in terms of the metrics. Now we are thinking about exploring these ideas and this creative concept even more to focus now on calories and trying to work more with the healthy food and this video that will be prepared in sometime in the future. So you know leverage the current situation and not only the current situation but also you can be inspired by any other genre within the gaming industry.

For example you know I’m pretty sure that you saw these ASMR slicing videos because the Smart Slicing by Tricky Tribe – my friends from Slovenia – was a big hit in the us and I think number one for a couple of weeks. Basically these are ASMR slicing or slicing of whatever because I think also Coin Master started slicing their coins. So we thought like okay let’s use this for slicing tomato and again this one was performing quite well. But also from the hyper casual genre what can be done is all these day one versus day three where you just show the progress and this can be used pretty much for any simulation game or any farming simulators. You can see here Harveston where you just showcase the day one the empty island empty farm and then moving towards day 30 and progressing through the content and then showing the really nice farm after a couple of a days. This one actually performed really well. Take a look at the different genres and try to think about how you can leverage those ideas into your game. Because that can work pretty well. 

But also in terms of any memes or hypes or whatever is happening. I’m trying to you know from time to time browse reddit and any other nine gigs or whatever fortune sites just for you know just for these ideas or hype. You know this is the Hiltcher – I would like to highlight that static image because the Hiltcher was created when the actual Witcher series appeared on Netflix and everybody was talking about that it was really like the hype around the world and not in gaming industry but oh actually in gaming industry as well because the number of Witcher series and games sales went up. That’s why we tried to use this idea and create this character Hiltcher which is you know pretty similar to Witcher and we saw amazing results immediately all the metrics went up. Well CPI went down but there was numbers and LTVs and everything. And in other events we try to use this babushka it’s very popular here in slavic region and this static image was also performing really well and then you have all these other drake and drake type of memes and another character that you can you can use and also paintings that you can use and try to leverage for the creatives.

That’s was my part and let’s talk about takeaways. I think are pretty much important basically know your target audience and understand it pretty well because you know those players –  you’re making those creatives for these players and we want to see the how the creatives resonate and resonate well within this target audience. And obviously I try to get inspired from different genres but also like from different events around the world not only the COVID situation but also anything else, like the Witcher series or whatever can be leveraged to create the new creatives. And you know try to be a little bit crazy obviously. Creative but a little bit crazy. Try to use something that you know is a little bit more crazier than anything else and see like how that works if this is something that you are sure that will resonate well within your target audience. But you know be crazy but also trust these ideas because it’s really important to test them all, because testing and the creative performance is all about the testing and finding the right idea that can work pretty well for your games.

Q&A Session

Jens mentioned that he is a marketer in big ecommerce platform the visual identity and tone of voice we have to commit to e-commerce and the sexiest message to communicate we have to think of the visual identity focus mainly user acquisition how can we come up with the fun and catch video ads for our app? all right very good question of course like e-commerce isn’t the sexiest but how can you leverage the products you sell in this I ecommerce platform. What I would do I would just look at the most product that sell the most and try to use it in the real world in in some fun way. I mean I’m just you know on top of my head I’m not sure, but probably yeah connecting the real world to your products and then also connected to the app that would make sense then I would definitely take a look at the previous creative data you have and based on those try to come up with the target audience connected to the data that you have and that you see in your previous campaigns and trying to connect that. It’s a tough one definitely it’s like not that much of a fun as a game but there’s a lot of data on other applications too. So basically these ASMR slicing thing – the first time I saw it wasn’t in hyper casual genre it was actually calm the app for meditation that started using these ASMR slicing videos basically I would start to slicing any products you have and connected with the app or I would try well yeah I would try to start slicing that definitely just as the one crazy idea

I’m thinking about like for example if you have a special offer again when you’re doing e-commerce if you have a special discount for a period of time let’s say christmas or a halloween or something like that and you would like start slicing your products and then there below you would put the like a discount code maybe that could be an idea I mean we’re just like brainstorming here but yeah exactly.

Definitely looking at the different apps not only not only games but different apps because that can be a really nice source of the inspiration that would be probably something that I would try to do.

Exactly like I saw during the COVID these months days these past months I saw a lot of applications  creating creatives specifically for the COVID situation like for example dating apps were using it a lot and then shopping apps were like “stay home” kind of like situation they were putting it in the creatives. So what I would suggest is that go ahead and have a look at your competitors dive into their creatives if you want we can have a look at it together you can just schedule a demo through our main website.

And one more thing regarding where to come up with with fun and catchy videos what we use also is like we are trying to find out the trends on youtube. Trying to use these videos that are multi-million views for example opening up chests in games those videos have really big number of views let’s say oh like box opening that’s like very much related or can be very much related to the your e-commerce platform and the products you know open boxing or whatever that can be that can be done and I was I would be also looking at the influencers on like for example instagram how they promote similar products or similar e-commerce platforms and try to leverage that in the future brainstormings and I mean yes let’s connect on linkedin and we can we can definitely talk about that. I can you know point you in some direction or other hopefully.

Say asked on the QandA your thoughts on noob/pro ads isn’t it the best creative theme for high retention and ROIs?

Well it can work pretty well for not only hyper casual but also for other games in general. it’s really great theme but it doesn’t necessarily work for everything and everybody you can just leverage this but also you can just test it out different themes and different you know headlines. You know not new versus pro but mom versus dad, my girlfriend versus my ex-girlfriend or whatever me versus my ex-girlfriend and stuff like that and this can actually work even better than the noob versus pro. We tested out like 50 variants of this before for hyper-casual stuff and we found out only four percent of players can do this and this when we tried like ten percent one percent whatever percent nothing was working that well as four percent. So you just can’t say this is a best creative theme for high retention or ROIs but in general it can work very well for either game.

Peter is saying great ads mate and good job with those.

Olga is asking I want to share my concern about using memes in ads. I don’t think that this is recognizable among audience we have 50+age ladies I’m not sure about memes.

Yes 50+ ladies in this target audience probably thememes won’t work but what we have 25 plus female target audience for this cooking game and we found out like these headlines not new versus pro but any like female oriented headlines and women supportive headlines can work pretty well. Memes probably not for this type of audience but again you know you have to be sure and that’s why you know you need to understand the target audience and maybe there are some old school memes that weren’t just called memes but it’s just you know any familiar picture that can resonate well between these target audiences and you can just you know sketch it or make it relevant for this target audience. But yes probably for this type of audience memes won’t resonate as well as for the young audience.

okay and one last question from baijan

Some of hype casuals work more well without sound, it’s old-fashioned information or is there any specific division about using sound or not?

Depends on the genre there are no benchmarks like this. There was this percentage of like 15% of people see the ads without sound but I’m not sure if this is relevant anymore. What you can just do and try to test this and what we do as well it’s like try to test with sound on and sound off or without sound the same video and then based on that make other variants. So if the winner is with sound then we just definitely do everything with sound. I hope that I answered answer the question.

Is there any legal concern using memes in play ads? there are no legal concerns because the memes as they are created by random people around the world. There shouldn’t be any legal concern and you if you just use the memes and just paint them in your creative theme or creative art style that’s definitely without any question that can’t be any legal concern if you use drake directly I’m not sure that much but if you just adjust these memes accordingly to your art style this should be without any comments and concerns.

I think this is it about the QandA part, I don’t think there is any other question. There was really specific questions about the products like – can you share some insights where I give an html5 ads we do provide ads html ads too we can definitely speak about it on another session if you go to the Mobile Action website you can schedule a demo and then we can speak specifically for your genre.

Trunk asked which metric do you consider the best for creatives.

Well in my opinion the best creative reflects how the best metric reflects it is the revenue and the ROIs numbers. Obviously because every time it comes down to the ROIs and the LTVs from these ads because you can have a lot of creatives with low CPIs or really high IPMs but then you will see you can see a drop in terms of retention or you can see a drop in LTVs from these ads as well because this is something that happens and happened before. For example during soft launch when you know I try to test as many creative concepts as possible and then I found out like the this one of these creatives were performing really well on the CPI side but then the retention was like 10% lower than what I saw with the different ads with slightly higher CPIs. It’s not only about one KPI but it’s a combination of different KPIs but the most important is the LTV or the ROIs numbers on the creative level.

Makes sense exactly. I think we don’t have any more questions.  Oh we have more questions actually:

ios14 doesn’t allow to track creative performance in MMPs – how to deal with that situation?

Amazing question what we discussed with facebook recently after they introduced this ios14 ad account and this was actually recommended by facebook to use the android for creative testing. Well to be completely honest with you I’m not sure how I will test the creatives on ios14 yet because there are still a lot of variables that are not that much out there and there are a couple of holes in the documentation for the SKAdNetwork. We’ll see I mean unfortunately I can’t comment on that yet. I don’t want to give you any false positives or false ideas that I don’t believe in.

I guess we’re gonna see it – what’s gonna happen I mean we don’t exactly know what’s like nobody knows what is that will be happening that’s this is a question that is coming on all levels of the ios14 update. We will have webinars about it actually because we are working very closely with apple and then like on apple is as well part of mobile business.  We will definitely keep you guys updated whenever we have more information and more data to cover this question. For now like we’ll be able to pull creatives because the way we used the methodology of pulling the creatives has not much to do with ios14. Our methodology is different  so yes I we will be able to pull creatives.

One more question. Are simple app/game showcase ads relevant today?

Oh yeah well for example I use a lot of gameplay capturing videos in combination with some nice spins and zooms and close-ups it’s definitely – simple creative can work pretty well if you showcase the gameplay really well. Not necessarily fun but in a really interesting way it definitely can work.

Cover photo: https://unsplash.com/@franki


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