Revealed: The key metrics for an effective ad creative

Narrative, relateability, and customisation… AppLovin data breaks down what it takes to make an effective ad

Revealed: The key metrics for an effective ad creative

A new report by AppLovin breaks down the key metrics which make for an effective ad creative.

The report was derived from analysis of the performance of over ten thousand creatives made by AppLovin’s in-house creative team, Sparklabs. Sparklabs created ads for over two-hundred apps in 2022 which garnered a collective 52.3 billion impressions, 22.4 billion clicks, and 267 million installs.

The report notes that customisation in ads can lead to higher levels of engagement. This includes giving a character a makeover or decorating a room. By using a clear prompt encouraging the user to make a decision, consumers are more likely to interact with the ad. Crucially, these concepts can be applied to any genre, however the report notes that AppLovin found the most success. Makeover and renovation-focused concepts proved to be particularly successful, accounting for 39.2 and 36.1 percent, respectively, of what AppLovin calls “creative wins”, for a combined total of 75 percent.

Utilising or emulating the design of classic titles can help creatives succeed due to their intuitive or self-explanatory nature. This includes classic video game mechanics such as pipe puzzles, or even other games such as hangman. These creatives give the user a sense of nostalgia, despite their low relevance to gameplay, and can help align the game with player motivations. However, AppLovin stresses that the target demographic should be considered to ensure that the design resonates with them. This form of creative was utilised in over 20 percent of to—performing card, casino, and midcore titles, with those with multiple gameplay mechanics or complex narratives seeing particular success.

Dramatic narratives can be utilised well in the advertising space, not only giving players a sense of urgency but building a sense of investment in the story, and even empathy with the characters. This is particularly the case where a character is in a perilous situation.

Again, games with complex narratives saw particular success with incorporating narrative into their ad creatives, and the likelihood of such creatives being incorporated in creative wins was 65 percent higher than average in cards/casino games, and 155 percent higher than average in strategy.

Feedback is important

Offering real-time feedback can help the user feel a deeper sense of connection with a title, with 49 percent of all creative wins incorporating mechanics which give users real-time feedback. This can include meters (27.6 percent), reaction from the characters (15.1 percent), or a visual representation of brain age, such as an anthropomorphised brain getting visibly younger as puzzles are solved. This method can help build connections, and the report stresses that human or humanised characters in particular can enhance those connections even if those characters don’t appear in that game.

Voiceover messaging can help enhance a feeling of immersion, however AppLovin states that such voiceovers shouldn’t simply repeat visual content. Instead, it can be used to add information, or even include user testimonials. Crucially, ad makers should consider tailoring variations of the ad to reflect a variety of demographics, including a variety of genders, ages, accents, and tones.

Voiceovers work best in genres with a heavy focus on showing gameplay footage in ads. 59 percent of top Simulation creatives utilised voiceovers in some way, as did 35 percent of the top Word game creatives.

Voiceovers also work well in games which favour narrative creatives, such as card/casino games, which saw 47 percent of the top performing ads utilise voiceovers in some form.

Finally, seasonal creatives can help invoke festive feelings and a sense of timeliness in the user. Such ads contributed to 11 percent of SparkLabs’ top performing creatives for 2022. Crucially, these creatives did best if there was a strong visual identity with the associated holiday, such as Easter or Halloween. 40 percent of creatives made for Easter were labelled as top performers, compared to just 13 percent for Father’s Day.

Interestingly, AppLovin’s data notes that creatives with so-called destined fails can lead to a higher conversion, with 26.06 percent of top performing creatives utilising failure. Counterintuitively, surveys embedded in playable ads saw twice as many users stating a preference for a successful outcome, however such ads saw a much lower conversion rate of 5.12 percent among top-performers.

We listed AppLovin as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022

Staff Writer

Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He's been a gamer all his life.