How to Create the Most Engaging Mobile Video Ads Around

Mobile video ads, along with native ads, are dominating the mobile landscape in both click-through- and conversion rates. Yet they only compromise 14% of all mobile ad spending. Below, we will introduce the different formats available and explain how to create impactful video ads that will give you a fantastic return-on-ad-spend.

Why Mobile Video Ads Are a Worthwhile Venture

Video marketing works. Video is the second most-used content type for increasing audience engagement – mobile video ads see a 7.5 times higher CTR than display ads. 

In spite of these impressive stats, mobile video ads can still be seen as being in their relative infancy with much of their potential still to be unleashed. A 2020 study revealed that 88% of video marketers found that video gave them a positive ROI, compared to just 33% in 2015. With 85% of consumers claiming to want more video content and an increasing number of people watching video on mobile, it is unsurprising that video ads are predicted to be among the best performing ad formats for the foreseeable future.

Varieties of Mobile Video Ads

Mobile video ads come in many forms though only a couple of shapes and sizes. To fit well, they should be 320×480 or 480×320 sizes for smartphones and 768×1024 or 1024×768 for tablets. They also come in various formats, each with advantages and disadvantages.


  • Mobile Web Video Ads – A cost-effective approach for brands who want their ads seen in search results, homepages, and watch-pages.
An example of mobile web video ad.
An example of a mobile web video ad
  • In-App Video Ads – A highly effective practice that continues to build momentum in large part due to their extremely high play-rate and CTR.
An example of in-app video ad
An example of an in-app video ad
  • In-Game Video Ads – Much like in-app video ads, in-game video ads have a high CTR. They work especially well when gamified themselves or turned into rewarded video-ads using motivational in-game incentives or currency.
An example of in-game mobile video ad
An example of a mobile game rewarded video ad
An example of mobile vr video ad
An example of a mobile VR video ad

Tips for Creating Highly Engaging Mobile Video Ads

1)  Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Now more than ever, video marketers can create targeted, user-centric video ads designed to maximize conversions and ROI. With mobile video ads normally just 15 seconds long, their production costs are low – allowing brands to create multiple personalized ads for different demographics based on customer interests, values, and profiles.

Personalization is only going to grow more important in the digital marketing world. New techniques allow for unprecedented optimization of performance video ads that allow marketers to continually refine the technique for increasingly niche, segmented audiences. Furthermore, video ads can be used to retarget lapsed users based on their individual progress through your funnel.

2)  Engage Audiences Early

It may seem intuitive that shorter videos require every second to count, yet many video marketers fail to appreciate how early they need to capture their audiences’ attention. The first 3-4 seconds of a mobile video ad are by far the most vital.

When advertising an app, video ads should not only be compelling, attractive, and attention-grabbing but they should show that app in-action.

3)  Silent Viewability is Crucial

While sound is incredibly useful for capturing attention, creating emotion, and explaining features, the video ad must still work without it. There are countless reasons why people watch ads with no sound, but the fact remains that huge numbers of people choose to have videos on silent auto-play – only switching on sound for the most compelling videos they come across.

To counter silent viewing, it is crucial to use images and graphics to convey meaning, i.e. “show don’t tell”. Furthermore, while video ads should avoid relying on music and speech for meaning, closed captions can be added with relative ease on most major platforms. Remember, audio can still be a fantastic aid – don’t forego it, but plan for silent viewing at the design table, not in the post-shoot editing suite.

4)  Match Your Aesthetics

When designing a video ad, be sure to use the opportunity to promote your brand identity. It should go without saying that the ad should include your brand logo, but it should also match the colour schemes, fonts, and brand values you want to convey. In turn, by matching your ad aesthetics to your brand aesthetics, your ad will gain recognisability and credibility.

If you are marketing an app, then the aesthetics of the various app stores should also be taken into consideration. Video ads often take pride of place in app store pages and it is vital that yours is looking on point. Once again, forward planning is key to video ad success.

5)  Nail Your Creatives

Strive for creativity and use every second you have to make the maximum impact. Avoid dark backgrounds and night scenes as they obscure visibility for users on battery-saving settings. Always make your Call to Action (CTA) clear, prominent, and customizable to account for both new and returning customers.

Finally, remember that the days of horizontal mobile video ads are more-or-less behind us. Horizontal (landscape) video ads are counter-intuitive, disrupt the viewing experience, and have lower CTRs. While square video is more effective than horizontal, recent studies have shown vertical video to be by far the most cost-effective and engaging format across multiple platforms. Always shoot in vertical.


The right combination of targeted mobile video ads can lead to fantastic campaign results. When created to a high quality using the guidance provided above they form a crucial part of any mobile marketing campaign. Get in touch with us today to start with mobile video advertising.

Mario Meijide is based in Applift's HQ in Berlin and heads the Client Success teams in EMEA, US and APAC.