How to Outperform Your Best Mobile Ad Creative

In a saturated market, like mobile advertising, having a competitive advantage is your X-factor. You should be aware you are playing a fast game. Users are used to relentlessly scrolling through on this phone, so your challenge is to create content worthy of a pause and a closer look. Here is where mobile ad creative comes in. An image is seen faster than the text message, meaning there is a lot of pressure on your ad creatives to be stunning. 

Nervous? Don’t be. Mastering your creative strategy for mobile user acquisition is a process, but rest assured, you can do it. Create a strong concept, follow your intuition and data insights, and you will make a difference in your advertising outcomes. 

Make sure you have the internal structure organized and streamlined. The performance team needs to know which ad creatives have been approved. On the other side, the art team needs to know which creatives need corrections and which concepts have been greenlit for production. The process is virtually the same if you are working with a creative agency or if you are employing an in-house design team. 

To be able to outperform your best creatives, you’ll have to start with creative production, test different concepts, and get ready to scale. 

How to Make a High Performing Mobile Ad Creative 

If you are looking for a universal rule, we will be frank with you – you are out of luck. We can offer a couple of general pointers: 

  • Always remember that your concept should stay in line with your brand and business goal. 
  • Know your app and do not create misleading ads. It can backfire massively. 
  • Your ad will most likely link to your app store page or in-app landing page. Ensure a seamless user experience, so an ad style should match the page where it leads the user. 
  • Have your creative process documented and a communication structure in place. 

Here are four steps you can follow to start your creative production: 

Do Your Homework and Study Your App 

To start you’ll need to consider four integral questions before even thinking about opening a designing tool. For a high performing creative, you need detailed knowledge of the app, the target audience, the traffic source, and campaign KPIs. 

How do you get to such knowledge? 

Schedule a call with your product team and other key stakeholders. You will need to get insights into: 

  • Who the app designed for; 
  • What problem(s) does it solve; 
  • Who are its biggest competitors; and 
  • How does your app differentiate from them? 

This will help you define a strong unique selling proposition (USP). Having one creates a natural demand for your app and signals a clear difference in the market. You should use this in your mobile ad creative concept. 

If the meeting did not give you enough insights, go online and check what users/ journalists/ opinion-makers are saying. 

Your Mobile Ads Should Be Optimized for the Mobile Environment 

When you are creating mobile ads, always have in mind that you are creating ads for MOBILE. “Obviously!” you might say. We are just emphasising this as we have seen ad creatives running on a mobile environment that were clearly copy/ pasted from desktop or out-of-home (OOH) campaigns. When you are creating an ad for mobile, pay attention to: 

  • Text size – make sure everything can be read without the need to zoom in; 
  • Ad weight – even in Tier 1 countries, not every location has access to 4G. Ensure your mobile ad loads fast by keeping the weight low; 
  • Mobile experiences – mobile offers a different kind of user experience. If appropriate consider using slideshows, make playable ads, or make it swipeable. 

If we take a mCommerce app as an example, your mobile ad creative should communicate at least one of the following: 

  • Core app experience, e.g., shopping customer journey; 
  • The educational point, e.g., low prices, organically produced items; 
  • Statement of the end goal, e.g., dressed for the occasion. 

Come Up with Creative Ideas and Prepare a Brief 

After extensively studying your findings, your team should go to the creative ideation phase. Gather your marketing team and create (at least) a one-hour workshop. Produce creative ideas that reflect the above-mentioned findings. 

Each creative should include a short hypothesis. Think about the concept, conversion tactic, and ad unit you are using. For example, your hypothesis could read like this: “video ad creative depicting app usage will enhance retention rate”. 

It is almost time to send your ad creatives to production. To avoid any unnecessary back-and-forth, make sure your concept is clear and easily communicated. Workshop it! Test it out on real people.  

No, your design team is not your grandma. But if you lack design vocabulary, create a brief even she would understand. Your brief should include: 

  • context; 
  • visual style; 
  • branding; 
  • production quality; 
  • ad creative specs; and 
  • inspirational examples. 

Do not simply send it via email but schedule a call (or book a meeting room) and present your concepts in person. Reserve the last 10-15 minutes for questions. Listening to feedback and questions will give you valuable insights into design thinking and teach you how to create better design briefs. 

Test Your Mobile Ad Creatives 

To start, you will need about 6-10 ad copy concepts for your app. When fresh creatives come out from your studio, do not over-burden the designers with your requested changes. Remember, you are in your testing phase, and you do not know what the outcome is going to be. Sometimes a mistake can turn out to be a correct decision. 

It is time for your performance marketers to shine. They will need to actively monitor each ad’s performance according to the key performance indicators (KPIs) and optimize. Turn off the worst performers and reject their respective hypotheses after you have reached statistical significance. 

Scale Further by Outperforming Your Wining Mobile Ad Creative 

Once you have found your best performers, there is a good reason to celebrate. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Every creative will eventually encounter ad fatigue. That means you will need to keep up the pace. Building a robust assembly line of outperforming ad creatives is the only way to maintain and elevate your desired performance. 

To take your performance to a next level, take the winning creative and create multiple variations.

That means take the winning creative and break it down into its constituent parts. For example, your creative has a background, text, storyline, call to action, emoji, and so on. Make changes to each part to create variations and test them against each other. Each variation should have a hypothesis, e.g., “red call-to-action button will see greater click-through-rate than blue”. 

Make sure you tag each element in the naming structure. It will make it easier to identify what lies behind the performance of a particular variation. 

Repeat this process for every audience selection on every platform you are running ads on. Following this tactic will grant you greater insights into what performs well and give you a competitive advantage. When your best performers reach the ad fatigue point, you will gather enough data to know what resonates with your audience. That means you will be able to take a data-based approach in designing new creatives/ variations and keep exceeding your KPIs. 

Nailing Your Ad Creative Will Help You in the Long Run 

Privacy changes on mobile (think IDFA) are changing the way advertisers communicate with their audience. Ad personalization based on user history will not be possible if the user does not actively agree to it. That means you need to get ready to emphasise your creative department to boost mobile user acquisition. 

As part of Media Elements Group, we have access to a creative studio focused on increasing performance through creative power. Get in touch and see for yourself how the combination of our creative and performance teams can elevate your mobile growth. 

Applift is a leading mobile ad tech company that empowers businesses by creating the next-generation platform for advertisers to reach and convert their audiences on mobile.