Regardless of the platform you’re using to reach your audience - from TV ads to general display and social media to in-app - it’s critical that your creative and your messaging is a cut above the rest. Your target audiences only offer a moment of their attention, and the most eye-catching creative wins.
Across all genres of gaming, we’ve seen a few common creative tactics that appeal to gamers, for instance Power Language. Using phrases in your ad creative like "Best New App," "Top-Ranked," "Most Addictive," or "Top-Ranked Game" generally works well across the board. Additionally, including language that offers Social Proof is effective, typically in form of quantifiable success metrics, such as Please “Downloaded more than 10 million times worldwide”, “Over 2 million active users,” or “5 million players love this app.” And finally, including succinct and strong calls to action in your ad creative is key to click throughs, such a “Play Now”, “Download”, and “Get Started.”
At the same time, there are nuances in what it takes to have successful ad creatives between game genres. We’ve run over $260 million in ad campaigns for companies, including game developers across a wide array of genres, and the following dives deeper into the differences between Casino, Action-Adventure, Brain/Cognitive Training, and Casual Games:
A hotly competitive market, online casino and gambling titles have grown to become a $40 billion industry, projected to reach $67 billion by 2020 (Research and Markets, 2016). Our campaign results indicate that the most successful ad creatives use the brightest colors with high contrast. Specifically, “busy” videos with lots of eye-catching moving elements, like running slot machines and text, are highly effective. Be sure to include images of coins and money in ads as well. The combination of these elements likely reminds and gives players the idea of excitement they might experience when being in the hustle and bustle of actual Las Vegas casinos.
When designed well, action-adventure games will capture player attention with a blend of great storylines, combat, and problem solving, and the advertising creative is not all too different. We find that short, fast-paced videos showing sequences of exciting action are the most effective. For instance, showing the in-game character aiming and shooting in a hunting-style game, like Big Buck Hunter. Or, showing the characters pitching in a baseball title, or kicking and scoring in a soccer-style game. These types of creative are successful because fast sequences of action show both the game’s highlights and convey the excitement a user might feel when accomplishing a goal within the game. Additionally, if a game can leverage celebrity athletes or well-known brands in its advertising creative, this will further draw attention and awareness.
Brain and Cognitive Training Games
The billion-dollar brain-training industry is marketed to improve cognition or help prevent age-related brain decline through entertaining games. Ads that feature either images or videos asking users to solve puzzles, or challenge the user’s intelligence are the most effective in driving click throughs. These more interactive creatives are engaging by putting users in competition with themselves, which makes the user want to download the game to complete the test of their cognitive abilities and verify results. These types of creatives also show the game’s value in a fun, yet intelligent way.
While a broad category, casual games reach the mass market by offering more simplistic gameplay rules and learned skills, in contrast to more complex hardcore games. Casual games appeal to a wide audience of users, yet there are still best practices to be used when designing creative ads. For instance, videos that emphasize the effect a player can have in the game - such as decorating a room with a personalized style, styling a model in fashion games, or preparing dishes in cooking games. Additionally, leveraging copy that indicates the feeling the user might get when playing the game is helpful, such as “Excitement” or “Relaxation.” Copy that asks a question to challenge the user is also effective because it engages the user further. We find that these types of creatives not only quickly tell the story of game, but also focus on the benefits that a user might get by playing, and challenges them to prove something to themselves and others players.
Choosing the right platforms (search, TV, display, social, rewarded, interstitial, etc.), the right formats (video, static images), visuals, ad copy, and calls-to-action all present unique challenges to capture the attention of gaming audiences. Even within these best practices, a lot of creative testing is still necessary to find the winning magic combination of video length, font color, copy and content that will delight users to install, play, and spend. Keep testing and iterating, and gradually you will find the best creatives that convert your target users into engaged players.