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June 24, 2019
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4 Ways to Sustain Positive ROAS with Creatives

by Brian Bowman on 10/19/18 09:50:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Discoverability in the mobile apps market is increasingly challenging. With Google Play and Apple’s App Store feature and algorithmic changes over the past year, marketers must rely on growing their audience base through a steady and cost effective stream of acquiring new users to their app. Achieving return on advertising spend (ROAS) is one hurdle to overcome, maintaining it over time is even harder.


Fortunately, machine learning on platforms like Facebook and Google has reduced the level of effort by marketers to manage their ad targeting, bids and budgets. Automation is leveling the playing field for app publishers of all sizes, big and small, such that producing the best ad creative is now the key differentiator in achieving and maintaining ROAS on campaign performance.

Generating and improving creative ads at scale can seem like a daunting task because what’s working for you today, may not be working for you tomorrow. Further, 95% of direct response advertising creative fails to outperform the best performing assets in your portfolio, so you're constantly working to find those 5% of creatives that are successful.

The good news is that it is possible to continue generating quality creatives that you can use to optimize your campaign and keep driving positive ROAS. Here are four key methods that you can employ today:


1) Increase the Volume of Your Creatives

You absolutely need a large volume of creative to achieve and sustain ROAS because creative rapidly fatigues with increased spend and audience reach. Consider this - most of the videos and images in your creative will die in less than 10,000 impressions. If you’re using an in-house team to develop assets, you should consider supplementing your creative pool by outsourcing to an agency or even crowdsourcing assets from hundreds and thousands of freelancers to get the volume you truly need for testing and optimizing.


2) Turn Your Best Static Images into Video Ads

If creating video ads seems too time consuming, there is another way. You can create video-like motion using your still image assets. There are four different categories in which these types of ads fall into: basic in motion, brand in motion, benefit in motion and demo in motion. These videos can be created with limited assets as they consist of still images and simple animations of different elements. Here’s an overview of each type of video ad:

> Basics in Motion: A simple video or an animation. You can start from a still image and animate 1 – 2 elements of the image such as a character. You can also use music to add excitement.

> Brand In Motion: A video with an emphasis on your brand. Start with a still, and add excitement by animating an aspect of your brand like your logo.

> Benefit in Motion: A video with an emphasis on your products’ benefits. Start with a still, and add excitement by animating your product’s benefits with typography. Use short copy to make your video effective

> Demo In Motion: A video with an emphasis on how your product works. For mobile games, you can screen capture gameplay and place it inside a phone. Not a mobile game? Show a demonstration of your product.

> Basics, Brand, Benefit & Demo In Motion: A combination of your basics, brand, benefits, and demo in motion videos.


3) Extend the Life of Your Ads by Creating Many Variations

There's a lot that you can do to extend the shelf life of your creative through testing a wide variety of variations. Ad creative variations leverage pieces of winning images and ads, and reposition existing elements to ultimately creative something similar, but new. Create variations of your existing creative by changing:

> Copy: Consider testing different calls to action, language, copy and button color, copy placements, buttons, etc. You can also test variations of short vs long copy, as well as placements of the copy in the upper, middle, lower, left, and right corners of the ad.

> Image Layout: A simple way to create new concepts is to showcase your product or service in several layouts like side-by-side, split-screen, grid (2x2, 3x3, 4x4), split screen (½ & ½), split screen variation ⅓ or ¼.

> User Generated vs Stock Photos: The vast majority of pictures and videos you see on Facebook are user-generated, shared by family and friends. Professional photos or stock photography can look too perfect and tend to stick out on Facebook. Consider taking your own photos or degrading the quality of the images and videos to make them appear user-generated.

> Colors/Background: Test simple and plain backgrounds with soft or blurred out colors or gradients. Allow the viewer's eyes to focus on bright vibrant foreground colors. Test soft background colors vs bold colors, strong texture vs muted texture, and simple vs clean vs busy and cluttered backgrounds.


4) Try Brand vs Direct Marketing Creative Styles

If you’ve only been running brand marketing, perhaps it’s time to make a change and test out direct response advertising. While brand campaigns typically adhere to a brand bible with strict guidelines and restrictions, direct response campaigns are more dynamic in creative elements that drive performance and illicit action. Keep in mind that relative exposure of assets that don’t match your brand bible would be very limited through testing. After you’ve sourced the winning creative from your direct response campaign, you can always iterate on it to make it brand compliant. An added benefit through this process is that you will also see the impact of making your ad creative brand compliant. If the performance were to drop significantly, you can determine whether to potentially adjust the brand.


While the apps market grows increasingly crowded, and automation tools continue to optimize how campaigns are run for efficiencies in delivering viewable impressions, targeting audiences, managing bidding and budgets - ultimately, your creative becomes the key differentiator for performance and financial success. It’s imperative to manage a plan for continuous creative testing that helps you achieve and sustain ROAS on your campaigns all year round.


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