Welcome to the new-and-improved home of Mobile Heroes! Explore our updated site for the latest insights and resources.

Close Notice

How To Make Your Ad Creatives Stand Out and Perform

By Christian Gaitan | January 6, 2023

Christian Gaitan is Performance Lead at cryptocurrency exchange and digital wallet provider Lemon Cash. Lemon Cash helps users buy, hold, and sell crypto assets (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.)

Read Christian’s blog in Portuguese.

Creatives are key when it comes to performance campaigns. No matter the target metric, they are a go-to tool in any mobile marketer’s optimization kit, especially for user acquisition. 

But how do we create ads that work? Which factors are key? And are ads more important than segmentation? Over the past few years, I tried out a large number of channels with different creative strategies. The following are the rules I arrived at through my experience. Hopefully, with them, you will avoid making the same mistakes I did, and you can hit the ground running with ads that drive more new users.

Not All Channels Work the Same Way

Você pode estimar a incrementalidade usando um teste A/B. Eu tenho usado geo-targeting como Advertisers tend to focus their acquisition efforts on Google and Meta. Naturally, their creative strategies reflect this. The dominant creative formats are designed to work for the duopoly. But when it comes to mobile, advertisers have a wider range of options, and not all channels follow the same logic. DSPs, SDKs, Offerwalls and TikTok require marketers to customize ads ad hoc to get the best results from each platform.

Do not use the same videos and images for Google and Meta across all your channels. Of course, you can adapt some of your existing creatives to a new format, but it is important to be guided by strategic vision when deciding which creatives go where. For instance, running Instagram Stories is different from running videos on TikTok. On TikTok, ads should be as organic as possible and tailored to content expectations for that particular app.

Take Advantage of All Possible Placements

Don’t toss out any type of inventory immediately. There are as many sizes as there are channels and adapting creatives to each can be tedious—believe me, I know. Make sure you create ads in all formats and sizes to cover available placements. This increases the probability that your campaign will get the best results and help you understand what works and doesn’t on each channel. If videos get results, go with the video. If a banner size doesn’t work, get rid of it.

Keep Your Ads Simple

Even though users spend more and more time on devices, consumption is fickle. That’s why it’s important to grab attention quickly. To do that, you must answer the three W’s—who, what, and why.

  1. Who is speaking to me? Make the name, logo and brand visible.
  2. What are they saying? The message must be clear and concise, not too wordy.
  3. Why should I listen? Calls to action should align with our  expectations of users.

If you are working with images, avoid overcrowding with text. Users don’t read. Condensing a message into one or two lines is fundamental. If you are running video formats—non-rewarded video, especially—make sure you put the most important things at the beginning. If you don’t grab attention in the first few seconds, users will most likely skip the good stuff at the end. Cut down on skipping altogether by keeping the video under 30 seconds or less.

On the other hand, many platforms (not just Google and Meta) allow us to complement our images with titles, descriptions and banners. This widens our ads’ visual field and offers more information about the brand and product, helping to reinforce the message.

Keep Experimenting

Before we get to the design stage, we will have made several assumptions regarding what users want to see when they check social media, play games or search for news. But the digital ecosystem changes constantly, and so do consumer habits. What works today may not work tomorrow. That’s why it’s essential to try new formats, designs, messages and call-to-actions—iterate until you find what works best based on our objectives. 

Sometimes, adjusting a bit of text can enhance performance, so you won’t need to create new ads every time. Changing your hypotheses and A/B testing are the keys to success.

You Learn More From Ad Performance Than From Audiences

Finally, privacy rules are changing what optimization algorithms can do. Platforms that used to focus on user data are now shifting toward contextual cues. “Algorithms know best” is the conventional wisdom in terms of optimization. So we do our best to leave the mechanics up to the algorithm. But this also means that analysis sets you up for successful execution. Ad performance is increasingly a more reliable source of knowledge than information about your audience.

I can sum up my learnings this way:

  1. Understand that not all platforms work the same way. As marketers, we must think strategically and customize ads to each platform. 
  2. Take advantage of all available placements. Go the extra mile to include all available sizes and cover all available spaces.
  3. Keep it simple! Make ads that are clear and concise. Include brands and logos. Use no more than two lines of text and make your CTAs as attractive as possible. 
  4. Never stop experimenting. Test hypotheses continuously to validate new ideas, iterate and reinforce strategies.
  5. In a privacy-centric world, ads are more important than your audience.