Six steps to designing the best mobile video ads

The process behind how Vungle designs ad creatives has evolved a lot in the past couple of years. We take a data-driven approach here; as such, there have been surprising revelations we’ve discovered in terms of how to make creatives that compel users to engage.

While a beautiful design can certainly attract eyes, it’s not always the most beautiful ads that yield the greatest return. Rather, what causes consumers to convert requires something more, at the forefront of which is a willingness to embrace changes that challenge established thought.

Jack Canfield once said, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.” These are some remarkable words of inspiration that describe the journey of transformation our creative team has undergone. They also resonate with me and my own journey over my past two years leading Vungle Creative Labs. We’ve challenged ourselves to adapt to data. We’ve asked ourselves to be brave, to accept that it might tell us that our assumptions of what we think makes a good ad isn’t correct. That machines can replicate or even replace the wonderful creative processes we learn at design schools. But by being brave and challenging norms we have yielded remarkable returns, and made a measurable positive impact for both Vungle and our advertising partners.

The best way to explain the process of merging creative design with data is to break it down into six steps, with each one bringing a new sea change in improving ad performance and conversion uplift.

Having an interactive end card follow a video creative allows consumers to get immediate access to your apps and services.

Step 1: Pair video creatives with an interactive end card
A video alone isn’t taking full advantage of what in-app advertising offers. Pairing it with a clear call-to-action in the form of an interactive end card makes it much more compelling. It tells users they can get access to your app right away just by tapping, allowing you to transform the work you put into communicating your app’s value into an install.

Step 2: Incorporate and test different length video creatives
It’s important not to limit yourself to just one length format. Developing creatives that range from five to 30 seconds allow you to find what resonates with consumers. For us, we listened to clients and we predicted trends to run a series of tests with these different durations. Ultimately, this led to growing conversion uplift by two times in the majority of our tests.

Step 3: Don’t forget about vertical (portrait) videos
Vertical videos are videos that are designed to play while a mobile device is held upright, rather than sideways. While a landscape video can offer a widescreen viewing experience that people are used to, it’s not always the most effective way to drive in-app conversions. You want to make sure your ads can run in a way that complements an app’s user experience and doesn’t force viewers to readjust their usage just to see your video creatives. For us, when we tested vertical video orientations, we saw an average conversion increase of 60 percent.

Playable end cards allow consumers to experience your app before they install, letting you acquire higher quality audiences.

Step 4: Make use of playable end cards
Continuing with the theme of interactivity, we saw a new ad format in the form of playable end cards build momentum. These let users sample specific features in your app (such as a level from a game) before they download it from the ad itself. This can be a very effective tool to drive quality installs.

For example, we designed an instructional creative video that was proceeded by a playable interactive ad. This resulted in an increase in high lifetime-value users because those who installed already knew what they were getting into based on the playable end card and wanted to see more.

Step 5: Utilize creative tagging to optimize performance using data
With Vungle’s creative meta-tagging, it allows us to develop an evolving list of attributes that correlate with the creative composition of videos and end cards. The primary aim of creative tagging is to enable advertisers to use analytics to help further inform creative best practices and boost conversion rates by delivering better-profiled ads. This is a central tenet in our company vision, and empowers our data science team to utilize the visual and aural structure of creatives to build machine learning models that can improve and automate design and targeting. This results in letting advertisers acquire more high LTV users.

Dynamically targeting consumers with different versions of creatives will reduce ad fatigue and boost engagement by providing more relevant ad experiences.

Step 6: Optimize creatives dynamically
Even the best creatives aren’t effective forever. Ad fatigue is a real challenge. Worse still is that bad creatives will always perform poorly. In both cases, in order to fight ad obsolescence, your ad experiences need the flexibility to be improved dynamically so they can better fit a consumer’s preferences.

Having an ad that always looks great, regardless of OS, device or screen orientation, means that these creatives are more compelling and can maximize installs while optimizing your ad spend (not to mention help boost revenue for the publishers that run them). This is a vital step in making quality creatives and it’s why Vungle developed our Dynamic Templates product to enable our customers to do just that.

As a creative team we’re actively working with our product team and customers to design responsive, modular and scalable ad experiences. We are excited to iterate on new ad templates every month and are looking to offer advertisers new ways to acquire high LTV users, while also giving publishers more custom placements to preserve their app’s premium experience.

If you want more tips on how to develop the better ad experiences, check out our ebook, How to deliver an excellent ad experience, for practical advice and in-depth look at how and why consumers engage with ads.


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General Manager, Vungle Creative Labs

Si Crowhurst is head of Vungle Creative Labs. Previously, he co-founded We Love Mobile and served as global head of innovation at Amobee.

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