From Google to ironSource, AppLovin, and UnityAds – there are so many great ad networks to acquire mobile game players. All of them allow mobile game publishers to get their mobile games in front of thousands of users.
However, you still have to convince those users to install your game.
If you know anything about advertising mobile games, you know that creative is king. More specifically, I’m talking about videos – this is the creative format that has the best conversion rate.
In this article, we’re going to focus on how to create a high-performing video ad for ad networks.
- What are the best ad networks for advertising mobile games?
- What makes a high-quality video ad for ad networks?
- The process of creating a video ad for ad networks
Additionally, we have included practical tips for video ad creation you can try right now!
But let’s start with the basics.
The Difference Between an Ad Network and Ad Exchange
Before we get into ins and outs of creating video ads, let’s talk about ad networks and ad exchanges.
Many people think those two are the same thing since both are a part of programmatic advertising. However, even though both ad networks and exchanges are essential for media buying, they have a different purpose.
Put simply, an ad network is a company that connects publishers and advertisers. It’s an intermediary between supply and demand sources.
An ad exchange is not an intermediary. It is a platform that allows publishers and advertisers to buy and sell ad inventory from multiple ad networks directly.
Furthermore, with an ad exchange, changes are implemented in real-time and advertisers determine the price, unlike with ad networks.
Which One Should You Use?
The simple answer is – both. Ad networks and ad exchanges are both an important part of programmatic advertising and can help you acquire more users for your game.
What Ad Networks and Exchanges to Use?
According to the latest version of AppsFlyer’s Performance Index, the top ad networks for mobile games are Google, Unity Ads, ironSource, Applovin, and Apple Search Ads. (For the full list, check out our article on top ad networks to acquire mobile game players).
Here’s some info on each one.
It’s no surprise Google is number one on the ad networks list. This is an ad network that’s hard to beat.
When you use Google’s App Campaigns, your video ads will be shown on Search, Google Play, YouTube, Discover on Google Search, and the Google Display Network.
Google’s Universal App Campaigns with the Install Volume objective are the best choice for mobile game user acquisition. Google claims UACs achieve 140% more conversions than other campaign types. A lot of work is done by Google which makes the whole process very simple.
You need to provide a portrait and landscape video, text, and some assets. Furthermore, you need to choose a daily budget, target location, and languages. You also need to choose between cost-per-install and cost-per-action campaign options. Google takes care of the rest – there’s no need to create individual ads and test them. Its algorithm will test different variations and placements, serving higher-performing ads more often.
Google’s Universal App Campaigns can also be used to drive in-app conversions.
Unity Ads is a part of the so-called Gaming Triopoly, along with ironSource and Applovin. It’s both a game development platform and an ad network. It specializes in video advertising.
It’s important to emphasize that Unity Ads are primarily a monetization platform. That means your video ads will be shown in other mobile games. It allows mobile game publishers to target users that are likely to be interested in a particular game or game genre.
Video ad placements in mobile games are most commonly a combination of rewarded, playable, and interstitial videos.
What’s great about Unity Ads is that you can track where installs come from. That’s known as attribution. Furthermore, you can target specific publishers. You can block those that are not giving you high-quality users or target sources that bring you users that not only convert but stay engaged.
IronSource is a platform that can be used both for monetization and advertising. Its app distribution platform utilizes machine learning to help you acquire high-quality users – those who stay engaged and play for a long time.
IronSource’s UA campaigns have an advanced bid optimization technology that drives high ROAS. Playable ads, interactive videos, and interactive end cards are among the types of creatives you can choose. IronSource claims that users who are acquired through interactive ads have a 35% higher retention rate.
AppLovin is another ad network that’s part of the Gaming Triopoly. It helps mobile game developers get discovered by high-quality players. Applovin’s focus is on traditional video ads, as well as playable and display ads.
Apple Search Ads
Apple Search Ads allow you to get discovered in App Store search results.
What’s great about Apple Search Ads is that they’re easy to set up, even for beginners. You simply need to choose your app, target countries, monthly budget, and maximum CPI. Apple does the rest.
Basic Search Ads are recommended for those who spend up to $10,000 per app in one month.
Another benefit is that you pay per install, at a cost you choose. The average conversion rate of Apple Search ads is 50%.
Examples of Mobile Game Video Ads for Ad Networks
Now we’re going to analyze top creatives in the mobile gaming industry. All of these video ads were made specifically for ad networks.
Let’s see what makes them so effective.
This is currently the top creative, and its publisher, Big Run Studios is among the top 3 advertisers.
What Big Run Studios does for their ads is uses real people who talk about the game. They either collaborate with micro-influencers or cast actors.
In this video ad, a girl explains that this game is legit, that you can earn real money, and that you need to download and try it right now. The reason why this works is that people respond to recommendations from other people. It’s advertising 101.
You think to yourself, “Well, if she says this is not a scam and I can win real money by playing this bingo game, then it must be true. It doesn’t hurt if I try.”
Notice the production value of the clip of the woman talking. She’s not in a professional studio, dressed up, with a mic, reading a script.
Quite the opposite.
She’s outside, wearing everyday clothes and sunglasses, it’s windy, and she’s talking casually, like talking to a friend.
This also influences how the video ad is perceived. It looks authentic and more human.
Since this video ad focuses on the fact that you can win real money by playing this bingo game, that’s reflected not only in what the woman says but throughout the video.
In the first couple of seconds of the video, at the bottom, you can see a money counting machine. Throughout the video, at the top, there are PayPal notifications. There are also dollar bill animations coming from the captions.
In other words, it’s all about money.
The woman even claims you can earn 2 million dollars a week. Now, that is where it gets tricky.
Let’s be honest, there’s no way you can earn that much money by playing mobile bingo. That makes this ad a bit misleading. However, as long as it complies with ad network requirements, it’s fair game.
Block Hexa Puzzle
Video ad for Block Hexa Puzzle uses a creative trend for puzzle and word games that’s very effective at the moment. It’s all about paper puzzles. In other words, the gameplay is mimicked on real paper.
However, later on in the ad, we can see actual gameplay footage of the same thing.
What’s great about this video ad for ad networks is that it’s very simple and gets the job done. It is instantly clear what the game is about and how to play it.
Notice there’s a caption at the top part of the video that says, “Harder than you think”. This is another great technique where you pose a challenge to ad viewers or make them believe that only very smart people can solve the puzzles.
If you analyze video ads for puzzle games, you’ll notice they never depict a player who’s very good at the game. It’s always obviously bad. That serves the purpose of making you think you can do a lot better or that the game is really complex and only a genius (you) can solve it.
All of these user acquisition strategies seem to work considering Block Hexa Puzzle has more than 50 million downloads on Google Play alone.
Marvel Contest of Champions
With over 100 million downloads on Google Play, Marvel Contest of Champions is an insanely popular game. That’s all thanks to great creatives and smart advertising strategies.
The video ad you can see above is in fact quite simple, but it gets the job done.
Here’s what makes it good.
This ad has a great balance of gameplay footage and animated scenes.
Recorded gameplay footage has the purpose of showing viewers how the game actually looks and what it’s like to play it. Animated scenes are placed in between gameplay footage. Their purpose is to make the video ad more dynamic and more exciting.
Think about it – if the whole video ad was just gameplay and nothing else, it might become a bit boring.
At the end of the video, there’s a simple call to action – Download free.
The Process of Creating a Video Ad for Ad Networks
The basic process of creating a video ad for ad networks can be broken down into three steps – market research, video scripting, and video production.
Here’s an overview of each one.
As with any advertising campaign, you need to start with market research. Most importantly, you need to check out competitors’ video ads.
This can be a bit tricky. For example, you can’t browse your competitor’s Google ads on Google like you can Facebook ads on Facebook’s Ad Library.
However, there are some platforms that allow you to do just that. You can search mobile game publishers and see their ads for different ad networks, which is quite useful.
But the downside is that you need to have a subscription to access it, which is quite pricey.
Another thing you should consider when doing market research is your target audience. Who are the people you’re trying to reach with your ads? Define their location, gender, and age.
Furthermore, consider their behavior and interests. Are you trying to appeal to casual players with your user acquisition campaign? Or perhaps your target audience is mid-core gamers who love role-playing and strategy games?
Whatever the case may be, make sure you know what appeals to them. It will make the next step a lot easier.
Once you have identified what type of strategies your competitors are using and what might appeal to your target audience, start writing a script.
The purpose of a script is to write down what happens in each scene. You can describe both the visual and the audio part.
When writing a script, consider the ad network you want to advertise on as well as different ad formats.
Learn more about how to write a script for video ads for ad networks here.
The final step in making a video ad is video production.
This is where your video producers take all the things you’ve prepared for them, including the script, gameplay footage, and other game assets, to create the video ad.
If this sounds too complicated, or you just don’t have the time to go through this process, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll get you sorted.
5 Tips for Creating a High-Quality Video Ad for Ad Networks
1. Consider Ad Network Policies and Requirements
The big thing about creating a video ad for ad networks is to follow the requirements of that specific network. That’s why video ads for Facebook and Google should be very different.
Google is notorious for having very strict rules and regulations. Other ad networks also have specific requirements and policies.
2. Try Different Video Ad Formats
Ad networks like ironSource, Unity Ads, and Applovin have different ad formats available. From standard video ads to playable, interactive, and rewarded ads.
For that reason, you shouldn’t focus only on standard video ads. For instance, interactive and playable ads have proven to be very successful in attracting high-quality users, i.e., those who not only install a game but stay engaged.
It makes sense when you think about it.
Playable ads allow users to try playing a game. When those users install that game, they already have a good idea of what’s going on and how to play it. They’re familiar with the basic game mechanics and goals of the game, which makes them more likely to be more engaged right from the start.
Also, even if your game has a slow start, or some idle element that doesn’t attract the most attention, you have a chance to showcase the good and interesting parts of your game in a playable ad.
Of course, many companies have used these ads by now, and for a good reason. Imagine that you are buying shoes, you would be more inclined to buy those that you’ve already tried on, than those that you haven’t. This works on the exact same principle.
These kinds of ads are mostly used to attract casual gamers since playable ads are currently limited on the technical part, and cannot showcase complex mechanics.
Therefore, if you opt for a playable ad for your casual game, one thing is certain – most players will be inclined to download your game if you’ve shown them that your game is easy and simple to play.
For example, if you have a game where a player has to survive on a stranded island, make the playable part something simple like building a raft or a shelter.
Moreover, a Facebook study followed the case of Me2Zen, a company that had a big success with playable ads. Me2Zen reported that playable ads increased their click-through rates ten times and increased its return on ad spend by 50%. Also, they revealed that they had more than three times increase in in-app purchases.
So not only do you acquire more users, but you acquire high-quality users and improve user retention.
However, a playable ad is much different than a standard video ad.
In the latter, it’s common to showcase different game features and benefits, introduce players to the main characters, the universe, etc. It is often a combination of animations/cinematic scenes and gameplay footage.
On the other hand, since playable ads are interactive, they need to be strictly gameplay oriented, as they allow players to play the game. Moreover, they need to be very simple, e.g., a puzzle.
It is also important to make it clear what the ad is about and how to ‘play’ it.
In the example above, you can see how the playable ad is explained – “Roll the dice to build the town.” This makes it clear that all you need to do is to roll the dice to start playing and build a town.
Keep in mind that there are two ways to create a playable ad. One is to integrate an HTML code into video footage. The second is to create the ad from scratch, using only an HTML code.
3. Highlight the Most Important Game Features
Think about what makes your game special and focus your video ad around it.
For example, let’s say it’s a word game you can play with friends. The game’s social aspect is something that’s worth highlighting in the ad.
Or perhaps it’s an action-adventure game with a ton of interesting characters and worlds – showcase them in the ad.
Whatever it may be, use your USP to make people interested in your game. The mobile game market is very saturated and knowing how to stand out is of the utmost value.
Additionally, make sure that the beginning of the video is attention-grabbing. If you can’t make people interested in your ad within the first few seconds, you’ve lost them.
4. Include a CTA
This is important for any type of video ad – always include a call to action. If you want people to install your game, you need to direct them to do so.
Whether you add a “Download free”, “Install now” or any other CTA, make sure to highlight it. You can even test different CTAs and see which one works better, i.e., which one results in more conversions.
5. Don’t Falsely Advertise Your Game
False advertising is a big issue in the mobile gaming world. Many publishers, when creating video ads for ad networks, are intentionally misleading. You have probably come across mobile game video ads that are not true to what the game is actually about and how it really looks.
While that strategy may bring a lot of users, it’s not worth it in the long run.
Let me explain.
A user sees a video ad for a game. It looks incredibly good. The user decides to install it.
However, when they start to play the game, they notice the game is nothing like the ad.
What happens next?
The player is frustrated and disappointed and uninstalls the game.
This scenario shows you that even though you might get those installs with a misleading ad, you won’t be able to keep the players, i.e., user retention will be very low. As you know, you can’t monetize a game that has poor user retention.
That’s why creating a video ad that’s authentic and true to the game is always the smarter strategy for user acquisition.
What You Need to Do After Creating a Video Ad for Ad Networks
Your video ad is done – now what?
The first thing you need to know is that one is not enough. Always create multiple versions of the same ad.
Because you need video ad variations for A/B testing.
Split testing is a scientific way of determining which video ad variation performs better, i.e., achieves more conversions (installs).
The process of A/B testing largely depends on the ad network. For example, Google will automatically create different versions of an ad and split test them. You don’t even have to create more than one video, just change the aspect ratios. The video ad variation that performs better will be shown more often.
Most other ad networks allow you to conduct experiments on their platform.
For example, if you want to test multiple creatives on Unity Ads, you need to create multiple campaigns with a shared budget. All creatives are then run across different networks and you can then see which campaign performs better.
So you have determined which video ad is the winner after the initial A/B test. Don’t stop there. Create even more variations of that winning ad and do another A/B test.
Furthermore, you need to track important metrics like CPI and ROAS.
Oftentimes, you need to play around with different campaign settings to get the desired results.
You also might find out that you’re not getting good results from a particular ad network, no matter how you set up the campaign. If that’s the case, try a different ad network – there are plenty to choose from.
Final Thoughts on Creating a Video Ad for Ad Networks
As you can see, the process of creating a video ad for ad networks is very complex. There are many moving parts and you need to have a large team with different skills ranging from video production to media buying.
If you’re struggling, we have both the experience and the skill to help you with this. Our talented team of copywriters, media buyers, and creatives has created thousands of video ads for ad networks that resulted in more users for our clients.
Don’t hesitate to contact us right now!