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Key Creative Recommendations for In-Game Mobile Advertising

Angel De La Cruz, Data Science Manager of Quantitative Research, Activision Blizzard Media

Angel De La Cruz, Data Science Manager of Quantitative Research, Activision Blizzard Media

September 15, 2023

7 minute read

What’s the secret to engaging in-game ad creative? When it comes to results, ads with strong creative branding, sound-off approaches, vertical formats and shown at high-frequency are among the best performers. But why? We’re diving into our top creative recommendations for high-performing in-game ads. 

We measured and analyzed the brand lift experienced by our clients across 200+ campaigns from 2019 to 2023 to gain crucial insights and best practices for achieving tactical optimizations of in-game ad strategies. Here’s what we found.

Strong Creative Branding: The Key to Visibility

First and foremost, it’s important to define what we mean by "strong creative branding". It refers to campaigns or creative assets that include some clear brand elements.

Strong creative branding includes:
  • A clear brand callout at the beginning and end

  • A static brand logo throughout

  • Visible product placement (if applicable)

  • Video “skins” of either the advertiser logo or product placement for horizontal formats 

Our analysis shows that campaigns fortified with strong creative branding versus weak creative branding led to an increase in Ad Recall (3 percentage points) and Consideration (1 percentage point—double that of weak creative branding).

Three phones with 3 stages of a Playable ad demonstrating the elements of "strong creative branding" in mobile game advertising.

A sample ad demonstrating the elements of strong creative branding including brand callouts, a logo shown throughout, and product placement.

Silence is Golden

In the era of multitasking and short attention spans, our research shows that sound-off strategies are more effective in improving ad recall, awareness, and favorability.

Sound-off strategies employ: 
  • Closed captions

  • Subtitles

  • Text callouts

Vertical-Oriented Ads and End Cards: The New Norm

Our analysis also revealed that upper funnel metrics for vertical ad formats outperform horizontal ones by 4 percentage points, demonstrating the growing preference for mobile-friendly formats. Furthermore, incorporating an end card—either static or interactive/playable—contributes to higher upper-funnel metrics.

Two phones demonstrating a horizontal-optimized video ad with branded video skins and a vertical-optimized static ad with strong creative branding.

Left: An example of a horizontal-video ad with branded video skins. Right: An example of a static ad optimized for vertical viewing with strong creative branding.

The Impact of Ad Duration and Frequency

When it comes to ad duration, our findings indicate that ads between 15-30 seconds lead to greater mid-funnel metric performance than super short ads. This suggests that longer ads with concise messaging are more effective. Additionally, one of the most influential factors in ad recall is frequency, implying the importance of maintaining a higher view frequency for better results.

Our Key Creative Recommendations:

1. Invest in Strong Creative Branding: Make your brand visible and memorable.

2. Adopt a Sound-Off Strategy: Cater to audiences who prefer or need to consume content without sound.

3. Utilize Vertical-Oriented Ads: Align with the trend towards mobile-friendly formats.

4. Include End Cards: Use static or playable end cards to boost upper-funnel metrics.

5. Opt for Longer Ad Duration: Ensure concise messaging in ads that are 15-30 seconds long.

6. Maintain a Higher View Frequency: This will help improve Ad Recall.

It’s worth noting that our other research revealed that players say the following makes for a premium ad experience: high quality graphics, relevance to the player, intrinsic to the game, non-intrusive, and short—easily remembered with GRINS.

By leveraging these insights and recommendations, you can optimize your in-game advertising strategy, enhance brand lift, and ultimately, achieve better campaign outcomes. As always, it's about staying adaptable, innovative, and audience-centric in your approach.

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