While apps have opened up possibilities for engagement and revenue generation, automation has also become a great leveller when it comes to promoting them.
Ad formats underpinned by machine-learning, such as App campaigns, are providing exceptional growth opportunities for those brands that harness them. They enable businesses of any size to scale their reach and drive effectiveness and efficiency — optimising bidding, budgets, and performance.
For marketers looking for that all-important competitive edge, it means creative is more crucial than ever — and in effect, the last great differentiator.
Automation is powerful, but when you combine it with human invention – that's what makes the difference between good and great app campaigns.
To help in gaining this advantage, Global Creative Works developed and ran a series of app experiments globally, providing robust creative insights backed by data. Below, we’ve boiled down our findings, with three key rules to maximise the impact of your app campaigns on YouTube and beyond.
Three rules for effective app campaign creative
1. Follow the fundamentals
Many of the key principles for effective advertising creative on YouTube hold true when promoting apps.
For example, audio is a powerful lever on the platform for earning viewer attention. And even though app ads span both sound-off and sound-on environments, we found that inclusion of different audio elements had a clear impact on campaign performance.
Another way to boost installs is to ensure ads feature the product prominently and early on. When Tinder did this, essentially making the app the ad, its install performance improved by 10%.
2. Push where it might feel uncomfortable
Significant changes in creative direction — such as embracing relatively low production values or adopting a more casual tone — might not sit easy with many brands, but there’s an upside in going beyond your comfort zone.
In our experiments, we found a tangible advantage to developing creatives that felt less polished and formal. When a Deliveroo ad with high production values was tested against a more stripped-down relatable version, the latter performed 10% better in terms of conversions.
3. Build a whole portfolio, not a single creative
App campaigns serve impressions on YouTube and across the Google ecosystem, including Search, Google Play, and the Display Network. The user experience for each of these potential touchpoints can vary dramatically, so it’s unlikely that a single creative asset will perform optimally across all platforms.
In our experiments with Booking.com, for example, the creative that had the best performance on YouTube was different from the one that fared best on the Display Network — the latter swapping out lifestyle footage for a simple animated approach.
It clearly demonstrates the value in advertisers building a creative portfolio that conveys its message in different ways. That may mean changing the audio and visuals or the narrative approach to play to the strengths of each particular platform and how people use them.
Getting the edge in an age of automation
Automation's ability to improve speed, agility, and scale makes it a critical component of most marketing strategies. While automation is powerful, when you combine it with human invention – that's what makes the difference between good and great app campaigns.
First-party data, finely tuned messaging, and great creative give machine-learning more to work with and people more reasons to install and engage with your app.
Automation has not marked the end of creative; instead, ad inventiveness is the key competitive advantage in any app campaign.
Three key takeouts for marketers
Feature your app upfront
Even if it’s just a brief glimpse, featuring your app early on in your ad drives results. And go big on sound — in multiple tests we saw install rates improve with each audio element added.
Let the data guide your decisions
Using data as a steer be ready to go outside your usual creative parameters. Test and learn starting on a small scale to see which approach offers the best performance — even if that means the end result feels less like a typical ad.
Harness Smart Bidding and automated ad formats to optimise your budget and placement. This will free up resources for higher-level strategic thinking and give you more time for developing the quality and volume of your creative output.
Discover how to create winning creative for your next app campaign in this short video from the Global Creative Works team.