4 trends for 2023’s mobile games’ video ads

Creative Assets

December 23, 2022

The disappearance of the IDFA on iOS shook the app marketing world. Not only did it push a move toward Android for ads, but it also showed the importance of creatives. Now that targeting has become more complicated and less straightforward, creative assets have become a way to target your audience.

Not only can your creative push potential users to download your game, but they can also help you find the perfect long-term users for your products. How can you make the best of your creative assets? What will be the biggest trends for mobile gaming video ads in 2023? 

1. The search for authenticity with UGC-content

UGC is the word on everyone’s tongue. With TikTok’s rise as an advertising platform, especially for mobile games, UGCs have become more and more prominent lately in video ads. They are great for users’ need for authenticity, as well as seamlessly fitting within the platform they’re published on. 

To do a UGC ad campaign you can rely on actual user-generated content, which means you need to contact users and settle on an agreement for using their content or you can set up a campaign and produce it yourself, either with actors or influencers.

source: TikTok ad library

Look at the ad above for example. It’s a great performer on TikTok right now, using UGC-like features to boost the game’s visibility with a great click-through rate. 

The actor’s face is not the main focus, his speech is. His face is added on top of screen recordings from the mobile game and he’s taking a clear dig at their competitors. He’s promising satisfaction after the continual disappointment of misleading ads.

source: TikTok ad library

Even when his face disappears from the screen you can still hear his voice (and see what he’s saying thanks to on-screen subtitles). UGC-like ads allow you to be more direct and cheeky because the goal is to be as close to what users are actually saying. 

These ads look less like ads and more like social media videos in their own rights. The creator or actor involved is as much the center of it as your game. It’s a great way to build a connection and create interest in your product. 

It relies on users’ immediate trust for other users’ testimonials. They will feel like the ad was made by someone like them, and that their opinion is trustworthy because of it.

source: TikTok ad library

In the ad above, everything is made to look like a regular TikTok. The actress is using her earbuds as a microphone (something a lot of users are doing themselves), and she’s complaining about her boyfriend refusing her help on the game. Her apparent frustration makes her relatable, so does her testimonial. And according to TikTok data, it kept users engaged throughout the entire video.

UGC-like ads work especially well on social media platforms. They’re becoming a staple of TikTok ads but it’s not the only place they work on. Even though they fit seamlessly on socials, they are also a hit in games, attracting (and keeping) user attention. Will you give them a chance?

How to make your ad UGC-friendly:

  • Use actors who look like your target audience, people should be able to recognize themselves in your video creative
  • Address them directly, the actor should look and talk at the camera
  • Make sure that your copy feels genuine and authentic
  • TikTok is a great platform for this kind of ad

2. Show them what the future holds for them, but do it fast

Fast-paced video ads are nothing new in video games, but the newer tendency seems to be quick-paced video ads paired with a clear progression margin. Keeping the attention of the user while showing him everything that’s to come later on in the game. 

This year, survivor.io gained a lot of visibility with its fast-paced ads showing very active screen recordings of the game where the main character is constantly on the move and always firing different kinds of weapons that are becoming bigger and more effective with every second that passes. 

It’s important to showcase an evolution in your game, it will show users that there is a lot to do and they can gain something by playing longer. It also helps give a steady rhythm to your ad and keep them focused.

source: TikTok Ad Library

This ad for example is showing information really fast. The sparkles are constantly moving and shining, ensuring that the attention stays on the ad, and the choices in clothes are incredibly fast-paced, showing that there is a lot to do with that one outfit.

The fact that they chose a Disney princess as inspiration for the first outfit and character also shows that there are endless possibilities and inspirations. 

How to bring the action to your video ad

  • A dynamic background music, even though most people will look at your ad without sound, dynamic music will help you bring energy to your ad during editing; and will be appreciated by people who keep the sound on
  • Constant movement, there must always be something moving in your video
  • Show a clear scale of progression (upgrading weapons, adding new characters or tools, etc.)
  • Fast transitions

3. Get a taste of drama with real-world situations

With the rise of storytelling usage in video ads for mobile games, it was expected to see more dramatic storylines. Storytelling allows games to trigger emotions in viewers, which will create a bond with the game and attract attention.

Emotions are a great way to unlock conversion, it means the users will feel more involved and remember your brand and game later on. More than just storytelling (which is a very broad thing and can mean a lot of different things), dramatic storylines are now more and more prominent. It doesn’t necessarily need to be extraordinarily dramatic, but it should recall real-life situations that either remind the user of their personal life (like the survivor.io ad above where a young woman talks about her boyfriend) or trigger strong opinions.

Family Island is a great example. This mobile game relied on the infidelity trope for several video ads. In those, one of the children (always the little girl) finds one of her parents cheating on the other.

Cheating is a situation about which people are usually pretty opinionated, it triggers strong reactions in real life and is sure to grab attention. It is harmless gossip when about a fictional situation, and it will also create empathy for your game’s main character (if they are the cheatee and not the cheater of course).

source: TikTok Ad Library

It’s important to ensure that the character you want your user to connect with the most should not appear in a negative light no matter the situation exposed.

source: TikTok Ad Library

Without reaching such heights, just reminding users of real-life situations can suffice. For example, you can set up a live-action ad where people interact (as friends or in a romantic setting) to remind users of conversations and situations they’ve already encountered and they could encounter again around your game. 

How to bring in the drama

  • For this you will need to have a character (whether human or not) to be able to recall real-life situations
  • One character should be in need of help to trigger emotion and empathy from the viewer
  • Emotions emulated by the characters need to be obvious (tears for sadness, red tint for anger, etc.), you don’t have much time and users’ attention span is very short
  • Use colors to help convey emotions (yellow for joy, blue for sadness, green for peace, red for anger)
  • Put characters in distressing situations: need to move out, arriving in a new home, being kicked out, being dumped, a fight with a lover/family member
  • Your main character should not appear as mean

4. Give them a choice

This one has already been successfully implemented in video ads for Strategy games or Story-like games. But giving users a choice can take many forms. Centering the user’s ability to make a choice will show them the possibility of having a fully personalized experience while gaming. 

Users should feel as if the game you’re introducing to them will fulfill their needs and give them a unique gaming experience. Some games (like Strategy games) imply choices in the gameplay directly, this means you’ll only need to show actual gameplay along with the various possibilities players will have access to.

For other types of games, the choice options will be less obvious, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show your user a personalized experience. You could show them different aesthetics options for their characters

Addressing the potential player directly will also make them feel included from the start. Showcasing personalization and important decisions is a great way to help them project themselves and figure out how the gameplay could suit their needs. 

With fewer data and broader targeting, it’s important to show users that it’s still possible to offer an experience tailored to their needs.

How to introduce a choice

  • It doesn’t have to be a yes or no situation, you can just show other options (aesthetics components or skins, different tools or weapons, different storylines)
  • Address the user directly (with text and/or voice-over)
  • You can show a player (with an actor for live-action and/or UGC ads) making choices themselves and the impact of those choices (if they have one)
  • Customizable characters can add a nice touch for those in search of a personalized experience

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