5 ways to conduct a competitive analysis for app install ad creatives

When running mobile app install ads, your creatives matter.

Chances are you already have some frequent meetings with your team to review your current creatives’ performance and find new iterations or creatives concepts to test for your facebook install ads.

Eric Seufert Video
Extract from “3 Tactics for UA Success in 2017 and 2018” by Eric Seufert (full slides here)

And that’s when competitive analysis comes in handy. It allows you to know what some your competitors are doing and gives you insights as to what you could try when running app install ads on different acquisition channels (or even find promising new acquisition channels).

Whether you’re looking for new inspiration or how to differentiate yourself, here are 5 ways to get a better sense of what your competition is doing.

The Google way

Let’s start with a pretty obvious one: using Google and YouTube.

You probably have tried this already, and this is not a blog post on how to use Google. However here are a few tips to make your search results more relevant.

Ad creatives from case studies

You’re looking for ad creatives from competitors, and if possible creatives that performed well on their respective channels.

Try searches like “[Ad network name] app installs case study” or “[Ad network name] app installs success story” and you’ll most likely find 2 types of results:

  • official case studies pages from the ad network or platform;
  • articles about specific case studies.

GoogleSearch Facebook CaseStudies

If an app makes it on a platform’s case study, it’s a strong signal that the mobile app install ad campaigns were successful. In most cases there is at least one example of an ad creative shown. You might want to filter the results to only see recent articles and pages (going back one year for example).

To save you some time, here are the direct links to some case studies resources from the main ad networks:

Advertising with other ad networks or platforms? Adjust the search and you’ll probably find the same kind of pages.

You can also search for install ads case studies related to specific apps. Don’t hesitate to go past a few pages in the search results to make sure you’re not missing out on something.

Looking for a video production company to produce mobile app install ad creatives? Check out our app video prodution services and contact us to receive a free custom proposal.

Ad creatives from YouTube channels

For this one you of course need to know which specific app or competitor you want to find creatives for.

Head on to YouTube and search for the app’s name.

YouTube Search SafeTrek

Then go to their YouTube channels and click on the Videos tab.

A lot of apps upload their video ads on YouTube, even if the ad is not used as a YouTube ad. You can only see the videos that are public (not unlisted).

Creatives that are used as YouTube video ads have a higher number of views. So go to “SORT BY” and filter by “Most popular”.

YouTube Channel MostPopular

There are cases where videos go viral on YouTube of course, but after looking at a lot of YouTube channels it seems that any video with more than 30k views has probably been used on YouTube at one point (usually pre-roll videos).

The stalker way

Ad creatives from talks, podcasts and webinars

A lot of user acquisition or growth managers working for high-profile apps are invited to talk at events. They sometimes share image or video ad creatives during their presentations. And most of these events are filmed.

Find out on LinkedIn a couple of persons that could fit this role at your competitor’s company and do a YouTube search.

YouTube People Search

Some of these presentations in the results probably show ad creatives

Sometimes it won’t be presentations but webinars. One webinar that’s really interesting to watch when it comes to app install ad creatives is “The Good, The Ad & The Ugly” webinar from Liftoff. It’s a great way to understand what brought these marketers to try which creatives and what works best for them.

Getting targeted with relevant ad creatives

If you’re running facebook app install ads or instagram app install ads, you probably know your target audience: their age range, their interest, where they are, who they follow, what other apps they usually have installed, etc.

Create fake social media profiles for your main personas. Then check these feeds regularly.

This is definitely more time consuming but can provide good insights or inspirations. You also see how non-competitors talk to your audience and might find additional inspiration.

Instagram app install ad
You won’t have a hard time getting targeted by games or dating apps – other ads might be harder to spot

The gamer way

A lot of video ads, especially for games, are displayed as rewarded videos within other apps.

Find a couple of games where accessing rewarded videos is easy, and where there is no limitation, and keep tapping that button until you see what you want!

You of course have more chances to see relevant ads for games that your users are more likely to be playing.

Doomsday rewarded videos
Games like Doomsday Clicker have lots of rewarded video ads

 

LuckyDay Rewarded videos
Apps like LuckyDay also monetize with video ads

The free way (free ad intelligence tools)

Facebook view ads

As part of their Advertising Transparency and Authenticity Efforts, Facebook announced in October 2017 that it will release a “View a Page’s advertisements” feature.

This feature allows you to view the facebook install ads a Page on Facebook is currently running. This is to bring transparency mostly to political ads, however no matter the type of ads it is supposed to be available.

So it’s perfect for a competitive analysis of Facebook app install ads!

One extra cool thing is that you can see how many views the different creatives have. You can assume that videos with more views have been more used and therefore more performant however keep in mind that you are not seeing ALL the ads but the creatives: if an ad creative is used on several different target audiences, you might only see one yet maybe there are many impressions occurring for the others.

It should also work on Desktop.

Facebook view ads competition

Parade

Parade is a pretty recent tool by Mighty Signal that allows you to browse and search mobile app install ad creatives.

You can search by network (Facebook, AppLovin, Unity-ads, etc.), by type of apps or games (type “word” for word games, “shop” for shopping apps, etc.) or by specific app name.

Parade ad intelligence search

Of course it doesn’t have all of the ad creatives, but chances are there are at least a few in your app’s niche.

They also have Boards where you can pin specific creatives, which can be pretty useful to share with your team. Some people have also already created Boards that might be useful to you.

When looking at a specific creative, pay attention to the “First seen”/”Last seen” info: if an install ad was used for a long time, chances are it was pretty effective.

Parade ad intelligence first seen

For Facebook video ads you can’t watch the videos, but you can sort out by Most impressions.

The baller way (paid ad intelligence tools)

Most of the mobile ad intelligence tools require a subscription, which is often quite pricey. They pretty much all also offer (and started with) App Intelligence and Market Intelligence data, and sometimes you can’t choose to have access just to the Ad Intelligence part.

Tools like Sensor Tower or App Annie seem to be the most thorough in terms of ad networks and ad creatives available. They however come at a hefty price. Price is often based on which categories of apps you want to get data for, so this can work well if all your games are in one niche for example but if you have very different apps it will make budget increase significantly.

Other tools are much more affordable, like Mobile Action (disclaimer: we’re working with them to bring you a series of upcoming posts focused on mobile ad creatives).

Mobile Action Ad Intelligence currently lets you see data from four networks: Facebook Audience Network, AdMob (so this includes ads via Universal App Campaigns).

You can see the top advertisers for each of these networks, and also filter by category.

Mobile Action Ad Intelligence Top Advertisers
Mobile Action attributes an Impression Score to each app based on how much they see it advertise

You can also dive into the ad creatives strategy of a specific app by using the Campaign Analysis part. That’s where you can watch the actual creatives used for each network and see which ad copy or Call To Action is used.

Mobile Action Ad Intelligence Campaign Analysis
Ad campaign analysis for a specific app (Lords Mobile)

On the right side is indicated the “Impressions” percentage, which corresponds to how often this particular ad is used by the advertiser. You can sort the results by this metric to find the top most used ads according to Mobile Action.

A few other things you want to pay attention to:

  • “Duration” allows you to know how long the ad as been running (or was running): the longer the duration, the more chances there are that the ad is or was working well since the advertiser kept running the campaign;
  • First Seen can be useful to sort the results so you can watch the most recent ad creatives;
  • The Last Seen column indicated either when the ad was last seen or if it is still Active (being used);
  • The Trend chart helps you understand the evolution of how the app has been using specific ad creatives: an ad with a chart that keeps growing up indicates that the results have been positive.

Want to see what kind of insights you can get with this? Check out the post where we use ad intelligence data for top TV streaming apps.

Keep in mind that no tool will allow you to see everything or be 100% accurate hough, as they work by extrapolating the data they intercept. But they are a great help when it comes to conducting a competitive analysis!

What to do with this information?

You tried a few of this techniques and found some ad creatives from your competitoris but you’re not sure how this can help?

There are a few key insights you can get from asking yourself the following questions:

  1. On which networks your competitors advertise? Maybe you should run ads there as well;
  2. What kind of ad creatives do they use (styles, ratios, durations, value propositions put forward, CTAs used)?
  3. Do these ad creatives vary depending on the network? Seeing this, are your own ad creatives optimized?

And of course, you can get some inspiration for your future app install ads.

Conclusion

When running ads you need to keep optimizing your image and video creatives so you can improve performance.

You also want to combat “ad fatigue” by refreshing your ads often.

In addition to analyzing your ads’ video engagement, conducting a competitive is a great way to come up with new concepts and tweaks for your current ads. To do this, you have several options:

  • Exploring the depth of Google
  • Looking at your competitors’ YouTube channels;
  • Looking for presentations and webinars on your competitors;
  • Creating fake profiles to get targeted by ads from your competitors;
  • Using apps that monetize with rewarded videos to hopefully see some of your competitors’ ads;
  • Leveraging the Facebook view ads feature that Facebook implemented as part of their transparency efforts;
  • Using free ad intelligence tools like Parade;
  • Using paid ad intelligence tools like Mobile Action.

No one method gives you an exhaustive view, but by trying these for your category and niche you should be able to find some very relevant ad creatives.

Next up is to use your findings as inspiration and benchmark to come up with your own ad creative concepts.

Sylvain Gauchet

Hi there, I'm Sylvain and I'm one of the co-founders of Apptamin. Apptamin is a creative agency specialized in app videos (video ads, app store videos, etc.) where we find engaging ways to present mobile apps and games so our clients can either increase their conversion rates or improve their user acquisition.

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