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Winning ad creatives: How to build retargeting ads for gaming

Showing the right creative to your users is just as important as showing them an ad at the right time with the right message. Ad creatives are one of the main factors that drive profitable ad spend. They have a substantial impact on improving click-through rates and retention, which will ultimately lead to higher user LTV and revenue.

Here we look at why using the right creatives has a positive impact on your retargeting campaigns and present a simple recipe to build the best performing creatives for your gaming app.

The building blocks of your creative strategy

  • Diversify your messaging and avoid ad fatigue.
  • Choose from the creative formats available to you (static, native, video, dynamic, playable ads).
  • Make your ads personalized and relevant.

A great gaming ad is the one that replies to the question, “Why should I return to the game?” Ad creatives have an important role to play in showing the players what they can and should do next in their gaming journey. That’s why successful retargeting campaigns rely heavily on hyper-relevant messaging (messaging targeted to each user segment) and engaging creatives.

A well-planned retargeting strategy starts by defining user segments, and having clear goals and KPIs. Once that is covered, it is time to craft what you want to communicate to your targeted audiences and what trigger events to consider. The next steps are to create ad creatives for each campaign you want to roll out.

Create ads for each stage of the app journey

In mobile gaming, retargeting ads play a significant role at different stages of your user journey. These various stages require different ad creatives.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • For users that have recently installed a game but have yet to complete the first milestone, a retargeting ad can remind them to come back and do just that.

  • Use attractive creatives to facilitate a smooth onboarding - create ads that explain how to play the game in a few clear steps. This will help users understand where to start and how to achieve the first few milestones.

  • Do you want to promote new levels or storylines in your game? Retarget your regular players with creatives that communicate those content updates.

  • Do you have new app features or new character skins? Give the users a chance to explore new game components.

  • Use ad creatives to convey urgency and inspire curiosity - use messaging that focuses on instant gratification like promos and rewards for an irresistible game experience.

  • Appeal to the users’ emotions - remind them of your game, make them feel valued to inspire loyalty.

  • Use elements of social proof in your creatives, such as showing how many players have been playing a higher level or winning the game. Showing how other players are enjoying the game inspires a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) that can act as a catalyst to get back to the app.

A foolproof recipe for winning ad creatives

We know that the best performing creatives grab the attention of the player immediately. A good ad creative blends enticing visuals with a clear and persuasive message. So how can you make sure that your ad creatives always deliver the expected results?

  • Don’t recycle your UA creatives. Your UA campaigns have a different intent and messaging. For retargeting, you should carefully consider your goals and adapt the messaging and visuals to those specific goals for better performance.

  • Match the right creatives to the right audience. Use creatives that are curated with a particular target audience in mind. Players across genres and across segments have different gaming habits, and they will react differently to various ads.

  • Match the ad creative to the user intent. Meet your players where they are in the app funnel, and push them further along in the journey to convert.

  • Use your ad creative as a sneak peek to the game. Gaming users prefer engaging ads that mimic or, at least, give them a taste of the game itself. Work on creatives that reflect the nature of your game.

  • Make the most of personalization. Ads are composed of several items that can be optimized and combined to create the perfect ad for a user: a call to action, the message and copy, design and colors, images, and game elements. If you opt to use dynamic ads in your campaign, it is possible to combine all these elements to serve truly customized ads to each player.

  • Explore and test. Test the cadence and creative formats that work best for your goals, and revise your approach often. One of the recommended practices for creatives is to run A/B tests to identify the best performing elements and optimize them. Use those insights to fine-tune your creative strategy and improve your engagement and retention rates.

Ad creatives are a crucial part of your app retargeting strategy

In such a competitive market, building compelling ad creatives for gaming is a worthy investment. Be open to test different approaches and try different formats. When in doubt, reach out to your retargeting partner to pave the way to incremental performance.