5 Reasons Your Mobile Video Ads Are Failing

In the world of mobile consumer acquisition it's fairly common to see only 10-20% of the mobile video ads you produce actually perform well, while the rest of your ads or ad variants experience varying degrees of failure. But it can be pretty discouraging when those top performing video ads aren't doing all that great as it is, or if you're struggling to find that 10-20% of top performers in the first place. Here are a few ways to help improve mobile video ad performance:

Your Concepts Are Bad

No offense, but sometimes your ideas just aren't that great. To be fair, the mobile advertising industry can be unpredictable and finicky. One day everyone's making "Noob vs. Pro" videos; the next day it's all about failing challenges. As you probably know, it's often the concepts you least expect that end up performing the best.

When I find myself hitting a wall while chasing the next best video ad concept, I find the best remedy is to just stop and hit reset. This means going back to the basics and searching for new inspiration that will help spark the creative juices again. Here's how I usually find new inspiration for new video ad concepts:

  1. Leverage an ad scraping tool like Apptica or Sensor Tower
  2. Look at video trends on social media, especially TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube
  3. Look at my competitors' storefronts
  4. Look at ads from outside the product space or even outside of mobile
  5. Use the app / game until something stands out to me

Your Call-to-Action Is Weak

It's easy to get so caught up in trying to formulate your next big outside-the-box idea that you forget the small details. The call-to-action (CTA) is equally important no matter what the rest of your video ad looks like. When was the last time you even tested different CTAs? In the mobile gaming world we tend to rely on subtle variations of "Download Now" or "Play Free Now." While these are easy for the user to grasp, they don't really stand out in a sea of similar ad content. If your game has crafting mechanics, have you tried a "Start Crafting Now" CTA? Sometimes going back to basics can open doors to all new optimization opportunities you haven't thought about recently.

Your Creative Assets Are Limited

This is one of the easier problems to address. Sometimes your creative is actually fine, but your technical specs don't align with your consumer acquisition team's campaign strategies. Facebook, for example, loves video ads that are 1080x1350 resolution. But YouTube is more favorable of videos that are 1920x1080 or 1080x1920. Furthermore, many channels separate their ad inventory by video length, such as under 15 seconds and above. Ultimately, even the best video ad concepts can still be hindered by a lack of alignment between creative and campaign strategy.

Here are some important questions to ask your user acquisition team:

  1. Which channels are you buying on right now?
  2. Can you share the ads specs for those channels?
  3. Can you share best practices for those channels?
  4. Are you limiting your campaigns to certain devices or placements?

Transparency between the acquisition team and the creative team is always beneficial. I always encourage my UA managers to introduce me to their account reps for each channel they're buying on. Your managers might not always know the creative specs or best practices for the channel they're buying on, but they should be able to connect you with an account rep who does.

Your Targeting Is Off

Sometimes it's easy to forget that mobile consumer acquisition is a complicated recipe with multiple ingredients. Creative is only one of those ingredients; Targeting is another. Sometimes your ad concept might be solid, your CTA is strong, and you've rendered all the sizes and lengths possible. But if your campaigns are targeting the wrong types of users then your efforts are sadly being wasted.

This is where a strong creative testing strategy can really help out. By testing your new ads against different audiences before scaling, you'll be able to share performance data and targeting suggestions with your UA team that will help them avoid easy mistakes like improper targeting. Once again, communication and transparency between your growth and creative teams is extremely important for optimizing creative performance (and thus overall campaign performance).

Your Output Is Slow

Just because you found a winning ad formula doesn't mean it will work forever. Creative fatigue is a major problem for all digital marketing teams, and your creative performance will almost always degrade over time. The easiest fix for this is to simply produce more ads. So long as your UA team can frequently refresh the ads in their campaigns, creative fatigue shouldn't become much of an issue. However, increased creative production can get expensive fast, and if your creative team's workflow isn't optimized it can quickly become a nearly impossible challenge to overcome.

My advice for efficiently scaling creative output without blowing your budget boils down to these 3 key points:

  1. Know how much you should be paying for video ads;
  2. Ensure your team avoids burnout by cycling projects and responsibilities;
  3. And utilize as many tools as possible to help optimize your pipeline.

Agencies and freelancers can easily help scale output alongside your internal creative team, and investing in the right tools and plugins can tremendously improve the workflows of your editors. Avoiding burnout is often the most difficult item on this list. However, I find that simple actions can go a long way. For example, if your editors spend a lot of time localizing or resizing their ads, hiring an external freelancer to take this workload off their plates will both free them of tedious, boring work, as well as empower them to spend their time on more creative projects, which in turn keeps their minds refreshed and engaged.

Remember that even if you follow these 5 steps your ads may still continue to fail. Mobile advertising is a wild ride and sometimes creative obstacles are totally unpredictable. But as long as you stay flexible and proactive, and take into account the above advice when necessary, you should be able to overcome any creative performance slumps you encounter with relative ease.

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