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Mobile App Install (MAI) ads are often one of the most effective ad unit options for mobile gaming companies advertising on Facebook. Initially only supporting images, Facebook has now rolled out support for video—a content feature that has already driven higher CTRs for some Nanigans clients.
Like their image-based counterpart, MAI ads using a video asset also incorporate a great deal of functionality in terms of managing ad reach and viewability. But the question for advertisers is whether video is effective within the MAI unit.
Our mobile gaming clients were the most natural fit for this practitioners to invest in MAI ad units.
In order to help quantify performance across MAI ad unit types, Nanigans examined its top 10 mobile gaming clients that are leveraging both image-based and video-based Mobile App Install ad units in the U.S.; analyzing spend behavior and CPI performance over 28 days in March 2015.
To ensure a diverse cross section of the mobile gaming environment, campaigns studied included a mix of new games and more mature titles, across different game types (e.g. RPGs, strategy, casino, simulation).
In total, the sample encompassed millions of dollars in ad spend, and hundreds of thousands of install events over the study period.
As a note, due to the MAI ad type being designed primarily to attract new downloads rather than re-engage existing customers, these campaigns were only targeted to prospective users.
In terms of bid strategy, the majority of the campaigns studied utilized oCPM bidding, with the remaining using CPA. As described earlier, the analysis focuses exclusively on U.S. campaigns, both for consistency and for easier CPI comparison.
As a note, all spend and CPI figures are plotted as an index. The highest spend and CPI demonstrated across the sample campaigns, regardless of format, are assigned a value of 100%, and all other respective metrics are proportions of those figures. For example, if the highest CPI in the sample was $10 for one campaign’s image ad units, and another campaign had a CPI of $5 for its video ad units, the latter campaign would have an indexed CPI value of 50%.
The results above point to a number of takeaways for advertisers:
58% of advertiser spend was on video-based MAI units, with those ads driving 62% of total installs. To this point, aggregate CPIs were 16% lower with video-enabled MAI units, as opposed to image-based MAI units.
Of our top 10 mobile gaming clients, four of them saw lower CPIs with video-based MAI ads and four of them saw lower CPIs with image-based MAI ads. The other two clients had comparable CPIs. For practitioners, it’s worth running A/B tests with different content to determine how to best split spend for a given campaign.
Five of the top 10 studied mobile gaming clients spent more on MAI using images, and five of the top 10 spent more on MAI using video. Video had the most change month- over-month, with spend for those units increasing across eight out of the 10 clients studied by a collective average of 410%.
In the case of video-based MAI units, gaming companies are typically already utilizing video across a number of channels to build up hype prior to a launch. Based on the response to this initial advertising push, many of these companies can predict how well a game will be received and adjust their ad budget accordingly. Taking a similar “testing the waters” approach, app- focused entertainment or financial services companies may also see positive returns depending on the campaign goal.
MAI ad units with video accounted for 30% of total MAI spend across all Nanigans gaming clients over the 28-day sample period. This is an increase of roughly 75% from the previous 28-day time period.
While the statistics make it clear that video-based MAI ads are a useful tool in a marketer’s arsenal, it’s worth keeping in mind how best practices differ between images and video on mobile, even within these related ad unit types that share a desired effect.
On top of the always necessary call-to-action (CTA), video ads for smartphones should be short and feature the most-engaging content possible (e.g. the best 15-30 snippet of a game). Advertisers don’t always need to create expensive custom assets— screen-capture footage typically produces strong results and is both easy to create and already brand approved.
To maximize the effect of autoplay video in MAI units, advertisers need to capture a user’s attention in the first five seconds, so be sure to start with the most engaging and eye-catching footage. Also, as the ad starts with the sound off, any message should be able to be communicated without audio.
In terms of product lifecycle, broad and interest- group targeting should be utilized in the launch phase to intelligently maximize reach. Further on, targeting for custom audiences and lookalikes will help maximize return.
As an additional note, keep in mind that while autoplay is a default feature of CPA or oCPM video- based MAI units, Facebook does not guarantee autoplay eligibility if you bid CPC or oCPM for clicks. Since this feature is much better at catching the user’s attention, it’s worth sticking to other bid types for video-enabled MAI ads.
It’s no accident that advertisers typically observe mobile video units outperforming content produced for other channels. Provided these and other considerations are taken into account, MAI and similar direct-response focused video units are a great option. As with all advertising, it just comes down to creating the right content for the right audience.