AppLovin today released its second yearly report on Performance-Driven Ad Trends, in which it illuminates some of the most successful ad strategies and trends in 2023. According to the report, generative AI shows promise as a creative tool, while effective ad trends include genre-bending in mobile games, creative metaplay and gamification (even for products that aren’t video games).
SparkLabs, AppLovin’s in-house creative team, suggests that generative AI has a place in ambitious ad campaigns, making development more efficient and broadening creative work. The team itself increased its use of generative AI across various workflows.
Jessica Dolan, SparkLabs’ creative director, said in an interview with GamesBeat, “For SparkLabs, incorporating a variety of AI tools into our production workflow has been a game changer. And while these tools have greatly helped us become more efficient with creative concepting, asset generation, and video editing, a human perspective is still needed to determine what will connect with customers in an authentic way.”
SparkLabs’s findings in the report suggest that gen AI is best explored as a team, rather than on an individual creative level. Dolan adds, “Having open discussions about AI tools is key. We encourage our SparkLabs team to find and test new tools that can help unlock creative potential and streamline production. A big motivation is being able to do things creatively that weren’t possible before. That innovation is a hallmark of what we do.”
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Successful ad strategies of the last year
As part of its report, AppLovin also covers successful trends in ad campaigns from the last year. In 2023, these include “genre-bending,” or borrowing gameplay mechanics from other genres to create new material for one’s own game. AppLovin also found that gamification in ads drove higher engagement even in ads for non-game products.
Jerome Turnball, AppLovin’s general manager of games, told GamesBeat in an interview, “Understanding what motivates the user is important. It helps inform ways to potentially gamify an app with an interactive playable ad that serves as a basic explainer of what an app is about. For a non-gaming property, gamification allows marketers to engage users in an entertaining, non-traditional way.”
Another strategy AppLovin reports as being effective is metaplay, which is the practice of offering simplified versions of in-game mechanics in interactive ads to attract casual players. These ads have drawn some criticism for not wholly representing the product, but Turnball says this criticism doesn’t make them any less effective.
“What people think about an ad and what actions they take in response to them are two different things. The mobile gaming ads with metaplay that you are seeing so often indicate they are effective… n the ads, we’re trying to speak to the motivations behind playing that game. How much meta gameplay is used in ads depends on the complexity of the game.”
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