24 Aug 2021
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Creative is King when it comes to breakthrough UA campaigns. But delivering compelling video & static content that will appeal to specific players with a particular device, region or network can be a painful task that has only become more difficult and time-consuming.
Fortunately, a solution to the monotony of tweaking and testing multiple variant assets can be found in creative automation tools. Automation gives creative teams the power to simplify production, reduce overhead, and increase total volume, allowing artists to actually be more creative by reclaiming time to spend on more nuanced tasks.
Using one of our games as an example, MMA Manager 2021 by our partner FunRock, I will break down how we at Tilting Point use in-house automation tools to level up our ad creation pipelines and drive more high-quality creative, giving us and our developer partners the freedom to focus on more interesting custom work. These tools are guaranteed to benefit developers of all sizes seeking to market their mobile game.
There are thousands of variables to consider when building, testing, and deploying creative; beyond the fundamental design choices, there are also hundreds of variations needed for different networks, platforms, and ad units. This amount of manual configuration can require thousands of hours spent on work, testing and optimization, a repetitive process that can lead to burnout for the artists.
Worse yet, after all that work, 95 percent of ad creatives still fail. And in this new post-IDFA world where creative-level reporting contains reduced attribution info and fewer slots are open to run in parallel with efficient tracking, developers must work even harder to make their ads stand out. Soon it will be nearly impossible to deliver precision-targeted advertising to players, and as a result, the volume of ad creative needed to be successful is only going to keep going up.
The way we at Tilting Point managed to stay ahead of this industry shift is with our in-house creative platform known as CAT (Creative Automation Technology). Its tools are built not just for volume, but to automatically address the requirements of multiple ad networks and platforms and allow constant testing of variant assets. This means ads for games like MMA Manager can appeal to a wide audience, and we can optimize click-through rates even in the absence of tracking specifics.
Automation platforms eliminate repetitive tasks using AI and procedural tools to streamline workflows, making it possible for one designer to spend minutes doing what might otherwise take an entire team a week or more. Using CAT, we have cut creative production times overall by 50 percent, resulting in double the output, from 1,400 pieces of creative a month to more than 2,800. You can visit Tilting Point’s website to learn more about CAT and our other proprietary tech.
Whereas manually producing a high-quality video asset can require as much as 18 working hours to complete, CAT uses a custom tool called VidCreate to automate production using templates and preset variations. By setting a few simple parameters, a single editor can turn out high-quality videos in less than one hour, and often, in just ten minutes. That’s a time savings of 17 hours per video, which can have a high impact on ROAS while allowing for more bandwidth in gathering creative insights.
Following completed campaigns, robust reporting from our UA managers to CAT lets us see which ads performed best, allowing VidCreate to go the extra distance by splitting those originals into reusable segments. By employing key descriptors, these segments can be reordered by the tool for the creation of unlimited variants, providing a continuous return on the original investment.
In the case of MMA Manager 2021, we used CAT to produce several variant video ads at once with similar content. We were able to test the appeal of different themes, game mechanics, characters, and storylines, and quickly learned what most affected an ad’s overall performance. These automated insights led to the creation of successful video ads such as this one from March, boasting a 2x above average purchase rate and a +61% conversion rate.
Automation can lead to major improvements for static images as well. The key to producing statics for multiple ad networks is the variation of sizes and layouts, compared to video ads which vary more by content.
Whereas traditional resizing tools always crop out certain features, a platform like CAT can “read” the copy shown in marketing images, and adjust its output accordingly so that assets are automatically resized for dozens of platforms with minimal errors. The tool actually exports a full art board for each task, which allows for quick adjustment and up to a 78x increase in production speed.
For MMA Manager 2021, this efficient resizing provided testing opportunities similar to video, and allowed for the creation of successful ads which, in some cases, cut the cost per impressions in half. Altogether, automated creatives and Tilting Point’s carefully honed UA practices have not only increased unique purchasers by 30% for MMA Manager, but also reduced cost per purchaser by 2.4x.
The most notable benefit of automation tools for ad creative is that they free up artists to focus on higher value work. For MMA Manager we were able to double the standard output of creative production, and when a team isn’t sinking their time into creating dozens of variant videos and statics, they’re free to invest that time in developing new campaigns, applying insights from their current campaigns, and finding innovative new ways to reach players.
Especially in the current atmosphere of creative testing for mobile post-IDFA, having the time to adjust and learn to appeal to a broader audience rather than a heavily targeted one means more care will be taken to achieve the best results. Creative teams can iterate on more campaign ideas faster, using automation tools to showcase more elements of the game than ads have previously contained.
Whereas one might assume that automation stifles creativity, the truth is that it enables more creativity by taking care of the most repetitive aspects of production. Artists get to avoid making the same tweaks over and over again, reducing burnout and allowing them to exercise more creative muscle with new campaign ideas based on an unprecedented amount of data about the current market and competitors.
In a heavily saturated digital marketplace where fewer than 1 in 10 ads will succeed, it’s vital to empower your game company’s artists with tools that will simplify production and make the work more stimulating. The streamlining power of a platform like CAT has worked wonders for MMA Manager 2021 as well as dozens of other game titles, and along with similar automation tools, it’s only becoming more sophisticated.
To review the benefits of automation for creative teams, it can…
Creative work, even for advertising, shouldn’t have to be a chore, so invest in powerful automation solutions today. Better yet, if you’re a small developer with a lot of other things on your plate, reach out to a publisher like Tilting Point with the tools to take your growing game to the next level!
Looking for a partner to help supercharge your ad creative with automation tools? The creative and UA experts at Tilting Point can get the job done. To start the conversation, send us an email at email@example.com!
As VP of Creative at Tilting Point, William Hughes has more than 15 years of experience working in advertising and games for companies such as PopCap, EA, Big Fish, and Social Point. He has worked on big mobile titles such as, Plants vs Zombies, The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Monsters Legend, Gummy Drop, Big Fish Casino and many more. He is an expert in creative direction, strategic planning, brand development, and design with a focus on data-driven results.