What works and what doesn’t: Leveling up your casual apps


The possibilities for creative concepts are endless, and the intense competition in the mobile advertising industry drives app marketers to always think of new, innovative strategies to engage current users, attract new users, and help with user retention.

In our previous article, we talked about creative strategies for leveling up your casual apps both for user acquisition and retargeting campaigns. As we believe that all decisions should be data-driven and evidence-based, we have prepared more insights on what works and what doesn’t in terms of creative strategies for casual apps. 

We have run tests to identify the effectiveness of the following three strategies: tutorials, challenges, and meta creatives. Let’s talk about the concepts of each strategy and prove the point with numbers. 

Creative Strategies for Casual Apps

1. Tutorials

Tutorial creatives aim to present a detailed how-to of the app and can be the best starting point for prospective users. You can entice users by showing them the best of your app, providing a sneak peek into your app and what makes it special. For card apps, this can be done through the usage of game footage with in-game characters, if any, or call-outs explaining how the game works and what other features set it apart from its competitors.

Tutorial creative ad, solitaire

2. Challenges

Another creative strategy is to compose a unique inviting or challenging message which will motivate users to download the app or, if they already have it, pass new levels. Creating challenges for users by inviting them to try to beat one of the hardest levels can lead to more engagement. 

Perfect Win

3. Meta creatives

Meta creatives have gained popularity in recent years. These ad creatives show certain problematic situations to the user and options for how they can be fixed. For card apps, showing gameplay between a newbie and a veteran player could encourage the viewer to try out the game to prove his/her skills at a seemingly easy/casual game. This meta creative typically does not use in-game features but the elements shown in the creative are generally related to the game.

Meta Gameplay, solitaire gameboard

What works and what doesn’t

There are many creative strategies, but they only matter if they work. To find out which performed best, we ran a mobile programmatic campaign leveraging all three creative strategies.  

Comparing the 3 creatives, we saw that the non-meta creatives (tutorial and the challenge) led all metrics. We made two comparisons: meta vs tutorial and meta vs challenge. Here are the results:

The tutorial creative outperformed meta on all metrics: the cost per install (CPI) was significantly lower by 36.27%, and the install rate (IR) was greater by 115.4%. Other metrics also showed positive results for the tutorial creative with the click-through rate (CTR) greater by 0.14% and the conversion rate (CR) higher by 115.1%. 

The challenge creative also outperformed the meta ad. The CR was better by 129.21%, the IR was 146.62% greater, the CTR was higher by 7.60%, and the CPI was lower by 38.14%.

Relevancy is the Key  

The ad creative is the representation of your advertising campaign, so of course you want it to be the best possible. Some meta ads show features that do not exist in the products themselves which lead to user irritation and dissatisfaction. Designed well and informed by data, relevant ad creatives are always winners.

Don’t forget about testing! A creative strategy that worked once will eventually become stale. Champion/challenger and multivariate testing are a great means to find new ways to serve engaging creatives. Keep an eye on our Insights for new and innovative solutions. Shoot us a message if you need advice on how to make your next app marketing campaign a hit. 


Topics: Creative Insights