How to make good video ads for mobile apps

How to make a good ads for mobile apps

Welcome to the fifth part of our Mobile Marketing Creatives Series. In ten episodes, we aim to provide insight and inspiration on creating thumb-stopping visuals to promote your app. 


Download the Mobile Ad Creatives eBook today to read the other nine episodes in the series. The comprehensive guide includes ten core topics condensed into a practical blueprint with examples from AppAgent’s Creative Studio.


What you will learn in this episode:

–      How your ads should evolve to cope with market saturation

–      The difference between good and bad fake ads

–      12 creative directions to speed up the ideation process

plus 13 video examples for your creative inspiration.

Evolution of app video ad ideas

When launching a new mobile app or game, the element of novelty is often enough to start developing simple creatives. The goal at the very beginning is to quickly test different executions before investing more time and money in advanced ads. For the first level of video ads, you should feature gameplay or demonstrate the app in action.


Over time, such basic ads will deteriorate in performance. At this point, we recommend that our clients move to the next level and begin adding emotions into their video ads. Which emotions specifically should have been identified when you mapped the motivational drivers during the pre-production stage.


There are many possible ways how to add emotion to mobile ad creatives, including:

– using in-game characters;
– creating a surprising mini-story;
– showing a conflict or a challenging situation;
– demonstrating the emotional impact and how the app changes a user’s life;
– showing your users and their emotions;
– incorporating humor and funny situations;
– hitting an aspirational note… and many more.

Including emotions can be highly successful and help you generate dozens or even hundreds of ads before hitting another creative glass ceiling.

At this stage, concepts using 3D graphics, live footage, and those far removed from the actual app or game experience are the only way to engage and attract new audiences that have ignored you before.


If you’ve got this far and things still aren’t working, it might be time for fake ads.

Design Home creative case study showing usage of 2D, 3D and live footage ads:

Why do mobile games use fake ads?

Fake ads are often called misleading ads. Many publishers don’t fully understand why such an approach was successful for game publisher Playrix.

Instead, most companies are just blindly copying the form. Fails, pins, fire all around the place… you know what we’re talking about.

While it’s never been confirmed, Playrix has likely developed an underlying logic for those concepts that’s related to motivators. For example, in Homescapes, those motivators are “Escapism – Thinking & Solving” and “Escapism – Excitement & Thrill”; the drivers defined by GameRefinery.

If you look carefully at Homescapes ads and their store listing, you will see emotions in the rawest form. Each ad screams, “[Think to] solve the [urgent or thrilling] problem [and escape from your boring life]!” Solving problems is the core of this puzzle game.


Tapping into the emotional core that drives the app is the key to fake ads that work! You distill the game experience and push visualization to the extreme. If the motivational driver behind the ad and the game are aligned, your top-funnel metrics such as CTR and CVR will be high. Bottom funnel retention and monetization will also be vital. However, if your designers blindly copy others and try crazy ideas without underpinning logic, players will churn and leave bad reviews.


Consider that fake ads have audience limitations. For casual players, who may not consider themselves “mobile players”, this might work. They are not overly sensitive to the potential mismatch between how the ad and mobile game looks like. However, if you have a mid-code RPG targeting serious gamers, fake ads are very risky. In this situation, the risks are too significant, and a fake ad strategy should be avoided.

12 ideas for mobile video ads

At AppAgent, we’re continuously monitoring mobile ad creatives to understand what’s working and why. We’ve discovered that ads can be categorized into one of 12 directions, all sharing a similar approach.

You can use these directions as an inspiration to help you quickly generate new ideas for your ads. Let’s look at these 12 directions more in detail.


What percentage of people have the same problem or how much time the product saves you. 
Example: Blinkist ad using a copy “Mark Zuckerberg’s goal is to finish a book every 2 weeks.”


Collaboration, community, sharing your creations. 
Example: Clash of Clans ad Stronger Together. 


Player vs. player, becoming the best, achieving the highest score or fastest time. 
Example: Duel: Puzzle Wars ad Fighters.


Why the product was created, the founder’s vision, problem to be solved.
ExampleFinimize ad “Max’s Story”.


Streamers, influencers, and celebrities presenting your product. 
Example: Raid Shadow Legends (AppAgent did not produce this ad).


Creative direction going further from the actual product, simplifying the narrative or using the one that doesn’t exist in the game. 
Example: Tasty Town ad Dating Challenge.


Product walkthrough over the main aspects.

Example from gaming industry: Monster Legends App Preview.  

Example from non-gaming industry: Pockethunt ad Skip The Line.


Using awards, famous quotes, customer ratings, or numbers demonstrating time or money savings. 
Example: Joom ad Savings.


Direct focus on benefits of the product or service, how better the user’s life will become. 
Example: OneCast ad “Non-stop gaming”.


Can-you-do-better type of ad.

Example: Design Home ad Challenge.


Mostly testimonials, but it could even be a clash of two different views or approaches (think of eToro ads).

Example: Design Home ad Reviews.



Focus on a specific product feature.

Example: ad Nomad.


Closing remarks

If you have a new product, start simple with your ads. Focus on demonstrating the core functionality and main benefits of your mobile app or game. Once you’ve achieved all you can with this approach, incorporating emotions will help you develop more creative executions to attract new users. If you choose to use them, fake ads should remain faithful to the core game experience no matter how much you simplify the narrative and visuals of your ads.

If you and your creative team get stuck, challenge yourself to develop concepts following some (or even all) 12 creative directions shared above. This also provides a great way to systematically test what style of ads work best for you and double down on the most perspective approach.


Mobile Ad Creatives eBook

How to Design Ads and App Store Creatives

A comprehensive guide to designing thumb-stopping visuals that will grow your user base and revenue.


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  • How to create great video ads for mobile apps and games

    First, focus on demonstrating the core functionality and main benefits of your mobile app or game. Later, add emotions to your videos based on the motivational drivers (defined by GameRefinery).



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