Mobile Gaming: How to beat the creative control in an IOS14 world

Our Gaming Commercial Lead explains why creative quality and quantity are key to bump games to the top of rankings in a post app-tracking world and our approach to overcome increased competition for attention in the mobile gaming industry.
Rhian Gainsborough

Rhian Gainsborough

Commercial Lead, Gaming

It’s been a couple of months since Apple pulled the plug on app tracking. CPM’s are increasing and UA budgets are being cut as performance teams wait to assess impact. 

Apple’s decision to roll out the changes slowly, means it is still too early to measure. However, we can be certain that reduced advertising will lead to reduced user acquisition. There are simply too many games out there to expect players to find your game through organic means. Therefore, the studios that push hardest with creative ideation and UA testing will continue to win. 

I often look at the top performing games on App Annie and then cross reference those games with Facebook Ad directory. The results are clear, creative quality and quantity are key; the flashiest, funniest and most original creative concepts belong to the games at the top of rankings. There are exceptions, like Among US in 2020, that became an overnight internet sensation but the rest of us are left to grind out creative concept after concept searching for the next unicorn. And being a mythical creature, unicorns have always been a difficult beast to find, with current industry averages of 5-8% beating the existing best performer. 

APP Annie Top Game Ranking


The case for continued testing, quality and quantity 

Facebook’s algorithm is known to favour the control video and looks less favourably on the new kid on the block. This doesn’t mean you should not create and test concepts constantly, you have to. The control will eventually run out of gas, stall and die, and so will your UA performance if you’re not ready with the next concept…and the next. 

At VMG Digital, we are brought in to help improve UA performance for studios. I usually start by addressing the challenge. Yes, we’re a team of gamers, creatives and internet geeks but… we’re not magicians that pull unicorns out of hats! Yes, we love unicorns too, but judge us on the quality of the creatives, the originality of the ideas and the commitment to deadlines. By addressing the elephant in the room, we can then enter into a productive partnership and start the process of finding the next winner. 



The motivation-based approach to mobile-gaming ads

We use a player motivation-based approach to start the creative ideation process. Identifying two or three key motivations and then matching these to in-game features. Along the way we are cross referencing with fan sites and app store reviews to identify what’s resonating with current players.  

Once your ‘motivation buckets’ are full of game features it’s time to analyse the competition and work out what is trending. We use App Annie and Facebook ad library, the former to identify the competition and the latter to see what they are doing. 

On Demand Masterclass

Engaging Players with Motivation-Based Creative



Just like Hollywood film studios, where blockbusters are always followed by sequels and rival studios scramble to produce their version of the original, and so trends are born. Mobile gaming advertising is no different, it’s just faster and more ruthless. Once you have your new trends, think about how you can match your ‘motivation buckets’ to the latest trends, some will fit nicely and others won’t. 

Over the next few months I’ll share the creative concepts we’re creating and seeing in the wider market, covering all of the major sub-genres. The aim is to share the best concepts that are bravely standing up to the new post-IOS14.5 world! 

Advertising existed successfully before mobile-tracking and will do so again, the key will be digging deep into player motivations, following the trends and speaking directly to your audience. 

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