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First-Timer’s Guide to Mobile Game Video Ads

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It’s no secret we’re big fans of video ads here at Chartboost. Not only can a quality game trailer increase revenue by up to 70 percent, it can also keep players engaged — even while watching an ad. Whether you’re promoting your own game through a rewarded ad, or teasing a relevant game to players, video offers a great advertising opportunity without sacrificing user experience.

But for indie developers who are new to creating videos, a custom game trailer can seem out of reach. For beginners, here are a few best practices to keep in mind when tackling video ads for the first time:

Nail your elevator pitch

A good place to start for a video concept is your game’s description in the app store and how you might present it to someone in person, says Sylvain Gauchet, co-founder of Apptamin, a French video studio that makes makes ads for mobile apps.

“Don’t assume your audience is going to know what your game is about, so start with your elevator pitch. Think about when you’re meeting someone for the first time as a developer and explaining to them what your game is all about.”

– Sylvain Gauchet, co-founder Apptamin

But that doesn’t necessarily mean showing your audience every single step of your mobile game, Gauchet says, explaining that the beginning of a level or even a quick run through of the whole game can make for pretty boring video.

Instead, Gauchet recommends focusing on showing off the most impressive features of the game, which often show up once players have advanced a few levels. Providing your video team with an unlocked account to access the entire game is a good way incorporate the most exciting footage your game has.

Keep the story snappy

Still, a strong video ad isn’t all about displaying the flashiest elements of your game. If there’s a strong narrative arc, take advantage of that underlying structure when you put together a video ad, Gauchet says.

“If the point of the your game is to save the princess, start with that and then go into more details about how you do that and why it’s so cool.”

– Sylvain Gauchet, co-founder Apptamin

Whatever content you choose to feature, the pace of the video should be quick and dynamic. That means thinking carefully about any voiceover or text you want to show and make sure that it makes sense with the video.

“You can’t show someone a long sentence with seven or eight words,” he says. “It might be safer to just skip over a feature that’s tough to explain and let people just get the gist of your game.”

Don’t break the bank

For indie developers, the cost of video production can be the biggest hurdle — production studios like Digital Accomplice typically charge between $5,000-$30,000 for game trailers.

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But resourceful developers can still create an effective video ad without big studio dollars, Digital Accomplice principal Dane Fredericksen says.

He recommends repurposing existing resources to demonstrate why your game is worth the download.

“You could repurpose the art from your game and animate that in a different way,” Frederiksen shares. “For example, you could cut things together with cool sound effects or a voiceover. The ingredients themselves don’t take a lot to produce, but they’re put together in a cool way.”

Creating new animations or shooting original video footage often takes longer than expected — not to mention more money. By editing together current creative assets, you can develop an engaging and relevant video for players at a fraction of the cost.

Tap your network

Fredericksen also recommends tapping into the talents of people in your network when producing a video.

“Look at what you have to work with. Find some friends or crowdsourcers that might be able to donate time, equipment or graphic skills.”

– Dane Fredericksen, principal at Digital Accomplice

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There are a lot of different skills that go into creating a quality video ad—and the more brainpower, the better. Frederiksen notes creativity and presentation skills as two key aspects of creating a great video.

“You could have an amazing graphic designer who couldn’t edit his way out of a paper bag in terms of getting the timing down on graphics,” he says. “So a comedian or a speaker who has a polished sense of timing and delivery could really come in handy.”

Frederiksen also suggests consulting a talented writer, a social media guru and a musician or DJ. Each person can help polish different aspects of your video, ensuring it will appeal to your core audience.

Plan ahead and anticipate roadblocks

For developers creating a video ad on a budget, Gauchet says it is crucial to schedule time well in advance with producers and freelancers.

“If you wait until the last minute, you’ll have a tougher time of finding someone who can do it within your budget. Also, make sure your video production team knows what you want, so send them references of trailers you like and explain why you like them.”

– Sylvain Gauchet, co-founder Apptamin

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Reading different app stores’ guidelines for video ads will also expedite the process of getting your video approved, Gauchet says. Apple and Google, for instance, have varying recommendations for video length, call-to-actions and localization. Understanding these nuances will help avoid time-consuming edits and last minute changes that can prevent your ad from having the most impact possible.