5 Tips for Designing Effective Mobile App Ad Creatives

Ioana Cozma
May 21, 2024
February 15, 2023

Building mobile app ad creatives is like parachuting out of an airplane.

It takes marketing art and daring to build something that gives you a clear competitive advantage. But more importantly, your creative team must prepare for the jump with the utmost care.

That’s what we’re here to teach you.

Ad creative strategy – not parachute jumping.

We’ll start by discussing what an ad creative is and the different types you can choose for your campaign. Next, we’ll take you through five tips that streamline the creation process.

As a mobile app marketing agency, we’ll include insider tips, real-life examples from our clients, free tools you can use – and more.

Scroll below.


  • Design impactful mobile app ad creatives with strategic planning.
  • Utilize attention-grabbing visuals and engaging copy.
  • Incorporate hooks, user-generated content, and influencers for authenticity.
  • Test various ad versions and optimize using analytics.
  • Choose the right ad format for your audience’s platform.
  • Tools like Canva and Picsart assist in creating compelling visuals.
  • Clear and effective CTAs guide user actions.
  • Book a free call with inBeat which offers personalized strategies for successful ad campaigns.

What Is An Ad Creative?

Facebook defines an ad creative as “an object that contains all the data for visually rendering the ad itself.” According to this source, ad creatives are made of:

  • The creative object itself, meaning the visual attributes that compose it
  • The ad’s placement
  • The unit preview for each placement

To understand better, imagine going to a restaurant. An advertising campaign is like the menu you’re getting. Each type of dish is a step in your campaign.

From that perspective, ad creatives are like pasta. You can choose from carbonara, tagliatelle, ravioli, and more.

Remember: Like the food you eat in a restaurant, your target users should download your app. Ad creatives’ goal is to increase conversions, not just to bring more awareness to your mobile app or improve user engagement.

Creative Types

There are three creative types:

  • Display
  • Video
  • Audio

Despite the chosen advertising platform, display and mobile video ads are more common for mobile advertisers. Pure audio creatives are rarer, but you can include them in your creative production process to increase campaign performance.

Types of video and audio creatives include the following:

  • Video ad creative: You can use it for pre-, mid-, and post-rolls, hosting this creative on Google’s Ad Manager or another platform.
  • Overlay: This image ad appears over some of the video content the users see. Of course, you can choose the image’s dimensions, third-party URLs, and ad duration. You can use an app to clean up pictures if they’re not up to scratch.
  • Video ad redirect: This third-party ad represents a combination of multiple video creatives and overlays.
  • Audio ads: These ads are like classic radio commercials, playing during a podcast, audiobook, or another type of audio content.
  • Audio redirect: These ads point back to third-party ad servers, just like video redirects.

Display creatives include:

  • Mobile creatives: These creatives include all ads used for mobile, whether your target audience uses a mobile app or a mobile browser.
  • Image: These are the standard image ads.
  • HTML5: If you want to enhance user experience and draw attention faster, HTML5 files render more compelling ad creatives.
  • Third-party: These are display ads that use cod from different ad servers.

Ad creatives can also be categorized as:

  • Standard ads: These look like conventional ads/commercials.
  • Native ads: They blend with your website’s or app’s look.
  • Custom: These ads are highly personalized according to your input.

Here’s a standard hiring ad on Instagram from a company called Sevio. Notice that it looks just like your average ad.

Sevio hiring ad

And here’s a native video ad by fitness app Noom, which appears like the content posted by a real person on the platform at first glance:

Bumble in-feed ad

But compelling ad creatives are less about creativity and more about strategy. So, let’s see five steps your creative team can implement for a mobile ad creative that moves the needle.

Get the most out of your paid media with our Mexican mobile app marketing agency!

5 Steps to Make a Well-Balanced Mobile App Ad Creative

You must first ask yourself where this ad will appear because the channel influences your creative format and copy. For example, TikTok ads typically look more raw and native than in-app ads for mobile gaming apps.

Pro tip: To test different types of ad creatives and see what looks better for your audience, use a free mockup ad generator.

1. Define Your Target Audience

Conduct a thorough audience analysis and define your target audience to ensure you resonate with them. Your mobile ad creative’s main purpose is to generate more leads.

And you can increase user acquisition more efficiently if your ad:

  • Is based on your customers’ values.
  • Highlights the unique way in which your app responds to their needs.

Remember: Don’t adopt mobile app advertising trends just because they’re in vogue. Ensure your audience will appreciate them first.

Pro tip: Use filters to target the content and set the right visibility settings. This small fact is proven to increase your click-through and conversion rates significantly.

Let’s see a neat example from Allbirds, a sustainable, eco-friendly company selling shoes and clothing. Allbirds also has a good mobile app for easier shopping.

The brand partnered with the New York Times a few years ago to emphasize its eco-friendly values and increase sales. The newspaper featured this paid post on its Facebook page:

New York Times - Allbirds paid post

In this case, the brand recognizes that working towards a friendlier environment is an important value for its audience. Allbirds also realizes that this user segment wants to learn more about this issue – that’s why they created lengthier content.

2. Use Visuals That Grab Attention

People’s attention spans have been decreasing for years, reaching an all-time low of 1.3 seconds in 2022. And social media users will scroll past your ad in a second if you don’t grab their attention.

Insider tips: inBeat uses several tactics to mitigate that low attention span, such as hooks, influencer marketing, and UGC ads.

Insider tip 1: Hooks are a blend of images and words that raise people’s curiosity.

Bumble in-feed ad

For example, this video ad for the mobile travel app Hopper starts with the words, “Here is a secret travel hack that I use to book flights for cheaper every single time.”

But apart from the words, notice the image succession.

The transition between the first few images follows the words’ cadence, thus maintaining people’s attention on the ads.

Insider tip 2: User-generated content is more trustworthy.

At inBeat, we partner with the top 2% of content creators who do this for a living, and that’s why our UGC examples move the needle. You can find these people using our influencer marketing platform.

This type of content feels more authentic than conventional ads, thus motivating more people to download the app. Here’s an example:

Bumble in-feed ad

The video creative above is from our campaign for Bumble, which targets 18-24 year-olds. This dating app aimed to increase in-app activity and app downloads, so we decided to use native in-feed TikTok ads.

Side note: That’s how Bumble became a success story on TikTok Business.

Partner with the right TikTok marketing agency, and chances are TikTok will write a case study about you too.

We chose five creators with diverse backgrounds who decided on the creative concept, “come with me to my first date.” The creators invited their dates to pick a number from 1 to 10, all numbers hiding a different date idea. The entire campaign was fun and exciting, and one of our creators met her girlfriend on Bumble.

Insider tip 3: Influencers are more persuasive than traditional ads.

Using influencers for mobile app advertising is also a great idea because their followers view them as experts in their fields. Besides, influencers know this audience intimately, so they’ll tap into these valuable insights to:

  • Help you create more compelling ads and creative themes.
  • Discuss your app with their audience.

They might even help your product team devise better app features in the future.

Here is a sponsored Instagram post from Alex RN, who discusses the Vivian app for travel nurses:

Vivian app post

General tips for visually persuasive ad creatives: Tap into the psychology of colors.

Studies show that each color impacts people differently. For example, red is considered the color of action, so experts advise you to use it in call-to-actions. So, use a color palette that incites action through vibrant hues and contrasting colors to increase conversions.

3. Master Your Ad Creative Copy

Let’s start this section with a neat example from the Headway app:

Headway app creative copy

Headway allows app users access to 15-minute book summaries so they can learn new things faster. Besides, the app has a neat gamification side so that users can acquire new skills through play.

This display ad, albeit short, includes several lessons in it:

  • It’s short and straight to the point like all your ads should be: Facebook guidelines suggest that longer text is correlated to a decreased reach. Besides, these shorter ads are more affordable.
  • It grabs people’s attention: This is done through a direct question, preceded by the hook “Here’s an uncomfortable question.”
  • It uses the right words: These include: “interesting person, ” “2023”, “try Headway, ” “for free, ” “install app, ” and “boost personal growth.”

Besides, this ad lacks images altogether. Instead, it focuses on urgency and creating desire by promising fast personal growth.

Note: Although ad creatives usually target conversions, an app marketer can use the same idea for a re-engagement campaign to drive performance at scale.

4. Include a CTA

Effective ad creatives include compelling calls to action. Whether you have a specific action button, a shoppable link, or another type of CTA, ensure your target audience understands what’s expected of them.

Here’s an example from the Unroll.me app, one of inBeat’s clients:

Bumble in-feed ad

Unroll.me is an inbox decluttering app that addresses a wide audience. To increase sales, we used a diverse array of influencers that explained the app’s benefits and how it works.

Side note: Use our free influencer marketing platform to uncover professional micro- and nano-influencers in seconds.

Each creator had a link that their followers used to download the app from. The advantage of using such a link is that you can monitor the results each creator brings you.

And, of course, including a link makes it easier for people to actually download your app.

Ads with app button can drive more app installs as well:

Bumble in-feed ad

Insider tip: Outline your CTA requirements in your creative brief to ensure you get the right message through to your audience.

Here’s part of our creative brief for Linktree containing the CTA requirements:

Linktree creative brief

Pro tip: You can find and download the creative brief template we use here at inBeat.

5. Track, Analyze, and Optimize

It’s important to use mobile attribution analytics software, and then run and test different versions of the same ad because this helps you:

  • Address different segments: A slight change in your copy can completely change targeting. So, a broad target is easier to attract with different ad creatives.

Inside story time: For our Unroll.me campaign, we noticed that the TikTok algorithm targeted the faster-paced ads to Gen Z, while the slower ads were shown mostly to the 55+ age group.

  • Test what’s working: At inBeat, we structure ad campaigns over a span of three months. The first month is for the creative process, while the second is for running multiple ads and testing different creatives. In the third month, we zero in on the most successful creatives to achieve our goals faster.

You can do it, too, using our mockup ad generators and other free tools. Alternatively, you can reach out to us directly, and we’ll implement everything from A to Z.

Tools for Better Ad Creatives

If you want to take matters into your own hands, here are some tools that the best mobile app marketing companies use to streamline their workload:

  • Canva: Free graphic tool
  • Flyerwiz: Design Tool & Flyer Maker App
  • Picsart: All-in-one platform for photo and video ad editing, plus intuitive app design tools
  • Capcut: Comprehensive video ad editor
  • video: Beginner-friendly video ad recorder and editor with live-streaming features
  • adcreative.ai: AI-powered ad creative tool that helps you brainstorm more ideas

Start Designing Your Mobile App Ad Creatives

Hopefully, the information in this guide puts you on the right track to designing ad creatives for your mobile app.

First, pick the right ad format according to the channel your audience uses the most. Next, focus on the type of message and creative concepts that would convince them.

At inBeat, we build each creative brief before choosing potential creators to work with.

After that, you can focus on the details of your copy, such as compelling visuals, subtitles/captions, and audio.

inBeat can help you start today. Schedule a free 30-minute strategy call, and we’ll discuss actionable steps for your specific app.

Want more examples of successful mobile marketing campaigns? Check out case studies of our mobile marketing agency in Canada!

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