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Designing a Winner: Behind HotelTonight’s Stunning Mobile Video Ad

by Katie Jansen on Jun 29, 2015

As the Director of Creative Services at AppLovin — meaning he’s the guy who oversees all of the ads we produce for our customers — Ilya Berger has an interesting perspective on what works in the mobile ad space and why. After a recent user acquisition video campaign we did for our customer HotelTonight garnered terrific results (watch the video and find out more about the strategy and outcomes in this excellent AdExchanger profile), I sat down with him to talk about the specifics of what makes a great mobile video ad.

Ilya Berger

Ilya Berger

The HotelTonight ad showed a 326% higher install rate than previous HotelTonight acquisition campaigns. From a design perspective, what do you think made this ad such a huge success?

We worked closely with HotelTonight to keep this video “on brand” and in keeping with the look and feel of HotelTonight: it’s urbane (notice the Empire State Building and New York skyline in the opening) and polished, you could even say slick. It also features images of luxury hotels in the mini demo of the app that’s imbedded in the ad, and images of young, sophisticated couples. The brand’s main goal in this campaign was to attract new users and educate them about HotelTonight. We did that by focusing on the landscape (destinations) and then adding the users stories (core customer types.).

How long does it typically take to produce a mobile video of this quality?

Usually it takes one senior designer about three days to produce an ad of this caliber, which makes it incredibly cost-effective. In this case, because the ad is also running on TV, the return on investment is even better because HotelTonight doesn’t have to produce a different ad for broadcast — a very expensive proposition.

What are the general guidelines for making successful mobile video ads?

First you have to be sure to capture the audience’s attention with an interesting story. In the HotelTonight video, we superimposed text over images that told little stories, i.e. “skip the commute”, “road trip on a whim,” and “last-minute date night” — all of which are mini-narratives that really speak to the target audience. Then it’s also important to show the characters (in this case playful couples) so that in essence the target user sees him or herself in the ad. Also if you’re advertising an app, be sure to demonstrate the app core elements or features so the user gets a good idea of what exactly they can do with the app. HotelTonight is a mobile-first company, and its app has an amazing user experience. It’s key to show this off. Finally, I think that a captivating soundtrack, one with a fast tempo, is really important to keeping the user engaged in a mobile video ad.

What’s next in mobile video?

Generally speaking, it’s still early days in mobile video. Mobile hardware, advanced cellular networks, and the proliferation of Wi-Fi have finally hit the sweet spot for mobile ads to be a great experience. It’s really an interesting time for mobile video ads, they’re evolving quickly in terms of how data sheds light on what works and what doesn’t. And by evolving, I mean they’re only getting better. Already, users are three times more likely to click on a mobile video ad than they are on a desktop video ad.

Video is the perfect format for mobile, and it’s exciting to be able to create mobile video ads and play a part in getting consumers to engage with content in new and interesting ways.

If you’re interested in pursuing mobile video as a strategy to advertise your brand, contact your account manager at AppLovin to start the discussion.

Katie Jansen is AppLovin’s Chief Marketing Officer. In addition to her work, Katie is an advocate for women in tech and equality in the workplace.

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