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YellowHead: Advertisers get 3 seconds to grab attention in a social casino game

Social casino game players aren’t the type to pay attention to ads. So advertisers have exactly three seconds to grab a user’s attention with a special offer, according to a report by marketing firm YellowHead.

New York and Israel-based YellowHead collected more than 300 million impressions to find the most effective ad strategies for publishers of social casino games, which generated $1.76 billion in revenues in the third quarter ended September 30, according to market analyst firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

The tips seem random at times. If you’re trying to call for an action like purchasing an item in a game, don’t use the color red. The color purple has a 30% greater return on investment than blue or green, and red tests below average.

And if you are displaying your logo in an ad, keep the image visible during the duration of the ad. Don’t wait to show it until the end of the video. Of course, some of this sounds contradictory. If you show a logo, that’s not going to grab anybody’s attention in the first three seconds. But you can show the logo in part of the ad and then show something else more interesting.

These aren’t just crazy observations. YellowHead uses AI and other performance marketing science to make the recommendations, which are captured in a report dubbed Ad Creative Benchmark Report: Social Casino. YellowHead makes a tool for marketers dubbed Alison which provides the scientific backbone behind creative content in advertisements, said Merav Katz, head of corporate marketing, in an interview with GamesBeat. And Alison instruments everything in an ad in minute detail.

Above: Purple works best as a color in call-to-action buttons.

“It goes down into the details about the social casino industry,” Katz said. “We’ve seen really good success with purple call-to-action buttons. What is interesting with Alison is that it takes out the assumptions that we have and comes back with precise measurements.”

Showing a brand’s logo at the beginning of a video results in a 7-day return on investment (ROI) that is 41% higher than waiting until the end of a video to show the logo. And in the images, reels are included in 98% of ad creatives for social casino games, and that’s because they work.

“A lot of creative work until now has been done based hunches,” Katz said. “The creative designers trusted gut feelings about what looks nice or what will resonate with the audience. But in reality, there are a million factors that could affect how people react to a particular ad creative. We take the speculation out.”

When it comes to call-to-action design, purple boxes outperform blue and green boxes for 7-day ROI by more than 30%. Voiceovers aren’t always necessary for video ads; in top-tier countries, ads without voiceovers actually have a slightly better ROI than ads with them.

“Play now” is the most common call-to-action, but more specific directions such as “Spin” or “Claim now” showed higher conversion rates and ROI. Social casino gamers love cartoon characters and animal mascots, despite most ads using animated men and women characters. And spinning reels and dollar bills are among the most compelling animations social casino marketers can use.

Above: YellowHead’s Alison benchmarks ad performance.

With Alison, YellowHead analyzed 6,365 ads across 860 campaigns in 12 social casino apps. It looked at 230 types of creative content used in 1,045 ad sets that resulted in 376.8 million ad impressions from March through July.

Noa Miller, the marketing creative strategist at YellowHead, demoed Alison for me. She said in an interview that creative can be responsible for half of the success of an ad. Partners using Alison include Zynga, which is one of the biggest social casino game companies. Alison can monitor results on any platform and bring them into a single dashboard for review. It has recommendations for things to change or notice, based on how the ad performs. Managers can look at the results in different countries and compare them. If they didn’t have a tool like Alison, they might be lost in a sea of spreadsheets, Miller said.

YellowHead was founded in 2013 and it has more than 100 employees.

The ad creators try tons of variations on the ads to test every aspect, like the music, the characters (animals do better than people), the background, or the animations. Alison is targeted at both ad creators and user-acquisition managers to handle the advertising budgets. It isn’t about replacing those people with automation. Rather, it provides them with tools to do a better job.

“Humans can be much better at the creative parts,” Katz said, noting that humans are better at spotting inappropriate ads.

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