As cost per install (CPI) continues to skyrocket, mobile game marketers have turned their attention to a new strategy: motivation-based creative.

Even some of the top performing games in the market are bleeding money on their user acquisition (UA) efforts. For example, Monopoly GO has been one of the greatest mobile success stories of the year. Scopely recently announced they had crossed the $1 billion revenue mark. Amazing! Except it looks like they may have spent $1.5 billion on UA in order to hit that milestone.

In a study, Nielsen found that 56% of ROI in advertising comes from creative, not targeting.

Here is where motivation-based creative comes in. This approach to UA uses what we know works — creative — and juices the results by appealing to player motivations.

Makes sense, right?

Not so fast. There’s a glaring problem with this strategy that can actually make it more ineffective if you approach it the wrong way.

Ask yourself these two questions: How do you know what motivates the players that you are advertising to? How do you know which motivations to feature in your creative?

Player motivation is nearly identical to human motivation. That is to say, it is highly complex.

However, you wouldn’t know this based on the way many people talk about motivations in gaming — especially in the marketing space.

For example, Facebook provides a guide to player motivations for advertisers to use on their social platform. When we look at a guide like this, we feel insulted. Eight motivation archetypes? Do you think Facebook has built any of its content personalization algorithms around the concept of a motivation archetype? Are there only eight different experiences Facebook users can be shown? Of course not.

We know that there are far more than eight ways that players can be motivated. In fact, there are hundreds of psychological factors that go into determining each of our personal motivations. But for the sake of argument, let’s say there are only eight types of people, which is what these archetypes suggest. How do you know which of those eight profiles your prospective players might fit into?

You can A/B test creative, but that erases much of the efficiency motivation-based creative promises.

You can go on instinct and assumptions — you know what motivates the type of players your game appeals to — but that is not a data-driven solution.

Either way, you risk wasting resources on ineffective campaigns.

As we see it, leveraging motivation-based creative comes down to a four-step process:

  1. Identify precisely who your game appeals to — not on a demographic level, but on a motivational level.
  2. Out of those people, determine which group of them has the highest lifetime value (LTV).
  3. Identify the core motivating traits among this group of potential players from the hundreds of psychological factors.
  4. And finally, build creative that emphasizes those motivating traits.

Does this sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, with Solsten’s Traits software, you can easily see the various profiles that make up your player base, and identify the motivating traits of those with the highest LTV. You can even see market sizing data that will show you how many other players like them are in the world, so you can know which profiles will see the highest ROI if you build creative that appeals to them.

Mythical Games used this exact strategy when they were testing creative for their hit mobile game NFL Rivals. They had a high performing ad, and tested it against a new ad that featured motivation-based creative. They built this new ad around the top motivating trait they identified in their audience through the Traits dashboard. The result? CPI for this ad was 50% less. And that was compared to a high performing ad.

This new ad wasn’t complicated. It just built a simple narrative and incorporated keywords around this motivational trait. And the results speak for themselves.

Without Solsten, identifying what was motivating their players would have taken rounds of expensive research and studies. It’s almost certain that they would not have landed on this solution through A/B testing. With Solsten, the data was right there in their dashboard.

Interested in learning more about using Solsten to predictably create high-performing creative assets that reduce CPIs and increase your ROAS? Check out our step-by-step guide to using Solsten for creative optimization here.