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Expert Q&A: Optimizing Ad Creatives on CTV

Connected TV (CTV) is leading the charge as the fastest-growing major ad format in the US this year. And, it’s not just “traditional” advertisers that see the opportunity: Streamers and publishers have found that advertising their own content on the big screen is still one of the best ways to get the attention of viewers. In fact, 48% of viewers in the US and Canada say that ads during other TV shows help them discover new content to watch.

Yet, not all promotions are created equal. Some are more effective than others, driving greater numbers of new viewers. We sat down with Mike Cruz, Director of Creative Operations for SparkLabs – AppLovin’s in-house creative team – to discuss how streamers and publishers can leverage SparkLabs’ creative services and best practices for optimizing their ad creatives across CTV.

Q1: Before we dive in, can you tell us a bit more about what SparkLabs is as well as how you work with Wurl’s streamers and publishers?

MC: SparkLabs is Applovin’s in-house ad creative team. We specialize in data-backed, cutting-edge, performance-driven ads. Our team prides itself on producing, iterating, and testing high-quality ads. Constantly researching new technology and trends, such as AI tools, we drive strategy and identify opportunities through analytics and performance data.

Wurl’s streamers and publishers have unique access to creative services from SparkLabs through ContentDiscovery. We work with Wurl’s clients to produce top-performing ads to promote their shows and content, elevate existing assets, and provide creative analysis. So, for example, if you’re a publisher with an upcoming show premiering on your channel, that’s a perfect use case for when you might tap SparkLabs to help produce and enhance the CTV ad creatives for that show to drive viewers to watch.

Q2: What kind of ad creatives can SparkLabs produce for streamers and publishers?

MC: SparkLabs acts as an expert creative team and resource for Wurl’s clients with support primarily for video ads and mobile banner ads.

One way in which we often work with Wurl’s streamers and publishers is to help turn their existing assets into effective CTV campaigns that bring viewers to the desired content. For example, a streamer may have a seasonal push – let’s say for Valentine’s Day. They may be featuring programming that fits the romantic comedy or drama/romance genres, and want to draw the audience exactly to those programs or channels. SparkLabs can help create the 15- or 30-second ad that tells the viewer exactly where to find this promoted content. We’ll take the existing footage provided by the streamer or publisher, edit it down, and overlay the specific channel name onto it where that content lives – telling the viewer exactly where they can find it.

Outside of CTV ads, another key way in which we support Wurl’s clients is by producing mobile banner ads. This is where we can really help streamers and publishers who have lived in the CTV space expand their audiences. By promoting a channel, a streaming service, or even a single program across mobile and tablets, streamers and publishers can cast their net even wider and diversify the way they foster brand recognition.

Q3: What does the process look like for working with SparkLabs? What can a streamer or publisher expect?

MC: Like with any company, an important first step to the creative process is to work with the streamer or publisher to understand their brand. What are their values and unique selling points for viewers? What does their current voice sound like and visual style look like? To get started, we’ll always ask for brand guidelines, assets, and any existing video footage to incorporate into the creatives we produce.

Second, we want to understand our client’s goals. For streamers and publishers, these goals might be to increase brand awareness, drive app downloads of their streaming app, or strengthen viewer retention. All creative concepts are designed with these goals in mind.

Q4: How long does it typically take to produce ad creatives for streamers and publishers?

MC: Depending on the project, most CTV creatives take 1-3 weeks to produce.

Q5: What’s the coolest part about being on the SparkLabs team?

MC: Seeing the amazing creatives that our team delivers is truly rewarding. For most projects, I get to see everything come together from beginning to end. I’m very lucky and privileged to be working in such a creative and collaborative environment.

A great example of this is seeing how the team has dived into learning about generative AI tools over the last several months, and has taught each other how to incorporate those tools into our daily creative production process.

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