Mindworks Round Table: Creative Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2021

Vali Scorus

It’s safe to say that 2020 was a year like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic had a global impact on businesses and people alike, changing how brands, advertisers, creative studios, and ultimately users, behave. 

We spoke with some of our key minds in the team in what we call the “Mindworks Round Table” to find out what they think are some key trends that brands and advertisers should keep an eye on in 2021. Here’s what they said.

1. Longer screen time and IDFA changes will mean higher standards for ad creatives

Stella Zhu, Head of the Mindworks Creative Studio: With COVID-19 forcing most people to spend more time at home in 2020, this has resulted in a significant increase in terms of time spent on mobile devices, games in particular. In 2021, even once COVID-19 is contained, people may still continue to stay home. This means that users will continue to play more games and will gradually become more tolerant of ads, if that means they’ll get in-game rewards.

As the ad volume increases, users will become more used to them, lowering their effectiveness and impacting campaign performance. This is why ad creatives will need to be innovative and interesting enough to drive conversions.

The IDFA changes coming in 2021 will also help quality ad creatives stand out more. It’s quite simple: regardless of who is looking at the screen, they will always be attracted by high-quality creative material. Playable ads, in particular, will be even more important, as they are the most engaging and effective ad format out there, so expect to see these shine even more in 2021, especially if you work with the right creative studio (hint: Mindworks).

2. 5G technology will bring a new wave of possibilities

Haoxian Ye, Head of the Interactive Creative Team: 2021 is when we’ll start seeing 5G live up to the hype. Qualcomm Inc expects global smartphone makers to ship 450 million 5G handsets in 2021 and another 750 million in 2022, opening a world of possibilities for ad creatives.

5G technology comes with incredible download and upload speeds, which means playable ads and video ads in general will run much more smoothly, for a significantly better user experience.

Faster speeds and lower latency also means we will see AR and VR technology being implemented into playable ads. Imagine just how much more engaging and immersive these interactive experiences will be!

AR-based playable ad created by Mindworks

3. Creative automation will be more important than ever


Ray Zhang, Head of the Business Development team: With brands and advertisers paying close attention to their marketing budgets, we can expect to see a strong focus on operational efficiency and creative effectiveness in 2021.

Advertisers are tired of spending huge amounts of time and effort on producing ad creatives. Creating a playable ad, for example, includes storyboarding, UI designing, coding, developing, testing, and more, which takes about 7 work days on average to complete.

Campaigns are looking to grow in scale and reach in 2021, so advertisers will need to optimize their ad creatives to ensure they maximize their campaign ROI. This means producing more creatives, which means having more creatives that need to be optimized, which means more time and effort - doing this manually will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. 

That’s where a creative automation tool like Playturbo comes in, as it allows advertisers to manage, A/B test, and iterate creatives at scale, so they can find the best-performing creatives and maximize their ROI straight away.

4. DCO + playable ads = love

Xiaobo Zhang, Senior Product Manager: Dynamic Creative Optimization, or DCO, is not a new concept. However, this only started being used in playable ads last year when we launched Playturbo.

The great thing about DCO is that it takes the targeting and advertising precision to a new level of granularity: from ad creative level to ad creative asset level. DCO can use algorithms to automatically find and match the best-performing creative elements at each level of the ad.

I believe 2021 is when we’ll see the true power of DCO. Combined with the strength that playable ads already have in terms of conversion, I think this will be the winning combination this year and I expect it to bring even more exciting surprises to the table in 2021.

5. ASO will be crucial to app success

Koyan Li, Principal Ad Designer: The IDFA update will have a massive impact on app store optimization, also known as ASO. Once the new IDFA changes are live, apps will need to do everything they can to boost organic installs.

ASO will be more than just keyword optimization in 2021. In fact, one of the key areas that advertisers will need to focus on is preview videos. Fun fact: according to a Mintegral report, 69% of users think preview videos are among the most important assets on the App Store page.

The App Store pages tend to be the last touchpoint in terms of user decisions, so an innovative, high-quality preview video can be just the push that users will need to tap the download button. The IDFA changes might be challenging, but they will be a great opportunity for quality preview videos to shine through and drive results.


App preview video we created for Voodoo’s Aquapark.io

Looking to take your creatives to the next level?

We’re more than an ad creative studio. We combine fresh ideas with cutting-edge technology to craft innovative experiences and tell captivating stories, so that you can reach your target audience and boost your marketing ROI. Contact the Mindworks team today and let’s talk creatives!

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