In a crowded and noisy digital advertising world, grabbing users’ attention in a few seconds is not easy. Mobile marketing campaigns are not only about optimizing CTAs and audience targeting but are also about choosing the right ad format for the communication objectives.
Due to the wide variety of ad placements available across multiple ad platforms, mobile marketers often forget to take full advantage of the placement and format used, missing on using the best possible combination of image and text to convert their audience into customers.
One of the most interesting ad formats in the mobile app marketing space is the carousel ad. This format is available on all the main advertising platforms.
Facebook invented it back in the days, called MPA (multiple product ads), and slowly it was adopted across other mediums as well, such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (at the moment, supported only for the following placements: News Feed App Series in 3rd apps, TopBuzz and BuzzVideo, for Japan).
Why Are Carousel Ads Interesting for Marketers?
Depending on the advertising platform mobile marketers use to reach their audience, static banner or videos are not always effective. With more creative space within an ad, mobile marketers can highlight different products or features of the same product and create a storyline for users to engage with.
When Are Carousel Ads the Best Options?
Carousel ads are an exciting option for mobile marketers when:
- Showcasing different products or multiple features of the same product
- Promoting multiple offers
- Illustrating various benefits (or use cases) of an app
- Highlighting customers’ reviews or experiences
- Explaining a step-by-step process
Carousel Ads Design: 2 Different Options
When it comes to the design process behind the carousel ad, marketers have mainly two options to choose from, to express their intention and communicate their messages.
To ensure that marketers create something impactful, they need to start thinking about how to position their message. Here below, we take a look at the two most common options when creating carousel ads.
1. One Common Background
Breaking up a single image across multiple frames is an interesting way for marketers to give continuity to the design of their communication. When thinking about adopting this option, it’s crucial to visualize the background image and ensure each frame has elements that communicate something to the users.
2. Each Frame as a Stand-Alone Banner
Alternatively, marketers can decide to have different images in each banner, “breaking up” the visual continuity and giving each frame its own specific look and feel. This option is beneficial when promoting different features. An example of this could be a travel company advertising different properties in each frame.
Storytelling in Carousel Ads
Regardless of the creative option mobile marketers decide to use, carousel ads must have a storytelling element. To engage users, marketers need to keep in mind the following things:
1. Use All Elements Available in the Format
Although images and video are an essential part of carousel ads (or any advertising format for that matter), they give marketers a few options to structure their message in the right way.
2. Use Cohesive Images and Video
The best size for the images is a 1:1 ratio. Most important, however, is to have them form consistent patterns so that the story is continuous.
3. Showcase the Product or Service
Marketers need to be careful not to clutter the space they have with too many elements, leaving confused users about what the image is about and, most importantly, what they are supposed to do.
Additional tip: If you are creating a carousel ad on Facebook, and your images are telling a story in a specific order, uncheck this box, as it comes as a default setting.
5 Tips to Design the Best Carousel Ads
Although marketers can find guidelines on how best to set up their carousel ads on each advertising platform, what often is missing is a guideline from the creative perspective. Finding a marketer with a creative mindset, especially in the performance world, can be complicated, especially when they are battling between showcasing an infinite amount of USPs and CTAs in a few centimeters of space.
1. Use Only the Number of Frames You Really Need
Facebook gives up to 10 frames for marketers to express themselves. Twitter is a bit more restrictive and offers only six frames. Regardless of the total possible number available per medium, marketers need to use only what they truly need to communicate their message.
Mobile marketers need to be clear and use each frame wisely to connect with their audience. Adding extra frames, which bring no immediate value to the communication, can lead to confusion.
Here’s how marketers could combine key communication elements and don’t get lost with too many frames:
2. Don’t Use Too Many Elements in the Same Frame
This tip is valid for any banner design, but more so in carousel ads. Marketers have indeed limited space to grab users’ attention and communicate what they want. However, adding too many elements in the same frame creates confusion and performs poorly.
Mobile marketers have to cut through the noise with well-balanced and carefully designed banners and not contribute to the ad’s noise with cluttered design.
Have two main elements, and add a couple more to complete the frame. Marketers need to remember that carousel ads also have other elements that can be used to communicate extra information.
When looking at the image on the left, it is possible to see a well-structured ad where all elements have a clear position and are balanced. On the right, however, the banner has too many elements, resulting in a confusing message for the user.
3. Use Readable Fonts With the Right Line Spacing
Another critical tip to consider when designing carousel ads’ frames is to use readable elements. Mobile marketers have to consider the space they have available but also the way it looks as a whole. Using fonts that are not clear or adding too much (or too little) space between text lines can have a negative impact on the performance of the ads.
4. Give Each Frame a Professional Look
This tip should be a given in the advertising world. However, with the incredible increase in apps available on the market, the number of ads trying to convert users has also increased exponentially. More and more brands or app developers are promoting their apps on advertising platforms, and not all are doing it well.
Although the number of advertisers has increased in the past few years, it doesn’t mean that all of them have access to professional designers to ensure that the look and feel of their ads are professional.
Nowadays, many resources are available online to create professional-looking ads. However, having the tools is not always the answer. As a matter of fact, a tool is just a tool if not used with knowledge, and that’s why at REPLUG, we have invested in our own creative studio to support our partners with stunning creative solutions.
Here below is a comparison between the two ads. On the left, it is possible to notice a professionally designed frame with a good structure and harmony among all elements. On the other side, when looking at the banner on the right, we can notice that the image chosen has not been cut correctly, having the white background still visible.
5. Test Videos to Improve performance
If marketers believe their product needs to be advertised with videos, carousel ads can still be the right format. Both on Facebook and Twitter, mobile marketers have the opportunity to upload videos instead of static images. The video can be placed for each or just some of the carousel’s frames.
Whether a full video or simply a quick animation, the results can be amazing if used in the right way.
Our paid user acquisition team has tested the video carousel with one of our partners (a photo animator app). The idea was to use more videos in a single ad so that we could show several effects rather than just one at a time.
The results speak for themselves: an increase in CTR of 107% and a decrease in CPI of -13%.
Mobile marketers and app developers must realize that simply designing a banner is not enough these days. Ads need to follow some basic design principles to have an effect. Users are not going to interpret badly designed banners. They are just going to skip and look next.
Carousel ads are one of the best ways to engage users in a noisy world because they offer a balance between design and performance marketing and also more space to communicate. That’s why we created this practical, creative guide to support marketers in their quest for performance success.