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What It Takes to Create a Successful Marketing Campaign for Hyper-Casual: Interview with Nesli, Head of Marketing Creatives

Meet Nesli, the Head of Marketing Creatives at Sunday, whose insights into human behavior and the psychology of motivation have led to many successful campaigns that resonate with our audience and convert viewers into players. In this interview, we dive into the role of empathy in Nesli’s work, the many sources of inspiration behind Sunday’s marketing creatives, and the power of testing and data in creating successful campaigns. Without further ado, hi, Nesli!

To start with, can you walk us through your day as the Head of Marketing Creatives at Sunday?

Yeah, sure! So a typical day starts with a stand-up meeting, where we discuss our prioritized tasks and progress on them. Throughout the day, we always have small ideation talks within the group, we generate ideas and track our competitors. When someone has an idea in mind, like an art color palette or a scenario, we all provide small feedback to each other. The rest of my day I spend analyzing data from previous tests, looking for opportunities to focus on further or learning from our mistakes.

I also play games during the day and watch ads to experience different ad styles. There are a lot of hyper-casual game ads out there, and if I come across a good creative I try to learn from it and implement that idea into our marketing creatives in some way.

In such a competitive industry, how do you and your team come up with new and innovative marketing ideas? 

It’s a challenging part, but it’s a great one too. We have several channels for inspiration. First, we play top-chart games every week and watch the ads of those games to keep up with trends. We analyze how they use emotions, game mechanics, and other aspects to reflect their product. We also research good marketability examples, especially older games. Even if they are not topping the charts anymore, they had a lot of installs before and are worth looking into.

But it’s not just about analyzing other ads. We also get inspired by our own ad production process. We continuously ask questions and try to understand people’s behavior while we are producing an ad. For example, we ask ourselves how engaging the ad is and whether we are getting bored. Sometimes these discussions help us to come up with new ideas, like the time when working on a Cat Escape creative, we realized people would want to be friends with cats, but it’s not that possible! However, we used this emotional hook to create a really good storytelling idea for an ad that was choice-based.

We also keep an eye on media channels, like Netflix and TikTok for different trends. If we see something interesting, we share it with the team. We also use market analysis tools, like Sensor Tower, to follow other genres outside of hyper-casual games for new ideas. And finally, we bounce ideas off the current product we are working on. Actually, you can get inspired by anything around you! It’s all about finding the right hook by asking the right questions!

Do you work with other teams at Sunday to ensure your campaigns are successful?

Actually, we work closely with the user acquisition team. And the reason for that is that we’re basically producing the ads for them to acquire users, so it’s important for both sides to have a good understanding of each other’s needs and requirements. We need to understand the different networks and platforms, their requirements for user interface, as well as all the metrics and KPIs.

Collaborating with the user acquisition team also presents opportunities for us to learn from each other. They are very creative people with strong analytical skills, and they come up with creative ideas based on both their data and creativity. So, working together allows us to create even more successful campaigns.

What role do user insights and data play in your team’s decision-making?

In our process, data-based decision-making is quite crucial, because we never base our decisions on personal preferences. “I like it, so it’s going to work” or “I don’t like it, so it’s not going to work” won’t cut it. It’s not about personal taste or intelligence, so we do try out ideas and test them, even if we don’t find them attractive or don’t agree with them. Instead, we keep an open mind, test our ideas, and rely on the data we collect to make decisions.

Data helps us determine which ideas to iterate on further and which ones to stop. We also use data to gauge the quality of users that come through an ad because that matters too. For example, sometimes, even if we find that an ad has good marketability metrics and converts nicely, we may ignore it because it might be bringing in low-quality users.

Can you talk about the role of empathy in your work and how you use it to create marketing creatives that resonate with players?

There are many ways you can engage the players’ empathy. For example, people in general love the feeling of success, it makes them happier — whether it’s achieving a goal or receiving likes on social media. We can use this in our ads by showing a character of a player struggling with a level, replaying it over and over without success. This makes viewers want to jump in and try the game for themselves. So with a creative like this, we leave the door open for their desire to succeed, and they can reach that goal and get a kick of happy hormones by converting the ad and finishing the level themselves.

We also tap into people’s desire to feel smart. By creating scenarios where viewers can relate to the struggles of the player, we create a sense of empathy and that feeling of “oh I’m smarter than that”. So those sorts of fail scenarios are creating empathy very well because of those two basic human needs: to feel smart and to feel successful. 

If you look at success, or life in general, it’s made of small steps forward, sort of like stairs. It aligns with the fact that you can show some progress within the ads like going through multiple levels or achieving some level-ups and bonuses — then people also tend to convert because they want to have that feeling of progress. 

Looking back on your journey as a marketing professional, what would you say is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?

I would say that the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to never say never. Oftentimes, my team members would say, “I don’t like this” or “I don’t believe it’s going to work.” And when we tested those ideas, often they didn’t work just as we predicted. But what I’ve also learned now is that after a few months, you should try those same ideas again, even if they didn’t work before. You never know, the next time around it might work very well.

Additionally, if an idea doesn’t work for one game, that doesn’t mean it won’t work for another one. So, there is no one-size-fits-all solution or learning that holds forever. You need to keep trying and experimenting to find what works best for each unique situation. That’s the key thing I’ve learned throughout my career.

Thanks, Nesli!

Now that you’ve heard all about the process behind Sunday’s marketing creatives, why not check out our blog for even more behind-the-scenes stories and tips? We’ve got everything you need to know straight from the hub of hyper-casual.

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