Award-Winning Ads

Playful and personalized performance marketing.

Crafted in 2019-2021 as Senior Creative Manager at Hopper.

This ad came together in just a few days. I started by piecing together the narrative — building it around existing footage of actors and influencers that we had in our archive from previous one-off projects. Once the core narrative was in place, I designed and animated imagery to support and emphasize the different messaging points throughout. In just a few days work, and with no additional budget, we had an ad that we could not just run on YouTube and paid social channels, but on connected TV as well.

I. Background

Hopper is a travel app for iOS and Android that helps travelers save money by booking flights, hotels, and rental cars at the right time. Hopper has helped over 60M travelers plan and book trips around the world.

II. The Challenge

How can Hopper stand out in a busy sea of social media ads? Can we deliver ads for hundreds of thousands of flight origin and destination combinations that still feel personalized and relevant? And how can we test ads in a structured way that allows us to continually build upon our learnings?

III. My Role

I worked in house as the Senior Creative Manager during these projects and led the creative strategy, design, editing, and animation. I collaborated with our Head of User Acquisition and Senior User Acquisition Managers on our media buying approach and overall growth and acquisition strategy.

This ad we created won the Facebook Storyteller Award for Best Direct Response Story ad for Travel. I first created this in After Effects and then rebuilt on the Smartly.io platform, allowing us to deliver thousands of personalized versions. Jumping bunny illustrated by Thomas Fitzpatrick and put in motion by Wonderlust.

IV. OUR AD CREATIVE SOLUTION

When analyzing our top-performing social ads, we found a commonality — ads that either really stood out in one's social feed or blended in as native content performed best. Anything that looked too much like a typical ad was usually met with mediocre performance.

As a result, we began to focus our performance creative around those two categories. Ads that stood out typically took the form of super minimalist designs, delaying a message's resolution, or breaking the plane of a social feed. Ads that blended in as native content often took the form of POV photos/videos, platform-specific overlay styles, memes, and UGC-style content. All the while, we made sure to keep a strong focus around each product's core messaging.

These creatives performed extremely well and allowed us to grow our user base quickly and cheaply.

As budgets increased, we began to focus on brand campaigns as well. Our performance creative findings have allowed us to incorporate relevant learnings into brand campaigns and spend efficiently at high budgets.

This ad was created to be a “thumb stopper” — an ad that breaks the monotony of a social feed and stops someone from scrolling.

V. OUR PROCESS SOLUTION

In addition to figuring out core themes of successful ads, we wanted to define a testing process that allowed us to quickly create and launch brand new ad concepts while also iterating on top performers.

The initial plan was simple—each week we test a new ad creative and work on a 4-week cycle. Week 1 we test the top-performing ad against static iterations of that ad, making small, incremental changes that are easy to isolate. Week 2 we test the top-performing ad against video iterations of that ad, once again making small, incremental changes. In week 3 we test the top-performing ad against a completely new static ad creative. Then, in week 4, we test the top-performing ada against a completely new video ad creative.

This process allowed us to not only plan for a reliable cycle of new ad creatives, but allowed to both continually improve our best ads and test any sparkly new idea we had.

This worked well for us for a while — it allowed us to learn a lot about the impaction of motion, timing, messaging, music, color, and sound design, and also helped up lowered CPIs by 51% after just a couple months of testing — however, as budgets began scaling and team structure shifted, we decided we needed to implement a faster cadence and constantly roll out new creatives across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, and Google.

As a result, in late 2020, I shifted my focus to work almost entirely on our marketing and user acquisition efforts. During this time, I've taken our 4-week cycle and essentially compressed it into a single week — launching multiple new concepts and multiple iterations each and every week. This rapid approach of testing multiple ads weekly has allowed us to scale spend from low six-figure monthly budgets to mid seven-figure monthly budgets in a matter of months.

We also run more brand-focused campaigns. Occasionally we'll work with external partners on these sorts of ads; however, it can be both expensive and time intensive. We wanted to see if we could create some branded campaigns quickly in house. I created this one in a day using only footage from a stock video subscription service. This ad outperformed many of the externally produced ads that often took weeks to come together. We then created a series of more performance-oriented variations that are based off the notification scene in this ad.
This ad was created to give a direct look into the app and what it has to offer while still showcasing a great flight deal that's relevant for each viewer.
We got to work with YouTube star Stephanie Soo on this one. We sponsored a video of hers and were able to rework the footage she shot for her video as a result. I edited this one together to fit the general style of Youtube-creator videos — with over-the-top text overlays, emojis, and sound effects sprinkled throughout.