Creative Optimization guide

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At a glance: Creative Optimization enables you to pull all creative asset data from all your campaigns into a single platform, so you can analyze their performance, discover which creatives work best, and make better data-driven decisions.

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About Creative Optimization

Creative Optimization is your one-stop shop for measuring the performance of creatives used in all of your campaigns. It enables you to effortlessly pull all your creative assets from all media channels into one platform, or your BI system, and analyze their performance by selected dimensions, across multiple campaigns, channels, and much more. Creative Optimization enables you to slice and dice by different metrics and KPIs to gain critical insights before planning, selecting, and producing your next batch of creatives.

The Creative Optimization dashboards let you measure the performance of videos, images, HTML, and text, and see how well they’re doing over time and across channels. Each creative is analyzed, aggregated, and matched using powerful AI algorithms. This means that the same creatives used for different campaigns and media sources are identified and displayed as one in the dashboards regardless of their naming convention, ad ID, or any other metadata.

Use the Creative Optimization Overview dashboard to see your data laid out visually in a variety of information-packed graphs and a detailed table, which gives you all the information needed to optimize and select the best creatives for your campaigns.

With the AI-powered Creative Optimization Discovery dashboard, take the guesswork out of producing winning creatives. Gain a comprehensive view of all your creatives or dive deep into the performance of individual scenes and elements for maximum data-driven insights.

Creative Optimization ETL equips your data analysts with all the information needed for creative performance analysis by streaming reports automatically to cloud storage for efficient, programmatic loading into your BI systems.

With Creative Optimization, you can:

  • Quickly learn which creatives, scenes, and elements work and which don't
  • Optimize your creatives based on data
  • Increase creative performance and ROI
  • Produce the most successful creatives
  • Identify declining effectiveness of creatives across time/channels/campaigns and make informed decisions for optimization
  • And more

Get started

Once you're subscribed and your account has been set up, Creative Optimization will appear in the AppsFlyer platform. An ROI360 subscription is also recommended for the most comprehensive cost data.

  Steps
1 In AppsFlyer, from the side menu, select Optimize > Creative Optimization.
2

Set up partner integrations.

Note: The data will be available in Creative Optimization about 24 hours after integration.

3 Set up the main dashboard filters.
Optional

Set up:

4

Explore your dashboards:

Creative Optimization Overview dashboard - Use to analyze creative performance and maximize the impact of your campaigns.

Creative Optimization Discovery dashboard - Use to continually produce and maintain winning creatives.

5

Analyze creative performance data and optimize your creatives and/or campaigns, based on the findings.

Creative assets

This section provides information about the creative assets we measure.

Supported asset types

Asset types supported by the Creative Optimization dashboard include:

  • Videos
  • Images
  • Carousel ads (Meta only)
  • HTML (including Playable)
  • Text

Notes

  • Assets that can be previewed in the dashboard include images, videos, and text.
  • The “Creative similarity” feature is not yet available for
    carousel ads.

Matching creatives

Creative Optimization has the unique ability to identify which assets are the same, across multiple channels and campaigns, regardless of naming conventions or IDs. This is done by AI and computer vision algorithms that match properties such as visual context, sound, and pixels. Additionally:

  • The matched creatives must have the same aspect ratio, such as portrait, landscape, or square.
  • Videos with different durations are considered different creatives.

Measuring creatives with multiple assets

How does Creative Optimization measure an ad creative with multiple assets?

Meta Advantage+ (dynamic creatives), and Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC) can include ad creatives with multiple assets. However, AppsFlyer doesn't break down the data on the asset level. Meta ads provides data up to the ad level and Google provides data only up to the ad group level. For these types of ad creatives, AppsFlyer uses data modeling to divide performance data across the assets.

 Example

Suppose there is an ad creative on Facebook with multiple assets. Facebook attributes it with 100 installs total, broken down to assets as follows: asset A has 60 installs and asset B has 40 installs, as measured by Facebook. In AppsFlyer, let’s say the ad is attributed with 50 installs (due to inherent attribution differences between AppsFlyer and SRNs). To enable asset-level analysis, AppsFlyer distributes the performance data (impressions, clicks, installs, and cost) based on the asset metrics ratio from the total as illustrated below.

So, for asset A there are:
60 installs divided by 60+40 (total installs attributed by Facebook) = 0.6
Then we multiply 0.6 by 50 (number of AppsFlyer attributed installs) = 30 installs

For asset B there are:
40 installs divided by 60+40 (total installs attributed by Facebook) = 0.4
Then we multiply 0.4 by 50 (number of AppsFlyer attributed installs) = 20 installs.

So the ad creative is attributed with a total of 50 installs by AppsFlyer but the volume of installs per asset is kept which means that asset A generated more installs than asset B, in our example.
Down funnel metrics, such as Revenue and ROAS, are calculated based on this ratio as well.

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Filtering and metrics 

This section provides a comprehensive overview of the main dashboard filters and the various metrics and dimensions available for getting the creative data you're looking for. 

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Filter bar

The first step in setting up your dashboards is selecting your filtering options. All filters are applied to both the Creative Optimization Overview and Discovery dashboards. 

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Start by selecting your: 

  • App
  • Date range - A creative is displayed in the dashboard when there is data (activity) for the creative during the selected date range. 
  • View type

Click the + icon to add any of the following filtering options including:

  • Dimensions and metrics
  • Numeric filters, which are available for all metrics with the following options:
    • Greater than - displays creatives with values higher than or equal to the chosen metric
    • Less than - displays creatives with values below the chosen metric

In addition to standard metrics and dimensions, the Creative Optimization dashboard offers various unique metrics and dimensions.

View type

Creative data in the dashboards is presented in 3 separate view types: Unified, User Acquisition (UA), and Retargeting:

  • Unified - Displays all creative data from both UA and retargeting ads/adsets.
  • User Acquisition - Displays creative data associated with UA ads/adsets only.
  • Retargeting - Displays creative data associated with retargeting ads/adsets only. Cost data is available here as well. 

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Creative Optimization + ROI360

With an AppsFlyer ROI360 subscription, cost data displayed in the Creative Optimization dashboards comes from ROI360, which consolidates and processes cost data from your ad network partners, and adds additional cost-based metrics. Without this subscription, cost data comes from your integrated media partners’ own reporting. We recommend an ROI360 subscription to access the most comprehensive and current cost data. The table below explains the Creative Optimization differences with and without ROI360.

With ROI360 Without ROI360
  • Higher data freshness rate
  • Has all the ROI360 cost-reporting capabilities
  • ROAS and CPA are available
  • Has cost data as reported directly by your integrated partners
  • ROAS and CPA are not available

Learn more about ROI360.

Standard metrics and dimensions

Standard metrics/dimensions available in the dashboards include:

Metric/dimension Description
Impressions Number of creative views
Clicks Number of clicks on ads with the creative
Conversions
  • Installs - Number of unique users who install the app
  • Re-engagements - Number of unique users who open the app after interacting with a retargeting campaign
  • Re-attributions - Number of unique users who reinstall the app after interacting with a retargeting campaign
Cost Creative cost 
CTR (Click through rate) Rate (%) of users who have clicked an ad in relation to the number of total views. Formula: Clicks/impressions *100
CVR (Conversion rate)  Rate (%) of users completing the journey from click to attribution (installs, re-engagements, and re-attributions). Formula: Conversions / Clicks *100
IPM (Installs per mille) Installs per mille. Number of installs per every 1000 user impressions (ad views)
eCPI (Effective cost per install) eCPI excludes organic installs and calculates the cost per non-organic attributions (installs, re-engagements, and re-attributions). Formula: Total available cost / all non-organic attributions.
CPM (Cost per mille) Cost of 1000 ad impressions. Formula: Total creative spend / number of impressions) * 1,000
Platform Refers to the OS (i.e. Android)
Channel Segmentation of traffic within media sources
(i.e. YouTube for Google, Instagram for Meta ads etc.)
Geo Country/location
IDs
  • Creative
  • Ad
  • Adset
  • Campaign
Agency Displays creative data from selected agencies
Cohort metrics Description
Revenue (D1, D3, D7, D14, D30, D60, D90) Cohorted revenue reported to AppsFlyer
ROAS (D1, D3, D7, D14, D30, D60, D90) Cohorted Return On Ad Spend (%). Calculates the revenue generated per unit of ad spend. Formula: Revenue / Cost * 100
Unique users (D1, D3, D7, D14, D30, D60, D90) Cohorted unique users that engaged with your app up to, and including, the specified day from the install
Retention (D1, D3, D7, D14, D30, D60, D90)

Cohorted rate (%) of users who continue to use your service or product over a predetermined period

Note: The data is aligned with the AppsFlyer Cohort dashboard.

Unique metrics and dimensions

Unique metrics/dimensions available in the dashboards include:

Metric/dimension Description
Appearances

Displays the number of campaigns/adsets/ads a specific creative is displayed in, across the different channels

Partner metrics

Performance data that comes directly from integrated partners (not from AppsFlyer attribution data)

Creative similarity Groups creatives that are almost identical (but with slight differences) and lets you compare their performance so you can determine the most successful version. For example, similar images with different orientations (portrait vs. landscape) would be grouped together, as would similar videos in different languages. This dimension is only applicable to images and videos.
Creative age

Displays the number of days a creative has run as part of campaigns. The age is calculated from the first impression, click, or install received by AppsFlyer (the creative "First seen" timestamp) and can vary by the dimensions selected. For example, if a creative was uploaded to a campaign one day, and then also uploaded to another campaign on a different day, and both campaigns and creative age dimensions are added to the filter, the age will be that of the first upload.

Note: For creatives in campaigns that began running before being ingested into the Creative dashboard, AppsFlyer displays their data which includes up to 90 days before the ingestion. For example, if a creative was running for 90+ days before ingestion, the “creative age” that will display is 90 at first but then will continue to grow cumulatively each day.

Creative first seen 


Displays creatives by when performance data (usually an impression) was first received. The "Creative age" calculation is triggered from this time stamp. 

Duration

Length of time in seconds of a creative asset (applicable to videos)

Resolution

Size of a creative asset in pixels (applicable to images and videos)

Note: We display the actual resolution that was served to users by your integrated media partners. This may be a different resolution than what was originally uploaded to them.

Orientation

Orientation of a creative asset such as portrait, square, or landscape

Month

Breakdown of performance by month

Week

Breakdown of performance by week

End cards

This refers to an ad that may display at the end of video ads, and which usually contains basic information about the promoted app. The ability to group creatives by end cards gives additional insights for the optimization of creatives, such as comparing the same end card with different videos to identify the best combination. You can view creatives by the following end card data:

  • End card name
  • End card ID
  • End card duration
  • End card resolution
  • End card orientation
  • End card type

Notes:

    • End card data is available for the following partners: AppLovin, IronSource, Moloco, UnityAds, Snap, and YouAppi.
    • Currently, only ironSource, Unity Ads, and Snap provide the unique end card names. For all other partners, the end card names will appear identical to the creative names in the dashboards.

Custom metrics

Create custom metrics to measure the performance of your creatives exactly how you like.

To create a custom metric:

1. Click the dropdown menu on the upper right of the dashboard, and select Custom metrics

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2. Fill out the form:

  • Name - Enter a unique metric name
  • Type - Select either a Numeric, Percentage, or Currency type
  • Description - Enter a description (optional)
  • Metric formula - Create a formula by clicking + Add formula
    • Metrics include impressions, clicks, installs, CTR, CVR, CPM, IPM, Cost, eCPI, Reattributions, Reengagements, Revenue, ROAS, Retention, Unique users, Number of ads, partner metrics
    • Combine with various Operators, Numbers, and/or In-app events
    • Specific in-app events are selected from the dropdown menu. For each in-app event, you can add any metrics per the event separately to get highly specific insights, for example, af_purchase revenue + af_login count.

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3. Click Save

Your new custom metric is created and will display in the filter bar and table settings with "Custom" next to it. 

Notes:

  • You can create up to 10 custom metrics per account.
  • You can hover over the "Custom" tag in the table settings to see the description.

Custom metrics can easily be edited or deleted as well.

To edit:

1. Click the Edit existing custom metric dropdown (on the Custom metrics form) and select the one you wish to edit.

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2. Make any changes you wish, then click Save

Note: You can also click Save as to save it as a new custom metric.

To delete: After selecting the custom metric you wish to delete from the dropdown, click the delete icon.

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Partner metrics

Partner metrics is performance data that comes directly from integrated media partners (and not from AppsFlyer attribution data). Metrics vary by partner and can include impressions, clicks, cost, installs, IPM, CVR, CTR, eCPI, CPM, and more (refer to the table below for partner-specific details). The metrics can be selected in the filters, viewed throughout the dashboard, and added to the table.

Partner table

Ad network Media source (PID) Campaign Adset Ad Geo  Channel Comments and special considerations Reported clicks Reported impressions Reported conversions Reported cost Connection method
Adikteev trademob_int Yes No Yes Yes No   Yes Yes Yes Yes Static parameters
Adjoe adjoe_int Yes Yes Yes Yes No   Yes Yes Yes Yes Static parameters
AppLovin applovin_int Yes No No Yes No See AppLovin metrics Yes Yes Yes Yes OAuth + Static parameters
Google Ads googleadwords_int Yes Yes No Yes No See Google Ads metrics Yes Yes Yes Yes OAuth
ironSource ironsource_int Yes No Yes Yes Yes   Yes Yes Yes Yes OAuth
Liftoff liftoff_int Yes No Yes Yes No Data is available from 2 days back Yes Yes Yes Yes Static parameters
Meta Ads facebook Yes Yes Yes Yes No See Meta Ads Yes Yes Yes Yes OAuth
Moloco moloco_int Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes   Yes Yes Yes Yes Static parameters
Remerge remerge_int Yes Yes Yes Yes No   Yes Yes Yes Yes  
Tik Tok bytedanceglobal_int Yes Yes Yes Yes No   Yes Yes Yes Yes OAuth + Static parameters
Unity Ads unityads_int Yes No Yes Yes Yes Data is available from 2 days back Yes Yes Yes Yes Static parameters
YouAppi youappi_int Yes No No Yes No   Yes Yes Yes Yes Static parameters

Partner metrics are currently available for the following partners:

  • Adikteev
  • Adjoe
  • AppLovin
  • Google Ads
  • ironSource
  • Liftoff
  • Meta Ads
  • Moloco
  • Remerge
  • TikTok
  • Unity Ads (see special instructions below)
  • YouAppi

To set up partner metrics:

Simply add a new partner integration, and metrics for supported partners will automatically be pulled into Creative Optimization (Unity Ads is an exception and has special instructions). Once set up, these metrics are indicated with "Partner" alongside the metric.

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Special instructions and considerations:  

AppLovin metrics

Please note that:

  • Due to a restriction on the AppLovin API, only up to 45 days of historical data is available. AppsFlyer is typically able to display up to 90 days of historical data, however, because of the AppLovin restriction, only 45 days of AppLovin data is available.
  • AppsFlyer Creative data is aligned with the AppLovin probabilistic report (not the billable report).

Google Ads metrics

Please note that:

  • There will be differences in the number of installs reported by Google Ads and AppsFlyer due to different attribution logic.
  • There will be differences between Google and AppsFlyer for all metrics. This is due to the fact that Google partner metrics are based on the Google asset view report while AppsFlyer data is aligned to the Google ad group view. These reports are not aligned with each other in terms of performance, for example, the total number of asset impressions under a specific ad group won't be equal to the total impressions that the ad group reports.
  • There are differences between the Creative product and Google AdWords platform; when comparing the asset view between the Google platform and AppsFlyer there may be slight differences due to: 1. Time zones (Creative is UTC+0). 2. Data freshness rate (the difference between event occurrence and data availability in the platform).

Meta Ads

Please note that:

  • There will be differences in the number of installs reported by Meta Ads and AppsFlyer due to different attribution logic.
  • Meta doesn't report installs on the asset level for iOS, so it's not available in Creative.

Unity Ads metrics

To get partner metrics from Unity Ads:

1. From the Creative Optimization dashboard, click the  ⋮  icon on the upper right to get to Creative integrations.

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2. Click + New integration.

3. Select Unity Ads in the Partner dropdown list.

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4. Enter the Unity Key ID, Secret Key, and Organization Core ID for the integration (see Unity integration instructions for how to get these).

5. In the Partner metrics section, enter the Unity API Key and the Organization ID. You can retrieve these credentials by following the below instructions.

Note: If you have an ROI360 Cost integration with Unity Ads, you can take the credentials from there as well. 

To get the API key:

a. Log in to your Unity Gaming Services platform.

b. Click Products in the side menu.

c. Then click Grow.

 

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d. Click Unity Ads User Acquisition.

 

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e. Click API management.

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f. Copy the API key.

 

To get the Organization ID:

1. Within Unity Ads, click Products on the side menu.

2. Then click Grow.

 

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3. Click Unity Ads User Acquisition.

 

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4. Click Settings.

 

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5. Copy the Organization ID.

 

 Note

We recommend entering the partner metrics credentials when setting up a new partner integration. However, it's not mandatory. You can save the integration and add the credentials at a later time. But please note that we pull 90 days of partner data from the time the partner integration is created, so not entering the partner metric credentials may result in missing data.

 

Save and share views

After selecting your filters, you can save your selections for quick and easy access to the info you want to see in the dashboards—so there's no need to reselect the filters each time you log in. The saved view applies to both the Creative Optimization Overview and Discovery dashboards. Additionally, you can share the view URL with your colleagues.

To save a view (filter configuration):

Click the dropdown icon next to the Overview title on the upper left > click + Save as new  > Enter a report name and click Save.

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You can create multiple views, and edit and delete them as well, using the icons. You can also star a view, marking it as the view that will be displayed upon login.

Note: An orange dot will appear next to the "Default view" as an indicator if you've made changes to the default filter settings without saving the view.

 

To share the view URL (with a registered user):

Click the icon on the upper right of the dashboard to copy the page URL, then share it.

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Custom tags

Group and analyze your creatives based on tags that you upload or by the unique identifiers that are stored in file names. This section describes the different ways of creating custom tags, which appear as dimensions you can select in the filters and view throughout the dashboards. 

Custom tags via CSV

You can add custom dimensions to the dashboard. These custom dimensions and the associated tagged creatives are added via CSV file and aligned with the current creatives used in the various campaigns. Use this feature to view, organize, sort, and filter creatives by any custom dimensions and tags you wish.

Create and manage custom dimensions

The process of creating and managing custom dimensions includes the following 3 actions:

  1. Downloading a CSV file from the Creative Optimization dashboard which contains the current creatives.
  2. Creating new dimensions or changing current dimensions and tags. Each column heading in the CSV file is the name of the custom dimension (For example: “Color”). All creatives in this column will be tagged with the custom dimension and will be displayed under this tag in the dashboard. You can add or change any of the custom dimensions or tags via the CSV file.
  3. Uploading the updated CSV file into the Creative Optimization dashboard. The data will be available after around 30 minutes.

The procedures for downloading and uploading the CSV file are described below:

To download a CSV file with current creatives from the dashboard:

  1. Click the3_dots_icon.pngmenu on the top-right corner of the dashboard.

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  2. Click Download custom tags file.
  3. Select which creatives you want to include in the file (all creatives or only the creatives that are currently displayed on the dashboard - excluding creatives that are filtered out).
  4. Click Download.

Make the desired additions or changes to the file, then save it, and upload it back into the dashboard.

To upload the CSV file to the Creative Optimization dashboard:

  1. Click the3_dots_icon.pngmenu on the top-right corner of the dashboard.
  2. Click Upload custom tags file.
  3. Select a file to upload.
    Make sure you are aware of all of the different considerations and limitations when uploading a CSV file.
  4. Click Upload to dashboard.

The data will be available in about 30 minutes.

Example CSV

Here's an example of a custom dimensions CSV file (that you download from the dashboard). Each column heading (in row 1) is the name of a custom dimension (for example: “Theme” or "Variant"). You can add additional dimensions or change the existing ones. You can also add or change the tags (for example: “3 Moves" or "DarkPalette"). 

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Custom dimension traits and limitations

  • Custom dimensions appear with a “Custom” tag in the filters and table.

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  • You can add up to 15 custom dimensions to the Creative Optimization dashboard. 
  • The upload file size is limited to 1 MB.
  • Existing dimensions and tag names can be changed by updating the CSV file and re-uploading it. Please note that you can update or add only one dimension per file upload.
  • Custom dimensions defined in the CSV file apply on the account level, meaning to all apps and users.
  • Each creative can have one tag per dimension. For example, if "Color" is the custom dimension, the tag can only be one color, such as red. 
  • When creating or editing the custom dimensions, make sure not to change the creative_id to avoid overwrites and discrepancies.

Name convention tags

You can create custom tags based on your creative asset naming conventions. These custom tags will appear as dimensions you can select in the filters and view throughout the dashboard.

This is useful for marketing and creative teams whose creatives are named intentionally, with unique identifiers built into the names. These creatives can automatically be tagged by the built-in identifiers, and grouped for analysis and optimization purposes.

Create and edit name convention tags

To create name convention tags:

1. Click the    icon on the upper right of the dashboard, and select Name convention tags.

The Manage name convention tags window appears.

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2. Under Create new name convention type, enter the details:

  • Name - Give the new name convention type a unique name.
  • Separator - The character that separates each section. For example, in a creative called “enUS_bluegalaxy_launch.mp4”, each section is separated by “_”. “_” is the separator.
  • Number of sections - For example, in a creative called “enUS_bluegalaxy_launch.mp4”, there are 3 sections separated by a “_”.
    Note: The file type is not included in the tags.
  • App (optional) - You can include all apps, or limit tags to creatives associated with certain apps only.
  • Media source (optional) - You can include all media sources, or limit tags to creatives that ran on certain media sources only.

3.  Add the custom tag details:

  • Section number - Select the section number of the tag you'd like to create.
  • Custom tag name - Create a name by clicking + Create new custom tag, or select an existing name.
  • Format - Select how the tags should appear throughout the table/dashboard: in uppercase, lowercase, or the original (how it originally appears in the creative name).

You can add additional custom tags by clicking + Add custom tag.

4. Before you save, you can preview how your custom tags will be applied to your creatives by clicking Download preview file (optional). This will download a file with all creatives that match the name convention type you're creating, with all of them tagged according to the new tags.

5. Click Save.

The tags will be applied and available in the dashboard within a few hours.

 

To edit name convention tags:

1. Click the    icon on the upper right of the dashboard, and select Name convention tags.

2. Click the Edit name convention type dropdown to make your selection.

3. Make the required changes, and click Save.

 

To delete a name convention type:

1. Click the Edit name convention type dropdown and select the one you want to delete.

2. Click the  Delete icon.jpg  icon which appears when you hover to the right of your selection.

Note: The associated custom tags will no longer apply to your creatives. It may take a few hours for the change to take effect.

 

Name tag traits and limitations

  • You can create up to 10 different name convention types (and the associated custom tags).
  • If custom tags that have been uploaded via CSV file conflict with the name convention tags you've created, the uploaded CSV tags will take precedence and only those tags will apply.

 

Data freshness

This section explains dashboard update times.

Dashboard updates

The Creative Optimization Overview and Discovery dashboards are updated once daily at UTC + 10 (all creative data from the last 90 days are updated). This means that the daily update time will vary depending on your geographic location. To determine what time that is for you, use the calculation 0 UTC + 10 + your local time zone.

Some examples:
New York  0 UTC + 10 - 5 = 5:00
Berlin         0 UTC + 10 + 1 = 11:00
Shanghai   0 UTC + 10 + 8 = 18:00

Considerations and limitations

Keep in mind the following:

  • The source of performance data in the Creative Optimization dashboards (aside from Partner metrics) comes from AppsFlyer's attribution model. Please note that there are inherent differences in the attribution models used by the various advertising platforms and players in the mobile advertising ecosystem, which can explain reporting discrepancies between them.
  • For creatives that include multiple assets, only one asset is displayed (usually the video when applicable).
  • There may be some discrepancies between Creative Optimization and the AppsFlyer Overview dashboard due to data freshness (data is updated once a day in Creative Optimization vs. a few times a day in Overview).