Creative trends from the top Shopping apps

We analyzed ads from the top Shopping apps in Apptopia's charts to identify the latest trends in creative development.

Melisa Rocío Fernández

September 8, 2021

About the data in this article 

For this article, we analyzed Apptopia's Top Charts to see the top performing apps within the Shopping category in the US across the first 6 months of 2021. We then relied on Apptopia to access creatives from these brands. 


The 15 apps we researched

Research specs: 

  • We analyzed 15 apps in Apptopia
  • All 15 apps fall into the “Shopping” category
  • We’re looking exclusively at the US market
  • Both Apple App Store and Google Play insights were considered
  • We studied monthly reports from the first 6 months of 2021


The State of Shopping apps in H1 2021

The use of Shopping apps rose by 45% in 2020, but there’s still plenty of room for this vertical to keep growing. In the first six months of 2021, Apptopia registered over 30.7K new Shopping apps, and almost 10k added publishers across both the iOS App Store and Android’s Play Store.

In contrast to 2020, when Shopping downloads experienced ups and downs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, installs remained fairly steady in H1 2021, and totaled 540M across the two app stores. 


We analyzed creatives from the top 15 Shopping apps—here’s what we found

We analyzed how the top Shopping apps were leveraging each element within an ad to engage users and drive them to make more purchases, more often. What we discovered was that while there are many similarities in the trends most Shopping players are following, there are also some creative strategies they apply in different ways. Let’s take a look! 

The creative trends all Shopping apps are following


Similar ads, multiple variations

Shopping apps are focusing on creating different variations of their creatives. For each brand, we often see similar templates with different products, which makes it easier to run A/B tests on an apples-to-apples basis. 


Numbers grasp users’ attention

Featuring numbers in the ad copy or CTA can help drive user engagement. While many Shopping apps feature discounts, you don’t need a promotion to add numbers to the mix, as we can see in the following creative from Klarna.

Brands are better together

We’re seeing many apps run creatives featuring partner brands. This strategy allows advertisers to further add value to their offering by working with other brands users are interested in.

Different creative strategies that top Shopping apps are testing

Product image vs Aspirational photo vs Text-only 

Finding the right visual elements to convey your message can be challenging: should you highlight your product, or how users will look with that product? Or is it best to make a written statement?

Since each customer has unique needs and interests, many Shopping apps are appealing to their audiences through a variety of strategies:

  • Product images: apps like Amazon Shopping, Nike, and Wish are focusing on showing what their products look like, or featuring a mockup or animation of their mobile app. 
  • Aspirational photos: Taking a page out of the book of branding campaigns, another strategy focuses on what the product will deliver in terms of status or lifestyle. In the example above, we can see that the Klarna ad is all about telling the user what will happen if they download the app: “this could be you on vacation right now, if you used our app”. 
  • Text-only ads: Since many app brands rely on illustrations and pictures, using text-only messages can help advertisers stand out from competitors. When communicating a clear value proposition, featuring text on bold colors results in impactful creatives, making text-only ads an effective strategy to show limited-time promotions or special discounts. 

Keep in mind: When testing these visual elements, it’s not one option or the other. Many brands, such as Etsy, are combining some of these strategies as part of the same marketing campaigns. 

Fullscreen Product vs In-Device

Should you show the app or the products you can buy with the app? While high-quality product images can have great visual impact and engagement, ads showing the app in use can help users get familiar with the interface, making these creatives more likely to have a stronger impact in terms of brand, differentiation, and recognition. One strategy is not inherently better than the other, top brands have good examples of both. 

Promotional ads

Most Shopping apps are running ads with deals and offers, but strategies vary depending on each app’s goals and user pain points:

  • Free shipping: Free shipping is very popular in the Shopping industry since it drives more sales—and often at a higher order value: when offered free shipping with a minimum purchase threshold, users are likely to purchase more items to reach that threshold.
  • Limited-time discounts: Price reductions may be offered during a specific time of the year when sales are lower, such as at the end of the season, or to further leverage user intent when high sales are expected, like during Black Friday or the weeks leading to Christmas.
  • In-app only discounts: Many brands offer discounts only when purchasing on the app. This is especially relevant for brands with high website traffic looking to lead users to the app.
  • First purchase discounts: When a user installed the app but hasn’t made a purchase yet, offering a discount on that first action helps encourage conversion.


The recap: what creative strategies should Shopping apps be testing?

1️- Leverage powerful visual elements, whether it’s an image of their product or platform, an inspirational photo, or an eye-catching written statement

2- Alternate between fullscreen product images and app mockups

3- Feature key deals and promotions, or appealing to users’ challenges and pain points

4- Test whether creatives with large numbers on the ad copy have a higher impact

5- Showcase key partnerships with your audience’s favorite brands

💡Pro tip: It’s important to build different ad variations for the same creative to show a variety of products and avoid ad fatigue. This can be challenging if done manually, luckily there are many creative tools that can take the concepts and brand elements you have and seamlessly create those variations. Click here to learn more ;)


About Apptopia

Apptopia is the leader in real-time competitive intelligence. Brands and financial firms use our platform to generate insights across mobile apps and connected devices. Powered by machine learning technology, we collect and analyze billions of complex data points to surface critical business signals. Leading brands including Visa, Target, and Microsoft rely on Apptopia to better understand consumer behavior and intent across app-based devices to gain a competitive advantage.


Level up your creative strategy

Creatives play a key, and often undervalued, role in performance campaigns. ​​Original, high-quality ads yield measurable lifts in conversions, and having assets for every placement can significantly increase reach and reduce cost. That said, high-quality creatives also take work. 
Jampp has developed a robust creative suite with automated tools and a team of experts that can work closely with you to build, test, and optimize your creative strategy. Contact us to learn more about our platform or take a look at some of the success stories that show how we’ve helped other ambitious apps.