During my time working with Essence in London, I teamed up with the guys at Google on a number of projects. Some of the most exciting and innovative at the time were taking advantage of their newly acquired ad serving platform (DoubleClick) and creating rich ad formats in HTML 5. Previously this could only be done in flash, however flash was not supported in iOS, was not responsive and generally considered a dying technology.
I worked on the original concepts, designing the flow, presenting and rethinking the new concept. I also created the master UI design direction, re-worked copy and collaborated with the development team to perfect the animation, experience and interactions.
The Google Downloads All the way project was a strategic media campaign that we pitched over a year before it was eventually signed off. The idea behind it was to encourage people who had got a new Apple device for Christmas to download Google apps for free. Google wanted people to use them as their apps of choice before they got used to the native ones.
The second project was centred around the launch of Google's new tablet, the Nexus 7. The goal here was simply to showcase the new products, form and features as it was the flagship tablet for Google at the time.
With Downloads All the way the creative started off as a rich narrative showcasing some of the features of the individual applications. This was because the brief focussed on educating our audience about Google products. However after we presented the early concepts, we discussed at length whether this was the right approach and decided to shift focus.
We all agreed that rather than offer deep content about the app we would simply give them a flavour of what each app was about. Then we would offer the user a simple way to download it. This felt much more straightforward and "Google" - simple, direct and functional.
With the Nexus project the emphasis was on creating something that used close up's of the product to showcase the form, features and apps available. We scamped up 3 creative routes that we presented to Google. They loved the simplicity of one route, which was an interactive device you could swipe around and view the apps as they extruded out the back. We got the original idea from explosion diagrams, often seen in engineering and old car manuals.
With Downloads for you, we presented a few more design iterations then went about creating a prototype. It ended up as a carousel of the available Google apps and key features, one screen for each, quick and to the point. We had a hard time getting all the visuals signed off as each team at Google had to agree on a visual for each application, so we heavily researched all of the current app advertising to ensure out HTML 5 ads were inline with current marketing across all channels.
Then we had to ensure the whole experience felt suitably "Apple" in terms of the animations, especially the swipe and faux inertia that has become second nature on iOS. In the end we were able to create the right experience but within the size restrictions imposed by the ad servers.
For the Nexus ads, we quickly mocked up a design flow and animation moodboard, then immediately went about creating a high fidelity prototype. The Nexus ad's had a similar issue, in that we were able to achieve the results we wanted but the ad was too large for most ad servers.
We were really pushing the boundaries with HTML and CSS ads, and the ad servers weren't really set up for this. After a few pointless phone calls, we realised we weren't going to be made an exception for, even if our client was Google. Again we had to find ways to compress imagery, strip back the CSS animations and re-use elements. We relied on the animation to hide the re-used elements to great success, as nobody even noticed!
On Downloads we added more value strategically by creating iAD versions. On these, you could download the apps straight to your phone from the ad (as opposed to going to the app store). There was also a version that detected what apps you already had and served you a different ad about the apps you didn’t. We also optimised the ad for larger mobile devices and tablets, all in all making them future proof.
The final Nexus ad's looked great, were simple and really hit the brief. We spent a fair bit of time simply swiping back and forth, playing with the ad until it felt right. We also ensured the ad was responsive so that it would look and work equally as well on a tablet.
The client was very pleased with the Downloads all the Way campaign, the dwell time was over 2 minutes, and the iAds achieved a 35% download rate for those who clicked through!
The Nexus ad's had one of the best dwell time's seen for a Google ad, people were obviously interested in Google's new flagship tablet. The dwell time was well over 4 minutes, which for an ad was unheard of. The ad was part of a larger campaign, which featured television ads and a full microsite where you could pre-order the Nexus 7.