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Before User Acquisition: Prep Your Mobile Game For Success

Written by: Juliana Casale, Director of Marketing

As an automated advertising software company specializing in the gaming vertical, we naturally have a lot of advice to give app developers about how to boost user acquisition and target high-value gamers through social media marketing. It totally makes sense; as the freemium business model continues to soar in popularity, in-app purchases have become crucial to monetization efforts, and as people continue to spend their time on mobile, it’s the obvious place to advertise. However, it’s a lot easier to advertise a game if it’s already geared to win the hearts and minds of gamers. How can you prepare your app for financial success before you hit the launch button?

According to Simon Khalaf, president of analytics firm Flurry, gaming currently accounts for almost one-third of the time people spend on mobile devices in this country: “It’s about 51 minutes per day in the US,” he said. “If you look at the population 13 years and older, it’s a significant amount of time spent.” Of that time spent, here’s the breakdown by mobile game type, according to the Entertainment Software Association’s “2014 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry” report, based on data from more than 2,200 nationally representative households:

Most often played mobile games

As you can see, the casual/social games and puzzle/board game/game show/trivia/card games categories combined claim 77% of the pie. As we highlighted in last week’s post, 4 Ways App Developers Can Market For Mobile, the majority of this majority is — surprise!– female. So, before you even think about Custom Audiences or Lookalike targeting, you have to think about the game you’re developing: Does it appeal to women? As the gender most likely to become a loyal user and make an in-app purchase, it’s worth your while to ensure your graphics and language are at the least gender neutral. As we note in 4 Ways, action, sports and strategy games still skew to the male demographic, so this advice is not one-size-fits-all (yet).

Who plays games on a smartphone?

Consoles still dominate the gaming landscape, but smartphones and wireless devices are quickly gaining ground. As smartphones claim more play time, apps become extremely valuable to advertisers. While you strategize about how to structure your game toward in-app purchases, consider the mobile gold mine you may be sitting on in terms of ad real estate. The undivided attention of millennials, moms and everything in between is “something even TV advertisers, print, and online cannot ignore anymore,” says Khalaf. “That’s going to be very healthy revenue for gamers.” Cross-platform social games are enticing to marketers because advertising can be mapped to times when players are feeling excited, frustrated or challenged (a prime time to connect with them emotionally), and tracked in terms of time spent, social sharing, video completion rates, and more. Long story short: Consider new opportunities like the Facebook Audience Network as you put together your monetization strategy.

Cross-platform social game advertisingApproximately 162.4 million (or, 8 out of every 10) people will actively play games on their mobile devices by 2015.

How can you engage them and boost your bottom line?

The rewards-driven model of in-game advertising serves multiple purposes: to propel gamers to the next level, encourage social sharing, and connect brands with moments of victory. When gamers are offered a virtual good to celebrate an achievement, the response is extremely positive. According to MediaBrix proprietary data, rewards garner a 63.8% acceptance rate on the web and a 67.9% acceptance rate on mobile. Accordingly, marketer adoption rates have increased by 61% from Q3 to Q4 of 2013.

For additional insights into mobile game success, check out VentureBeat Takes a Deep Dive into Mobile Game Monetization and Mobile App Install Ads: Best Practices By Game Genre.

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