Last month I hosted a panel at Casual Connect San Francisco with 4 leading players in the social casino space; Carey DiJulio of Big Fish Games, Nick Talarico of SuperLucky Casino, Aayush Sakya of GSN Games, and Mark Beck, formerly of Product Madness.
We discussed a few of the challenges we are facing and a few opportunities on the horizon. Here are some of the highlights in brief.
GOOGLE vs. FACEBOOK IN UA STRATEGY TODAY
Over the last 8-12 months Google’s mobile app inventory has been working really well for a lot of social casino companies. Thus, the share of the Google marketing budget is growing due to its large source of inventory.
It does not, however, mean that Facebook is necessarily falling behind. It’s doing fantastically well for GSN and many other companies. At the end of the day, the channel that delivers the best ROI will get the majority of the budget allocation.
MEDIA CHANNELS: THE NEXT BIG THING
The panelists shared the same opinion on the fact that none of the new emerging channels are going to cause a UA revolution, mainly due to their size and inability to compete with such channels as Facebook, especially when it comes to scaling.
However, there are few growing trends that were called out:
- Instagram shows great success for many companies who managed to nail the creative side.
- Pinterest is going to offer more solutions to game developers, and there’s a huge potential for social casino games due to the extremely high audience overlap: highly engaged 30+ females in the US.
- Playable ads deliver a high engagement and conversion but it’s a smaller opportunity, especially when it comes to reaching a large number of players.
SOCIAL CASINO GAMES THAT INNOVATE SUCCESSFULLY
There are many new social casino products that try to innovate and change the genre by merging the mechanics of different genres etc, with high risk of failure. Here at DAU-UP we’ve seen many game developers come to us with their ideas of new slots games with “unique” twists, and unfortunately, 9 out of 10 failed.
However, here are those few companies who innovate successfully:
- Double Down by IGT – one of the examples of video slots
- Big Fish Casino – one of the most successful games with a social aspect
- Slotomania – took a casual approach on slots
- Classic slots – mechanical slots appeared about 1.5 ago with UI seemingly not at a level to compete with other social casino games, but ended up converting quite well.
- Scatter slots – did a fantastic job with innovation that actually succeeded to grow the market, as well as appealing to the core social casino audience.
Game developers are being careful with too much innovation in product as it may seem risky. Especially in Poker and Bingo where we haven’t seen many new ideas.
UA, however, should be viewed as a breeding ground for innovation. The reason being is that with paid UA, your ad is actually the entry point to your game, unlike with organic channels where players install the game directly from the app store.
RETENTION AND RE-ENGAGEMENT DONE RIGHT
Retention marketing is crucial to increase the LTV of the players you have acquired, reaching them with the right message at the right time (be it a bonus, a gift or a new level).
It is highly important to have a clear plan of how to retain the player through their life cycle in the game. Make sure you reach out to players through multiple channels to keep them in the game as long as possible.
Retention of the player and retention of the spender are two different things. Each should its own strategy and should be measured separately. Of course, when it comes to re-engagement of a spender, it’s worth an additional spend, whereas you don’t want to spend on a re-engagement of someone who played your game for 60 days and didn’t spent a penny.
At the end of the day, it’s important to focus on overall metrics of how much you spent to acquire this user in the beginning and then how much you paid to re-acquire, making sure that you still make a profit and are able to grow your business.
App Store Optimization is an emerging trend, and a lot of companies are springing up offering ASO services from keyword optimization through A/B testing of landing pages.
There‘s a huge difference between the players who came to your game through search on the app store and those who saw it in the top of the charts. As a result, many game companies are moving away from charting strategy to ASO strategy.
App icon changes can have a big impact, as well as small descriptive changes. All the little changes add up to success.
What you need to be careful with though, is that what works on Google does not necessarily work well on iOS. Thus, it’s important to test and optimize separately.
BRANDED VS PROPRIETARY IPs
With over-crowded app stores how can you stand out? IP can be the answer to this question if executed correctly. Zynga is a great example with Wizard of Oz, Hit it Rich etc. GSN is another great example.
However, it’s important to understand that you can’t just put any brand on any game and expect it to deliver huge success. It really needs to be a good match, and if done right, it will help you not only please your existing user base with branded, well-known content, but also help you reach new audiences.
THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL CASINO
We ended our panel with speculation about the future and how all the trends that we’re seeing will impact the social casino genre. There’s a lot of hype of how chat bots are going to enhance the customer experience, not to mention AR and VR.
- VR – is still the area that doesn’t attract a core social casino player, and thus we won’t see social casino on this platform early on. But it will be very exciting to see how the market and the business model will develop, and what type of genre and player will emerge.
- Chat bots – it will be interesting to see how they can be used before the install. It could be a great experience if after a click the player will be brought into a chat bot to receive information about promos or the game.
Watch the full video to learn more about the role of influencers in social casino marketing and how target audiences has changed over the years.