2015 is drawing to a close and we are faced with all the last minute things which need to be completed before the year formally concludes. And 2016 planning is one of those things.
Although the majority of you have probably concluded your New Year business strategy, this article is a great way to double check that you didn’t miss anything that may impede your game from succeeding over the next 12 months.
Two months ago, I was once again privileged to speak at Casual Connect – held in Tel Aviv for the first time. I hosted a thought-provoking panel about User Acquisition, with the main goal to share experiences and knowledge from key industry executives:
Lloyd Melnick, Director of Social Gaming, PokerStars
Oren Kramer, VP Marketing, Caesars Casino, Playtika
Lee Cohen, VP Marketing, LuckyFish Games
Below you can watch the full video of the panel. However, with all of us being extremely busy, I figured it’s worth summarizing the key takeaways that will make you revisit your strategy and hopefully create a real turning point in setting your game for success in 2016.
2015: THE MAIN GAME CHANGERS
Content uniqueness and innovation – in a crowded and highly competitive market place, coming up with new and innovative ideas for game content that are exclusive to your game creates a true benefit for user acquisition.
Acquisition funnel optimization including ASO – more focus on optimizing the acquisition funnel from the moment the player sees the ad to the moment they click the Install button.
Google media channel – a new channel that provides greater flexibility in terms of how the marketing budget is controlled and distributed, thereby offering more alternatives. At DAU-UP, we’re seeing great success with Google user acquisition that we’re running for numerous mobile game developers, including LuckyFish Games and PockerStars, utilizing our proprietary API tools.
Portfolio approach – the majority of big publishers switched from a one product approach to a portfolio approach, doubling their products. And the biggest driver for this change is user acquisition when acquiring new users for a mature game becomes more and more challenging.
Licensed IPs and Celebrities – the big force underlying this movement is predominantly high acquisition cost. Consequently, putting a well-known brand up front helps publishers achieve broader discovery and reduce their acquisition costs.
2016: THE BIGGEST MARKETS POTENTIAL
The US and Tier 1 remain the biggest focus for the majority of game developers. They still see enormous potential in these markets and are reluctant to penetrate new ones.
Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets – bigger publishers with worldwide offices have a competitive advantage over smaller developers when entering new markets and larger budgets to invest in order to take advantage of fast growing market size.
LATAM and SEA – it’s worth considering investing a small amount of the marketing budget to test these markets and see how the audience reacts to each product; keeping in mind that each market reacts differently.
2016: THE MAIN USER ACQUISITION CHALLENGES
Budget allocation and control – mobile game developers, big and small, and irrespective of budget, all feel underfunded. There’s seemingly never enough money. And the budget they do have will always be spent. The challenge is to control the budget and be able to measure the performance of every dollar spent.
Increasing CPI – having a budget doesn’t end your challenges. Now you need to figure out how to spend it wisely, dealing with rising CPI (part of those are the aforementioned use of celebrities and licenses, new market penetrations, etc.). It’s basically the ongoing process of coming up with innovative approaches and trying them out until you find the ones that work best for you.
Maximizing ROI – you managed to lower your CPI, now how do you convert paid users into paying players? Knowing your players, their behavior, and what makes them spend money in your game is critical for your ROI. And that is why you need to ensure that you’re acquiring the right players. You need to know where to reach them, leveraging it with reasonable CPI and being able to scale them when needed.
2016: USER ACQUISITION PLANNING
Test and find your few core UA partners – it makes sense to work with a few core partners whom you’ve tested and found effective in bringing you profitable players. When you try to segment your budgets between numerous partners, it’s difficult to build a long-term, supportive relationship.
Allocate your UA budget smartly – when it comes to the budget split between in-house user acquisition and external UA partner, there’s no one size answer that will fit all developers. Experience shows that when you’re not big enough (yet) to hire a user acquisition team, and need your resources and energy to be focused on creating amazing game, it’s better to work with the proven external partner. Once you reached the stage when you have enough resources to cope with the complexity of user acquisition in-house, you still need to balance your spend between in-house and external UA to be able to outperform your competition.
Act fast and be on top of media trends – in the mobile games industry, everything changes drastically over the course of a few months, frequently over the course of a few weeks, and sometimes even in a few days. And you have to stay on top of those changes and be able to react to them immediately. Having a long-term partner will be of tremendous benefit to you in attaining knowledge and understanding of a complex ecosystem, and often running ahead of the trends.
At DAU-UP, we’ve invested years in building our own performance solutions for games. We have successfully executed campaigns for every game genre on every media platform. We’re the early adopters of new media trends and beta programs (Instagram, Twitter, Google Social Casino, etc.); and have years of proven relationships with large game developers and publishers.
Contact us today and we will help you create the UA strategy that will set your game for success in 2016.
If you didn’t have a chance to attend our panel at Casual Connect, here’s your chance to do watch it.