The more mobile gaming dominates the market, the quicker the industry evolves to support that success. And as mobile games become a more mature medium, so does the advertising discipline responsible for getting those apps downloaded onto users’ devices.
The proliferation of channels, networks, and techniques available to advertisers today makes return on ad spend an increasingly important metric to gauge what makes a difference to companies’ bottom lines. To see that return, modern mobile game advertising strategies require marketers to connect with the right users in the right place at the right time with the right message.
Here are six mobile game advertising strategies that do just that, helping drive profitable user acquisition and increase ROAS.
Jump to a section
Networks like Facebook and Google are so overwhelmingly popular that they practically guarantee a certain amount of performance at scale. But that virtually automatic return is the floor, not the ceiling, of what’s possible in mobile gaming advertising. As the costs of advertising through Facebook and Google grow, the results shrink as the market becomes increasingly crowded. Finding a competitive edge and making the most of your advertising efforts requires thinking outside the Big Tech box.
At the same time, diversifying your ad channels requires investment. That’s why newer companies with limited budget resources will often stick with the familiar and hold off on putting new networks through their paces. Once it’s appropriate for your growth journey, though, diversifying your ad channels is an effective mobile game advertising strategy that has the potential for ever-higher rewards.
A diversified strategy will help you be prepared to manage market saturation, maintain a competitive advantage, and stay agile to align with major market shifts. Diversifying your ad channels also gives you access to each channel’s unique properties. No one channel can address every element of a robust user acquisition strategy, so a mix of channels means a mix of UA techniques as well, from brand awareness, recall, and affinity to direct communications and conversions.
Want to learn more about what performance advertising metrics to aim for when managing paid user acquisition for your mobile game? Download our free report, Performance Advertising Benchmarks for Casual Games.
Testing new ad channels is a critical part of diversification, but it shouldn’t be a free for all and it shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. Not every ad channel will be suitable for your company or your game. The decisions you make about which ad channels to test and your investment in each experimentation phase must be tied to your specific goals. For example, if you’re looking to acquire new users, you’re likely to test different ad channels than someone prioritizing a boost in retention.
Different companies will all have a diverse optimal channel mix, and choosing the most effective channel on which to run an individual advertising campaign is a question of the right tool for the right job. That’s why testing new ad channels for relevant KPIs is the wisest way forward. Assess each channel’s optimization capabilities, pricing models, and potential for impact with your company- and campaign-specific goals in mind.
Performance advertising is particularly useful for testing new ad channels because you only pay for actual results instead of sinking resources into a less-than-sure thing. The dollar amount you’re comfortable investing in a test has to do with countless internal factors, but make sure you put enough on the line to really stand a chance toward seeing results. Whatever ad spend you settle on, make sure to analyze the data from the campaign to understand your results, adjust accordingly, and decide how you’re going to proceed (or not) with that channel.
Incrementality is one of the most important tests you can perform. It’s essentially a type of A/B test, but slightly more scientific. On the one hand, you want to make sure you’re not reaching the same people multiple times. On the other hand, you want to ensure that you’re not paying to acquire users that would have converted anyway without that additional spend. At the same time, ROAS depends on the ability to reach the potential users that are most likely to download your game and drive returns.
That’s where incrementality testing comes in. By exposing a test group to your ad and analyzing an ad-free control group simultaneously, incrementality testing allows you to determine the precise impact of your advertising efforts. The result of this kind of testing, known as incremental lift, helps determine which conversions happened as a direct result of your campaign, and wouldn’t have happened without advertising.
Precision targeting is becoming increasingly difficult in light of Apple’s recent security changes, since without IDFA, advertisers no longer have access to the user-level data points they once relied on. As serious as the change is for the industry, IDFA does not necessarily spell the end of targeted advertising. Techniques like contextual targeting will help mobile game advertisers make the most of the data they already have access to by pivoting to look at its value differently.
Without access to identifying data about individual users, advertisers can look to contextual information instead. Keywords, categories, and location data are all examples of information that can be used to form a contextual understanding about a user. The idea is to show users ads that are relevant to the content they are consuming. If users are already fans of a crossword puzzle app, they’re more likely to take an interest in your sudoku app than someone playing a first-person shooter.
Contextual targeting’s ability to improve performance and ultimately drive ROAS makes it a powerful mobile game marketing strategy.
AI and Machine Learning
Another effect of Apple’s changes is the growing popularity of Limit Ad Tracking (LAT). Although some advertisers have expressed concern about what the shift to LAT traffic will mean for the industry, the latest technologies will enable marketers to adapt with the times. As access to user-level data becomes more and more limited, advertisers will need to extract more value from the data they do have.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning make that possible by powering the growth models that will help your company engage LAT traffic and transition seamlessly into a post-IDFA world. At MOLOCO, for example, we have invested more resources in AI and ML technologies than ever before in order to create a new LAT targeting feature to engage traffic without IDFA.
There are plenty of elements of a mobile game advertising strategy that can be successfully completed in-house with your own team. But when it comes down to it, the partnerships and relationships you build will play an important role in getting your campaign over the finish line. Working with a trustworthy contact or account manager at your chosen ad network will ensure that you have the resources you need to make the most of your ad spend.
A reliable partner should help you identify when their channel will help achieve your goals and be honest when it’s not the right choice for a particular campaign. Ideally, the person you’re working with will guide you through an effective testing process, help you find the right mobile measurement partner, and fine-tune your optimization strategy to make sure you’re maximizing your investment and driving as much ROAS as possible.
At MOLOCO, our proprietary machine learning algorithms power fully optimized campaigns that help mobile game advertisers drive ROAS. Partnering with MOLOCO gives mobile studios and app developers access to sustainable, scalable growth and high-quality user targeting. To learn more about how MOLOCO can help you identify the right mobile game advertising strategy for you, contact us today.
Want to learn more? Check out our Complete Guide to Mobile Game Marketing.