Successfully reach mobile game markets in ten different countries across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East!
Apps: Mini Golf King, Golf King
Product: Programmatic User Acquisition
Interviewee: Lee Seul Hwang, PNIX Marketing Manager
Interviewer: Minjung Choi, MOLOCO Account Manager
Mobile game publisher PNIX successfully scaled user acquisition in ten different countries through its partnership with MOLOCO. We sat down with PNIX’s Marketing Manager, to discover how to advance into the global mobile market with MOLOCO’s UA campaign.
Hello, Lee Seul. Thank you very much for your time. First, can you tell us a bit about PNIX and the Golf King and Mini Golf King games?
PNIX is a steadily growing game developer and a member of the Krafton Allied Forces, known for its sports game titles in the “King” series. The latest in the series, Mini Golf King and Golf King, have quickly captured the attention of players worldwide. Both games are player vs. player (PvP), where players from all over the world come together and golf in real-time. Mini Golf King features cute, small graphics and casual items, while Golf King displays realistic scenes with high-quality graphics and detailed rules.
We definitely have to introduce you, Lee Seul, as you are the person in charge of these fun games.
I started my career in 2011, in the strategic business planning department at Neowiz, another game publisher in Korea. I joined PNIX as a game product manager in 2013. In 2017 when we were preparing for the Mini Golf King launch, the company needed a user acquisition (UA) manager, and as it turned out, I became that person. When I managed the first UA campaign, I simply knew nothing. But based on my background, I managed to learn the way through.
PNIX started working with the MOLOCO Seoul office in 2017. In fact, the Seoul office had just opened and MOLOCO was not well known in the local market. Can you tell us how you came to know about MOLOCO and why you chose to work with us?
Because I started off with limited UA experience, I had to experiment to find the right answers. At a time when I was struggling to figure out what was right or wrong, a reliable coworker introduced me to MOLOCO.
I’ve decided to work with MOLOCO because of its technical strength. Particularly, its machine learning engine and infrastructure seemed to have propelled its growth since 2013. MOLOCO and PNIX partnered in 2017, and our teams were able to grow together, managing the performance and the KPIs of our games delicately and flexibly.
You’ve picked out all the core values of our MOLOCO team. Technology is certainly a focus for us, but we also strive to grow alongside our clients. We achieve this through in-depth discussion and goal setting through KPIs. We also emphasize flexible campaign management!
While we can always offer technical expertise, the rest is achieved through partnership — it would not have been possible without Lee Seul’s help. Let’s go into more detail.
What challenges did PNIX face before collaborating with MOLOCO?
At the time, Mini Golf King had a large UA budget in the US and Europe dedicated to a single channel. The campaign had reached a plateau, and CPI had increased significantly. Since it is a PvP game, securing a new user that could maintain a certain DAU (Daily Active User, the number of unique users using the game per day) was the top priority. However, revenue was highly dependent on in-app purchases, so we could not afford to neglect ROAS either.
We set an ambitious goal to lower the CPI by more than 30% in top tier markets (like the US and Europe). In these markets, the average user’s LTV (lifetime value) was performing well, so we focused on distributing budgets across various channels. We also had a goal to find new markets through a new approach.
So the time had come for you to look at diversifying advertising channels. Breaking into new markets also seems to be a concern for all global game companies. The challenge becomes more complex as you optimize for specific goals, like target CPI and ROAS.
How did PNIX and MOLOCO prepare for launch, and what strategic steps did you take?
We started by discussing goals. MOLOCO really understood the fact that Mini Golf King was an in-app purchase-based PvP casual game. The team worked hard to balance CPI unit price and ROAS performance, which seemed to conflict, but neither can be left unconsidered.
Next, we monitored the CPI and ROAS of top tier countries in the US and Europe on a daily and weekly basis and shared our thoughts. When we were curious about the performance in a different country from the Middle East, Europe’s lower-tier countries, Asia, or South America, we quickly did small short-term tests. I think we tested more than 10 countries.
MOLOCO also regularly suggested optimizations for creative efficiency. They provided objective overviews of Mini Golf King’s performance and shared opinions on creatives and budget increase.
This campaign has been running for two years now. I would imagine that unexpected hurdles have arisen over that time. What strategic decisions did you make to overcome them?
At the end of 2019, the number of new download users seemed to have fallen sharply. The volume fell while there was no room for CPI to do the same, affecting the overall DAU. In particular, I was very worried about the volume falling significantly in the United States, where ROAS efficiency was high.
First, we raised the fixed CPI little by little in the US while maintaining ROAS as much as possible. Then to supplement the low volume, we reallocated budgets and explored possibilities in other countries. MOLOCO frequently offered status reports and discussed the performance, helping us make detailed adjustments by countries and OS.
I remember that. In the third quarter, volume had fallen to 50% of what it had been. We made quick and strategic decisions together, observing the campaign trend for almost three months. Fortunately, there was a positive change: By the end of the fourth quarter, volume returned to its previous level in 2020. Despite being over two years since launch, we continue to improve ROAS in countries found efficient.
Launching Golf King presented different challenges from the Mini Golf King campaign. What different goals did you plan for Golf King?
Because of my experience with Mini Golf King, I was more confident during the Golf King launch. We concentrated on verified countries with country-specific insights. Thanks to our trust in MOLOCO’s efficiency, we were able to set goals a little more aggressively than the typical standards of PNIX, starting off the launch of the campaign with dCPM that considered the high initial price. As a result, cost optimization was quickly achieved and we also secured high performing volume and ROAS as well.
Golf King has been running UA campaigns in six countries across North America, Europe, and Asia since November of last year. So far, we’ve seen over 300 million impressions, over 200,000 new downloads, and exceeded our ROAS target by 20%.
After running campaigns for almost three years, what was the most satisfying aspect of MOLOCO RTB (functions, effects, etc.)?
First, its inventory expansion. MOLOCO RTB bids on impressions across 2.5 million apps every month. That equates to over 4 billion global users based on ADID, including all the detailed inventories that are difficult to cover when running a campaign on our own. PNIX benefited greatly from MOLOCO’s worldwide coverage.
MOLOCO is also very tough on fraud. We use MOLOCO’s fraud verification solution, DoubleCheck, to monitor fraud for our campaigns. Lastly, MOLOCO transparently shares information about any publishers with impressions and installs, which makes it a trustworthy partner.
What was it like collaborating with MOLOCO?
It was always fun to work together with MOLOCO. As we are serving games in a global market where many variables exist, PNIX takes agile decision-making very seriously. MOLOCO’s ability to find issues and respond quickly fit the way we work, creating synergy.
Can you share some goals PNIX has now?
Our number one goal is to stably operate Mini Golf King and Golf King. We are also planning to launch new projects this year. The next goal would be to find a new market suitable for each game and expand it steadily.
Finally, fill in the blank, MOLOCO is ________ to PNIX!
MOLOCO is a partner PNIX can rely on any time!
For PNIX, 90% of sales come from overseas markets. To achieve its goals, it adopted the smart method shown below:
- New country testing and expansion
- Flexible budget and campaign adjustments
- Fraud management with a reliable solution
- Making use of the global UA marketing know-how
We would like to thank PNIX and Lee Seul for sharing the valuable experience with MOLOCO RTB. Here is a link to the PDF version as well.