When the App Store launched over 10 years ago, apps could make their way to the top of the charts off organic installs alone. But with all the competition in the stores today, the only way for game developers to truly scale their titles is through user acquisition campaigns. Today, any developer who wants to turn their game into a successful business must ensure that their UA campaigns are sophisticated.
We spoke with Matej Lancaric, Director of User Acquisition at SuperScale/Boombit, and discussed everything from successful UA campaigns to the most important metrics to consider.
Matej is a seasoned expert in the mobile gaming ecosystem and a true mobile marketing enthusiast, having worked in the gaming industry for 6 years. As the Director of UA, he is responsible for the development, planning, and execution of acquisition marketing strategies for multiple game franchises including Fingersoft, Starberry Games, BON Games, Traplight, and Frogmind - managing multi-million dollar budgets to drive profitable growth on a global scale.
Tell us a bit about BoomBit and SuperScale
SuperScale works with the world’s top game devs and publishers - like Fingersoft, Starberry Games, BON Games, Traplight, Frogmind (in partnership with Supercell), and Boombit - get their flagship titles successfully into the market, making the most out of their UA spend. SuperScale also focuses on maximizing game growth with live-ops and LTV support.
BoomBit is one of the largest mobile gaming publishers, focusing on both game production and publishing. BoomBit was established in 2012 in the UK as a mobile game developer. Today, BoomBit has a strong presence in the US, China, United Kingdom, Slovakia, and Poland, with over 250 employees worldwide.
What does your day-to-day look like?
At SuperScale, I focus on the deployment of successful mobile app user acquisition and marketing strategies.
At BoomBit, I’m responsible for both soft-launch and global launch, as well as planning and strategy. The mobile app acquisition strategies and marketing campaigns that I create are designed to drive overall growth. Our team manages millions of dollars in profitable UA spend every month in our mobile games portfolio across both free and paid channels.
How do you approach user acquisition?
Facebook used to be my go-to channel for running UA campaigns and launching games globally. However, the market is changing at an extremely fast pace and now we’ve come to the realization that relying solely on Facebook is by no means sustainable. Today, in order to drive high levels of growth, we work with multiple ad networks, including ironSource.
Let’s discuss a proper campaign structure
Whenever launching a campaign, I break it down into 3 phases:
Phase 1: Launch day - Week 2
For the first two weeks of the worldwide campaign, I recommend running across all networks. These first two weeks are crucial because the data you collect from users’ interactions with your creatives will ensure that the iterations you’re producing are based on true, actionable data that will deliver higher performance.
Phase 2: Weeks 3-4
During the phase of your mobile app UA strategy, you should be taking your first optimization steps. Start whitelisting ad sources based on the performance of Phase 1 and blacklist ad sources with low performance. Also, start experimenting with creative optimization by adding some new creatives into the mix and making iterations based on the data you collected the first two weeks after launch.
Testing different creatives will ensure that you’re positioning yourself as high as possible within the waterfall. This will ensure a high IPM and therefore a high eCPM. The higher you’re positioned in the waterfall, the more impressions you’ll capture, and the more users you’ll have acquired. This is a winning strategy.
Phase 3 - Week 5 - onwards
Continue optimizing your creatives to ensure the highest position the waterfall. Then keep the RON (rest of network) cap high enough so that you don’t take any options off the table. Meaning that you shouldn’t close off any opportunities on other networks, yes the few networks you’re currently working with might be bringing in good results, thus allowing you to invest more, but that doesn’t mean you should close all of your other options. Be sure to keep a short blacklist and include ROAS optimization strategies.
How do you work with creatives in your UA campaigns?
Historically, within the mobile games marketing ecosystem, the quality of individual creatives has been less important - game devs were once able to get away with a few screen grabs and perhaps some gameplay videos. Today, this is no longer the case.
Creatives can be funny, dramatic, and even scary. In order for your players to view your game as more than just a disposable experience, ensure that the creatives elicit emotions. At SuperScale, we’ve noticed that the creatives that perform the best are the ones that have garnered reactions from your viewers. However, no matter the creative you use for your game - if it’s a few static images or an interactive ad experience - testing it is important.
Game devs must develop a creative cycle or process - meaning the ways in which they go about developing, creating, and implementing their creative campaigns. They must also ensure that they have a steady pipeline of static, video creatives, or playables for all of their marketing channels.
What UA strategies have you seen work? What about those that have failed?
The most successful mobile app UA strategies are the ones that optimize based on different KPIs. When you’re optimizing your purchasing, you must consider the ROAS as well as the LTV of the users you’re acquiring. However, if you’re optimizing your UA campaigns towards installs, you want to focus on getting the lowest CPIs possible while considering both ad revenue and ad LTV.
Also, remember that different strategies work better for different genres. Using a hyper-casual UA strategy for a mid-core or puzzle game will most probably not yield the results you were hoping for. For example, you’ve probably seen the “noob vs. pro” creative for hyper-casual campaigns. They are appealing to hyper-casual gamers, but would someone from the match-3 audience find this appealing (i.e. women 45+)? No most probably not.
What metrics are most important to consider when doing successful UA?
This completely depends on the monetization strategy of your game. If your game is reliant on IAPs, consider ROAS, ROI, and LTV. However, if you have an ad-based game, optimize towards CPI, Ad LTV as well as your margins.