Ad monetization and user acquisition are two sides of the same coin. For example, UA teams are dedicated to realizing true app growth, whereas monetization teams are driven to generate revenue. Taking this into account, it’s almost logical that gaming..
Artur is Head of Growth Marketing and is charged with the mission of finding unique opportunities to grow and improve the marketing efforts of Playrix – one of the biggest game developers in the world. They’re the team behind the wildly popular, and top-grossing titles of Township, Gardenscapes and Fishdom.
Artur knows a thing or two about acquiring great users and keeping them in-app, and at this year’s China Joy conference in Shanghai, he spoke to the community of local developers on the latest UA trends.
Yoni Eyal, ironSource’s GM of APAC sat down with Artur to get his take on the biggest challenges app developers are facing, and how they can ace user acquisition and find great users in the face of rising costs.
Globally, what markets are the biggest opportunities for game developers today?
Artur: Asia represents the biggest opportunity for game developers to see growth. Playrix is also experiencing growth in these areas – after the US, our next biggest markets are China, Japan and Korea.
Not all western game developers see growth in Asia at first, so it’s important to approach the Asian market differently than you would at ‘home’. It’s unconventional and sounds counter-intuitive, but my advice is that it’s better to differentiate your games in the Asian markets, rather than adjusting your content to look more Asian or overhauling the game to match the Asian user.
Using this approach, Playrix was able to find our niche in Asia, and now Township is the most successful farm simulation game in China.
What are some of the challenges you think that app marketers are facing today?
Artur: The first challenge facing app marketers today is simply the amount of change and growth in this industry. Often, the processes can’t keep up with the pace of change. The marketers who will succeed are those who can adapt their games quickly to the changing industry and make the most of the opportunities. For example, by working quickly to incorporate dynamic ad units into their marketing strategies.
The second challenge resulting from the rapidly-growing industry is quality user acquisition. Increasing UA costs combined with reduced user quality and reduced retention means it’s getting harder to find quality users at an affordable cost.
It’s also becoming harder to target and segment quality users, and to find out how relevant they are for your app. Game marketers should approach user acquisition knowing that perhaps only a portion of their acquired users will be high-quality or with high LTV-potential. The trick is to see which traffic sources are bringing in the highest volume of quality users, and then double-down on them.
The third big challenge is fraud. Of course, we have seen moves in the industry to tackle fraud, and some companies are doing better than others at fighting it. Unfortunately, it’s an issue that will probably never completely disappear, so the industry needs to work together on fraud prevention tools that will benefit both app marketers and publishers.
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What are some ways that developers can fight the rising costs of user acquisition and declining retention?
One way to tackle declining retention is to work hard on your product – try to make the actual game you are marketing better all the time. In-app engagement equates to revenue, so also develop and refine in-app engagement opportunities with your users.
Game developers can also differentiate their portfolio to find out where there’s an open niche in the market, and acquire users this way. To do this well, developers need to be able to deploy multiple games in a short space of time. That way, if you have a user in one game, you can then offer them another of your titles, and still keep that user. If you don’t have these capabilities, don’t worry. At Playrix we focus on developing a small amount of titles and then constantly improving them to improve retention.
Retention in the industry will continue to decrease, so the only thing that makes a difference is the potential longevity of the product. Developers should build extensive engagement features and social features into the game, and always be open to communication with their users. This is a great way to understand what users want out of your game, and potentially increase retention, so don’t ignore user feedback.
What impact have you seen at Playrix from playable ads for UA?
Artur: Playable ads are the hottest thing in the industry right now because they give the user an opportunity to become familiar with the app and the basic mechanics of the game before choosing to install.
We’ve seen the “try before you buy” model work perfectly well in the commerce industry – it’s something which builds up engagement before the actual decision making, so I think we’re only going to see more of their impact in the mobile space.
A challenge with playable ads that app marketers should keep in mind is that A/B testing a playable is more complex than other ad units, so it’s important for app marketers to work out a testing methodology before progressing with this new format.
What do you think is going to be the biggest UA trend this year?
Artur: First, I think a big trend on the horizon is more sophisticated ad tech tools that will allow advertisers to run even better campaigns, and to optimize them in a more intelligent way.
If we look at UA just two or three years ago, there were far fewer tools. Now the technology is only getting better, and there is even more transparency. A lot of the partners Playrix works with give us a lot of transparency – they explain how their business works, and where our campaign spend is going. We’re also trying to be more transparent from our side too, which is equally important in a successful partnership. Increased transparency is a win-win situation for everyone.
Second, the rise of programmatic will continue to be a significant trend in app marketing and user acquisition.
Finally, new creative formats are going to continue to make waves, like playables and interactive rewarded video ads. Further down the road I think we will see the rise of AR in ads, it definitely has exciting potential.