In early November, Webpals Mobile hosted a panel at Casual Connect Tel Aviv with key players in the world of social games: Playtika, Murka, and Google. I was honored to moderate the discussion on innovations in marketing as well as new trends. We touched on various aspects of marketing strategy and tactics, user acquisition, and ASO.

In this article, I will give a brief overview of the discussion and strongly encourage you to watch the video for a more detailed picture.

Innovation: Does Company Size Make a Difference?

It does; there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution.

When it comes to the environment in which innovation blooms, agility is easier to achieve with smaller-sized companies. However, when we are talking about the scale of innovation, resources are usually easier to find in large companies.

Besides the innovation-fostering environment, the super dynamic and continuously changing mobile world requires us to move quickly, to iterate on the product side, to test and sustain a perfect mix on the marketing side and to be flexible in the approaches you apply.

Audiences, Generations, Genres

According to SuperData Research, a typical smartphone social game player in the US is a woman of 36+ with an average personal income of $63K.

Smartphone mobile statistics

I raised the question with our panelists to see if the landscape is the same for them. And it turned out that it’s not. The ratio is different for different genres, and, even within the same genre, the circumstances are continually shifting.

What’s most important when targeting players is that you must always be on top of things and try to find out through experimentation what is the most profitable segment for your game.

Murka, for example, was initially more male-oriented in their attempt to find their niche in the highly competitive landscape of games.  And they found success in it; sharing that their audience currently has an exact 50/50 female/male split. And the audience is pretty young – mostly Millennial players. By introducing new, innovative mechanics (in Murka’s case, it’s RPG elements), they appealed to the younger audience (20-25 years old).

From Google’s perspective, there’s not much of a difference if it’s a male or a female. Rather than targeting specific sex and/or generation, they focus on spenders as a segment.

The overall recommendation from all the panelists when it comes to audiences is to start as broad as possible and find out through the UA process which player is the right player for your game.

Early Adoption: Google Beta Program

In the past year and a half, Google has changed their game plan quite a bit – and they did it successfully. Now, many game developers see success with Google’s platform if they are accepted to the Google Beta program.

When evaluating the UA channel, Playtika shared that they are looking for 3 things:

  1. Quality
  2. Scalability
  3. How willing the channel is to work closely with Playtika

And Google meets all the 3 criteria.

While the program is still limited only to those companies accepted by Google; as a game developer, you need to meet specific requirements to get endorsed. And these are continually changing. For example, in August, Google introduced a new requirement that you need to have exhibited a strong history of complying with Google’s policy for the past 6 months. And it’s not only in AdWords, AdMob, AdSense, and Google Play that history is also taken into consideration.

No links to real money gaming is another essential requirement as well as the absence of any physical reward (i.e. a ticket to the cinema, a free flyer to a restaurant, etc.).

The rest of the requirements can be found here.

Now, as Google shared with us, they made the Beta program available for APAC with the addition of 6 countries (Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Thailand) that can now submit their applications.

Webpals Mobile has been within the Google Beta program since day 1. And we’ve been facilitating game developers, such as Murka, to get accepted to the program using our years of experience and close relationship with Google (Webpals Mobile is a certified Google Partner). And since Murka’s acceptance, they’ve managed to scale their ad spend with Google several times, with Webpals Mobile managing most of the activity.

2016: Trends, Platforms, Ad Types

We are in an incredibly fast-moving industry, and 2016 has been quite epic for mobile.

Among the most important things our panelists tried and were proved successful include the following:

  1. A significant shift from static creatives to video (rewarded video, vertical video)
  2. Playable Ads
  3. Search Ads

To learn more about Search Ads on Google Play and Apple App Store, check out the full video below.

Key Takeaways

  • Constant testing and experimenting (on every level) is a key to effective user acquisition.
  • Using ad formats (videos, carousel ads, etc.) that allow marketers to tell a story about the product enable you to win valuable users.
  • While tier-1 markets receive the majority of advertiser ad spend, tier-2 countries have high potential due to lower CPI as well as strong LTV. Creatives need to be localized, “culturalized” and well-tested.

Webpals Mobile is an expert in user acquisition for social games. With over 5 years’ experience, we enabled the growth of such companies as Playtika, Murka, Product Madness, Zynga, and many others.

Our in-house creative studio offers all types of ad formats, localization, A/B testing, constant refreshing, and superior quality. This, combined with our proprietary technology and close relationship with all the main media channels, allows us to be among the first to adopt new ad products, get access to beta programs and get insights directly from the media.

Contact us today for further insights about how we can help you level UP your user acquisition in 2017.