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New Year New Ad Strategy: Expert Tips and Predictions for mobile game advertisin | Pocket Gamer.biz

by Contributor

As we draw close to the end of the year, it’s a time to reflect on the year to date and anticipate the one ahead. The mobile gaming market has seen many successes in 2023, but ongoing challenges mean that advertising strategies going into 2024 will need to adapt.

In this guest post, Nexters RnD creative producer, Murad Khalilov guides us into 2024 with some top tips regarding mobile games advertising including how to stand out from the crowd and how to ensure that your ads capture just the right audience. Plus, Khalilov shares some predictions for 2024…


As an expert in research and development in mobile gaming, it’s my job to understand trends and make predictions for the future. At Nexters, as with most video game companies, advertising is essential if a game is to go the distance. In fact, it has been suggested that 80% of a game’s success depends on its marketing and advertising. It simply could not survive without it.

My team and I are working to attract new audiences. We continuously evaluate our current advertising methods and whether they can be improved. Looking back at the year gone and using it to inform the one to come is the most effective way to keep improving and growing your audience.

From my experience, I’ve compiled some tips for taking your advertising to the next level and some predictions for 2024 to help you get ahead of the game with your own advertising.

Top tips: 

The visualisation of violence and sexualisation is not as effective an advertising method as it once was.

Murad Khalilov

Be creative and different… but not too much

People are being shown the same type of ad, be it a puzzle, jigsaw and so on. We’re trying our best to break through ad blindness by creating eye-catching and memorable ads. There are so many mobile games and advertisements nowadays; why should people choose yours above the rest?

But don’t go too far the other way by being over-creative. By that, I mean don’t complicate things that should be simple. For example, a well shot or crafted picture can resonate with people. In contrast, a 30-second video bursting with effects, colours and sounds can overwhelm and confuse the audience, which can lead to a rock-bottom conversion rate. In a similar vein, the visualisation of violence and sexualisation is not as effective an advertising method as it once was.

Form an emotional connection between the audience, ad, and game

The potential customer will initially get to the game via your ad. This will trigger particular emotions that will, in turn, encourage them to try your game. Therefore, you need the game itself to trigger the same emotions if the player is to continue playing. Another option is to trigger different emotions in your ad compared to the game, which can also work. However, we have found that competitors can more easily copy this; it’s less unique.

Be as precise as possible when targeting your audience

Employ different systems for audience precision targeting to help you attract the most appropriate customer. This has become somewhat more difficult as platforms themselves are changing. From iOS 14 onwards, for example, personal data anonymisation was introduced, and Android announced they plan to do a similar thing.

Systems like BLACKbox AAA can help you experiment with different options relating to audience targeting effectively. Aiming your ads at the right audience is very important because even if you get a billion clicks on your ad unless they are converted into downloads, it’s pointless. Targeting the right people from the off makes them more likely to be converted. So, the more information you can get from the customer, the more likely you will show them what interests them.

Avoid making geography-specific ads

Aim for as wide an audience as possible (within your genre) rather than making specific ads for particular countries. However, that doesn’t mean you only need one type of ad. But rather than tailoring them based on geography, do this based on the platform it will appear on.

Make decisions based on your target audience

Separate yourself from your target audience. Just because you personally like something doesn’t necessarily mean that they will, and vice versa. Make decisions through their eyes rather than through your own.

We used to plan for a year or two in advance, now we set goals for only six months ahead.

Murad Khalilov

Looking ahead

The above are all general tips to take on board if you’re in the advertising game. However, like all areas of technology, this too changes with each coming month, not to mention the year. With that in mind, here are some changes I expect to see in mobile game advertising and how to deal with them.

Play the short game

As I’ve just mentioned, this sector is constantly changing and evolving at an increased pace, which isn’t likely to slow next year. Whereas we used to plan for a year or two in advance, now we set goals for only six months ahead. We also stopped hesitating and taking too long to make decisions. Say, for example, we found a new advertising concept and put it to the test. After three months, if it weren’t working, we’d abandon it and move on to the next thing. There are so many options and ideas, and there’s no point wasting time getting hung up on one.

Longer ad spots for the win

Until now, it has been the case that you got more bang for your buck with shorter ad spots. We assumed that because the production costs would be much higher, it made more budget sense to go for a shorter video. At the time, they were more profitable. However, after testing, we have found unexpected success with longer ones due to ad auctions and since the cost varies based on audience excitement. Now, using longer ads, we actually attract a larger audience and pay less for the ads, making them more cost-effective. This links to a broader point about the importance of always experimenting and testing current methods. The industry is always changing, so it makes sense that you tweak your approaches accordingly.

Marketing used to go no further than conversion metrics, but this is getting considerably more detailed and intricate.

Murad Khalilov

KPIs for mobile game advertising are changing

Marketing used to go no further than conversion metrics, but this is getting considerably more detailed and intricate. Now, we look at LTV (lifetime value), ROI (return on investment), and CTR (click-through rate). Then there’s the conversion from seeing the ad to going to the app store and then from the store to downloading the game. And it doesn’t end there. Retention rate at different periods and product performance are also important indicators to take into account if you’re to make the most of the data and use it to your advantage. This rounded understanding of your ads’ performance in relation to your audience and game is gold dust when it comes to understanding what tweaks to make to improve your ad efficacy.

Increasing CPI

This refers to the cost per install, which is the amount you spend on making a single user install your game. The audience of the past was cheap and relatively unsophisticated. It didn’t really matter whether some stopped playing because the remainder was enough to cover your costs. In hyper-casual games in Tier-1, this used to be between 25-30 cents, but now you’re highly unlikely to find anything below 50 cents. The exact increase amount is difficult to know for sure, but I’d say around 30%. Could this be a fee for improved targeting accuracy or just a price hike? Will the whole system change to a subscription basis? We’ll soon find out.

More expensive audience

As I said in the above point, audiences are becoming more lucrative with each year. This is partly because the competition is growing. 25% of the world’s population plays games across all genres, be it hardcore games or those more casual. We only cover a small part of the market, but we’re not trying to pull audiences from other genres. It’s difficult and pointless to try and change people’s habits. Plus, there are so many people within our market segment to attract, it’s really best to focus our efforts on them.

Failure to follow today’s AI trends may well lead to you losing out.

Murad Khalilov

Mobile advertising market will grow but that won’t make it easier

Major players are likely to enter the market because now, what used to be exclusively video games like Assassin’s Creed, Mirage, and Death Stranding, among others, can be made playable on mobile, which we saw with the release of the latest iPhone. It will get harder for smaller players, who should instead strive for quality and make something beautiful, cool or exclusive that will resonate with the audience.

AI is likely to become more widespread

Some fear their labour sector being replaced. Like them, you may have your reservations about this technology. However, it would be wise to put these to one side. Remember, this too was the case almost 300 years ago with the Industrial Revolution when many also believed they would be put out of a job because of the machines. It’s safe to say that the machines caught on. Likewise, failure to follow today’s AI trends may well lead to you losing out. Take AR for example. It opens up the possibility of interacting with your audience more personally and intimately. You become closer to them, making it easier and more effective to attract them to your game.

Conclusion

Long story short, never sit still. This is a dynamic industry, and you will stay in easy mode at your own detriment. Advertising is the lifeblood of your game, so it’s vital that you get it right and keep it pumping. That doesn’t mean that all your decisions have to be the right ones. Ads have a lifespan; they grow, stagnate and then fall, so you will have to make new ones regardless. The key is to keep experimenting and adapting; if it doesn’t work (which it often won’t), just change it.

2024 is looking more competitive and more expensive, so advertise wisely and target the right audience and you’ll be onto a winner.

Edited by Paige Cook



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