In a talk at Casual Connect Europe, Head of Mobile at Twitter EMEA, Ross Sheil shared Twitter’s vision for games marketers on Twitter and outlined how the best in class games companies are approaching Twitter across mobile marketing, TV and what the rise of native video and real-time marketing means for the industry.
Listen to Ross talk about how marketers can harness the power of Twitter for games distribution and games virality and some tips and tricks for how the most sophisticated games companies are thinking about using Twitter in a unique way.
Ross Sheil, Head of Mobile at Twitter EMEA, is someone passionate about working with creators and innovators in Gaming, finding the industry so compelling because of the innovators existing inside this community. Ross joined Twitter in early 2012 and has since rolled out Twitter’s first dedicated Mobile Team and Gaming Team. Ross is now leading and managing Twitter’s mobile strategy in EMEA. Ross was recently named in Business of Apps Top 10 Experts in Mobile Marketing and App Index’s Top Speakers being a regular speaker in the industry and earlier this year keynoted Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona.
Twitter is focused on building strategic partnerships with games companies across marketing, platforms and ad tech to ensure this industry is set up for success with Twitter and the gaming community flourishes.
The Savviest People in the Industry
Ross believes the most intelligent people and passionate people in the industry are driving their gaming missions forward at Twitter and is grateful for working with these teams on a daily basis. Conversely, Ross feels that the savviest marketers are seen in the gaming industry where Ross describes, “At the core games companies are expert storytellers, bringing to life their games and their characters and emotive experiences for the masses through mediums like Twitter with an unrivaled understanding of how to measure their business.”
Before joining Twitter, Ross worked very closely with developers and startups, insisting that some of the best entrepreneurs in the tech world are game developers because they think that scalability, universal fit and commercial viability of their products in at exhaustive way before going to the market. This experience has allowed Ross to hone Twitter’s core expertise in helping to build a commercial value proposition and strategy that can help games companies in achieving growth through Twitter.
Ultimately for Ross, it is exciting to be at the coal face of the gaming and mobile with their partners at the cutting edge of technology. This is where, according to Ross, he is seeing Twitter’s Gaming partners innovating in areas that have the potential to set the course for the entire game industry over for the next five years.
Crossover Between Social Games and Mobile
Ross became involved in the industry because of the demand and interest in using Twitter as a platform solution for games. Twitter is fundamentally a mobile company, so the crossover between social games and mobile was inevitable; in the past month alone, 66% of users downloaded a game.
One of the greatest rewards in his work comes through seeing how game developers use the technology Twitter is creating, including Fabric, their Unity compatible SDK. As Ross points out, “Each game developer innovates in a different way with these solutions and it’s fun to see how they embrace that and make the technology their own.”
So far, in Ross’s career what has brought him the greatest pride has been creating and launching the EMEA Mobile Team at Twitter, seeing its strategy and successful set-up to work with the largest gaming companies globally. The team’s modus operandi is to ensure that Twitter’s Gaming Partners are achieving growth and innovating with the platform and for Ross it is a privilege to work with these people each day.
The Value of Community
Ross sees the future bringing continued innovation around connectivity between social platforms and game play. Twitter’s Fabric SDK exists to drive this connectivity through allowing developers to build great apps with Twitter tools, thereby growing and monetizing their games. A big focus area for them is continued innovation around gaming communities on social platforms combined with how game developers create virality.
Ross notes that, while game developers have placed considerable emphasis on community, only a small percentage of game companies truly understand the value of community and how to measure it. Most have no viable strategy for building a community that will drive sustainability of their game in the future. Some game companies do not yet understand the relationship between paid media and community looking at viral loops; although this area is often spoken about, this is not done in a quantifiable or measurable way.
An important trend in monetization of games often spoken about in the industry is a move toward 100% monetization and the development of technology to monetize non-payers and ensure payers are not exposed to ads. Ross expects to see increasing investment in this during the next year, moving towards more automation.
As smaller companies address their monetization issues, they must recognize that it is a buyer’s market. Ross recommends, “Ensure you are having conversations with every supply side and monetization platforms to inform yourself and have a strategic view on your ad mediation waterfall and how you can best maximize your revenue yield – platforms like MoPub exist to take the pain out of this for developers and drive efficiency.”
As smaller companies address their monetization issues, they must recognize that it is a buyer’s market. Ross recommends, “Ensure you are having conversations with the largest supply side and monetization platforms to inform yourself and have a strategic view on your ad mediation waterfall and how you can best maximize your revenue yield – platforms like MoPub exist to take the pain out of this for developers and drive efficiency.”
The challenge of getting players to pay rather than becoming annoyed and quitting the game can best be met through the social environment. Ross states that personalized social environments are proven to create stickier gameplay, increase retention and boost purchasing behavior.
Partners such as Game Insight and Rovio have been innovating in this space using Twitter’s SDK Fabric Ross says, “If players are in an environment where they experience personalized game play, the game and experience become more relevant. It’s the most simple yet most effective retention tool.”
Peter Vesterbacka Co-Founder of Rovio comments that social sharing using Twitter’s platform Fabric from a technology perspective enables organic growth in their games with Anatoly Ropotov at Game Insight exclaiming ‘We wanted to do something unique with our games that could only be done with Fabric’.
Effective Tools for Mobile Marketing
Twitter is focused on developing effective tools for mobile marketing; only a couple of weeks ago launching their full ads platform Twitter Audience Platform for user acquisition and re-engagement both on and off Twitter. As Ross points out, “Twitter Audience Platform is a unique buying platform for game companies using powerful Twitter data to create stronger relevancy and native ads to ensure marketers are reaching users contextually with the right message at the right moment and at the right time to Twitter’s 310 Million MAU and over 1 Billion Unique Users across MoPub.”
Twitter is constantly iterating and investing in these tools particularly in video mobile app install combined with efficient bidding models for game developers to distribute their games at scale and drive UA.
Roman Zhdanov Marketing Director at Plarium comments, “Twitter’s impeccable targeting options allow us to acquire high LTV players for our games. With the introductory of Twitter Audience Platform, we managed to scale our acquisition efforts to new heights while at the same time use Twitter’s targeting to ensure LTV.”
Ross also talks about how Twitter’s gaming partners are building their brands and IP on Twitter, according to Ross, a strong games partner who understands how to measure brand marketing effectively is King.com. They launched an integrated marketing campaign on Twitter for the launch of their new game Candy Crush Jelly Saga, bringing to life the core character of the game the Jelly Queen through a bespoke emoji only on Twitter.
King also used promoted trends and ‘scratch reels’ where users could interact with the game live in their timeline swiping the game back and forth to emulate game play which was a media first on Twitter.
Richard Hocking, VP of performance marketing at King says Twitter has allowed the gaming brand to produce a unique way of marketing. “We wanted to celebrate the launch with a campaign that reflects the fun of the game and highlights the new features and challenges the game brings to our players,” he added. “Working with Twitter we’ve been able to find a really exciting and creative way to bring the game to life.”
Twitter handles the constantly changing technology through being very agile. Ross explains that although their mobile app promotion on Twitter is only eighteen months old at this point; they continuously iterate on the demands of the market, incorporating new native ad formats like video, more efficient targeting, such as app graph targeting, and more efficient bidding models. For example, CPI ensuring game developers can use Twitter consistent with their marketing needs as a business.
The essential element Twitter hopes to help their partners achieve is growth and according to Ross, growth is driven by the perfect storm of platform, ad tech and marketing; Twitter’s focus is to ensure the games industry achieves growth in all of these areas. Ross says, “Our mission statement at Twitter is to ensure that Games Partners can drive hyper growth, innovation and build games to last 100 years through the power of Twitter.”
In the future, Ross would like to see the game industry place stronger emphasis on holistic attribution modeling so game partners can have full funnel visibility of the path to conversion and how their marketing mix plays out in the mobile ecosystem. Ross also believes new ad tech solutions to boost retention and player loyalty will be some of the biggest trends of 2016 as game companies shift their thinking towards engagement and retention of users.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.