Playtika’s Marketing Director Jeet Niyogi calls it a motivating challenge to be responsible for growing their user base across the globe, and has succeeded through smart marketing, app store optimization, leveraging brand equity, and most importantly by having a great product to market.
“There is no denying the fact that if you have a well-known brand the marketing team has a leg up, but at the end of the day the game has to keep delivering new and varied aha moments for the players to keep coming back.” In a Casual Connect USA panel Jeet and professionals from GSN Games, Murka and AdColony discussed the five most important trends app install marketers need to know right now about acquiring users and growing their apps.
Jeet Niyogi is the Marketing Director for Playtika, Montreal, which makes the immensely popular and fun free-to-play poker game, World Series of Poker (WSOP). He is part of the initial team of 19 people that came to Playtika from EA, as a result of an acquisition in 2013. Now the Playtika Montreal studio is around 70 people and growing.
“It is the hard work of this nimble and innovative team in areas of game design, content production, marketing, live operations combined with the rich gaming expertise that lies within Playtika is what has led us to being the #1 downloaded and #1 grossing poker game in the U.S. and many other countries,” detailed Jeet.
“The significant growth in our user base, the consistently high rating (4.5+) of the WSOP game, and our regular presence in roughly the mid-30s or so in the overall U.S. top grossing chart is a strong testament to the studio’s hard work and data-driven decisions,” he added.
“We are about to launch the WSOP bracelets in our game, which I believe will become the most sought after collectible in the social casino gaming world. We are allowing people to fulfill their dream of winning exquisitely designed virtual WSOP bracelets, without having to fly to Vegas! It is extremely competitive to win one, as it is performance-driven, and cannot just be bought from any store. But what I believe is the most exciting part is the journey – the path to winning a bracelet is studded with the opportunity to win 10 collector’s chips. The players are rewarded even for the smaller wins on their path to winning a poker player’s biggest dream win. I am super stoked about this launch”, mentioned Jeet when asked about the latest thing that is brewing at the WSOP studio.
Product Marketing at Oracle/Autodesk
Jeet got his break into product marketing at Oracle, where he learned about how to launch a product, pricing strategies, positioning and far more. He refined his skills at Autodesk, managing the marketing team for 3D solutions for Maya and 3ds Max. Jeet also refined his leadership skills, budget management expertise, public speaking, and PR communications skills at Autodesk.
“In my last year at the company, as a Game Industry Senior Manager, I felt that Autodesk’s products, although dominant in the core/console gaming space, needed that extra strategic push to improve adoption in the mobile/casual gaming space,” said Jeet. “As part of a growth opportunity and to stake our presence more heavily in the mobile gaming space, I laid the foundation for a highly targeted initiative for the mobile world, which was very well appreciated by the sales organization at the time.”
“Coincidentally, it was in my last year at Autodesk as a part of this effort to grow in the mobile gaming space that I had brought part of my team to Casual Connect 2012, which I believe was the last edition in Seattle,” he added. “I loved that Casual Connect experience. Just a bit of fun yet nostalgic piece of trivia!”
Learn as Much as You Can
A combined love for technology, marketing and games in general pushed Jeet towards his current career path. A Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and a Marketing MBA thereafter laid the foundation of his analytical, planning, communication, and creative skills. On top of that, Jeet is a big believer in building relationships and thought leadership, which helps him in getting early access to new technologies, new formats, negotiations, an in striking deals that are mutually beneficial for all parties involved.
When asked about what someone should do to pursue a similar career, Jeet responded, “The first advice would be to immerse oneself in as much as industry knowledge as is possible. It is incredible how much good information associations like CGA, or the Casual Connect repository of lectures can provide to a beginner in this industry,” he said. “Speaking to industry experts can also shed a ton of light about the challenges one faces on a day-to-day basis and at a macro level. It is always good to prepare a few questions and seek meetings with industry experts to get opinions about their work and the industry in general. Most industry experts that I know will do it obligingly in this industry.”
“Also, I’m a big believer that the best way to learn about the fit and marriage with a studio or genre of a game is to seek internships in those areas of interest before committing fully, if and when possible,” he noted.
Poker, Like Love, is the Universal Language
Playtika offers some of the top downloaded social casino hits such as Slotomania, Bingo Blitz, House of Fun, Caesars Slots and World Series of Poker (WSOP). Jeet along with the team has helped push the World Series of Poker app to significantly grow its daily active user base and revenue. Apart from using all the marketing levers available, what also helped in doing that was leveraging the highly recognized World Series of Poker brand for the free-to-play social poker game.
“We use the iconic poker chip in our logo. We use the brand name in our title. In most of our creatives we use elements that reflect the high quality, authenticity, and class that is associated with the World Series of Poker,” detailed Jeet. “At the same time, we completely differentiate our game from real-money gaming, as we are a free-to-download virtual currency social poker app. I think we have successfully married the seriousness and authenticity of the WSOP poker brand with the fun, rich and exciting content and gameplay that is associated with Playtika, which today is the leader bar none in the social casino gaming space.”
Another benefit for the WSOP app is that the rules are so universally known across the world. The rules of poker transcend language and make for something appealing to users in all parts of the world. “We localize and culturalize most of our marketing elements from advertising to app store pages in many languages but the game itself today is available in English only,” he said. “We do know how important it is for us to localize and culturalize our game in some countries, if not all, and we continuously evaluate this aspect, and will surely make the right moves when the time is right for us.”
The WSOP app is a multi-player live-operations game and thus data points on user acquisition and player behavior are crucial to keep it going and growing. Jeet’s team regularly monitors cohort revenue, retention metrics and a host of other KPIs to optimize the marketing campaigns. They also keep track of the organic baseline and corresponding changes due to their campaigns whenever measurable. These are all important elements that they monitor to guide the WSOP marketing team’s decision making.
“First and foremost, ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) is one of the most critical data points that we monitor from an install date cohort point of view for each campaign. LTV of user cohorts by platform and by country is also a key element in determining what is working and what is not,” he detailed. “These are just some of the most important elements, but on top of it there are many granular KPIs that my team monitors diligently on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.”
Grow with Success, Learn from Failure
Jeet loves it that there are new challenges all the time with his position at Playtika. He also loves the fact that his team gets to manage an international marketing portfolio that stretches across the globe for a game that is starting to be recognized almost everywhere in the world.
“I have been given a clean palette of growing the user base across the globe and this challenge of creating the right marketing mix for the right platform in the relevant country is extremely motivating,” Jeet said. “The biggest thing about mobile marketing is that most initiatives are measurable, which helps me put more effort on the successes and learn from my failures.”
“I work with an excellent set of individuals within my team and a great group of individuals as peers alongside. We are a hungry team of constant experimenters and quick learners regardless of our experience, background, age, or diversity. That is a key element of this studio which, when coupled with the excellent leadership, knowledge sharing, and experience of the entire Playtika organization, synthesizes into this highly impactful and fruitful combination,” he concluded.
David Radd is a staff writer for GameSauce.biz. David loves playing video games about as much as he enjoys writing about them, martial arts and composing his own novels.