Oliver Kern offered a bit of advice to those listening at Casual Connect Europe: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first launch of your product, you have launched too late.”
Oliver Kern, Founder of Target Gamers, reports that it is business as usual for his company in 2014, which means exciting challenges and new companies to help kick start their marketing. Kern has his own project, a platform called Tinyloot, that he is working on with a few game industry veterans and techies. With Tinyloot, they are attempting to solve one of the key challenges facing mobile developers who self-publish as they move to advertise their games; they take all the risk and are easy prey for hundreds of networks that do not care about the game and add nothing of value to the campaigns. Kern expects that in 2014, he will have more information about Tinyloot’s solution.
At Target Gamers, Kern works with a number of promising mobile game startup companies in Europe to help them kick-start their marketing activities. His goal is to make them successful and Target Gamers wants to as fast as possible. To do this, he carefully picks what companies he will work with, then puts together a good strategy and builds a lean, efficient marketing team. He does not believe in the publisher-developer model or in outsourcing marketing. He insists, “The proven model is to have marketing, product management, and development close together. That is even more important when your game is a service where both parties need to work hard to improve flow, engagement, virality, retention, and monetization.
Data Helping Marketing
Currently, Kern is staying abreast of the emerging information on how behavioral data can help with user targeting. He is now working with partners who are experimenting with tracking behavior and enriching user profiles with third party data. However, he emphasizes, “Much as I like useful data, like in-game behavior, there is much more to good marketing than uncreative user acquisition with spreadsheets and tables.”
The proudest moment of Kern’s career came when he was Head of Marketing at Jagex and they had just published their first third party game, War of Legends. Before launch, there were serious doubts about his business plan and its projected revenues and ROI. Those doubts quickly changed to “How can we grow faster?” and Kern says, “Yeah, that felt good!”
Mobile and Big Screen Gaming
Away from work, Kern spends as much time as possible with his wife and five-year-old son. He also loves reading and playing games. Currently, he is playing Samurai Siege on his iPhone; in spite of having just been raided two million Essence, he still loves the game. He enjoys trying out new things in Space Ape’s game, such as new tournament modes.
As Kern considers the game industry as a whole for the next few years, he believes that accessible big screen gaming will still have a large impact, even though Ouya and Gamestick failed to break through. He maintains, “Once the novelty of the current console generation wears off, it leaves room for innovation and disruption. Then, I expect a second wave. But it will need a large company like Apple, Samsung, or Amazon for this to really become main stream.”