By Marina Sapunova, Marketing Content Manager, yellowHEAD
At Casual Connect Kyiv last month, yellowHEAD hosted an insightful panel titled “Accelerating Your Game Growth into 2020 with Key UA Techniques”. The participants were Javier Castro of Google, Jan Chichlowski of Vivid Games, and Alex Keselman of AppsFlyer.
During the panel, they discussed the future of user acquisition, the impact of app store optimization, the growing role of creatives, and the major changes that happened this year which will influence UA strategy in the future. They also touched on the constant challenge of rising CPIs and shared strategical approaches on how to overcome it and get set for growth moving forward into 2020.
The role of AI and machine-learning technologies with predictive algorithms were particularly in the spotlight of the conversation. A lot of insider information was shared by Google regarding Universal App Campaigns, how to adapt to the shift of all mobile app install campaigns coming together under one umbrella, and what to expect from this change.
It was a unique opportunity for the audience to get a 360° view of the industry and learn from the experts on how to overcome the current UA challenges, while seeking innovative ways to fuel app growth going into the near future.
By devtodev analysts, Vera Karpova and Vasiliy Sabirov
Currently, product analytics reached a sufficiently high level of development. Many analytical systems are equipped with a variety of tools that will tell in detail how users behave in the application: when they buy, where they live, how much they cost for the company and how they leave.
These tools have become a part of daily life, regular monitoring; assistants in the decision-making process – now it is a must-have for any project.
Funnels and segments don’t surprise anybody anymore, and as in any other business, having reached the top of one reveals a will to go further and improve.
In this regard, the sphere of analytics is no exception, and in the past few years a new kind of data analysis – predictive analytics – began to develop.
You’ll also have an idea of predictive analytics, if you monitor the metrics on a daily or even hourly basis.
For example, you know that usually at 12 a.m. there are about 20,000 users in your game, and today this indicator is much lower. It equals 15,000 users. You understand that there is a trend for decline, which means that it is necessary to find the cause as soon as possible and improve the situation before the indicator falls even more.
Analytics in most cases is simply the monitoring of key metrics: DAU, MAU, WAU, ARPU, ARPPU and other abbreviations. Basic analytics metrics represent the 20% of the functional of analytic systems, which provide 80% of the result.
But are these 80% enough?
If not, then our article is for you. We will talk about some of the metrics that are also worthwhile to keep in mind if you want to fully understand all the processes that occur in your application.
So, users start to use your application. You measure the number of new users (New Users), the total number of users on a particular date (Total Users). You calculate the price to attract users (CPI), the effectiveness of your investment (ROI).
But in order to start the flow of traffic from the partner, first you have to find a partner, sign the contract (agreement with lawyers is often not so fast to be done), integrate and agree on everything. That is to spend both time and money either to pay your employees or on one-time payment to the partner (this also happens). Therefore we recommend to calculate not only the usual CPI, but also the effective cost of user acquisition (eCPI), which includes all third-party costs.
Accordingly, it is better to calculate ROI by putting eCPI in the denominator. Thus, you get eROI. And it may well be so, that on the basis of eCPI and eROI you choose completely different partners.
Ilyon has only been on the scene since 2013, but they already have over 40 titles and are continuing to see strong user acquisition and retention growth every month among their various titles. The company, which was started by four former Israeli military officers who worked on their game projects at home, has since grown to 40 employees with an office in Israel.
The company started around a simple bubble-shooter game with only one game mode which Ilyon COO Ilya Molo says had a “total respectable” 2M downloads. They then took the feedback and data they received from that game and worked on it full-time to improve it. The resulting changes led to 1000% growth in downloads and revenue. Today, the same app has more than 14M downloads.
Ilyon has continuously used this model to grow: Reinvesting in its games as it reaches new thresholds – creating new levels, hiring new designers, adding game modes and improving in-app purchases. Additionally, they create special bubble-shooter apps to take advantage of current events such as the Olympics or holidays.
'You need to make sure you have the best people and trust in them to deliver.' - Zain JafferClick To Tweet
Join top execs from Ketchapp, Smule and Vungle as they explore their most successful strategies for acquiring and building mobile audiences during a panel at Casual Connect USA. The panelists which included Zain Jaffer, CEO of Vungle, examined how they each use data to plan and optimize their user acquisition campaigns. They talked about how in-app video plays an increasingly larger part in marketing in the games industry. If your focus is on user acquisition and increasing the LTV of your users, tune in on this discussion.
Harish Thimmappa, vice president of mobile user acquisition of SupersonicAds, has worked on many acquisition and marketing campaigns throughout his career. Prior to joining SupersonicAds, Thimmappa was vice president of sales at Playnomics, a predictive marketing and targeting platform. He was also the director of app advertising sales for InMobi, where he led performance advertising sales. He shares ways to find success in campaigns in this article.
The mobile monetization market is growing faster than ever! New figures site the growth scaling to $70B by 2017. It’s a good, old-fashioned gold rush, and there’s a fortune to be made. To get the big bucks though, you’re going to need a sophisticated “sifter,” and you’ll need to sift through a lot of sand and rocks to find the gold. How, you may ask? The first step is user acquisition. User acquisition is the single most important step after creating a ‘good app’.
Discovery has forever been the bugbear of the mobile app ecosystem. In its current state, an app store’s ranking (top free, top paid and top grossing) has a phenomenal impact on whether you have a hit on your hands or a dud.
There are two prevailing processes of user acquisition at the moment: burst and sustained campaigns. You burst when you want to climb up the ranking charts and amass a bunch of users, then switch to sustained campaigns to focus on acquiring ROI positive campaigns. There are several means for the developer to do either, namely: incentivized advertising, banner/interstitial display advertising, video advertising, social media, and traditional means such as billboards, TV, and radio.
Both sustained and burst advertising processes are important to maximize profitable distribution of an app. What is more important is to choose the right strategy at the right life stage of the application. The genre of the app (casual game, core game, lifestyle app, etc.) determines the onset of the stages, and the timing of the launch (holiday season, launched in conjunction with a movie release, back to school period, etc.) will determine the intensity of user acquisition in each of these phases.
Broadly, an app (like most other products) goes through three stages: launch, sustain, and sunset.
A smartly executed burst campaign can deliver positive ROI directly by putting the app in front of a large number of audiences, or indirectly, by make the app easy to discover by getting to the top of the charts.
Launching an App: The most important phase of app distribution is when it is initially made available in the app store. Developers can leverage the novelty of the app, try to get featured by the app stores, and seed the audience to talk about it. They can also employ a burst campaign (a short term, massive push) to push the app into the top of the app store. A smartly executed burst campaign can deliver positive ROI directly by putting the app in front of a large number of audiences, or indirectly, by make the app easy to discover by getting to the top of the charts. Here is a good way to look at it:
Advertising ROI = Sum of LTV of users acquired – Cost of Ads bought + Sum of LTV of organic users derived from the campaign
For this phase, developers should focus on incentivized advertising to drive volume, and support it with display or video advertising. A typical marketing mix could be 70 percent incentivized advertising, 20 percent display, 10 percent video advertising.
The key is to remember that there is no such thing as a bad user, every user is valuable – at the right price.
Sustaining an App: After the first few weeks or month, you will likely enter a phase when the app has stabilized at a natural position in the app store, the LTV prediction models have increased in accuracy, the game balance is stable. Now you’ll want to maintain this stability and acquire ROI positive users. You now have to focus more on social channels for UA, display/video advertising, and complimented with required volume of Incentivized Advertising. Having invested in user profiling, and predicting the LTV, you should price UA to match value. The key is to remember that there is no such thing as a bad user, every user is valuable – at the right price. Typical Marketing mix could be 20% Incentivized advertising, 30% Display, 50% Video advertising.
Sunset Phase: Though varying greatly, every app enters a stage where profitable UA starts to become difficult, and development muscle moves on to the next app. You can now let the UA be driven by a specific set of rules and channels. Cash flow also becomes very important.
Developers should now focus exclusively on low volume, low price, positive ROI channels. A typical marketing mix here could be: 40 percent social, 40 percent display, 20 percent incentivized ads, 0 percent video.
Ultimately, the genre of the app, the life stage of the app, and the timing of the launch should determine the user acquisition strategies.
“The framework for analysis that I use when I go into any game is taking a look at what is the metric that is suffering the most right now that can contribute the most to my gross revenue,” Roxanne Gibert told her audience during her session, Monetization Toolkit: Tuning Game Design Using Analytics, at Casual Connect USA.
Roxanne Gibert is a Product Manager of User Acquisition for DeNA. She is currently working on driving new viral, cross-promo, and user acquisition targeting features for the Mobage platform.She believes the biggest challenge the games industry currently faces is becoming truly cross-platform and finding new distribution sources outside of the social networks. The industry needs to create new networks that can connect developers with distribution sources other than Facebook and the Apple store.
Her previous experience as a developer with an emphasis on user behavior analytics will help her create more seamless discovery experiences for players on the Mobage platform.
In Roxanne’s free time, she enjoys spending time with various activities around San Francisco, a city where she loves living. She takes urban hikes through the city or Golden Gate Park, explores the restaurants and lounges and drives around Lake Tahoe and Napa Valley. She also enjoys wine tasting, playing poker, and cooking for her friends and family. She occasionally likes to dabble with playing the piano and guitar.
When you realize what flying blind really looks like, you want to find the answers, and the process of coming up with those solutions is really enlightening.
Analytics from Scratch
When Roxanne tells us about the greatest moments of her career, she describes starting a mobile gaming studio two years ago. They published a midcore strategy game that wound up hitting Top Ten Strategy in US and Canada, and they make their own analytics platform. She describes this time as an incredible learning experience.
Creativity vs. Data
The biggest challenge Roxanne has had in her career was trying to merge a culture of creative design with a metric-driven business strategy. Although she doesn’t claim to have overcome this challenge without a few bumps in the road, she did learn how to merge the two over time.She tells us, “This process led me down the path of diving really deeper into user behavior analytics and forecasting than I had in my career. When you realize what flying blind really looks like, you want to find the answers, and the process of coming up with those solutions is really enlightening.”
Roxanne believes the next important trend in the games industry will emerge as Android opens up a whole new way of looking at app development and discovery. She says, “I am excited to see how developers grow on Android.”