Churn rate has become one of the most feared metrics for any freemium game. Developers must be continuously feeding the funnel in order to maintain a stable level of revenues. Once this ‘formula’ works, which may take many game alterations until it is achieved, developers will be able to scale their user base with higher marketing budgets. This means that the user acquisition strategies and marketing budget is always needed in order to keep a game alive.Even if you are not scaling it due to the fact of churn.
Due to the rise of the user acquisition cost across all platforms and the increase of competition means that in many cases it is no longer feasible. Developers are also struggling when trying to scale their user base. However, the market consolidation is dissipating the negative appeal around in-app purchases while developers are mastering freemium mechanics to increase their LTV. Providing a better and meaningful player experiences and increasing the production value.
Nowadays user acquisition managers should diversify their strategies to feed and scale games on all platforms which may be different depending on the platform. CPI prices can grow exponentially when running campaigns within a single network which justifies the fact of diversifying the campaign networks when scaling to keep CPI lower than LTV.
Social user acquisition channels
Social games resides on social platforms and these platforms make sure that their marketing tools are the best performing ones. This situation ties developers to just one acquisition channel, such as Facebook Ads in this case. The social network is the dominant player in terms of acquisition with their AdExchange service for publishers. It’s true that there are other acquisition solutions inside the Facebook environment such as Trialpay, that could be relevant if you are able to target the correct audience. Moreover, the rise of the Smartphone has been a game changer in the social gaming industry giving developers a new set of tools and opportunities to scale their games beyond Facebook Ads.
Mobile user acquisition channels
Nevertheless, Facebook Ads is doing a great job in the mobile advertising space which now represents the majority of their revenues. Their targeting tools and as they are one of the most used apps on mobile devices puts them in a noteworthy position as an acquisition channel for game developers. In addition, the demand for mobile ad inventory is far larger than Facebook can support. Users are not only present on social networks. Consequently, there are also other mobile advertising solutions and platforms which we should also consider since Twitter, Google and other ad-networks have entered the mobile app install market. These platforms are creating new advertising formats and better advertising products that are really appealing to explore, such as Twitter Mobile Install or Video Ads.
Offline user acquisition channels
The market consolidation and Smartphone penetration has led also to offline advertising such as TV. The success of gaming companies such as King which have used television advertising serves as an indicator that mobile games can be grown with brand campaigns. Brand marketing gives developers exposure to previously inaccessible customers through performance marketing. There are users that can only be reached through TV advertising as they are not used to playing games on their mobile devices. If the LTV of the game can afford these CAC, TV ads can be an important acquisition channel for growth. Not only for growth, TV ads could also be important for re-engagement as you can reactivate dead players who have played your game months or even years ago. Subsequently building trust with players as they are more confident to pay for a product that appears on TV.
Furthermore, performance marketing remains the most profitable and efficient solution for the majority of game developers. Offline marketing such as TV, radio, SEO, PR, etc. campaigns should be seen as reinforcement of the performance campaigns to create new gamers. Social game developers could learn from the performance marketing strategies of real money gaming operators. RMG operators used to work on CPA basis and they needed to master their techniques and tools as real money gaming advertising is forbidden in many platforms depending on the country. This makes RMG acquisition managers ‘the kings’ of performance marketing where social game marketers are a step above. The big advantage of social gaming marketers is that they can apply all these techniques learnt from RMG in any advertising platforms, helping them scale and diversifying their marketing campaigns.
Online user acquisition channels
There are infinite conventional display ad-networks which can be used for growth. As these networks work on CPM or CPC basis they can be a double-edge sword. If you find the best ad-network for your audience and keep a daily control on optimisation they can be more profitable than other performance solutions. If you don’t target your audience properly and don’t optimise the creativities and landing pages it can convert into a waste of money.
Other marketing solutions which is being discussed on the social/mobile space over the past months is affiliate marketing. Affiliates are becoming more relevant in the mobile and social space as they can be a really flexible channel which allows developers to target their audience and pay based on performance. This model can give you quality players, however it requires a lot of management and integrations (SDKs, pixels, reporting tools, etc.).
In conclusion, mobile platforms is the growth engine for the social casino industry and its presence and market consolidation makes all known advertising channels fit into the marketing strategy for mobile games. Facebook Ads is definitely a good option but it is only one piece of the puzzle. Big ad-networks, affiliates and big web portals have suffered from the migration of their user base from web to mobile and must make a move to adapt to the mobile app strategy. This move, which in my personal opinion has come too late for many of them, creates market equilibrium and makes any acquisition channel as effective as on web portals.