Playing More, Playing Differently: How Programmatic Advertising Spurs Mobile Gaming Growth

Mobile gaming lives of user acquisition and invests heavily when it comes to advertising spending.

Mobile gaming companies tend to work with a large number of ad partners at the same time. But a high number of partners doesn't determine an apps’ success in acquiring and retaining customers. A clearly laid out ad strategy focused on discoverability and retention does. We discuss how to build such a strategy.

The ever-changing playfield of mobile gaming

Getting a game noticed isn't the most straightforward task when more than 350,000 mobile games are available to download. Users are more prone to download and play games they are familiar with than totally new titles. So, putting your mobile game in front of the right users becomes the priority, and programmatic can help do just so.

On mobile, gaming is already a top spending vertical and a leading innovator, accounting for 50% of total ad spend in the industry. This means that the competition is fierce. It is not enough to put ads in front of an audience (ad fatigue and ad blindness are real). Campaigns have to be run with suitable ads sent in a scalable way to the right users at the right moment. Programmatic mobile advertising supports this meaningfully by delivering gaming ads to the audience that matter where it matters.

New mobile gamers, new habits

Users in mobile gaming have been behaving differently since 2020. New life habits influenced gaming habits. Users spend more time playing and what they play varies greatly depending on their location and demographic profile. 

Current data shows that new mobile gamers (who started playing in 2020 after Covid19 measures were put in place) are significantly younger than existing players. New players acquired post-2020 show different behaviors and differ in genre preferences, engagement, and propensity to play non-mobile games. These new mobile gamers still prefer to play solo, but they're more likely to engage with multiplayer and social features than existing players.

Familiarity became a critical factor for mobile game discovery, with only a quarter of users stating they've tried mobile games they've never heard of.

One last core difference between new and existing players is that new users are open to in-app purchases. In fact, they spend more money in-game than existing players. How to capture these players' attention? Programmatic can help.

Delivering performance with the right programmatic ad strategy

A winning strategy for mobile gaming marries user acquisition and retention. Building such a strategy starts by knowing who the players are: what categories they play, and their motivations and needs, to capture the most valuable audiences.

Ad campaigns need, therefore, to cater to both existing and new players. Capturing both groups' attention requires a different approach in how programmatic campaigns are planned, executed, and optimized. These campaigns can be run in-house if a gaming company has the expertise and resources to run it, but it's done much easier with a programmatic partner that can advise you on the correct strategy, advise on ongoing optimizations, and provide real measurable performance. At RevX, we can offer you both options, a fully managed programmatic support or access to our self-serve platform.

Avoid the churn trap by supporting user acquisition with re-engagement campaigns.

Acquiring players is only the first step in the journey to make a mobile game successful. Gamings apps show only 20 to 29% Day 1 retention rates. This percentage falls to 4 to 7% on Day 7 and 1 to 3% on Day 28. 

Acquiring users without having a retention plan in place scatters your advertising investment. With so many apps and content available on mobile, users need to be reminded and enticed back to your game often. User churn is easily prevented and minimized with app retargeting campaigns running in parallel with user acquisition. 

Retargeting campaigns also boost engagement by reminding users of the perks of playing, granting them timely offers, or showcasing in-app purchases that would allow them to progress in the game. The options are endless.

Retaining users also unlocks monetization opportunities and prolongs the players' lifetime value. Finding the best balance between acquisition and re-engagement is easy to achieve while working with the right programmatic partner.

Ad creativity matters more than ever.

Innovation and constant optimization of the creative strategy create memorable ad experiences for the users. Creating unique and high-performing ad sets requires a lot of research and analysis to identify market trends and test the audiences' response to the creatives. It’s the only way to discern what ads have the desired effect and move the results' needle.

Driving results with an ad campaign requires a large creative output to power ad campaigns for gaming. Not only do advertisers require a large number of unique creative ideas, showcasing the gameplay, the characters, or the story, but they also need many variations of each ad to entice each player segment. 

In sum, there's no perfect ad creative. Different creatives work better or worse depending on which user group is seeing them. The only way to keep ads performing is to keep testing and iterating.

Making growth in gaming sustainable with advertising

The best programmatic campaign for your mobile game is the one that is being consistently optimized and evolving based on your app's performance and business goals. Tracking CPI, CPA, and ROAS goals are relevant but must be coupled with measuring the campaigns' uplift on retention and LTV-driven KPIs.

Combining different metrics and measuring real uplift provides a more accurate picture of how well your campaigns drive incremental revenue, how valuable your users are, and how they progress down your funnel.
In sum, advertising a mobile game with programmatic wields great results when supported by the right partner. At Revx, we're ready to share our expertise and consult you on the right strategy for your app.

This article was originally published on Business of Apps.

Marta Gaspar

As a Marketing Lead, Marta manages and writes for the RevX blog. She's passionate about data-driven stories and turning ideas into prose and campaigns. A digital marketer by training and a content strategist with 11 years of experience, Marta likes to stay updated on AdTech and the Marketing world in general.