Blog Your guide to mobile game marketing in 2020: Key insights and best practices

Your guide to mobile game marketing in 2020: Key insights and best practices

In 2020, requirements to stay at home have led to more time spent using the internet and a greater need for online entertainment. For example, games broadcasting service Twitch saw a 19.7 percent rise in daily traffic from January to March, while social network TikTok’s DAU (daily active users) increased by 15.4 percent. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped 2020 in unpredictable ways and mobile marketers have had to prove their adaptability by remodelling their overall strategy. In this guide, we cover how the mobile gaming industry has taken shape in 2020 and share best practices for marketing mobile games for the remainder of the year.

Mobile game marketing in 2020: the story so far

Last year, TechCrunch reported that mobile games account for 33 percent of all downloads, 74 percent of consumer spend and 10 percent of app usage. However, verticals have not suffered equally from the global pandemic and gaming has seen a considerable increase in installs in 2020.

Adjust’s Hyper Casual Gaming Report shows the extent to which the demand for mobile games has increased this year, with Hyper-casual leading the way. Comparing the last week of March in 2019 and 2020, this year saw a dramatic increase of 132 percent more installs. Mobile gaming apps also saw a 47 percent increase in sessions and a 75 percent increase in installs for Q1. In one single week in March 2020, users globally downloaded an astounding 1.2 billion mobile games - the biggest week ever for app installs.

Hyper-casual games and the future of mobile gaming

A recent IronSource report revealed what to expect for hyper-casual games in 2020 and beyond. The data showed that growth for mobile game revenue was increasing year-over-year despite a decline in year-over-year growth for installs. Whether the surge in installs related to COVID-19 lockdown measures will outlast the pandemic is yet to be seen. After the meteoric rise of hyper-casual games in 2018, this genre of games has seen “an average of 17.6 million daily installs, which represents 12.5 percent of total game installs.” the report shows that “almost 80 percent of the install growth in the industry is driven by hyper-casual games.” However the next challenge for the genre, will be sustainability and growth prospects once social distancing eases.

Mobile game marketing in 2020: User acquisition

This year’s increase in app usage presents several opportunities to market mobile games. In this section, we will cover key insights and best practices that will help you reach your targets for 2020.

Your aim as a marketer is to drive installs and generate revenue but users are less likely to install if your app isn’t properly displayed in the App Store or on the web. Optimizing these steps can generate more users and ensure that you are getting the most out of your campaign efforts.

App Store Optimization (ASO): This is a cost-effective way to attract organic users and streamline the user journey for paid user acquisition. ASO is the practice of optimizing your app’s entry into the App Store and Google Play Store, including:

  • Keywords in your app’s name and description
  • Localizing content
  • Selecting appropriate primary and secondary app categories
  • Engaging and communicative screenshots and video trailers

Including video is particularly important for mobile games as this will give the user a taste of your gameplay. Many mobile games, particularly hyper-casual games, have gameplay that is satisfying to watch so this is also a great way to generate interest from organic users. This should also be uploaded to your YouTube channel. To see examples of what works well, take a look at some of the best performing games in the App Store and the Google Play Store, such as Roblox, Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans.

You need to regularly update your ASO and include any updates to your game in the description. For everything you need to know, read our ASO ebook and this ASO breakdown.

Landing page: This is a one-page website where customers can learn more about your game. The details on what should be shown will be different for each game, but to get the most out of your landing page you must include the following:

  • Links to the App Store and Google Play Store
  • Game’s promo video
  • A call to action
  • Screenshots
  • Gameplay trailer
  • Reviews

A great example of how to present your game with a landing page is PUGB Mobile’s official website. This page displayed all of the essential information and uses the game’s design as a major selling point. In January 2020, PUGB topped the gaming charts for overall revenue.**

If you are a new startup and haven’t set up any campaigns, ensure your game’s presentation in the App Store and your landing page are fully optimized before implementation. These components of your overall strategy also need to be regularly updated to reflect changes in your game.

You can also use your landing page to collect customer contact information. If you are pre-launch, this can be used to create an email list and reach interested customers when your app is ready to install. This can also be used to inform users of updates to your app, potentially bringing churned users back to your game. You can also measure the results of your email marketing campaigns and optimize for better results further down the line.

3 ad formats for targeting gamers in 2020

According to Tapjoy, mobile gamers are more than far more likely to pay attention to ads in mobile games (41%) than on the web (17%), in print magazines (15%) or billboards (15%). This presents an opportunity for you to engage users that have an interest in trying your app.

  1. Video ads: Just like your ASO and landing page, video pairs well with mobile gaming ads. Your product has been designed to be visually appealing, so it makes sense to use this to your advantage with video ads. It is also more difficult to convey the user experience for a mobile game with static ads.
  2. Playable ads: This ad format has been voted the most effective in-app ad format by U.S. professionals and is a great way to drive installs for mobile games. Rewarded ads allow customers to play a section of your game. This try-before-you-buy approach to advertising is likely to lower churn rate because those who download your app will have a very clear expectation before they install.
  3. Rewarded video ads: This ad type is a gamification format where users can choose to view your ad and receive in-game rewards for their time. For example, a user can be rewarded in-game currency for watching a 30-second ad. Video ad network Unity Ads describes rewarded videos as the “hottest revenue generator” on the market, and studies show that this is a smart way to attract users. For example, OpenX found that 77 percent of users would watch a 30-second ad if they were rewarded with a discount. A study by TapJoy found that 76 percent of US mobile gamers prefer opt-in rewarded ads to mandatory ads.

Your campaign performance will also be determined by the type of game you are advertising. For example, hyper-casual gamers watch twice as many ads as other gamers and download 10x more games. If you have more than one app, you should also cross-promote both of your products with in-app ads. As the publisher and advertiser, this is one of the best ways to monetize mobile games and provide insight into your users’ preferences. To learn more about the ad formats available to mobile marketers and their uses, read our guide.

Harnessing social media to build your gaming community

Social media is a great way to connect with your audience and build a community. In 2019, the average user spent 136 minutes on social media every day. It is therefore essential to be active on social media and ensure your game has a presence in the online spaces where gamers spend their time. Here are four key ways in which you should be utilizing social media for mobile games marketing:

  • Requesting (and responding to) user feedback
  • Answering user questions and comments
  • Sharing user-generated content to build a community
  • Sharing trailers and teasers for cost-effective way to spread awareness

Using social media as part of your overall strategy enables you to generate interest and excitement while also adding a social element to your user experience. For example, Angry Birds’ official Facebook page hosts competitions and shares promotional material so users can connect with the brand.

It’s also important to integrate social media platforms with your app. This makes it easier for users to share context related to your game, such as a high score, on their social media account. This is free exposure for your app and is another way to build a community for your game. Integrating social media platforms into your app also means you can analyze trends and stay ahead of your competition.

You also need to consider influencer marketing as a part of your overall strategy: 65 percent of influencer marketing budgets are expected to have increased in 2020 and 17 percent of companies are spending over half their marketing budget on influencers. The current increase in DAU on gaming platforms such as Twitch also makes influencer marketing a significant way to advertise your app in 2020.

Using automation tools to streamline marketing performance

68 percent of businesses are using automation in some way and this figure will increase as automation tools become more sophisticated – and marketers learn ways in which they can be useful to their campaign management. Automation tools enable mobile marketers to optimize their tasks by delegating menial tasks and allowing more time for data analysis and strategy.

Adjust's Director of Client Success, Americas, Melissa Coleman, has outlined some of the significant,changes this will have on the mobile marketing industry. Melissa explains that marketers currently “handle dozens of channels, switching between tools while trying to unify disparate sources of data” but notes that “a range of new marketing automation tools, with their abilities to automate a range of repetitive tasks, are expected to change the way marketers work forever.” Automation can save you time and allow you to focus on the creative tasks that will help you reach your targets.

For more information on paid UA, read our Paid User Acquisition Guide. You may also be interested in reading our Back to Basics guide for mobile marketers.

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