Your guide to mobile game marketing in 2022: Key insights and best practices
In 2020, requirements to stay at home 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. These trends continued into 2021 and 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped the past few years in unpredictable ways and mobile marketers have had to prove their adaptability by remodeling their overall strategy. In this guide, we cover how the mobile gaming industry has been reshaped and share best practices for marketing mobile games in 2022 and beyond.
Mobile gaming in 2022: the story so far
Adjust’s Hyper Casual Gaming Report showed the extent to which the demand for mobile games increased in 2020, with hyper casual leading the way. Comparing the last week of March in 2019 and 2020, we 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-to-date for app installs.
The story didn’t stop there — and isn’t all about installs. As mobile gaming stayed popular in 2021, spending increased. In fact, by December of 2021 player spending had increased by 12.6 percent year-over-year. Despite this increase in spending, mobile games accounted for 67.4 percent of all in-app spending in 2021, a decrease from 71.7 percent in 2020, which says more about just how much people were spending in-app than about mobile gaming’s popularity.
Hyper casual games and the future of mobile gaming
An IronSource report showed that growth for mobile game revenue was increasing year-over-year despite a decline in year-over-year growth for installs. 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.
What is mobile game marketing?
Mobile game marketing takes many forms, but generally the goal is to increase installs and player spending. With downloads and spending on the rise, it may sound like your job as a mobile game marketer is easier than ever — but competition is fierce. In late 2021, Netflix entered the gaming market, and drove more than 8 million downloads by the end of January 2022. With competition ramping up, it’s more important than ever to have a strategy to find and keep users.
In order to achieve these goals, mobile game marketers must take a holistic approach — focusing on user acquisition, in-app user experience, and engagement and retention efforts. By not hyper-focusing on UA, marketers can make sure the users they have spent time and money acquiring stay engaged longer and ultimately have higher LTV. With that in mind, let’s explore the different facets of mobile game marketing.
What is the target for mobile games?
The first step in planning any marketing strategy is understanding your audience. Mobile gamers are an increasingly diverse group. Not only do they span the globe, but since 2020 the age groups interested in gaming are more varied.
In 2020, 32.7% of mobile gamers were, predictably, between the ages of 25 and 34 but the number of older gamers increased significantly. In fact, the number of gamers aged 45 and up increased by 17% year over year. Additionally, MMA research found that 70% of women play mobile games.
New habits formed during the early days of lockdown have persisted into 2022. The potential audience for mobile games is bigger and more diverse than ever. It’s up to you to find the right fit for your game, and target that audience with the right messaging.
Mobile game marketing: User acquisition
The 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 2022.
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.
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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
- Gameplay trailer
A great example of how to present your game with a landing page is PUBG 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, PUBG 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 2022
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.
- 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.
- Playable ads: This ad format has been voted the most effective in-app ad format by US agency 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.
- 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: influencer marketing grew 42% year-over-year in 2021. The current increase in DAU on gaming platforms such as Twitch also makes influencer marketing a significant way to advertise your app.
Using automation tools to streamline marketing performance
73 percent of businesses are using automation tools, and this figure is set to increase as these 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 impacts better data and automation 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.