The last couple of years have seen rapid advances in the field of the mobile game market. The growing popularity of this industry has also implied the vertiginous increase in a cut-throat competition. For this reason, more than ever, developers need an effective mobile game advertising strategy for succeeding in their user acquisition campaign and standing out in the crowded mobile game market.
But what do we mean by user acquisition? User acquisition is the essential process through which app developers can acquire as many users as possible to break through the field of mobile game apps. It is not only a matter of quantity, though. It is also a matter of quality: app developers should always try to aim at the so-called “high-quality” users, those who perform more in-app events, and generate revenues.
Here comes the difference between paid user acquisition and organic acquisition. In fact, the former can provide you with high-quality users through marketing channels, ads and marketing activities that prompt potential users to install your app, while the latter – organic acquisition – happens spontaneously and is based on users’ decision to download your mobile game app.
Having said that, the purpose of this article is to highlight the key factors for a good mobile game advertising strategy in 2023, so that you can learn the ropes and corner the market!
Key Elements in User Acquisition for Mobile Games
App developers who want to launch their user acquisition campaign cannot but start from who might be their potential users. In a field of millions and millions of mobile gamers, part of a diverse group of people worldwide, marketers need first to be a bit more specific to identify the right target audience depending on the mobile game genre and other features.
The 2023 digital landscape will still be marked by the ATT and IDFA system, the privacy regulation that Apple imposed in the summer of 2021. Before privacy overturned the mobile game market, behavioral targeting was the dominating system both on Apple and Android. Advertisers were able to track users through their apps, collecting data based on their behaviors to build accurate user profiles.
In contextual marketing, on the other hand, ads are displayed to users based on the app’s context. In mobile game apps, the context consists of some data that can be extracted from the app itself: the app name, the app category in the store, the time of the device, the device itself, and other info about the current session.
IPs will represent a big part in UA for mobile games
Another piece of information that proves to be very useful for developers to identify the right target audience for your mobile game promotion in 2023 and user acquisition campaign is the IPs.
Standing for “Internet Protocol,” the IP address is associated with each user while they are navigating on the Internet. It is the net identifying address depending also on users’ location. For instance, app developers can optimize mobile game user acquisition based on the top performing IPs.
Set Your Mobile Game KPIs
Finally, developers need to establish their Key Performance Indicators – KPIs – in other words, measurement indicators at the basis of your user acquisition and mobile game promotion strategy to constantly keep track of your performance results and have a deep insight into the actual profitability of your game and the quality of your users.
The most common metrics are ROAS (Return on Ad Spend), ROI (Return on Investment), CPI (Cost Per Install) and LTV (Lifetime Value).
Mobile Game Advertising and Monetization Goals
One of the most important events in the last decade – in 2011 - was probably the revolutionary shift from paid mobile game apps to free-to-play mobile games where users do not pay to download and can play for free.
Because of the harsh economic conditions we are expecting, free-to-play and free-to-download mobile game apps will be increasingly popular in 2023. On the other hand, app developers must find off-the-wall monetization methods and match them with their mobile game genre if they want to face financial efforts.
What app developers can monetize is, in fact, gamers’ exposure to the ads displayed inside their apps. On one hand, in-app advertising for developers works as a monetization strategy, while users can pay with “money they may not have” – their time and attention to the ads displayed. Furthermore, measurement indicators and performance analysis are there to help developers optimize advertising operations.
In-app advertising is typically matched with hyper-casual games, convenient and easy-to-play gaming options. With short-length sessions they are immediately playable and appealing even to those who are not familiar with the world of mobile games. For this reason, in-app advertising seems to be the best monetization model. Non-habitual players are typically less likely to make purchases inside a mobile game app.
In-app purchases, on the other hand, consist of microtransactions and in-game purchases players tend to make to receive consumable or permanent items or boost to accelerate the game. Users can still download and play the app for free but need to pay for extra content.
Sure, in-app purchases work best only with engaged players that are prone to spend money inside the app for items or game boosts. Even so, in-app purchases in mobile game apps may give rise to controversial issues – especially, as regards the resemblance of this model to a pay-to-win monetization strategy where the more players pay, the more likely they can win.
Mixed Monetization Models
It is not so easy to find the best monetization model overall. What you may find is the best match between the game category, target audience, and monetization model. However, you can even combine more monetization models in one of the most effective solutions: the hybrid monetization model.
While in-app purchases will leverage the payers among all your players, in-app advertising will leverage the non-payers and less typical users. But don't forget that you should choose only one monetization model as the main one while leaving the other as an additional part to monetize as many players as possible.
Play & Own Model
One of the latest evolutions in free-to-play mobile games for 2023 is the rise of Play and Own (P&O) where developers allow users to play for free and own, manage, sell, rent their items on secondary markets. While users will trade items to other users, transforming their mobile game purchases into assets, developers will experience a considerable boost in value and will monetize through stronger communities, more loyal users, and royalties.
All in all, there is no perfect recipe to succeed in such a highly competitive market. However, there are some key elements you can learn to get your UA campaign off the ground and craft the most effective mobile game advertising strategy to promote your app, catch high-quality users and increase your revenues.