This is the final installment of our four-part feature on the multi-platform crossover hit, Animal Revolt Battle Simulator. In part three, discover how VDimension Studios increased ARBS’ player base by 50x—and learn more in part one and part two!
If you’re reading this, you probably know that User Acquisition (or UA) is a data-driven approach to marketing, specifically designed to attract and engage more users for your game or app. Today, we’ll take a deeper dive to explore some of the things you can do right now to help you get the most out of your next UA campaign.
So… you’ve launched a game, and now you’re starting to get some traction and solid revenue is rolling in. This is where the next critical stage of growth comes into play: maximizing your revenue and finding creative ways you attract more users!
A new game can benefit from UA right from the jump. If you believe your game has a unique selling point compared to its peers you can prove it with data and a basic UA test. Start with a week or two of ads on Google, Facebook or whichever channel best fits your game. Acquire enough users so you can get a 3-5000 DAU to really get the metrics you need.
What are you looking to learn from this test? How do you get a perspective on what you should aim for? How do you know what a realistic yet ambitious goal is for your game? Research the market—Appmagic is a great tool for this—to see what developers and publishers big and small are doing: screenshots, icons, subtitles, those small things can show you easy and immediate angles for potential areas for improvement in your game.
If you have in-game ads, your focus should be on impressions per DAU and your eCPM. The key is finding a way to balance these with retention to ensure a satisfying game experience that will keep your players coming back and increase your LTV.
If your game uses mostly in-app purchases, you should focus on the new user pay rate and average revenue for paying users and monitor your ANR and crash rate daily. Have a list of metrics and facts you’re looking for—you want to extract as much value as possible from your investment.
Once you’ve reached/hit a few thousand DAU from ASO and other organic marketing, that might be the time to invest in a two week ad series and see how that impacts your LTV.
Your users’ lifetime value (LTV)—or how much revenue you will receive from a user during the whole time they play your game, is based on your average revenue per active user and your retention. These are important figures to track and analyze so you know what your overall investment per user is worth.
Do your research and find the eCPI for your game genre–this can show you what to invest money in and where to experiment. Have benchmarks, a hypothesis you’re looking to prove or disprove.
MMP, or mobile measurement platforms, are your first step, and only a few allow you to configure your own metrics, though you won’t have full access to all of your data. But an MMP will allow you to see the actual facts.
So the first and arguably the most important step is choosing an MMP to partner with, integrate their UA, start testing, and then you can begin with ad networks.
“The most important UA metrics are your retention rates and ARPDAU,” says Nadiia Marchynska, Head of Game Marketing & UA at Yodo1. “If you have in-app purchases, what is the pay rate? And for each paying user, what are you earning?”
And don’t forget, these figures can be very different depending on if you have a hyper casual game with much higher churn as opposed to a game with fewer users who play for much longer—that’s why you need to have researched the standard for your game genre to set accurate goal expectations. Your game genre determines your monetization strategy
Getting started on all this can be one of the biggest bottlenecks for gaming studios, who often lack both time and specific skills.
You need good, solid creatives to run a successful campaign, followed up by a very solid testing plan to see which ones work. It’s an iterative process of creating, testing, judging the results, and repeating to get the best possible results—continuing ongoing results will require new content, if you stick with the same old stuff, your growth will plateau.
Sure, you could get a freelancer or someone in-house who’s already got too much on their plate to do the creatives for you, but without specific experience, it’s not going to be as impactful as it could be, and will ultimately not be the best use of your resources. The market changes and fluctuates, so you have to monitor your ROI constantly, you can’t just set it and forget it.
“Performance benchmarks for the ad creatives in your genre are also crucial to follow up on–that’s how you can judge your game’s marketability,” continues Nadiia. “It’s evolving so much that now you can even give players a chance to interact with your game via playable ads and try it out before they even install it. It’s a good tool to beta test future ideas, too.”
If you find the scale and logistics of all this challenging, you’re not alone. Even with the best of intentions, the deck is often stacked against flying solo. For example, a newly set up UA account with no history will find it nearly impossible to get support when they need it, and some ad networks don’t even unlock all their features for new advertisers, unless and until they’ve reached a certain spending level, making it nearly impossible to run optimal, successful campaigns.
Even something as simple as paying for their services can require jumping through many hoops, with different payment methods and restrictions from country to country, and so on, meaning that when something is successful, the window may have passed before you are able to scale it up. All these factors combine to make it a real challenge for those who want to dive in.
These are trends we began seeing with many of our ad monetization partners using our MAS service, leading us to begin helping them with our own in-house team and accounts, developing into the full-fledged UA service that we are now offering to mobile game developers worldwide.
This quality of full-service UA is unique in the market: from setting up the MMP, integration, QA/QC, access to all add networks, detailed testing, planning and projections, ROI, and budget planning. From technical to top-level planning, creative production and testing, and optimization, all the way through, Yodo1’s comprehensive UA service gives you the benefit of our longstanding accounts, as well as our years of experience, automated for optimal results.
The result is data-driven optimization and smart UA campaigns taken off your shoulders, allowing you to try this out without building an additional team in-house.
How has this worked in the real world?
In Animal Revolt Battle Simulator (ARBS), we went from starting with no UA, to, by the fifth month, increasing the game’s revenue sevenfold, and we are continuing to scale it up.
At Yodo1, we’ve spent more than a decade helping mobile game studios simplify their growth. We’ve run thousands of ROI-positive UA campaigns for iconic titles—like Crossy Road, Rodeo Stampede, Transformers: Earth Wars, and more—amassing more than 1.5 billion players around the world. And now we’re making it easy for you to grow your games into chart-topping hits, too
We want you to be able to focus on doing what you love: making cool games, instead of having to invest your precious time and resources becoming a UA expert. If you’re already using MAS, you can choose to reinvest your ad income directly from that into your UA campaigns, and you’re already set up in a way that optimizes the effects of running a UA campaign.
If you’re interested in learning more about our full-stack UA service, set up a call today with a member of our team—we’re all over the world, so there’s no need to worry about time zones. We can set up testing and validation, and from there give you a detailed projection on what to expect from the service.