Social gaming UA: 'influencers bring traffic and build brand image'

19 October 2017

In the first of our interview series featuring speakers from this month’s Casual Connect conference in Kyiv, Vivid Games' head of marketing Jan Chichłowski explains what’s driving new users and how to maximise user acquisition (UA) methods.

iGaming Business: Which markets and platforms are generating the most new games users in 2017?
Jan Chichłowski: In mobile gaming, the same four channels continuously drive our new users. They are; organic downloads, featuring periods, UA actions and other non-performance oriented initiatives.

iGB: How much does it cost to acquire a new user in 2017, and how has this grown in recent years?
JC: We manage very cost efficient UA by being targeted. Our CPIs are still hovering around 50-70 cents. We are really proud of how efficient we are, but it is becoming harder to secure a similar price each month.

One of the biggest problems, that few people mention, is seasonality. We just entered Q4 and we will not be able to buy as much as we would like. Prices have gone up between 150 and 200% because of increased games sales and Christmas coming.

iGB: Which UA techniques should publishers be implementing today in order to ensure sustainable app growth going forward?
JC:
One of the most important techniques to tackle is targeting. We’re still new to it but we are already reaping the rewards. It is about understanding and mapping the characteristics of your most engaged paying users.

A small percentage of users sustain the business, so we need to be very precise about where we are spending. I believe this area will develop rapidly. Influencers are gaining traction, but should support the marketing mix. They not only bring traffic to our games but build brand image as well.

For games that are trying to stand out of the crowd, influencers are a good choice. On the other hand, it is hard to determine their performance and calculate the ROI.

iGB: What will the future of user acquisition look like for the gaming space?
JC: Rising prices and buyout of advertising space by the big boys, means keeping costs low while maximising profits from bought traffic is our top priority.

Marketers have started talking more about re-targeting, which lowers the cost of contact and is efficient in terms of traffic quality. I’m sure we will see innovation in that space in the next few years.

In terms of channels, the influence of social networks, other than Facebook, will rise. We’ve seen much better performance from Instagram recently, a platform we were not considering seriously a year ago.

iGB: How important is the right marketing mix to accelerating app growth and how should this be split between the various channels?
JC: More than ever, the right balance is everything. When we had easy solutions, betting on one horse was enough. To secure success today marketers need to work with multiple channels and techniques to constantly iterate and optimise their spending.

A dollar spent today on interstitials may work, but the next day the same dollar is wasted. The question is how frequently you should adapt and iterate your channels and methods, and then what the split should be.

iGB: What role does technology play in a longer-term UA strategy, and what’s the minimum percentage of revenue publishers should be reinvesting in tech in 2017 in your view?
JC: Technology is crucial for the gaming sector. It is the foundation of the whole industry. Rapidly rising UA spend and greater competition means increasingly we need sophisticated tools to help marketers optimise their budgets.

With more emerging channels and methods of spending, engineers will look for even more automation, which is why we see more artificial intelligence (AI) in UA planning tools or data collections. It all comes down to millions of try - analyse - try again methods where AI and machine learning could be applied perfectly.

I believe every gaming company trying to optimise their UA spend should allocate some portion of budget to R&D and the way they acquire users. I guess the amount of effort should be calculated case by case but what we see is that year after year it matters even more.

Jan Chichłowski will be part of the Accelerating Your Game Growth Into 2020 With Key UA Techniques panel at Casual Connect in Kyiv on 25 October 2017.

Jan's job is to construct product vision and strategy according to current market trends. He led Vivid Games’ acquisition of the boxing IP for Rocky from Hollywood producer MGM.