New Opportunities in Mobile Monetization
On November 15th, over 100 game developers attended our latest SF Game Monetization meetup, “New Opportunities in Mobile Monetization”. With three outstanding speakers, we packed the house at IGN’s San Francisco office on 2nd Street. Those who attended were lucky to receive the presentations from the speakers directly, but Brian Sapp of Tapjoy graciously agreed to share his presentation online. With great data and new ideas for monetizing mobile games and apps, enjoy our summary of each talk below.
Brian Sapp, Director of Developer Partnerships, Tapjoy
Brian’s presentation set the stage with a great overview of key mobile ARM features and a few you might have missed. For acquisition, he gave detailed information on what kind of volume you can expect for each channel:
Clearly, getting Featured Placement in an app store is the best marketing you can get. It combines massive free exposure with the social proof that the store itself found your game exceptional. Brian has great tips in his presentation for getting Featured on the Google Play Store, and we have tips for iOS in our ASO Guide (coming soon).
Brian then went on to cover Retention. First and foremost, nailing the new user flow is key for capturing that first time user. Next, social systems, daily battles, and push notifications all served to improve retention significantly. Retention is incredibly important because it gets players invested in your game, which helps tremendously with Monetization.
For Monetization, focus on making your store available at each point where a user would need it, such as when they run out of money or cannot afford a new item. Next, a well designed store with clear images and tiled design leads to more purchases. Lastly, Brian shared some good data on what types of ads work best for each audience:
Brian capped off his great presentation with a checklist of things to consider before you launch, including key metrics to aim for when testing your app in another English-speaking country:
Marco talked about the mobile game monetization landscape and the ways that Playfirst tackles its monetization challenges. In laying out the landscape, Marco showed that while Arcade games dominate the Free chart, they don’t monetize well, while Simulation games and Casino games monetize significantly better. However, the Arcade apps that dominate the Top Free rankings can serve as acquisition tools for big game companies with a network of games, which can then use internal advertising to promote better-monetizing games within its own ecosystem. This is partly why Zynga’s mobile division has shifted focus from Simulation to Arcade games in the past 8 months, and Disney’s Arcade-filled catalogue is now starting to build more Simulation games to establish a balance between volume and ARPDAU. They are at different stages of the mobile empire lifecycle: build Arcade games to get users, then Simulation games to retain and monetize them.
When it comes to Playfirst’s own success, Marco shared a lot of the processes that made their Dash franchise a consistent hit over two years, with over 40% of players retained from over 120 days ago. They have a closed-loop core live ops model that starts by identifying a key problem or metric they want to improve, and then modeling it out. They compare Actual data to their Model to understand what assumptions about their model were wrong and improve the model. Then, with the improved model, they’re able to test a bunch of scenarios ahead of time before A/B Testing the best scenarios in the wild. This process is fascinating because they can gauge ahead of time what are winning ideas and what aren’t, helping narrow down the amount of A/B tests to those with the highest impact. Being data-driven before testing even begins is huge.
My favorite takeaway from this presentation was Marco’s advice on conversion. Once a player converts for the first time, they are more likely to convert again. This means that nailing that first conversion point is hugely important. Rather than throwing out offers from the get-go, you should do everything you can to make that first conversion point compelling.
Alex spoke to what he believes is the largest untapped advertising opportunity to-date: mobile to offline. Right now, mobile advertising spending is only 1% of worldwide advertising budgets, while users spend almost 10% of their time in a mobile device. The primary reason, he said, for this lack of capitalization is the fact that most mobile advertising is for other mobile apps or services. The value of users in these services is low, so their advertising pockets remain shallow. But the average value of a Starbucks customer, for instance, is far higher. People take their phones everywhere, and yet mobile advertising has yet to connect the dots and advertise offline services effectively.
The primary challenge with mobile-to-offline advertising is tracking: how can you get a user to make an offline purchase in a way that can be tracked and you can get credit for it? That’s what he says TrialPay and other companies are working on.
Want to see more talks like this?
Join the SF Game Monetization meetup! We meet monthly for networking, speaker sessions, panels and more.