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How to acquire new players for your mobile game with Google App Campaigns

Udonis, a mobile marketing agency, created over $10 million worth of advertising for mobile games. We tested dozens of different approaches, hundreds of fresh creative formats, tracked and analyzed the results in the following game categories: Arcade, Action, Casual, Hyper-Casual, Educational, Card, Strategy, Puzzle, Word and Racing. Today, without any constraints, we're sharing our 6-step Google mobile game guide with you.

Step 1

Decide on the Key Performance Indicators

Being able to measure the results from your game is non-arguably one of the most important things in the mobile game business. Why? Well, first and foremost, you can't really know if something is working or no if you can't accurately measure it. If you can't accurately measure, you can't benchmark the performance. Then, you can't really optimize it either. But let's look at the flip side of this as well; If you can measure, then you can benchmark, then you can optimize, and ultimately achieve better results with every new version of the game.

There are some universal KPIs for every game, such as; CPI (Cost-per-install), CLTV (Customer-lifetime-value), Cohort Retention (Day 1, Day 7, Day 30), Churn Rate, etc... which indicate how well is your game performing against the player, and the market. Since every game is different, make sure to align the KPIs with the business model behind the game in order to truly understand what's happening in the background.

Step 2

Configure tracking / Install SDKs / Enable data postback

The basic function of any SDK is to record player interactions within the game and forward that data to analytics & attribution platforms or post it back to ads manager. That way, we know that a specific event, such as install or in-app purchase actually happened. This allows Google to put their machine learning algorithms to work & find you the right players for your game.

For advertisers, such as us, it means that we're able to optimize the game campaigns towards achieving a specific goal, whether that's an install, registration or any other in-app event.

Google recommends using Firebase SDK to track results from your game campaigns. If you're not using Firebase, don't worry, Google supports data postback from 3rd party app analytics platforms, such as Adjust, AppsFlyer, Tune and many others. You can find more information about this under the Linked Accounts section in your Google Ads ad account.

Step 3

Setting up conversions

As we mentioned above, installing SDK will allow you to pull back event data into your Google Ads manager. The next step is to turn those events into conversions, and if possible, assign a monetary value to it.

The most commonly used conversion objective is an Install Volume. This objective signalizes to Google that you want the maximum amount of users within the target cost-per-install you assigned. Google offers a couple more options; such as Install Volume or In-app Actions objective for a specific group of players which are more likely to perform an in-app action (i.e. registration, in-app purchase or similar). These 2 advanced objectives will help you reach players who are more relevant to your game.

Step 4

Understanding learning phase & testing

It's not a secret that Google collects a lot of user data & uses it to optimize your app campaigns to reach relevant users. Google App Campaigns need around 5000 conversions to go through the learning phase, which is in fact, quite a lot of conversions. But on the flip side, Google can deliver a volume of installs that can't be reached with any other network.

Your testing process should be timed & paced. Instead of smashing your test budget in a day or two, we recommend you to leave your app campaigns tests to be completed in 7-10 days.

Remember, constant testing & optimization is the key to keeping your campaigns fresh, so they can deliver good performance time after time. Companies which don't test new things on a week-to-week basis, get eaten by new trends or their competition.

Step 5

Creatives & formats

Google App Campaigns enable you to show ads across all placements: Google Search, Google Play, Gmail, Youtube, AdMob and Google Display Network. The format of the ad can be text, display banner or a video ad.

Google allows you to add 4 ad text ideas, each up to 25 characters. Keep it short & sweat, tell potential users the key benefit or feature of your app, and you're good to go. These texts are going to be shown on Google Play search and as descriptions on your banner ads.

Banners ads are going to be shown within 3rd party apps which sell their ad placements to AdMob. Make sure that your banners ads grab the attention, but also visually resonate with your app. The most widely used banner dimensions are:

  • Landscape (1200x628, 600x314)
  • Square (250x250, 300x300)
  • Mobile (320x50, 320x480 and 300x250)

Your video ads should be simple & straight to point. If you can communicate the message within 15 seconds or less, definitely go for it. If not, try to make it under 30 seconds. If that doesn't work, the longest length should be no more than 60 seconds. Recommended ratios for Youtube video ads:

  • Square (1:1)
  • Portrait (2:3, 4:5)
  • Landscape (1.91:1)

Step 6

Retargeting

If your game offers in-app purchases or has a business model built on transactions, that most likely means that you have a nice fat CLTV. If that's the case, you should definitely consider running remarketing campaigns in order to re-engage with your existing players.

Use remarketing campaigns to run promotions, show special offers, introduce new features or simply re-engage players who haven't used your game for a longer period of time.

Also, Google allows you to segment your player into specific audience sets, based on:

  • How often they use the game (daily, weekly, monthly)
  • How they use the game (time spent in the game, features used, etc...)
  • Specific events they triggered (in-app purchases, user progression, etc...)

If you do this the right way, you'll be able to increase your CLTV even further, and grab extra revenue with just a bit of extra effort. It's simple, and it works!

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