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Acquire new game players on Instagram

Udonis, a mobile game marketing agency, created & managed Instagram App Campaigns for mobile games in the following game genres: Arcade, Action, Casual, Hyper-Casual, Educational, Card, Strategy, Puzzle, Word and Racing. In 2018, we acquired over 1,270,000 players for our clients & partners. Today, without any constraints, we're sharing our 7-step Instagram mobile game marketing guide with you.

Step 1

Decide on 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. Amazing!

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 players, 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

Installing the SDK & Adding App Events

Instagram Ads are created through Facebook's Ad Exchange, so in order to track game installs and other in-app events; you'll need to install Facebook SDK.

Facebook SDK for mobile is an equivalent of Facebook's pixel for the web. SDK, on the other hand, enables you to pass app event data from your game to Facebook.

The steps for installing the Facebook SDK:

  1. Look up the official Facebook SDK documentation
  2. Register the game on developers.facebook.com to get SDK IDs
  3. Submit required app info to Facebook (Bundle ID, app store ID, hashes & privacy policy)
  4. Decide which events you want to track aside of standard events
  5. Configure & inject Facebook SDK into your game
  6. Submit the game for a review on the App Store and/or Google Play

After app stores approve your new version with the SDK in, you'll have to attach it to your add account & you're good to start running ads. Having Facebook's SDK installed will enable you to measure installs & in-app events, improve targeting and create retargeting ads.

Step 3

Conversions & Using App Events

The basic function of Facebook 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 Facebook 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 app campaigns towards achieving a specific goal, whether that's an install, registration or any other in-app event.

Facebook offers a couple more options; such as in-app events or retention 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) or use the game more often. These advanced objectives will help you reach more relevant players.

Step 4

Split Testing & Learning Phase

Split testing lets you test different versions of your ads so you can see what works best and improve future campaigns. For example, you can test the same ad on two different audiences to see which ad performed better. Or, test two delivery optimizations to determine which selection yields better results.

Facebook's split testing feature allows advertisers to create multiple ad sets and test them against each other to see what strategies produce the best results.

Benefits of the split test are:

  • Audiences used in the split test does not overlap
  • Only one difference between ad sets can be tested per split test (called variable), with an equal chance of auction per ad set
  • Split testing is based on people, not cookies, and gathers results across multiple devices, end results are calculated and compared
  • The ad set with the lowest cost per result, such as cost per install, wins

The learning phase is a process in which Facebook collects data by showing ads to different types of people to learn which audience is going to react the best to your game. To complete the learning phase Facebook will need 50 conversions (installs) within the 7-day period; after starting to run or since the last significant edit.

Step 5

Target The Most Relevant Players

With over 1 billion users, Instagram is the place to promote your game.

But how can you narrow the audience to find players which perfectly suit your game?

Since Instagram advertising runs on Facebook's ad exchange, targeting options are quite similar. Here's a broad overview of targeting options available for Instagram App campaigns:

  • Locations (Target ads to people based on locations (ex: country, state, province, city, congressional district, zip or postcode. Most objectives let you target worldwide (type in "worldwide"), by region (ex: "Europe"), by free trade area (ex: "NAFTA", the North American Free Trade Agreement) or by app store availability (ex: "iTunes app store countries"))
  • Age (Target ads to people within an age range, 13-65+)
  • Gender (Target ads to women, men or people of all genders)
  • Languages (Target ads to players of certain languages)
  • Detailed targeting (Include or exclude people from an audience based on criteria such as demographics, interests and/or behaviours)
  • Connections (Include or exclude people from your audience based on connections to your Pages, apps or events)
  • Custom Audiences (Custom Audiences are target audiences of people you already know created from information you provide or from information generated on Facebook's products. You can create Custom Audiences from a list, the Facebook pixel, the Facebook SDK and engagement on Facebook)

Step 6

When it comes to Instagram, visual content is the king! There are two different ad placements on Instagram: Stories and Newsfeed. You should go that extra mile when it comes to creatives on Instagram, by making your video ads short (up to 15 seconds for Stories & up to 60 seconds for Newsfeed) & easy to consume. Recommended size for the story is 1080px by 1920px; and for the newsfeed is 1080px by 1080px (maximum resolution is 2048px by 2048px).

If you want to have your ads appear in the Instagram feed, choose any of these 4 formats:

  • Carousel
  • Single image
  • Single video
  • Slideshow.

On Instagram Stories you can choose one of two formats:

  • Single image
  • Single video

Step 7


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 retargeting campaigns on Instagram; in order to re-engage with your existing players. Use retargeting 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, Instagram allows you to segment your users 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, player 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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