11 tips for killer mobile User Acquisition (Q1 version)

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Hey. Here we go again! The previous UA killer articles were super successful, so I decided to start writing a UA killer tips segment. So, I will keep sharing these tips, don’t worry.

Keep reading the tips to improve your UA. Simple, practical & efficient! That’s it, no bullshit & brutally honest! No fluff intro, straight to the point.

#1 Creative level ROAS is important

For some reason, I have been talking a lot about creatives. Oh, wait. I know why! Because it makes or breaks your ROAS. You can see below the power of a creative iteration.

How can you iterate? Or else, what exactly changed in the videos above?

  • hook
    • slightly different perspective
  • pace
    • we speeded up the video a bit
  • urgency
    • added a sense of urgency (e.g., running away from the enemy visible right after the hook
  • fail
    • oh, the main hero died in the creative. Could you do it better? *wink wink*

I added these video examples to the paid newsletter – visit this link to check out the hybrid casual playbook and upgrade to paid!

#2 Global launch spend

How would you distribute a $1M a month spend for a Casual Puzzle game in a global launch for iOS and Android?

Alright, you’ve got a million dollars and a casual puzzle game ready to take the world by storm. I like it! 💸🌍🎮 Let’s break it down:

Facebook (20% – $200,000): These platforms offer massive reach and excellent targeting options. They’re particularly effective for casual games, as you can reach users who might not consider themselves “gamers” but enjoy a good puzzle.

Google (40% – $400,000): Google’s machine learning capabilities can optimize your campaigns to reach users across Search, Play, YouTube, and over two million sites and apps in their network. Oh and Shorts too!

hybrid casual

TikTok (10% – $100,000): With its young, engaged user base, TikTok is a fantastic platform for discovery. It’s become a favorite place for game launches. Also, leveraging TikTok Creative challenge is a must. Great way how to get free creatives + free inspiration. (Take the winners and recreate them from scratch so you can use them on other networks!)

Applovin (30% – $250,000): Great for reaching those hardcore mobile gamers and creating high ROI campaigns.

This is a safe, balanced strategy that gives you a broad reach while leveraging the strengths of each platform. Remember, the key to success here is constant testing, measuring, and optimization.

Oh, platform spending split:
Android: Google, Facebook, Applovin

iOS: Applovin, Facebook, Tiktok

#3 Creative depth

When we review games on our 2.5gamers podcast, I am always talking about a creative depth. What does that even mean? You should have a variety of different concepts in your creative strategy. It’s actually not that hard. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • a great hook
  • AI driven (videos or static images)
  • UGC (could be also AI driven)
  • gameplay oriented
  • altered gameplay
  • Upgrade/level up
  • Fake ads
  • hypercasual-led
  • playables

Quite a long list, right? Try to aim to always have at least three, but ideally five different concepts in your campaigns.

#4 Don’t follow blindly

(Facebook) reps are interesting people. I am not saying you shouldn’t follow their advice, but you should really think about what they are saying. Recent advice:

  • Including the US in more than one campaign is a bad practice because it takes most of the spend, and you are also competing with yourself.
  • Not running any single-country campaign for buyers is really bad. For example, the UK, AU, and CA. You have 80% in the US, where the competition is at 46% in the US, and also use other markets like the UK, AU, CA, and JP to have a more even spend.
    • You should run GEO-specific campaigns with UK, AU, CA, and JP only.

Let me break this down for you. The US is a big market, and running a few hundred/thousand $$$ per day really won’t make a big difference in competition. I remember running 3-4 campaigns in the US at the same time.

hybrid casual

GEO-specific campaigns on Facebook, in general, are quite a bad idea, especially in Q4 when the competition is extreme. You will experience such an increase in CPIs that your payback period will extend to eternity.

Having benchmarks from the competition is great, but how relevant is it for your business? Are those competitors the same size, or are you looking at games like Royal Match?

Take all advice with a grain of salt. Think about the recommendations and test them out if your budget allows, but don’t follow them blindly.

#5 UGC here, UGC there!  

Producing your own UGC creatives can be a long and painful process. There are so many options on how to start “cheap and dirty” – my favorite is TikTok AI robot voice and Animoji.

Of course, this is a start! The next level is obviously the AI UGC shit me & my team leveraged quite a lot in the last 6 months. You wouldn’t even notice!

All in all, it’s better to work with a company that helps you build proper UGC videos with real people! Even though, I’ve seen AI UGC outperforming real UGC..

#6 Always check competitors.

Always check the competitors. Use the FB Ads libraryTikTok Ad library, and Google Ads transparency center; on top of that, use Adscan.ai to spy on your competitors and see which creative is spending the most in Europe (the most spending creative is most likely their best performing creative at that moment).

Take the inspiration and tailor the creative to your gameplay.

I usually use a combination of above mentioned free tools and Sensor Tower & Mobile action. Quite good combo! Go and see the top creatives in the last 30 days, gives you super interesting insights. Or just check one of our latest podcasts, I did it for you. Already!

#7 Social media posts FTW!

Social media posts with the most engagement → best performing UA creatives

Does your game have a social media profile? Facebook Fan page, Instagram or TikTok? Hear me out, if yes! If not, start doing it now..

Review your social media posts. Look at the engagement – comments, shares & likes.

Get your top engaged posts from all social media (3-5 up to you) and add them to your business-as-usual User Acquisition campaigns across the board.

You can mix up TikTok with Facebook and Instagram. Both statistics & videos would do the trick.

Look at the performance, measure, and benefit!

I’ve already talked about it several times before, but it works quite well!

#8 Google HybridROAS campaigns?

Google hybrid ROAS campaign type is out for everybody! Jump on ASAP!

Thanks a lot, Andrey. Here are guidelines for you!

1. The ad_impression event must be the original one https://firebase.google.com/docs/analytics/measure-ad-revenue, in this hybrid tROAS case no custom event should be considered by ML (machine learning, not Matej Lancaric XXOXOXOXO) as an ad revenue event

2. Conversion window: 7 day. (The campaign will use the longest conversion windows from 2 events)

This is customizable based on the game monetization and retention.

3. Budget & bid: In order to explore we should make sure we have a sufficient budget, it will help the campaigns learn quickly, with 500$ daily as the minimum recommended. For bidding, use lower tROAS at the beginning (as usual recommendation)

hybrid casual

4. Countries: Launching in the same GEO with current tROAS/tCPA campaigns optimizing to the same events (IAP, IAA) might cause significant cannibalization (negative effect on campaign learning, optimization and performance)

For a better understanding of tROAS for Hybrid performance consider launching it as the only campaign targeting separate geo.

5. AdGroups: Successful tROAS for Hybrid Revenue campaigns with a scale (5K+) benefit from having 2-3 Ad Groups. This helps maximize budget utilization.

Segmenting Ad Groups based on a theme has shown the best performance.

6. Videos are important for successful campaigns and potential scale.

Make sure to include different video types: Portrait, Landscape & Square.

Experiment with video length (many advertisers only upload 10-30s videos), test 45s, 60s, and more to participate in all auctions, and identify additional high-value users.

#9 Is TikTok a contender for UA channel of 2023?

TikTok is definitely a contender for the UA channel of 2023 (alongside Applovin obviously!) Let’s look at some TikTok tips:

Look

  • Go lo-fi for greater authenticity (avoid polished videos) = shit works!
  • Edit creative ads into TikTok style (use the TikTok editor and CapCut as much as you can)

This refers to compiling and editing your video with in-app features (i.e. leveraging filters, sound effects, text layers, etc.)

  • Feature people (creators, players, you, your wife, your dog, your kids… No, exclude kids)
  • Leverage sound for extra impact (TikTok ROBOT voice is a must!)

Creative Quantity & Diversity

  • Running a high number of creative assets allows for better optimization of asset selection. Spreading your creatives across multiple ad groups, with no less than 3-5 creatives per group. This helps you experiment and test, while allowing the system to learn what works best for you.
  • Creative refresh frequency is the #1 factor that determines the lifespan of an ad group. Regularly refreshing and uploading new assets to your campaign works better than putting out too many creatives at the very beginning. I do it once a week, but apparently it could be 2-3 times per week (based on your budget)

Captions / Subtitles

Captions have proven to be one of the most useful additions to videos, as they help provide supporting details or context while ensuring a correct understanding of the audio.

Adding captions can positively boost performance in terms of view time, brand affinity, likability, recall, and uniqueness.

hybrid casual

Text / Text Overlay

Text overlay is another prominent way to emphasize key messages. Text boxes are used in 86% of all ads.

This can be a highly effective way to visually engage and spark interest in potential customers, as it results in a significant 64% increase in conversion rate. I also found out, that text overlay in the thumbnail makes a big difference in organic uplift and additional views too”!

Stickers / Graphics

Animation-style stickers make your creative ads more attractive and dynamic. These eye-catching add-ons can help you attract audiences and encourage them to keep watching your ads.

They can also help you emphasize key information that you want your audiences to remember, such as selling points.

Use whatever makes 0 sense and catches attention.*

* This tip is brought to you by a dancing unicorn

#10 Winner creative

What to do when you see one creative getting the majority of spend?

This is a pretty common problem on Meta & TikTok quite often. I don’t see this as a problem if the creative is performing well. This could happen as you can see on the screen above. One creative performed well for 4 weeks, but then slowly started to fade off. And the problem is here!

You start to be in this weird limbo mode where the creative is okay, not great, but not terrible. I usually do this:

  • check 5 days of data
  • look at the performance
  • look for 3 consecutive days of decline
    • kill!

Remove the creative to let other creatives get the spend and explore performance.

#11 two & a half gamers Slack questions

Picking up some questions from our 2.5 gamers slack channel (which you should definitely join here!) that I feel are important for many other people. Here are my tips:

– Which campaign type are you using mostly on Facebook IOS?

Its actually a combination of multiple campaigns. Mostly targeting Purchase or Value optimization! But, in many cases, I am also adding MAI+Purchase to get a balance of lower CPI & a bit of quality. This also helps me hit the privacy threshold!

– What percentage of the budget do you spend on iOS compared to Android?

Well, this would depend on a lot of things (no shit, sherlock!), but ideally, 60-70% iOS vs 30-40% Android.

– Which countries are effective for you? Are you bundling any countries like the US, CA, or AU?

It’s the US, and then I use Tier 1, Tier 2, or Rest of the World geo buckets. It’s all based on the LTV of the game I manage. I just had a nice chat about Australia. This company I talked to considered AU a Tier2 country, whereas other companies would consider AU a Tier1 country. Who cares, right?

hybrid casual

– How do you apply creative optimization on Facebook as a workflow? For example, with 500$ budget, the campaign only spends on x1 creative. We can’t scale on more creatives. What is your best practice on that matter? How many creatives would you upload with the same budget?

I try to have 3-5 active creatives within this budget. Facebook usually spends the whole budget in one creative based on the “performance.” If this creative is indeed a winner and is performing the best out of all creatives, I don’t care too much. But when the creative fatigue kicks in and I see a decline in performance, I just pause the creative immediately. Don’t fuck around, “What if this, what if that, let’s leave this a bit longer because it still brings at least some revenue” – kill it and move on!

Anything that I missed?

Oh wow! You made it here! You must be very engaged. I like that type of players… Ehm, people!

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11 tips for killer mobile User Acquisition (Q1 version)

Yo! Enjoy these few tips that will help you to improve your UA Operations. If don't, at least you spent few minutes reading and not working. Sit back, relax & enjoy the winter Q2 edition and share this with your UA friends. They will love you!

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