11 tips for killer User Acquisition ops (Q4 version)


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! No fluff intro, straight to the point.

#1 Unlocking TikTok with creative challenge

Unlocking TikTok? Seems like a big challenge. Oh wait, have you said challenge? Do you mean TikTok Creative Challenge (TTCC)? Badumtss! Jokes aside. If you are not listed for a TTCC, you are missing out heavily.

TikTok is transforming the way people discover new ideas and products while creating a new way for games to engage with creators to reach and connect with diverse communities around TikTok.

TikTok Creative Challenge is a new in-app feature that allows creators to submit video ads to brand challenges and receive rewards based on video performance. Creators can browse through the list of challenges, read the challenge’s brief, which displays the reward pool and details rules and requirements, and submit their video ad.

The Creative Challenge gives creators full creative freedom over their ads, unlocking more opportunities for creators to collaborate with brands in a way that’s most authentic to them.

Easy! Sit down, write to your TikTok rep, and get on this ASAP. Then you prep a creative brief for creators. Don’t forget! Brief is the key to receiving quality videos!

I must say, I saw some pretty weird shit in the TTCC for many games. But there is also gold in there. Your performance (and scale) improves heavily when you find that gold!

#2 Hooks!

Hooks make a difference in your creatives. There are masters of hooks at Century Games using real-life hooks combined with their game Whiteout Survival. How could you leverage hooks a bit more in your creative strategy? Which one of these grabbed your attention?

I would say the last one, right? There is definitely a story behind it you would like to explore. Run these as static images in the creative testing and take the winner, and connect it to the video creative showing a similar gameplay. Voilá! One of the best videos in my campaigns at the moment!

Take videos, use the first 1-3 seconds, and bam.

Crazy idea for a hook? Anyone out there with a train game? *wink wink*

Easier said than done! Happy exploring..

#3 Memes

When thinking about creative ideas, look around – ideally outside of gaming. Maybe browse a little bit on Facebook or Instagram. What is your go-to website for memes?

Try to leverage hype and buzz. Have you see a great meme or video that you could recreate for your game? Use it!


There are multiple other examples, but you get it right? The same applies to AI-generated images. Short & dirty, but super efficient!

#4 Happy iOS-ing

“ I don’t see data on iOS! (in the first 72h)”
”CPIs are really high, there must be something wrong?!”

Well, yes & yes. You are not able to see any installs coming through in the first 72 hours thanks to the privacy changes that happened on iOS. Installs are happening in the meantime, you are just not able to see them. Don’t worry, you won’t lose any data.

You just need to be prepared for something like this will happen:

This is how it works now and its completely okay. CPIs are really high! Yep, welcome to the world of UA. As you see, the CPI is going down when you get more data and will come down to stable levels in 5-7 days since the start of the campaign.

What can you do?

Don’t make any changes in the first 72h => 0 installs = Facebook is not optimized at all. Wait until you get data, then make changes!

Also, the privacy threshold on Facebook is 88 installs per day per campaign. As you can see, the campaign above was not anywhere close to passing that threshold, which means we also don’t see the full picture in terms of postbacks. What can be done here?

  1. Slowly increase the budget until you hit 88 installs
  2. Add more countries into the mix (lower CPIs, more installs, more postbacks)
  3. creative refresh!

#5 How to write a creative brief

Alright, buckle up because I’m about to give you a crash course on writing a killer creative brief for your mobile app or game.

First, start with a clear and concise project overview. This is like the opening cutscene that sets the stage for your creative team.

Next, define your target audience. Who are they? What makes them tick? This is like choosing the character class that your game appeals to.

Then, lay out your objectives. Are you looking to increase installs, boost engagement, or monetize like a mobile mogul?

After that, provide insights and inspiration. Think of this as the secret level that unlocks creative brilliance. Fire up those external creative tools (and some internal benchmarks) to prepare with numbers and trends!

Finally, include any guidelines, specifications, or requirements. These are like the rules of your game that ensure a smooth gameplay experience.

Remember, a good creative brief is like a well-crafted tutorial level – it guides your team towards success.

We have a mid-core game about to launch globally. The main target audience is males 35+ from Asia. We want to use these creatives during the global launch, focusing on the effective budget increase rather than a Big splash. We have some data from the soft launch about the best-performing creatives and would like you to stay relevant to the gameplay as much as possible. Our main competitors are Survivor.io, Legend of Slime, and TopWar. Please come up with 5-6 creative concepts.

#6 UA channels for early-stage

Which UA channel to use for early-stage F2P mobile games and selecting appropriate UA channels for each launch phase? This question appeared recently in our 2.5gamers slack channel.

I know I bitch about Facebook all the time, but I still use it for early testing and especially in Softlaunch. Obviously combined with Google and other channels like Unity, TikTok, and Applovin.

Why Facebook? What gives you better targeting options?

Yes, still Facebook. Facebook is still very strong on the global launch day but fades off afterward. And this brings us back to the question if we should not use other channels like Unity or Applovin.

First of all, for Unity or Applovin, you need to implement MMP. With Facebook testing, you only need to implement Facebook SDK.

Second of all, as before mentioned, better-targeting options and the ability to benchmark your KPIs with the games you’ve done before or with other peers that usually use Facebook too.

#7 Super effective creative research

Super effective creative research?

  1. Find a very strong competitor and look into the audience overlap.
  2. Put a target on their back and assess all their creatives with the most impressions.
  3. Look for recent winners (last 30 days) and evergreen concepts in the last year.
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  5. Produce 3-5 creatives (could be 1:1 exact copy)
  6. Iterate winners from there!

Just look at what Kingdom Guard is doing nowadays. They put a big target on Rush Royale, started copying their ads, and are almost on a third or fourth iteration of winners. Looks like it’s working well – See for yourself!

#8 Best-performing UA channels

Should you be doubling down on your best-performing UA channel rather than exploring new channels and diversifying?

You should focus on the channel(s) where you have the most impact and balance the work behind it.

The bus factor applies here too! What if you rely only on one channel and that channel for some reason gets destroyed (by Apple or some other company .. xixi) This is really dangerous. Please don’t listen to loud CEOs (or anyone outside of UA) who don’t have the UA experience, it will get you in trouble.

What you can do instead is try to have a healthy balance like this:
UA channel A – 20% of your spend
UA channel B – 25% of your spend
UA channel C – 25% of your spend
UA channel D – 10% of your spend
UA channel E – 10% of your spend
UA channel F – 10% of your spend

Is this easy? Of course not! Especially when UA channel B is able to scale and get 80% of your budget with AMAZING ROAS! Take advantage of that, but think about the future. These numbers won’t last forever. Your competitors know this; they are already thinking two steps ahead.


#9 When to start using Fake ads?

Should you even consider those?

There is no right answer to this question. But if you are considering using something not completely related to your gameplay, wait until you are done with the retention tests in the soft launch. If you start using fake ads too soon, your retention will look like shit. And not because your game sucks, but because your creatives are misleading. They are setting different expectations, which in the retention phase is not very appreciated.

When you are entering the monetization phase, you are still using the gameplay-related creatives. But when you have enough data to improve the game, you start experimenting heavily on the creative side. I’ve talked about having at least 4-5 different creative concepts in the soft launch multiple times. Don’t forget about it!

One of these concepts could be a fake ad (misleading) that can drive low CPIs but low retention. How do you mitigate this? You combine fake ads with Purchase or Value optimization on the campaign level. This down funnel optimization takes care of complete “trash” quality traffic you always get and optimizes only for high-value players.

What do you get with this combo?

fake ads = low CPIs, high amount of players, lower retention

Value optimization = high CPIs, high quality, high purchase power, higher retention

Do you see the Venn diagram right there? If yes, please share it in the comments! 

#10 When to start UA?

What to do when your game has a shit ton of organic downloads? When a game receives a high level of organics, it is usually a question of whether or not to start UA.

I don’t believe there should be a question IF you should start. I think you should definitely test it out and see what your CPI vs. LTV equation looks like. Because you are not in control of organic downloads, but you can control how much and where you spend your money. In the worst-case scenario, you will quickly see that your CPI is higher than your LTV and you can only afford to spend 0 dollars to earn money since the LTV is very low. This is still a business case; if your CPI is $0 and LTV is $0.10 you can still make some money (if you are getting hundreds of thousands of organics)

Anyway, then the question is when to start. Well, as soon as your cash flow allows you to do so. Be very strict and set goals to avoid a “not great not terrible” situation where it doesn’t look bad, but not good. Similar to the soft-launch situation where you are still not there with KPIs, but you will push one more iteration out!

Set your goals/scenarios examples:

  • target CPI in US $1.5
  • target CPI worldwide $0.3
  • LTV D7 in the US is $1
  • LTV D30 in the US is $2

You get the point, right?

#11 Placements

Placements, placements, placements. Either Google or Facebook. Go to your campaign, break it down by placements and check what do you have there?!

Something like this, right? Omg, Facebook Video feeds is looking super well! I should run that placement only which will improve my numbers significantly.

Yeah, that’s not really the case. Unfortunately! It is not going to be scalable and if you put more budget behind this placement, its going to get worse. The same happens to your creatives (we can discuss this later)

Manual placements give you more control and allow you to specifically choose where your ads will appear. It’s like having a sniper rifle in a game, aiming for those high-value targets.

On the other hand, automated placements utilize Facebook’s algorithm to optimize ad delivery across different placements, giving you more reach and potentially better performance. It’s like having a trusty AI companion that knows the ins and outs of the game.

So, it’s great to start with Automated placements, narrow down these placements, and get the best out of it. This is for all of you who start with a shoestring budget and try to get as much out of your spending as possible.

When scaling, manual placements are shit. It limits your potential reach which has an impact on algo and your campaign dies quicker. You should always aim for potential reach like this:

Mobile App Install Optimisation: 1mil users

App Event Optimisation: 2-5 mil users

Value optimization: 5+ mil users

Anything that I missed?

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

Please share this article with your industry friends. It would mean the world to me.

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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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