ironSource recently spoke with our partner Maria Perov, User Acquisition Manager at Playstudios, to hear her thoughts on building a fail-proof user acquisition strategy, with the right KPIs and the right approach towards unified monetization and marketing. Playstudios is a top social game developer, with hits like POP! Slots, myVEGAS Slots, Keep reading for a transcript of the conversation and more of Maria's insights.  

Tell us about what you do at Playstudios. How do you start each morning? 

Maria Perov: "I'm a user acquisition manager at PlayStudios Tel Aviv. I specialize in global media buying from various channels, ranging from direct deals to programmatic media buying, and everything in between.

No day is similar but every morning starts with a quick overview of yesterday’s performance. From that point on - it’s very dynamic. Each day has a different agenda - meetings, weekly check-ins with partners, conventions and meetups, and of course, regular UA work like optimization." 

What are your tips for building a user acquisition strategy with monetization in mind?

MP: "For starters, you have to understand your business objectives and set comprehensive KPIs. In my opinion, that’s the first step in a successful user acquisition strategy. KPIs can vary - if you strive to get as much revenue from your user as fast possible, you’ll have a completely different set of KPIs than if your goal is to increase your DAU. 

Once you have all that set up you should start searching for the right segments and audiences to help you hit your goal. You have to understand who is your ultimate player, what they like, and where to find them. At Playstudios, for example, we learned that our ultimate player is usually an older audience and mostly female." 

Speaking of KPIs, how do you choose the right ones to optimize campaigns towards? What's Playstudios' "north star" metric? 

MP: "Constantly validate your data and adjust KPIs accordingly. Remember that KPIs can change and are not set in stone. Challenge the framework in which you work - for example, we no longer judge our users by a D3 ROAS goal, but rather by a predicted return after M12. 

We found that short term ROAS is not a good enough indicator to measure media buying, especially when we aim towards a long term recoup and increased volume. When looking to scale UA, putting all the emphasis on one metric makes it hard to understand the real return (which is affected by many metrics) and even harder to allocate your budget in a way that will result in the fastest recoup."

Casino games tend to have a big viral factor. As a UA manager, how do you account for k-factor?

MP: "Paid media has a huge effect on organic traffic. There is a very close-knit relationship between the two. Unfortunately, k-factor is not something that can be predicted, as it relies deeply on virality and media spend. 

Taking k-factor into account is something done on the strategic level -  you either do something very creative that becomes viral thus increasing your organic presence, or you invest in media buying and become a household name thus increasing your organic impact. 

One of the major hurdles when it comes to organic traffic in general, and k-factor specifically, is measurement and analysis. We partnered up with Storemaven, their expertise in the areas of organic traffic helps when it comes to understanding organic trends."

What’s the biggest challenge you see UA managers facing today?

MP: "I think the biggest challenge is also one of my favorite things about mobile marketing in general - it is constantly evolving and there is never a dull moment. What used to work last year or even last month - is probably not working the same today and will definitely change by next year. Mobile marketers always have to be on top of the latest trends and constantly be testing and learning." 

Has COVID-19 affected your user acquisition strategy in any way? 

MP: "We haven’t made any extreme changes in our UA strategy as a result of COVID-19. There is a trend of players being more engaged with the game, similar to what's been reported by others in the gaming industry. 

We made a conscious decision not to put much emphasis on the COVID-19 in terms of creatives, we think of POP! Slots as an escape - a safe place. We tried not to remind players about the grim reality outside, but rather put an emphasis on fun." 

Let's put these tips to good use

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