As Senior Marketing Manager handling user acquisition at leading game publisher Kongregate, Linh Tijan has a huge amount of experience in how to optimize UA campaigns. Kongregate is behind hugely popular games such as AdVenture Capitalist, Animation Throwdown and Pocket Politics. Their online games are played by tens of millions of players each month, and games from their 30-title strong portfolio have been downloaded over 100 million times, so it’s safe to say they know how to help great games scale.
At this year’s China Joy conference in Shanghai, Linh was a featured speaker at ironSource’s Developer Series, sharing some amazing insights on creative optimization in user acquisition with the community of local developers (check out the whole deck here.)
After the talk, she sat down with Yoni Eyal, ironSource’s GM of APAC to answer some questions about how to nail creative optimization, no matter your budget or size.
Creative optimization - just how important is it?
Linh: In my view, it’s one of the most important topics in user acquisition - without great creatives and great ads, it’s going to be hard for you to advertise. Even though creative optimization may seem like a very granular or specific arena, it brings together a lot of high-level issues: how you want to advertise, how you want to manage your brand, and the best strategies for marketing your product.
What is the best way to allocate your UA budgets?
Linh: That depends on where you are as an advertiser.
If you’re just starting out, try to allocate about 10% of it to testing. In this testing phase of creative optimization, you want to tease out which ads are best for you. Then you can move these ads out to sustained campaigns. This is how you’ll get the best bang for your buck, since you know you’re allocating more spend and eyeball-time to the best performing creatives. So 10% on continuous testing, the other 90% of budget is on sustained campaigns.
There are many types of ad units out there, and many different networks to run them on. Social, display, banners. At Kongregate, we dedicate about 50% of our budget to video - whether that’s running on Facebook or on a video network. 40% of our budget goes to other social platforms and search. Then the final 10% to long tail - different display and exchange inventory.
Do different genres impact CPI?
Linh: We have a portfolio of so many games that are similar, so we can see how the genre dictates how the marketing strategy will do. The genre of the game you are marketing can dictate how much you’re going to pay in general in terms of advertising. A hardcore game will never be as cheap as a casual game, so keep your expectations within reality.
Having said this, the best thing to do is test it out - when a user is looking at an ad for a game they’re thinking ‘is this the right game for me?’ For example, when you have an ad for an immersive game that requires considerable commitment to excel - that’s going to appeal to a smaller segment of users, leading to lower conversions, and so the CPIs are going to be higher.
What’s the best way to do creative optimization if you’re limited in terms of time and budget?
Linh: With a limited budget, I think just focus on a small handful of creatives. Try to make them really different. The timeframe to test just 5 or 6 ads is very short. It’s also going to be much less costly than running 10 campaigns with 15 different ads in them.
If you’re just starting out with testing, just work with one campaign at a time with different concepts. And then you can move forward understanding what are your best creatives - then just doing tweaked versions of them. For example, try changing the backgrounds or colours, or adjusting the characters a little bit. This way you’ll be able to quickly understand what creatives work best for you.
What are your top 3 tips for creative testing and creative optimization?
1 - Have a test plan
It’s really important to have a plan of what you’re trying to test. Keep track of everything before and as you go so you know on your next iteration what you should be going towards.
2 - Start small, don’t go crazy!
Starting too big means you can just get lost in the number of creatives. Start looking at what options 1, 2 and 3 do, then go from there to test the next batch of creatives.
3 - Sustain your ads
Eventually, your ads might suffer from ad fatigue. So have a process of clearing out your ads and iterating new concepts. Be aware of holidays and seasons and keep your marketing calendar synced with your creatives. Keep refreshing your creatives all the time, and it will help ensure you keep your CPI goals in check.
What are your top 2 tips for things to avoid during UA?
Linh: 1 - Let go of preconceived notions of what you think will work
Test creatives, and run the campaign for a significant amount of time. Let the data bring you to conclusions, not your assumptions of creatives.
2 - Don’t blast your ads everywhere
Be targeted, make sure you have your segments down and you know your audience. Find the right channels that work for you, and cater to the specific audiences that different channels give you.