In the second episode of LevelUp’s Growth Loop mini-series, ironSource’s VP Growth Yevgeny Peres walks us through Stage 1 of the Growth Loop: User Acquisition. Yevgeny argues why game developers should start the cycle with user acquisition as opposed to game monetization, offers best practices for maximizing key metrics like IPM, and shares how game development teams can increase production by improving the relationship between monetization and UA.

Missed episode 1? Listen here. Keep reading edited highlights from the podcast:

Starting with UA as opposed to game monetization

“There’s two different approaches to launching a game: one approach is to focus just on the game itself and the other is to focus on how the market reacts. The product focus is only looking at users who already decided to play the game. What about all the users who have never heard about this game and how do we engage with them? The first step of the Growth Loop talks about getting users to play your game. In today’s world, it’s mostly through user acquisition. 

There’s a short list of games out there that can drive a lot of users without investing in paid user acquisition. Those are games with strong IPs or games that have been featured. Historically, a lot of studios were investing time into getting featured, which was driving a lot of free users into the game. In today’s world, most developers are operating under the assumption that getting featured is amazing, but short-term.”

The importance of testing marketability

“There are still a lot of games that do not see the light of day for the wrong reasons. And there are a lot of games which get a lot of UA investment, and don’t deserve it. Marketability is the first stage before you launch a game, and only visited the first time you get to step one.”

Breaking down IPM

“IPM stands for installs per one thousand impressions. If one thousand people see an ad for your game, how many will decide to download and open it? Answering that question and optimizing that metric is critical.

There’s a long list of factors that can impact IPM. Usually, developers invest their time into optimizing the creatives - thinking that if there’s a better creative, more people will want to download, which is true. There’s also the investing in the audience itself, not wasting impressions, and ASO. ASO is often overlooked by paid marketing teams.”

Diving into creatives best practices

“Outside of creatives, a lot has been improved through automation. But creatives require you to be creative. 

The soft launch is not only about whether your game doesn’t break and monetizes well, it’s also about answering the following questions. 

You need to decide on the tools and processes to optimize creatives. Are you building them in-house, using a third-party, or one of your marketing channels? What’s the right messaging? Which characters do users relate to the most? Should you test different scenarios? Should it be a playable or a video? Portrait or landscape? 15 seconds or 30 seconds? Answering all these questions requires a plan and resources.”

ASO is often overlooked

“ASO, which stands for app store optimization, is a very big element. Usually, people perceive ASO as something equivalent to SEO or SEM on the web - something that’s focused on keywords. Most users are coming from paid acquisition. They’re seeing your creatives, they click through, and see the app store page. No matter how people get to your app, they’ll always go through your app store page. On that page, there’s a lot of elements that impact that conversion. If users see something they’re disappointed in or don’t relate to, or changing the momentum that drove them to click through, it really harms IPM. 

It’s about the name, the icon, the description, the video, the screenshots, and the ratings. ASO shouldn’t be focused only on search or getting organics.”

Improving the connection between monetization and UA teams 

“Without sitting on the same team or under the same umbrella, it’s hard to connect all the dots, measure the right things, agree on insights, and execute on those insights. 

How do you build a team around that loop where you have the right people in charge of making sure everything is measured throughout the loop? Every user, click, impression, event - how is that collected, how is it visualized, is there automation, who is executing each part, who is going to optimize the UA every morning, and who is going to optimize the product? You need to be in the same room to look at all these things and accelerate the loop.”

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