For most developers, creating a great game is just the beginning. With hundreds, if not thousands, of games being released every month in the app stores, it has never been more important—or more challenging—to attract, engage, and monetize players with effective ongoing live service and user acquisition (UA) strategies.
Best practices in UA can be a moving target. But the good news is that developers that quickly and thoughtfully adapt to the ever-changing landscape can reap the rewards in the form of more players, who are more engaged and contribute more to a studio’s bottom line.
With that in mind, the team at Tilting Point has broken down what we expect to be three of the biggest trends that will help developers succeed with UA in 2020.
Creative is King
One of the most impactful trends we see for UA in 2020 is the rise of automation tools for developing and iterating creative.
It’s hard to overstate the value of great creative when attracting new players. But understanding what resonates with gamers takes an incredible amount of time and energy. Teams need to constantly iterate, test, and deploy new creative to stay ahead of the competition. However, developers too often find themselves on a seemingly endless treadmill of churning out hundreds of versions of their creative every month.
The work is important but inefficient. Facebook, for example, recommends that teams invest up to 70 percent of their time iterating on their creative to understand what customers respond to. And we’ve found that studios that find new high-performing creative every two weeks can see an uptick of between 20 and 50 percent in the performance of their UA.
Automation tools allow developers to hit these ambitious best practices while offloading much of the high-touch, low-value work of cranking out hundreds of versions of creative. This includes localization, layouts, colors, characters, and other variables. A team that uses automation tools like Tilting Point’s Creative Automation Tool (or CAT), can cut their time investment by upwards of 50 percent while producing up to 1,500 pieces of creative a month without sacrificing quality. This is time that can be reinvested in developing and testing high-value new concepts, while still creating thousands of versions of existing concepts.
Another powerful trend increasing in 2020 is automation tools for optimizing ad spends.
With mobile advertising estimated to top $225 billion in 2020, it’s clear that the space is saturated, and breaking through can be a challenge—especially for teams working on a tight budget. The number of ad networks to manage, the amount of data to digest, and the need to constantly monitor and optimize spending is time-consuming and easy to mismanage.
Automation tools for optimizing ad spending connect directly to each ad network through their APIs and feature an algorithm that speaks directly to each network’s own algorithm to constantly monitor and optimize a company’s ad spend across all the networks they use.
This allows developers to have a holistic view across their spending, and takes the legwork out of managing, monitoring, and optimizing each individual network. Developers can make better decisions faster and can deploy changes in a fraction of the time. We’ve seen studios who use automation tools like Tilting Point’s DORA improve the efficiency of their ad spends by up to 20 percent.
The third trend that we see defining UA is 2020 is an increased focus on retargeting.
Most developers are leaving money on the table by not investing enough time, energy, and money in maximizing the lifetime value (LTV) of the customers they already have. There’s a flywheel effect that studios should consider when deciding how to invest: by investing to increase the LTV of its existing customers, they generate more revenue, which can be used to fund bringing even more new players into their ecosystem.
By investing more advertising dollars on retargeting to existing users, we’ve seen some games improve the LTV of their players by 10 to 15 percent. It’s also a great way to drive re-engagement around critical moments in a game’s lifecycle, like updates and live service events.
Like many of the trends we see for 2020, we see automation tools having a powerful effect on retargeting. The bidding process for acquiring users is complex and time-consuming. By using automated real-time bidding tools like Tilting Point’s Reviver, developers can focus more on making smart, data-driven decisions about spending thresholds and LTV rather than dealing with the complexities of the advertising marketplace itself.
Making the most of 2020
The landscape for UA moves pretty fast, but with a little foresight, the right tools, and the right partners, there have never been more ways for developers to be successful. If you’re looking for automation tools to help manage your UA efforts or want a partner to want help scale your game, the team at Tilting Point would love to hear from you.
As VP of Data & Growth at Tilting Point, Jean-Sebastien has more than 15 years of experience and knowledge across all aspects of the mobile gaming industry (production, marketing, app store and more). Prior to joining Tilting Point, Jean-Sebastien spent 12 years at Gameloft where he worked on big mobile titles such as the Dungeon Hunter series, Disney Magic Kingdom, Uno & Friends, Spider-man Unlimited and the Ice Age series.