Anel Ceman and Carolina Guimarães lead ad monetization and user acquisition at Wildlife Studios as VP of Ad Monetization and Senior Director of Performance Marketing. As VP of Ad Monetization, Anel is scaling Wildlife’s live game portfolio and building their in-house Ad Tech Platform. Carolina started as Head of BizOps, with her scope soon expanding to Communications and Chief of Staff for the CEO. In 2021, Carolina transitioned to Marketing and she now leads their performance marketing department.
Wildlife started in 2011 and launched successful titles in multiple genres. Since then, we have invested extensively in technology and evolved our Marketing operation. In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of mobile gaming, it is essential to establish best practices to ensure an efficient operation. Below are our five main learnings from both a publisher and advertiser's point of view.
1. Measure Everything
A thriving business measures everything. Metrics help you make informed decisions based on what is and what isn’t working.
In user acquisition, many campaigns might target the same user. Answering "Where did this install come from?" is central to an efficient UA operation. Attribution is more straightforward when publishers and advertisers can access clicks and installs containing IDs of the originating mobile device. But with more user privacy and lower availability of unique IDs, you must review user attribution flow and experiment with different methods to challenge the status quo. The next important question in UA is, "What is the lifetime value of an install from this campaign?" LTV helps you understand what campaigns are profitable and what you need to change in your bids. Over the years, we invested in refining our LTV prediction model and frequently track our predictions to improve continuously.
In ad monetization, we optimize for maximum ARPDAU by achieving the optimal balance between eCPM and fill rate. We ensure enough competing demand and waterfall optimization, which helps us maximize our inventory’s value. For mobile gaming apps, we maximize impressions per daily active user (IMPDAU) without hurting user experience or long-term retention. Focusing on input metrics instead of output is important in achieving our goals.
What you measure regularly depends on specific business objectives. These are some of ours. Otherwise, having proper routines to track and improve your metrics is essential.
2. Create a Culture of Experimentation
The mobile marketing ecosystem is constantly changing. Demand sources are improving its algorithms and new games and source apps are changing the dynamic of bids. Therefore, you need to be willing and ready to try new things. Challenge your existing UA operation best practices.
At Wildlife, we encourage experimentation, setting budgets for UA campaigns and tracking them separately. To ensure bold ideas will come, we accept that we are learning in an ever-evolving space and that our results are measured on the aggregate of things we try–not on individual attempts.
In our ad monetization efforts, we A/B test anything and everything. You need to be making data-driven decisions. Hypothesis testing is crucial in helping understand why something is overperforming or underperforming. Only then can you replicate lessons learned in your remaining app portfolio. We run frequent waterfall optimization tests, adjusting price points or demand source rankings. We also test diverse rewarded video placements, different types and amounts of rewards, interstitial frequency per user segment and new ad formats.
3. Work Together Toward a Unified Goal
Business success requires all departments to work together. This close collaboration allows for better communication and a unified vision. When departments don’t communicate well with each other, it can lead to inefficiencies and missed opportunities. By working together and communicating effectively, teams can achieve common goals and create a product that meets the needs of everyone involved.
In our UA team, product marketing managers are responsible for setting game-specific strategies within our game-agnostic operation. Whenever a big release is approaching, our product marketing managers coordinate a tactical plan with all functional marketing areas to accelerate the launch (e.g. specific creatives, features on the app stores, country-specific campaigns).
If you’re in ad monetization, it is important to work closely with your game development team to understand the game itself, how things work and to be familiar with the roadmap. The use of ad monetization varies by game genre. Casual games prioritize ad monetization, whereas IAP-heavy games don’t. Provide maximum value to your game team by following these steps:
- Identify all growth opportunities
- Estimate potential revenue uplift based on data with realistic assumptions
- Talk to the engineers to evaluate the cost and time required for implementation
- Present your data to the game director and provide the data-backed reasons why ad monetization should be prioritized and the opportunities for implementing it now
4. Collaborate with Your Partners
Wildlife’s UA and ad monetization both work closely with our partners. Quarterly business reviews provided by your ad partners are a good opportunity to review business metrics, goals and plans for the next quarter. Ask partners for feedback, industry benchmarks and any data they can share to inform your work. Connect to the industry through Slack groups (there are many), attend industry conferences like Gamescom, GDC, Pocket Gamer Connects, and talk to other experts. Talk to other industry peers to learn about the best providers and build relationships that help you grow.
5. Do It Manually, Then Automate
There is a lot of truth to the saying "practice makes perfect." There is no substitute for doing things manually when learning a new skill or refining an existing one. Do things hands-on first to learn the ropes and get comfortable with the process. You should consider automating only after you have mastered the task to save time and effort.
We try to automate our operations as much as possible for efficiency and effectiveness. To automate well, learn to do things manually first to understand the ‘why’ behind the things you are building. Document your thought process & tasks you are taking, and measure them to estimate how much time you spend and how much you will save. Make a list of repetitive tasks that could be a new feature or automated. When we have a proposal ready for a feature, we work with the tech team to include it in our features backlog.
Implementing any of these best practices can improve the efficiency and scalability of your mobile gaming business. A culture of experimentation will allow you to try new things and improve your current work. And talking to partners in the industry will give you insights that you may not have otherwise had access to. Lastly, learning to do things manually first will help you automate them later.