What Big Brands Can Learn From Mobile Games Marketers

Johannes Heinze - MD EMEA AppLovinAs brands and marketers work to transform their advertising strategies to meet the mobile-first philosophy, Johannes Heinze, managing director EMEA at AppLovin, argues that they should look to the original app pioneers, the gaming industry, for crucial insights into how it can be done.

The games industry is well-known for leading the way in creativity and innovation in digital marketing. Mobile gaming companies have the constant need to innovate in order to retain and grow their user bases. Competition for players is fierce, and out of necessity these companies (especially those born as mobile-first) have been trailblazers in mobile marketing. And the stakes are high: in 2016 mobile games are forecast to generate an impressive $36.9bn (£24.8bn), accounting for 37 per cent of the total global games market (see below).

2015 to 2019 Global Games Market

Despite the great opportunity afforded by mobile advertising, brands could still spend even more on mobile, relative to how much time users are actually spending on their mobile devices. This has been demonstrated by the detailed findings of the annual Mary Meeker 2016 annual Internet Trends report covering internet growth.

All app marketers can learn a great deal from the gaming sector. This feature explores three important learnings from the innovative world of mobile games marketing that can be applied to non-gaming brands who are looking to extend their mobile marketing for their apps.

Lesson #1: Focus on ROI Rather Than Long-term Budget Planning
Mobile games companies are extremely agile when it comes to marketing investment. They don’t hesitate to dramatically increase spend when they see opportunities that will yield major spikes in ROI. Simply put: when they see the ROI, quick reactions and rapid investment can get them greater market share – and, more importantly, players who pay them.

Mobile gaming marketers can do this as they have agile budgets and the tools to assess what’s working and what’s not working. Because every transaction is trackable in real-time, mobile games brands can jump on campaigns or projects they see are working well. They are not reluctant to spend big and quickly when tracked ROI is on the rise.

Games and mobile-first marketers are therefore very different to traditional marketers. Legacy brand practices mean that large brands schedule budgeting months, quarters or even years in advance. With mobile marketing all investments are trackable in real-time with directly linkable ROI, so big brand marketers should be able to make a good business case for agile budgets for mobile marketing.

If you’re looking to ramp up your mobile marketing activities, focus on ROI and let data inform where and how much you invest.

Lesson #2: Embrace the Mobile-first Philosophy
Mobile gaming companies were the early pioneers for monetising mobile platforms. This was mainly because of the effortless purchasing process which app stores provide via in-app purchases.

Users can buy quickly and they only have to enter their password or click a purchase button to conduct a transaction; there are no credit cards to enter or third party logins to remember. These ‘mobile-first’ games companies are at one with the mobile ecosystem.

They tailor everything to the user on mobile and understand the technology that helps them get closer to their users and deliver a richer, quicker and more satisfying experience. Increasingly, mobile startups are becoming big brands because they ‘think’ mobile-first – taxi apps like Hailo, MyTaxi, and of course Uber are a great example of this.

It’s all very well getting the users to download and install from your mobile advertising campaign, but what happens next is the most important thing; the key lesson here is to make transactions simple through an app that makes your brand look and feel like it’s mobile-first. Building a website with responsive design might be a lot easier than developing and maintaining an app, but users appreciate the superior experience of the latter.

Build a beautiful, seamless and intuitive app experience with simple, but sophisticated e-commerce at its heart – make it a priority to integrate Apple Pay and Android Pay. Either solution allows for a swift finger-touch approval that simplifies an online purchasing process that would normally involve entering credit card information and matching billing addresses.

This dramatically reduces the problem of ‘abandoned carts’ and will do wonders for your conversion rate.

Number of apps and retailers that support Apple Pay

Lesson #3: Analyse Data, Test and Learn From Past Successes and Failures
Analyse historic down-funnel data to see what has engaged users previously – see where they’ve downloaded, engaged and purchased, then use that data to create new, compelling ways to further engage. It’s critical to understand how a campaign’s success can be measured, and how to replicate and build upon successes. Mobile games companies do this every day, and the larger ones minute-by-minute.

The beauty of mobile is that everything is trackable. With the right analytics, marketers can obtain a real-time understanding of campaigns and the user interactions. Extensive testing is conducted after an app has gone live, with the developer delivering iterative updates or activating cohort analyses tests on various sample groups of players or users.

To summarise, be bold and focus on long-term objectives such as using your ROI to build a dominant market share. Brands have to ‘think’ mobile and build sticky, rewarding and compelling apps which look and feel mobile-first.

The games companies that have invested heavily into better understanding their target audiences in minute detail have been massively successful. They have learned that with the right tools, a scientific approach and smart thinking, their mobile campaigns can give them the market dominance that helps them pave the way for their next opportunity.

Brands can learn a lot from games companies as they become more sophisticated with their omni-channel marketing. Ultimately, brands have the advantage of long-term brand loyalty and longevity as long as they stay ahead of the curve.

Johannes Heinze is managing director EMEA at AppLovin