Interview

Sponsored article: Fiksu on why incentivised networks such as FreeMyApps are vital UA tools

Sponsored article: Fiksu on why incentivised networks such as FreeMyApps are vital UA tools
Journalists might not talk about incentivized user networks as much as we used to. But that doesn't mean they're not still a powerful tool in the game developer's toolbox.

In this interview, we caught up with Glenn Kiladis, vice president and general manager of Fiksu's FreeMyApps network.

Launched back in December 2011, it's been growing steadily ever since, which provides Fiksu with plenty of insight into the importance of incentivized traffic, why these networks appeal to users, and how to choose the best one for your game.

Pocket Gamer: Why should game developers use incentivized networks for user acquisition?

Glenn Kiladis: There are hundreds of thousands of active game titles in the iTunes App Store alone, and this number increases daily. Combine this with rapid growth on Android within Google Play and there is a lot of competition in the market right now. With this much competition, game discovery is a major challenge for every marketer looking to engage with loyal players.

Rewards-based marketing has driven success across many industries including credit cards, consumer package goods and travel. Rewards-based marketing translates nicely into mobile due to sheer consumer reach globally and the need to get a game discovered.

In the gaming world, incentivized networks allow you to:


  • Acquire a predictable high-volume of users at a set CPI and budget

  • Cost-effectively increase visibility in the App Store through volume and velocity of installs by new users

  • Build social momentum around your game


Conversely, why are incentives important for consumers?

Mobile game players are a unique audience to tap into. They can be extremely loyal to their favorite games, but are constantly looking for new games to play and challenges to master.

Incent networks like FreeMyApps provide a great opportunity for players to discover new mobile games that might interest them and get rewarded for engaging with those new games through various rewards like gift cards to Google Play and iTunes that pump money back into the mobile app ecosystem.

FreeMyApps also empowers its users to 'give back' as it is the only service that offers the ability to donate their 'reward' to charities like Unicef, American Red Cross and more.

In addition, the unique and complimentary social communities that FreeMyApps has created on Faceboook (400,000+ Likes), Twitter (320,000+ followers) and YouTube (20,000) complements the mobile game player's desire to share, discuss and engage with new mobile games they have discovered.

Reward offers are a key feature to keep in mind when evaluating a potential incent traffic source. Consistent availability of top brand rewards attract higher quality and quantity of users through establishment of trust. Ensure incentives are part of your marketing discussion.

You say in your eBook, 'Top 10 Tips to Identify High-Performance App Discovery Incent Networks', that not all incentivized networks are equal, so what are some of the core differences?

One critically important question is 'What are the overall capabilities of a particular incent network when compared with other networks'?

For example, do they have a robust network of their own users or are they buying traffic from other sources?

The danger of the latter is that if they are buying traffic from multiple networks, then you might see multiple networks claim credit for the same install. This will only drive up your campaign costs and not provide you with accurate KPIs on the success of your marketing.

Another question to ask is 'What kind of campaign management tools does a network offer'? These could be targeting methods such as geography or device. It could also include budget management tools including daily capping, which would help you sustain your campaign budget and provide a consistent user flow over time.

These are just a few questions to consider asking. In our eBook we dive into additional questions and insight you should be thinking about as you look to promote your game.

What is the importance of an incentivized network leveraging social communities as part of their offer?

The gaming community is tightly knit and often gamers look for new games using social networks for game discovery.

Outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube provide the information they are searching for from a trusted source - other gamers and outlets that provide a consistent flow of quality games from top publishers like FreeMyApps. These games become 'socially verified'.

If a particular incent network can offer a social component to your campaign then this will help to drive excitement, awareness and success of your app. Make sure to research the social engagement potential of each network.

How many followers do they have? Is the community active and engaged? These are all questions you should be thinking about when looking at leveraging social communities.

Do you think download volume at low CPI is the single most important factor that marketers are looking for in their user acquisition?

CPI or Cost Per Install is important, but it is not the only metric that should be used to gauge success.

Keeping campaign costs low, identifying fully vetted traffic sources with little to no overlap while driving volume is a challenge all marketers and user acquisition experts face, but game marketers face a unique challenge in the need to balance cost effective installs and loyal user engagement.

Although you might encounter a higher upfront CPI, if the gamer your acquire becomes a game evangelist and consistently makes in-app purchases, perhaps that is someone you are willing to spend more to acquire as it provides you with a positive ROI.

Is there anything developers should be focusing on to improve their performance in this area?

With the release of iOS7, make sure to focus on high quality playability and fun!

Quality user ratings will be essential to maintain app store ranks. Ensure that you have rating management tools in place that engages players at euphoric stages in your game. These engagements will generate additional positive ratings, which will help you maintain your desired rank.

For more information on incentivized networks, check out the white paper from Fiksu - Top 10 Tips to Identify High-Performance App Discovery Incent Networks.
editor-at-large

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.

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Kevin Corti Chief Evil Officer at Evil27 Games Limited
>>"Pretty much every industry goes through a gold rush followed by a maturing/consolidation phase as the investment required for mass market success increases."

That is very true Jon and it is perfectly reasonable that the mobile ecosystem cannot be held responsible for ensuring that all 27 gazillion games on the AppStore make money. Ultimately quality should differentiate good from 'less good' and in a competitive, evolving marketplace, that quality bar naturally rises.

Right now, however, just about everyone bar that elite group of big/rich/established orgs, will tell you that 'discovery' is one of, if not the #1 challenge right now. That's not because there are not the players out there - we are seeing a million Android device activation every day and 75% of the world's mobiles are still feature phones - it is because good/great games can't get found by those huge numbers of players that potentially would like them. That, IMHO, is a market that is structurally failing both the supply and demand side.

How many good mobile games fail to break even because they cannot attract a viable audience base (especially for Free To Play)? How many future good mobile games now won't get made because the studio won't take the financial risk next time?

I'm no idealist despite how 'rantist' this sounds. But I do think that there has to be a better, more transparent, less expensive way to get good mobile games to the audiences that would like them.

I don't blame the marketing-advertising-promotional companies for providing these services. It is a free market economy and they are operating at where the market is in terms of CPI costs etc and they are rapidly innovating in terms of what they do and how well they do it. I'd love to know, however, what percentage of the overall mobile games market revenues gets spent on buying then effectively re-buying the same set of players over and over. It all seems rather inefficient and geared against the little guys.

#RantOver
jon jordan
On a wider point, pretty much every industry goes through a gold rush followined by a maturing/consolidation phase as the investment required for mass market success increases.

If anything, I'd argue that infrastructure companies like Fiksu, PlayHaven, Chartboost, NativeX etc level the playfield towards indies - as least as much as it can be levelled in a world of EA, Zynga, Epic, Rockstar, Supercell, GungHo Online, King, Kabam etc
Kevin Corti Chief Evil Officer at Evil27 Games Limited
"With the release of iOS7, make sure to focus on high quality playability and fun!" ....very sensible advice, as we all want games to be as good as they can be, but that alone no longer makes for a viable games business, does it?

I don’t mean to attack Fiksu (or the many other professional and capable players in the user acquisition/games discovery space) but it must be increasingly frustrating for the majority of younger, smaller and indie developers/self-pubs in the mobile space as they see the Utopian vision of an app marketplace 'open to all developers' rapidly sail off over the horizon.

Where, just a few years ago, games developers rejoiced at the opportunities to free themselves from the shackles of their former 20th century publishing masters - the bad one's at least - they are now finding themselves increasingly beholden to companies that control the turnpikes across the tiny roads that connect the vast audiences of players with the huge library of games.

Shoddy games do not deserve to gain user traction but, I believe, good one’s deserve a fighting chance at least!

'Having a good game is not enough' isn't an unrealistic situation in a competitive commercial sector and marketing will always, therefore, have a role to play, but it is depressing though, to me at least, that having a good game but nobody will ever see it unless you blow $100k on day 1 advertising is rapidly becoming the norm. I’ve seen budgets of between US$1 and 5million mentioned for some mobile games. That prices all but the very richest of developers out of the user acquisition market and robs users of the wealth of technical and creative innovation and energy that (currently) exists outside of the likes of EA, Supercell, King, Wooga and Zynga.

One-off successes aside (e.g. The Room and Plague Inc) have we now reached the point where there is no place for the little guys at the mobile games dining table?

Is the logical end-point to the user acquisition arms race one where the mobile games sector becomes dominated by a dozen or so über publishers?

How sad!
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