Matej Lančarič is Head of Mobile Marketing at Pixel Federation, an 180-strong browser, mobile and tablet game developer based in Bratislava, Slovakia.
"Anyone can be a user acquisition manager."
That's what my girlfriend told me recently.
"Hah, you wish", I thought. Then I realized, she could be right.
Everyone can be a UA manager, but not everybody can be a good one.
It's not an easy job and very few appreciate it: trust me. I've been doing this for couple of years.
I started thinking about how hard it was hiring a good user acquisition manager recently, when Pixel Federation was looking for a performance marketing specialist.
We're still trying to find the right person.
- Why is it so hard?
It's nearly impossible to hire an user acquisition specialist in e-commerce or other industries, so imagine finding someone with gaming experience too.
The task of bringing on new team members is always hard enough but in this case demand strongly exceeds supply.
You need to be fresh, ambitious, intelligent and - most importantly - passionate.Matej Lančarič
There are far fewer people with relevant experience than there are open positions to fill.
Location is another problem.
Gaming studios are spread all over the world, but we face a situation where no one within 50 km of our office in Bratislava, Slovakia has heard of terms like retention, ROI or LTV.
- What should we do?
Hiring an experienced, top-level performance marketing professional could be costly for us.
And what does experienced and top-level actually mean, anyway?
The truth is that no matter how great of a marketer you may consider yourself to be, it takes the dedication and skill of an entire team to succeed.
You don't have to be someone with 10+ years of marketing experience working in high profile Silicon Valley startups.
You need to be fresh, ambitious, intelligent and - most importantly - passionate.
I find myself at a senior level.
Why? It's not only because the countless campaigns I created, not even maintaining a positive ROI, but mostly because I love what I do and I see myself doing this for a long period of time.
Of course, there are also some requirements and skills you need.
- 1. Analytics on the brain
A user acquisition manager should have an analytical inclination and should be comfortable in working towards optimizing a set of metrics. This is crucial. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Even smaller studios have business intelligence departments, where everything is handled by an analyst. By everything I mean things like LTV or p(l)ayer segmentation.
- 2. Embracing change
One big obstacle for online marketing specialists or other job titles to overcome when moving to the gaming industry is changing their thinking about ROI and CPI.
It requires a lot more attention than just cost per click campaigns.
Adding the mobile platform. Whoah. Welcome to a new world of mobile advertising - App Store Optimization and a lot more.
- 3. Open your mind
Even without experience, you need to think "out of the box", in order to complete the day-to-day tasks of user acquisition: testing creatives and all variants, optimizing campaigns against a specific metric and reporting results in a reasonable form to managers.
I guess we could just train up new staff.
But this involves delayed productivity and a higher burden on existing team members (which I already feel!).
In our case, we take comfort in the fact that there are suitable candidates available, they just currently have different job titles.