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The best mobile ads formats for user acquisition and how to plan your strategy

Starloop Studios digs into the most effective advertising methods for bringing in more players

The best mobile ads formats for user acquisition and how to plan your strategy

This piece is brought to you in conjunction with Starloop Studios


In recent years, more and more people are using mobile phones for internet access, so the display of video ads on mobile devices continues to grow constantly.

For example, people from the US have spent an average of 3 hours and 49 minutes a day on their mobile devices in 2020.

Due to the amazing results obtained until now, mobile video ads have gained popularity compared to images or text ads. They incorporate the information in a unique and attractive way in a relatively short time, and efficiently deliver information to the target audience.

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  • “Classic” video ads

    Mobile video ads are the most effective way to attract users' attention. Depending on your purpose, ads can be placed for example within the in-app content (i.e. between images or paragraphs of text). These are called outstream video ads and have a high visibility rate because they start automatically only when they are in the middle of the user's screen.

    Another type of mobile video ad is instream pre-roll video ads. It plays before, during, or after video content within the app’s native video player.

    If you want to redirect users to your landing page or download your gaming app, you can use video banners that you can place in the newsfeed, in stories, or even in-game apps.

    For all the user's attention, it is recommended to use interstitial video ads, because these types of mobile video ads appear during game breaks, for example after the user has finished one level of play and wants to move to the next level.

    Set your goal and test to see what type of video ad above is appropriate to promote your gaming app. Once you have established what brings you the best results, multiply what works.

  • Rewarded video

    Rewarded video ads are ads that offer something in return to users if they view the ad. This type of video ad increases the players' commitment and the retention time in the game while having a positive impact on the users.

    Recently, it has been shown that rewarded ads are the most effective in terms of revenue streams. According to a study conducted by Unity Technologies, 71 per cent of players surveyed watching in-game video ads, and 51 per cent of them prefer rewarded video specifically.

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    According to the same study, the developers observed that after introducing a classic full-screen ad during the game, 39 per cent of game developers found that users leave the application faster, and only 6 per cent noticed an increase in retention time.

    Instead, after the introduction of rewarded video ads, one in 10 developers saw a retention drop, and 39 per cent saw time retention up.

  • HTML5 playable ads

    The playable ads are video ads that give the user the chance to play a small part of the game as a free demo. It is a very good way to capture users' attention through interactive sounds, motion, and visuals and to convince them to download your game app, that's why the playable video must display the most attractive features of your gaming app.

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    How to drive more installs with HTML5 playable ads

    Choose a medium level of difficulty. If it's too easy, players may not be interested in the game and may not download it.

    Call-to-Action. Don't forget to integrate a clear call to action message, as players could play your demo and then forget about your game. Direct it to download the application in an attractive way such as a visual effect or by adding rewards to the game.

    Draw attention in the first 1-5 seconds. With so many ads around, the user's attention and patience to view ads have dropped dramatically, so you need to find a way to get his attention in the first few seconds through your playable ads.

    Use the best Ad Networks. There are many ad networks to promote your playable ads, but you have to choose the most suitable for you.

    If you need help at this stage, with over 10 years of experience in the field, Starloop Studios can help you choose exactly the ad networks that suit you.

    In order to be as effective as possible, the playable video ads must be incorporated into the main user acquisition strategy.

  • How to plan your game user acquisition strategy

    The user acquisition (UA) process consists of gaining new customers for your gaming apps through a mix of channels, tactics and strategies. A UA strategy helps you understand user behavior, what they want from your gaming app and how the ROI can be increased.

    Organic Reach VS Paid Ads

    Organic Reach. Part of the user acquisition strategy should be directed towards organic reach for your gaming apps because it can bring you results without additional financial investments. When creating your strategy, consider your own communication channels such as social media pages and the website.

    Landing Page: All the important info about your game app should be on your landing page. This is the sales page of your gaming app, so it should contain some key elements such as the video presentation of your game, screenshot with examples from the game, call-to-action, reviews, and the link to the App Store and Google Play Store.

    In addition to convincing users to download the application, you can use the landing page to collect users' emails. You can use the email list to inform the users of new offers, updates, and to bring them back to the game app.

    App Store Optimisation (ASO): If it's done effectively, optimising your gaming app for the App Store and Google Play Store is a good organic method of user acquisition. When users search for the gaming app in the search engine, your application may appear in the first results, depending on the keywords you choose in the name and description of your app, categories, and subcategories chosen. To generate interest from organic users, you can use screenshots with text on them and visually appealing videos. It is also important to change your ASO regularly, depending on the game updates.

    Paid ads

    Before you set on a game user acquisition strategy, you need to determine that it is in line with your brand, set exactly the audience you want to target, and the budget you will use.

    UA Channels & Optimisation. When choosing UA channels, you need to know the features of each one and choose the platforms that will bring you relevant traffic at the lowest price.
    A great opportunity for your gaming app advertising is the Google Play Store and the App Store. Those users who want to download a gaming app will use these platforms as a means of search.

    Also, with 2.3 trillion users, Facebook is the most used social platform for paid ads. One of its advantages is that it allows you to rigorously target users.

    46 per cent of US mobile gamers use Instagram for gaming-related activities, so this is one of the UA channels that can bring you new users.

    Consistently building, testing and improving your mobile ads are a surefire method of gaining new users. The way you spend your budget must change over time depending on the results obtained previously. Observing where the losses are and resolving them, can sometimes help more than chasing gains.

    Notice what type of advertising performs best, on which channel, but also what ads do not attract users. Even the smallest change can have a big impact on your campaign, so the optimisation and continued evaluation should be one of your priorities until you get high-performing results.

  • Set goals and measure performance

    To know what is important for you to measure, you need to know your goal and the type of gaming app you have. If you promote a hyper-casual game, your goal is probably to have as many app-installs as possible, so you must follow the metrics that indicate the cost per acquisition. On the other hand, subscription-based services may look more at lifetime value and your focus should be on drawing users with offers of a lower cost-of-entry.

    Click-through rate (CTR) helps you understand if an ad is effective with target audiences.

    Cost per install (CPI) tracks the cost for generating an app install.

    Cost per acquisition (CPA) indicates how much it costs to acquire a user.

    Retention rate shows the percentage of users who are still using an app after a certain number of days after install.

    The conversion rate is the percentage of users who complete a desired action.

    The average revenue per user (ARPU) tracks how much revenue a user generates on average over a period of time.

    Uninstall metric shows how many users uninstall your app completely - and when.

    Need to level up your user acquisition strategy?

    Have you thought about what makes the difference between marketing campaigns that work and those that don't? Experience in the field is one of the key factors in creating a successful mobile ad campaign.

    With over 10 years of experience in the video game industry, Starloop Studios can help you reach new and high-quality players and improve their engagement with your game app.
    Starloop Studios can scale up your app marketing strategy and connect you to your most valuable audiences. Visit their site for more information here.


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