Scott Silverman is senior vice president, global revenue at Vungle, a Liftoff company
Gamers are increasingly brand positive, and brand partnerships are proving to be lucrative for the mobile games industry. But their novelty can make it difficult to know where to start.
Thankfully, there's a growing precedent to learn from. A 2021 GameRefinery report found that 40 per cent of the top 100 games in the United States iOS market have conducted brand partnership events. What was recently considered an experimental campaign type has been validated by the market, attracting the attention of dynasties like Nike, Louis Vuitton, Marvel, Nerf, Ferrari, and the NFL.
As more mobile game publishers wake up to the opportunity, this trend is poised to gain momentum – provided you can navigate the learning curve. You’ll need to learn to recognise the deals most worth pursuing while simultaneously communicating value in ways you may be unfamiliar with.
As more mobile game publishers wake up to the opportunity, this trend is poised to gain momentumScott Silverman
Fortunately, there are similarities to other types of long-standing media deals that have remained relevant even amidst the rise of performance advertising. It all starts with quantifying the value that a partnership represents to a brand in terms they understand.
Gather your numbers
Being able to measure and characterise your audience is the key to determining the value of any paid media deal. It all starts with understanding how much of your audience’s time and attention you’re able to command, as well as its quality. Start with the fundamentals:
DAU/MAU: Your total number of daily/monthly active users is the most important metric you can present. This lets potential brand partners know how many people they can expect to reach. It’s a key variable in determining a partnership’s value.
Demographics: Who is your audience? Unfortunately, in a post-IDFA world, answering this question is significantly harder than it used to be.
User testing, surveys, and industry data can help paint a picture of your audience's demographics, so be prepared to have this information at the ready. Don’t assume brand partners want to hear that your game is for everyone — that just makes it look like you haven’t done your homework. They know their audience, and so should you. Be specific.
Who is your audience? Unfortunately, in a post-IDFA world, answering this question is significantly harder than it used to be.Scott Silverman
Engagement/Conversion: The number of people playing your games is important, but so is knowing how engaged they are. At one point, Facebook was able to tout the fact that the average user opened the app eight times a day. Does your game see similar levels of engagement? How many sessions are they playing? How long do those sessions last? How much money do they spend?
The more detail you can add, the stronger your argument for the quality of your audience.
Identify key opportunities
The best sales reps focus on the opportunities most likely to close. There’s no sense wasting time on prospects that don’t have the budget, authority, need or availability. Here’s how you can do the same:
Look for brands with target audiences that overlap with your own. Where possible, study investor relations collateral to see how big brands are positioning themselves for their shareholders and look for opportunities to help them deliver on their promises.
Brand marketers are more likely to be receptive to partnership opportunities if they have experienced successful in-game campaigns in the past. Look for brands that have already run similar partnerships and put them at the top of your list.
Companies with influencer or affiliate marketing programs also make good partners, as those deals function similarly to in-game collaborations. Spend some time on Twitch to see what sort of advertisers are paying to appear on-stream with content creators that are most likely to attract your audience.
Identify brands that have participated in high-profile game collaborations and look for others in the same vertical or category. For example, following the news of Coca-Cola’s partnership with Fortnite, and later League of Legends: Wild Rift, competing beverage brands are likely searching for their own opportunities to make their marks.
Set your price
Traditional time-bound media buys can give you an idea of where to start with your pricing. Website backgrounds, billboards, and out-of-home media placements are typically billed at a flat rate with modifiers applied to reflect engagement. Make your pricing structure enticing, but don’t sell yourself short, and most importantly, understand who you’re competing against. Estimate how your pricing sits relative to the myriad of other options available to brands.
Coke’s collaboration with Fortnite led to a significant amount of earned coverage and social media buzz.Scott Silverman
Be sure to also highlight the value of potential earned media impressions that could result from a successful partnership. Coke’s collaboration with Fortnite led to a significant amount of earned coverage and social media buzz.
Be sure to include this information as part of your pitch to let brands know that the benefits go beyond just the in-game audience.
Make your pitch
Once you have the data, the right brands in mind, and a pricing structure worked out, you’re ready to take your shot. If you’re not sure who to pitch, leverage your existing network and make strategic connections on LinkedIn. Make it clear why this particular brand is the right fit for your audience. Outline the benefits the brand can expect from the collaboration, whether that’s ROI, brand awareness, or both. Be persistent.
The mobile game ecosystem is ripe with opportunities for collaborations — you just need to know where to look.