Sneha Vaidyanathan and Finbarr O'Mahony are Vertical Strategy Leads with Facebook.
It’s safe to say 2021 has had its challenges. From the news that the global games industry is set to shrink slightly after unprecedented growth in 20201, to the hurdles brought by the removal of the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), it’s been anything but business as usual for games advertisers everywhere.
Throw in the plethora of business and operational issues left in the wake of the pandemic, and it’s been an unforgettable year so far.
That said, 2021 pulled a few pleasant surprises out of the hat. Gaming reached an all-time high in popularity as more and more people looked for ways to escape, entertain themselves or maintain social connection during the pandemic.
Today, there are an estimated 2.96 billion players globally1, and this figure continues to rise. Mobile gaming is also one of 2021’s winners, with 2.8 billion of the world’s nearly three billion gamers playing on a mobile device this year1.
There’s still a way to go before we bid farewell to this year’s highs and lows, which means there’s still time to reap the benefits of the holiday season and get the most of 2021. Read on for global trends and insights to help you grow your holiday downloads and boost your year-end sales.
Unlock the key to more sales
Trend 1: Historically, the holiday season and mega sales days are key periods for gaming
For the past five years, we have observed that the highest number of mobile game downloads happen during the holidays2. One reason for this is there are more devices coming online; people either receive new devices or treat themselves to an upgrade.
This trend is similar on both Google Play and the iOS App Store. In addition, auction dynamics on our platforms are more favourable for suppliers of digital goods, like apps, once retailers have wound down their seasonal advertising activities following the last day of shipping for holiday orders. These two factors provide a pathway to an increase in downloads for less spend.
In 2020, mobile game downloads spiked, as expected, but didn’t manage to reach download peaks due to COVID-19 and global lockdowns2.
However, with ongoing shipping delays due to the pandemic, a bigger than usual gap between the last shipping date and Christmas is expected, presenting an opportunity for gaming companies to win more downloads during the holiday period.
More good news for games advertisers is that our internal analysis shows that cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) in key markets drop steadily after Black Friday. This provides a window of opportunity for you to generate more revenue with more cost-effective campaigns.
The world is feeling optimistic
Trend 2: Consumer sentiment and financial optimism are on the up
As we head into the quarter four (Q4) buying season, consumer sentiment has never been more positive, hitting an all-time high, according to the Global Consumer Confidence Index. Currently, we are up an impressive 17 percentage points compared to last year’s rating3 - the highest recorded levels of optimism since the survey began.
In addition, while the 2020 holidays felt like a cancelled season for many, consumers are now feeling more financially secure and optimistic about the 2021 holidays3. Not only that, consumer spending intentions have flipped and people are eager to unleash their savings to treat themselves and others4.
The rise of mobile
Trend 3: Demand for mobile gaming remains strong
Mobile gaming continues to gain momentum and grow its huge following. The first half of the year saw a 40 per cent rise in consumer mobile game weekly spend compared to pre-pandemic levels and currently sits at $1.7 billion5. Not only that, people are spending a colossal five billion hours mobile gaming globally each week5. It’s also worth noting that while installs and time spent have decreased from the high levels of 2020, purchases have remained stable, indicating new players are keen to continue gaming as things return to normal5.
Make the most of the 2021 holidays
We truly believe Q4 has the potential to be the strongest yet. To help you grow your downloads and maximize year-end opportunities, we’ve pulled together the following seasonal tips:
Tap into audience growth
The gaming audience has grown exponentially and is now extremely diverse1. For this year’s end, adjust your marketing strategies to reach these expanding audiences, broaden your targeting, diversify your optimization, and expand internationally. You can combine many of these steps with our Automated App Ads (AAA).
AAA uses powerful machine learning and automated systems to help your app install ads drive more of the results you value, scale campaigns with sustained performance, and ultimately work more efficiently.
Build messaging and creative around key moments
With more than 13 major events taking place around the world, there are multiple opportunities to tailor your messaging and creative for the holidays and reach a wider audience between November 4th and new year’s day. Use themed creatives for the relevant regions as part of your creative mix.
With Creative Prototyping, we provide a framework that can help you experiment with your ads and explore what holiday-themed creative really works. In addition, we recommend thinking about seasonal in-game events and partnerships to improve player retention and drive in-app purchases.
Preparation is key, so get organised now
Perhaps the most obvious, but also the most important tip: get started now! Plan your campaigns ahead of time and set them up several weeks in advance to turn them on as soon as CPMs drop to avoid any unforeseen ad creation bugs. Build relevant creative and have your creative pipeline ready to make sure you can iterate when needed.
And last but not least, ensure additional budget is available to capitalise on favourable seasonal trends.
For more on maximizing your year-end sales, visit our interactive insights finder.
- Newzoo 2021 Global Games Market Report, July 2021
- SensorTower, Mobile Game Downloads from App Store and Google Play, 90 countries, Sep 2016 to Sep 2021
- Global Consumer Confidence, The Conference Board, Member Driven ThinkTank, April 2021
- PWC Consumer Sentiment Survey, March 2021
- App Annie, Mobile Gaming Tear Down, August 2021