Hamburg developer InnoGames is well versed in handling hundreds of thousands to millions of players thanks to its days in the browser games market.
The studio has shifted increasingly toward mobile during the last few years, bringing titles such as strategy games Forge of Empires and Grepolis to smartphones.
And with that change has come a different stance on user acquisition.
The high and rising costs of UA in the mobile space have meant that InnoGames has had to look carefully at the campaigns it runs and how effective they are.
Speaking to PocketGamer.biz at Develop: Brighton 2016 last month, InnoGames Director of Performance Marketing Felix Janzen says over the last couple of years the team has formed a close relationship with Facebook for its efforts in UA.
It’s hardly surprising though – the AppsFlyer Performance Index recently found that Facebook continues to be the top media source for mobile advertising and UA.
We started with one team member on Facebook, now we have six working just on Facebook campaigns.Felix Janzen
But just how tightly integrated Facebook has become to their entire operations is.
“We started with one team member on Facebook, now we have six Facebook experts working just on Facebook campaigns,” says Janzen.
“It’s the social network team, but honestly 90% of the budget is Facebook. We just named them the social networks team because Instagram is also important.”
Facebook’s Client Partner Monika Nagyova, who works with companies across EMEA, says that with certain partners, the social networking giant readily offers its services and employees to assist with user acquisition activities.
She states that while she works on the marketing side with InnoGames, the company can often also bring in experts from other areas of the firm too, including in platform partnerships, measurements and creative.
“We readily make those resources available if we feel that the partnership is valuable,” she says.
Nagyova adds that Facebook is often providing recommendations to the InnoGames team to test out different things and created an almost shared vision for advertising campaigns.
“That’s kind of the ideal setup,” she explains. “To look at the business together, see what they want to achieve, understand where their priorities are, and then kind of pull in different resources and make those available as needed.”
Changing their ways
Janzen says that InnoGames holds quarterly meetings with Facebook that can last up to two days to discuss strategy and any changes to Facebook, such as new types of bids or new algorithms.
When asked about how this close relationship really affects InnoGames’ return on investment, Janzen claims it's difficult to give a number.
He says however that compared to other “big channels”, conversion rates for Facebook UA campaigns are be as much as two to three times higher.
In the gaming industry we don’t know anything about our users, they just install the game and that’s it.Felix Janzen
“One reason why conversion rates with Facebook are much better than other campaigns is because we have the ability to really target users on a very precise level,” explains Janzen.
“So we’ll use our data, because we know all about our users, how they behave in-game and how often they play. Then we can match this together with Facebook's data, because they offer data we don’t have.
“For example, they offer demographics data. In the gaming industry we don’t know anything about our users, they just install the game and that’s it. Sometimes we get some information from third-party suppliers, but with Facebook the data is not from third party suppliers.
“This really helps a lot.”
One way InnoGames was able to use this data effectively was by using Facebook Analytics to discover its games had a large proportion of female players. Prior to that, the studio had typically been targeting its marketing campaigns towards male players.
“With the Facebook data we were able to create special campaigns for other female players and really grow,” Janzen explains.
“This targeting is something that really helps us not only in growing those players but also in terms of our KPIs.
“We see also comparable conversion rates for male and female users. I think when you’d asked our team before they would so no, we only target male players. But that isn’t the case anymore.”