Mobile advertising company Liftoff has invited inspirational women working on some of the biggest mobile games to discuss their achievements, challenges and future aspirations. This time, the focus is on Faith Price, Director of Growth Marketing at DoubleDown Interactive.
With over two decades of marketing experience, Faith Price is an expert in mobile user acquisition. She applies her knowledge as Director of Growth Marketing at DoubleDown Interactive, overseeing the user journey across the studio’s portfolio of social casino games and skill-based real cash tournament games. This involves handling the relationship with ad partners, working with Product Marketing and user Engagement to strategise innovative marketing campaigns and external communications to drive long-term engagement, and much more.
Price spends much of her time engrossed in the inner workings of DoubleDown, carefully analysing data and reports to understand how each game is performing. The opportunities and challenges she identifies help her forge the studio’s overall marketing strategy, which acts as the foundation for activities with her talented marketing teams, who develop imaginative campaigns to boost revenue and drive downloads.
It’s not an easy role, but it’s perfect for Price, combining the two things she loves most: marketing and games.
What psychology, board games and e-commerce taught Price about mobile marketing
Price might be a mobile expert now, but she didn’t build up her skillset until later in her career. Price’s career journey started in psychology, which she studied at Wheaton College in Illinois. While that might seem unrelated to mobile marketing, learning about the mind's inner workings has helped her better understand what drives users to keep playing.
“To succeed in this market, you need to have a firm grasp on what interests users, not just what motivates them,” Price says. “You have to have something that will pull them in, which means thinking about marketing early in development. You’ve got to show off more than just the mechanics, like having a protagonist or narrator who will appeal to players.”
But Price didn’t just learn all that during her time in psychology—much of her motivational knowledge comes from her first marketing role at a tabletop games company. As you might expect, there are many nuances between marketing a lengthy tabletop experience and a mobile game, but the core principles remain the same. It all boils down to knowing how the game works and why people enjoy it.
“The biggest difference is the time commitment. On mobile, you don’t need a whole bunch of people; you can play whenever and wherever you like,” Price says. “That flexibility comes with new challenges. One player might only have five minutes to play, another 30 minutes, and some may even have hours to spare. To retain all these players, everyone must feel like they are achieving something, no matter how they’re choosing to approach the experience.”
Price also spent a great deal of time learning about the broader fundamentals of marketing by working in other industries, mainly e-commerce, where she managed affiliate programs for drugstore.com, Expedia and Hotels.com. Despite being in an unrelated area, focusing exclusively on the commercial aspects of marketing taught her a lot about how to run successful promotional campaigns in mobile games.
“Having a broad perspective on marketing is important for working in mobile as it means you have many different sources of inspiration,” Price says. “At Expedia, we were always thinking about what’s going on generally and asking ourselves how we could tap into the holidays, special events and different seasons. Taking that same approach in our games has helped us appeal to many users.”
LiveOps is the key and has been for the last couple of years. Games with a successful LiveOps strategy have figured out how to reuse aspects of their existing content and repackage it as something new and exciting. I also think they tend to last as they’re not afraid to reinvent themselves to suit the needs of their users.Faith Price
How to successfully market a mobile game
Price has put all that experience to good use, marketing around twenty games across her mobile gaming career over the last decade, spread across both DoubleDown Interactive and her former role as a Marketing Manager at Big Fish Games. She’s worked across many genres, including RPGs, time-management sims, casino, match-3 and card games.
“It’s always interesting when you get a new game as you dig into it and figure out the core pillars,” Price says. “What’s it about? Who is the demographic? Why are they going to be interested in playing this? What will motivate them to keep coming back? You need to ask these questions, as the answers will be the basis of your creative strategy.”
Price illustrates her point by discussing her process for developing the soft launch creative for a game called Spinning in Space. The first step was collaborating with the game studio to identify the features players might be interested in. Once Price and her team had found three standout elements, they worked with the art team to build creative concepts around them, which would need to be tested while the game was in beta. After going through that lengthy process and analysing the relevant data, she identified the key feature to hone in on for the wider launch.
But success isn’t just about marketing; it’s about a good player experience. According to Price, most mobile games fail because of retention issues—which usually means players feel there isn’t enough content to keep them occupied. Overcoming this means figuring out how to constantly provide players with engaging new content without expending too many resources.
“LiveOps is the key and has been for the last couple of years,” Price says. “Games with a successful LiveOps strategy have figured out how to reuse aspects of their existing content and repackage it as something new and exciting. I also think they tend to last as they’re not afraid to reinvent themselves to suit the needs of their users.”
Overcoming the most significant challenges on mobile
While Price has worked on plenty of successful games, it’s only natural that there have been a couple of missteps on the road to success. Of the many games she’s worked on, just five continued to have marketing spend passed their first year or so. It’s a pattern reflected by the wider industry, with a recent report from SuperScale finding that 83 percent of mobile games fail within three years. According to Price, the situation won’t get easier—finding qualified users has become much more challenging and costly over the past couple of years, owing to the impact of privacy changes across the industry.
That will only get more complicated once Google rolls out its Android Privacy Sandbox and most existing strategies for campaign optimisation stop working. Nevertheless, Price is confident that, in time, the industry will figure out a new way to approach how it evaluates data to turn it into valuable and actionable insights. But until then, she notes that there is one obstacle that developers can easily overcome right now: themselves.
“I think that game companies are sometimes guilty of getting in their own way,” Price explains. “We get this idea in our heads of ‘this is what the users want, this is who the game will appeal to.’ Then, when the game launches and it turns out that it isn’t what users want, we find it hard to be flexible.”
Price recalls working on a title aimed at 18-plus-year-old males who like to play collectable card games. Everything seemed to be going to plan, but once it went into soft launch, it was populated by 10-year-old males. The marketing was all on point, but the art style and mechanics appealed to a much younger audience than the developers had anticipated—driving 60 percent of the organic results.
“In that situation, you have to decide between appealing to this demographic, changing the purpose of your game or creating something entirely different,” Price explains. “The point is, even though it might mean going against what you originally envisioned, the secret to a good game is being willing to pivot based on the data.”