The mobile gaming industry is oversaturated, that is why every product launch is a serious challenge for any developer. This is particularly true for exporting games to international markets, where one can find different trends as well as specific users’ interests and behavioral characteristics. Russian market is a fast growing one with loads of users interested in various products and game genres. That is why it stays appealing for international development studios.   

For example, the foreign developer Camel Games brought Age of Z, a zombie apocalypse MMO mobile strategy, to Russia in 2018. Once the game passed the key stages of the post-release optimization, the goal was  to keep users’ interest in the product. One of the most efficient ways to achieve this goal was to launch a digital marketing campaign in order to reach and engage mobile audience that would most probably click on the ad and install the game from App Store or Google Play right away.

Our team’s objective was to generate high-quality traffic to the app: at least 4,000 installs per day. The most crucial aim was not only to get new users, but to attract a loyal audience. The share of acquired users who completed level 5 should be not less than 10%, while the Day 2 Retention Rate must be at least 15%. 

This is how we addressed the task

One of the most evident ways to find the target audience for a mobile app or game is to launch an ad campaign in Social Media. VK and OK are among the top social networks in Russia, where you could easily start promotion. myTarget ad platform enables advertisers to reach users from both social networks as well as mobile ad network within one campaign. Our decision was to test the platform for a month: from March 1 till March 30, 2019.

We started with “App Install” campaigns. Keeping in mind our experience to date, we decided to target ads to the audience that might be interested in the genre of strategy: men aged 18-45, who followed theme or competitors’ VK and OK groups. We had tested this approach for a week and got the following results:

  • Click-through Rate (CTR) less than 1%;
  • Average Conversion Rate (CR) 10-13%;
  • Average Cost per Install (CPI) $0,63-0,79 (40-50 RUB).

These metrics did not meet our plans set with the client, so we had to optimize the campaign and find another approach. We needed to reach users interested in this particular game genre, as they would most likely install Age of Z. myTarget platform had another specific target option to improve performance.We selected “Category of apps (Android); Game – Strategy” targeting in order to reach Android users who definitely play online strategies. For testing various targeting scenarios we chose five specific audiences:

  • Installed at least one app from the Strategy category in the last 360 days
  • Installed at least one app from the Strategy category in the last 180 days
  • Installed at least one app from the Strategy category in the last 90 days
  • Users who currently have at least one installed app from the Strategy category 
  • Users who currently have two or more installed apps from the Strategy category 

We intended to analyze the influence of the settled post-download time gaps on the key marketing metrics such as CTR, CR and Installs. Another goal was to attract loyal audience, so we set bidding based on CPI, Retention Rate and “Completed Level 4” metrics. The first statistics showed that we were in line with our KPIs what gave us room to focus on further optimization of bidding based on CPI. Across all the campaigns we tested cinematic and gameplay videos as well as square, vertical and horizontal video formats in order to fit different screen orientations.  

Results of the test

It was critical for us to analyze each campaign in order to compare their efficiency. Here are the results of each segment:

Installed at least one app from the Strategy category in the last 360 days:

  • CTR > 1%
  • CR = 15%; CPI = $0,49 (31 RUB)
  • Installs per 30 days = 25,225

Installed at least one app from the Strategy category in the last 180 days:

  • CTR = 1%-1.3%
  • CR = 15%; CPI = $0,44 (28 RUB)
  • Installs per 30 days = 12,000

Installed at least one app from the Strategy category in the last 90 days:

  • CTR > 1%
  • CR = 13-15%; CPI = $0,51 (32 RUB)
  • Installs per 30 days = 10,700

Users who currently have at least one installed app from the Strategy category:

  • CTR > 1%
  • CR = 13-15%; CPI = $0,51 (32 RUB)
  • Installs per 30 days = 17,000

Users who currently have two or more installed apps from the Strategy category:

  • CTR > 1%
  • CR = 14-16%; CPI = $0,48 (30 RUB)
  • Installs per 30 days = 7,000

It is worth noting that we got almost equal average CTRs, CRs and CPIs across all the campaigns, however the number of installs was quite different. For instance, users who had installed a theme app during 360 days brought almost twice as many installs as the ones who had done it in past three months as well as four times more than the audience with two or more installed apps from the Strategy category. According to the results, we could conclude that it is better not to focus on too narrow audiences as this strategy will lead to lower number of installs at the same cost. 

We compared the final metrics with the first campaign’s results. One of the key measures, CPI, turned out to be 30% lower than in ads with targeting to VK and OK groups’ followers. This is another proof that reaching Android users who had already installed an app from the Strategy category worked far more efficiently than the first approach that was abandoned in the end. 

Besides installs and CPIs we had other key goals, including reaching at least 15% of Day 2 Retention Rate and attracting the audience, where no less than 10% of users would complete level 5. The second marketing strategy led us to RR > 17% and CR (Level 5) > 14 %. Successful results empowered us to  scale the campaign with targeting to all the selected audiences. 

Although targeting to relevant Android users was a pilot scheme for us, we managed to achieve the developers’ main goals as we promptly attracted relevant wide audience with a high engagement rate. After the test campaign we extended this marketing strategy to other app categories, such as E-commerce and Dating.