Indie Game Advertising – How To Do It Properly
Today we’re going to be talking about advertising in indie games. A lot of people say that advertising is dead in indie games. I hear a lot of people say advertising doesn’t work. I hear a lot of people say, “Tim, I put $50 in Facebook and I got three downloads and it didn’t work.” Well I am here to tell you whether advertising works in any games. Rather than keep you in suspense, I’m going to give you an answer now. I’m going to say, YES, IT DOES.
But I need to show you the right way to advertise games. For me to tell you that it works and then you try it and it doe not work for you, we’re going to have a conflict of opinion there. So I need to show you how professionals, how actual advertising agencies, how marketing companies set up advertising and how it works.
Here’s the basic process.
If I’m running ads for my game, the ads are going to go to a landing page. The whole point of a landing page is to get people to click on one of the download buttons on the page. If they click on google play button, the page for the game on Play Store will open and the game will hopefully be downloaded.
The ad is important because it is where you actually get the user’s attention, where you get them to take action. So when you buy clicks basically you buy interested users. Once you bought an interested user, then they see the page where you want them to take action. You could run an ad directly to the Google Play Store but some of your target audience may not have Android, they may have iOS so that’s kind of risky. Secondly, these pages are not set up to sell your game. The page makes me want to play the game, it tells me why the game’s awesome, it shows me screenshots, it shows me videos.
The whole purpose of landing page is to make someone want to click one of the buttons. Let me tell you quickly what a conversion rate is. If you don’t know what a conversion rate is, it is essentially the percentage of people that visit the page and click on your call-to-action.
What that means is if a hundred people see this page and 10% of them click a button, this page has a 10% conversion rate. Why is that important? Because you need to understand your numbers. For example, if it costs you a dollar per person on the ad and you send a hundred people to this page and it’s a 10% conversion rate, that means that it costs you a hundred dollars to acquire ten customers. What a lot of people make the mistake of doing is they say, “Hey, I’m going to run an ad on the website and then a bunch of people see it and they get a few downloads.” They don’t ever do anything else besides that. They just run a bunch of ads and boom! That’s it.
You have to look at this whole thing as a process. This is step one, this is step two, this is step three. In the case of a free game, step four is monetizing users inside the app. Monetization is really important.
For example, if we have Hay Day open on our phone, and let’s say one person out of every hundred people that download the game spent 50 bucks. So 100 downloads makes us 50 bucks on average—that’s ridiculously high for a mobile game; it’s usually not going to be that high, but let’s just use that example. So hundred people equals 50 bucks so the question then becomes, how do we get a hundred people to click this button. Let’s say this page has a 10% conversion rate which means that 10% of people that see this page actually click this button and download the game.
That means to make 50 bucks, we have gotten a thousand people to view this page. So how do we get a thousand people to view this page? Well that means we have to run ads. That means to be profitable we have to acquire customer for less than 5 cents. This is the reason why advertising doesn’t work. Because it costs a lot. You’re not going to be able to get a click for 5 cents.
In this case, if all of your numbers are what they are, it’s not going to be profitable to run ads for this specific game. Here’s where a lot of people quit. Some people may even go so far as to look at that whole process but they just say, “Hey, it’s not beneficial.” Well, let’s say you’re running an ad and let’s say it costs you X amount of money to pay per click for this ad, you can create a copy of this page and you can do this with a tool like Unbounce or Leadpages or any series of pages. You can do what’s called an A B split test. You copy this page you make one tweak to it then you test both pages. You test the original page with the new version of the page and you randomly show them to people.
You’ll then end up with one page that converts better. Then you want to use that page and constantly test. The goal is to constantly improve the page. So you may start at a 1% conversion rate but then with these split tests over time, you increase the conversion rate. Which means that you are getting better and better and these numbers are improving.
If you’re doing all this right, not only are you constantly improving the click-through rate which is the amount of people that see the ad and click on it, but you’re constantly improving the conversion rate which is the amount of people that see this page in the click the download button. You’re also constantly improving your monetization metrics, which means you’re improving how many people actually download.
That is a lot of work. It’s a shit ton of work and it’s why most people don’t actually go through all this work. But if you do all this right, and you spend the time to actually go through all these numbers, and you really think about this in a mechanical mathematical way, this is possible.
You just have to work constantly on the bugs in the monetization, the conversion, the click-through. When you do all of those things, you end up with a money-making machine. And here’s what I mean by that. You pay for X amount of clicks. X amount of clicks equals X amount of downloads. X amount of downloads equals X amount of money.
If all those numbers are in order, let’s say we could get clicks for 4 cents each. According to our calculation, for every thousand people that we spend 0.04 times 1,000 that means we can get a thousand eyeballs for 40 bucks. So we spend 40 bucks and our thousand people equal a hundred downloads and our hundred downloads equal one person spending 50 bucks. So that means we just turn $40 into $50. You see how all that works mathematically?
Once you actually go through this process, once you get to this point, that’s when you turn on the gas pedal. That’s when you jam on the gas, that’s when you dump as much money into this thing as you possibly can because you just hit a goldmine. That’s how these companies make millions of dollars. That’s how these companies scale to infinity. That’s how you get to a Clash of Clans size, or Hay Day size. All this from understanding these metrics and understanding how advertising works. Most people don’t look at advertising this way. Most people dump a bunch of money into Facebook or Google and they say, “Oh I put in a bunch of money, I got a bunch downloads, it didn’t work.”
They’re doing it wrong. This is the process on how you do it is complex. I know this stuff is advanced. I know this is not for the beginner and it may take a second to get your head wrapped around it. But this is very important. If you understand this whole process, that’s how you truly 100% make money with games. But it’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take in a lot of cases. This can take more work than your game takes, and you have to be prepared for that. You have to spend time to learn the metrics; you have to do that stuff.
I won’t go into any more specifics but there is a lot of stuff that you can do to improve this process along the way too and get the most out of your buck. This is super advanced stuff: Facebook has something called a PIXEL which you can copy and paste into your landing page and then it tags every single person that you send to this page and then you can remarket to them later.
For example, I have this pixel running right now that records every person that visits a certain page of mine. Facebook knows who they are, it remembers them and then I can run ads specifically to those people. Let’s say you post a YouTube video or you post a tweet or something. Someone goes to your page and the second they do that, Facebook knows who they are and you can run an ads directly to them.
Your targeting gets better because now these people know who you are, and the click-through rate improves because they’ve seen you before. And so this whole process kind of compounds on itself and gets better and better the more you work through these conversion rate numbers.
I know that was a shitload of content. I know I don’t usually do articles like this with this much highly technical detail in marketing. But let me know what you guys think and let me know if this is something that you found useful. If it is, leave me a comment, because it will help me understand whether you want more content like this.