Mobile gaming UA and monetization: our best posts of 2016

by Pete Schlaefer on Dec 29, 2016

One of the great things about working closely with game publishers is getting a front-row seat when things go well. Each and every day, we see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to user acquisition and monetization, and we like sharing what we learn here on the AppLovin blog. So here are some of the best posts we’ve had this year for game developers:

First off, we just recently published a “big picture” post called “Is there a formula for getting in the top charts?” While of course there are no hard and fast rules (which is part of what makes this industry so interesting), these four strategies can each go a long way toward propelling a mobile game to the top of the charts: build on sound data, leverage IP, have a sophisticated UA team, and combine IAPs and rewarded video. Those are often the common denominators of the biggest success stories in mobile gaming.

On the monetization side, two posts in particular offered devs very sound advice: “3 things I’ve learned since my publishing days” by my colleague Dom Davies (a former indie game dev himself) and “Consensus on the benefits of rewarded video: 4 tips for doing it right” by AppLovin’s Sean Webster. Dom makes a great case for why devs should focus on revenue over CPM — a concept that should underpin just about every monetization decision a dev makes. Sean touches on three of the most important things devs need to know about rewarded video: 1) build it into your game from the get-go if you can; 2) rewarded video generates lift in player spend; and 3) currency doesn’t have to be the only reward.

Then In terms of user acquisition, one of our most popular posts all year was in response to Pokemon GO, when we covered smart strategies for building on the success of exponential growth. That post covered a range of tactics including localizing in other countries, hosting in-game events, and offering incentives to users to keep them playing. We also did a cool post on cross-promotion, which is a simple and inexpensive way to attract new users to your game, and a Q & A with EA Sports about the particular challenges of user acquisition with mobile sports titles (which also covers cross-promotion). Finally, ramping up to the holidays, we ran a couple of pieces about what game devs should do to prepare: a guest post by Eric Seufert covering what devs should do as CPMs surge and the App Store goes into “freeze mode” at the end of December, and a post about little tricks to jazz up your game for the holidays in order to acquire new users.

Finally, we drilled down into the nuances of calculating LTV several times over because it’s so important. In “3 tips for calculating LTV”, I advise breaking users into groups based on LTV, taking ad revenue into account, and factoring in organic lift (even if it’s approximate) to buy installs at a cost-effective manner. Then Shani Rosenfelder from our partner AppsFlyer offered some additional advice that isn’t game-specific but is still useful, namely measure retention and in-app purchases granularly.

So going into the New Year, I highly recommend reading through at least some of these posts to make sure you’re following established best practices as much as possible in order to maximize your revenues. We’re looking forward to a great 2017 with all of our partners.

Pete Schlaefer is AppLovin’s Vice President of Growth Partnerships.

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