Introduction to Mobile User Acquisition: A Beginner’s Guide

Nailing the mobile games scene is all about capturing users’ attention, getting them enthusiastic to acquire your mobile game, and ensuring they have an outstanding time playing it. Nevertheless, as a mobile game developer, you might face a dilemma when it comes to executing user acquisition campaigns. This might involve establishing an internal user acquisition team within your studio, leveraging the expertise of a mobile marketing agency, or collaborating with a mobile game publisher.

Each approach has its own benefits and drawbacks, and the decision depends on your specific objectives and resources. So, let’s perform an in-depth review of all three methods and analyze the pros and cons of each.

Exploring the responsibilities of user acquisition teams

Before comparing different approaches to UA, let’s delve into the work of a mobile marketing team in the gaming industry and its operational aspects.

Setting the goals of the UA department begins with the product. Specifically, this entails understanding the game’s objectives and KPIs, which then shape the marketing strategy.

For example, if a game aims to generate $100 million in a year, the company establishes annual objectives based on this target. The UA team then sets sub-goals, calculating marketing spend, and ROI to achieve this overarching target.

The key tasks include optimizing advertising campaigns and analyzing channels to minimize costs while maximizing profit. However, achieving this isn’t as straightforward as setting up a few campaigns and gradually spending the advertising budget.

Understanding how traffic source algorithms work is crucial, as is knowing when to adjust bids to improve performance metrics and when to replace creatives in a campaign or decide to pause it. Determining when to scale campaigns and when to cut the bid is essential. Essentially, the success of the UA team relies on the synergy of all these factors.

In addition to launching and optimizing campaigns, the UA department’s tasks also encompass strategic planning, analyzing historical data, communicating with advertising platforms, managing emergencies in purchasing (like correcting a sharp CPI increase in a launched campaign), and much more.

For effective traffic purchasing, UA managers need not only to understand the game and its audience but also to have a solid grasp of project monetization. Understanding user behavior in the game on different days after installation, and how they spend on in-app purchases, is important for effectively launching and managing UA campaigns. This insight influences both campaign setup and further management.

In the broadest sense, in mobile game marketing, the key formula is LTV > CPI (lifetime value > cost-per-install). Although greatly simplified and encompassing many nuances, it is still a primary guideline for many marketers. For example, in many publishers, some divisions like the monetization team predominantly work on increasing LTV, while others, such as the UA department, strive to lower CPI. This approach is valid, but the best results are only achieved through synergy – when the whole company works together to solve problems and help each other develop success.

Now, let’s look at how UA operates in in-house teams, agencies, and publishers and explore the pros/cons of each approach.

In-house user acquisition team

– No need to share revenue: Having an in-house UA team is a significant advantage once you’ve grown to the scale of mobile developers like Playrix and Nexters. With the stability and a large amount of resources at your disposal, you can build and maintain your marketing by yourself. You know your game better than anyone else and can manage your traffic buying using only your team without the need to share revenues.

– Project knowledge: The primary benefit of an in-house UA team is their close connection to the game. This proximity allows them to suggest…

…much do you want to earn, and are you ready to invest time and money?

Take your time and think carefully about the answers to all these questions, as they may significantly affect the future of your project.

Vladislav Samarin is the head of user acquisition at AppQuantum. He boasts over ten years of experience in the video game industry.
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