As part of our ongoing work to provide specific and practical strategies for growth marketers to grow and retain users, we wanted to spotlight the other side of the screen. That is, the day-to-day mechanics of managing growth marketing campaigns from an ad campaign account manager’s perspective.
This blog comes after the release of our comprehensive guide to running successful programmatic campaigns: the CMO Playbook to Performance Marketing Campaigns. Check out this guide for the best practices of optimizing user acquisition and retargeting campaigns.
In this blog, we take you through a day in the life of a growth marketer’s optimization of 2 different game app campaigns: a multiplayer game and a casual game. Keep reading to understand how optimizing a game app to retarget and retain its users works; and, also to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of YouAppi’s ad campaign management growth experts in action.
The Basics of Gaming App Campaign Optimization
First thing’s first, a robust set up stage can add quite a bit of value to a campaign before launch. There is a lot to gain in this initial stage for any mobile performance campaign. For example, ensuring that you collect a variety of creative assets, and enabling MMP integration as early as possible can set a campaign up for long-term success even before any optimizations have been executed. For a comprehensive rundown of how to set up successful programmatic performance campaigns, check out our CMO Playbook to Performance Marketing.
Most mobile games set level or revenue-related campaign goals. This might be a Day 30 ROAS goal, with the potential for additional goals such as an eCPA (expected cost per action). Rather than make a lot of generalizations about how gaming app campaigns work, the truth is they vary across game categories and titles. Below, you’ll find example situations for different types of game apps. But these examples are by no means the standard for all game apps. Take these as use cases for ways to optimize your retargeting campaigns in the face of a variety of situations. They can also be applied to apps outside of gaming.
It’s been a few weeks now since you launched a retargeting campaign for a multiplayer game app called Star Royale. Everything up until this point has been fairly straightforward. You actualized around 15% of your ROAS goal by Day 7 and ever since then, performance has been steady. While your management of this ad campaign has been hitting its daily performance goals, you notice something strange in today's performance summary.
Navigating to your ad campaign’s management data dashboard, you almost spit out your morning coffee when you see your segment size has decreased by 50% while you were sleeping. You also see a spike in your campaign eCPA. This makes sense since now your segment is half the size making the inventory more expensive.
You take a deep dive into the system to determine if you are seeing any odd user behavior or possible technical issues.
Such a decrease in segment size could be attributed to this group of users somehow taking an action that would remove them from the segment. However, such a large number of users taking the same action at the same time is unlikely.
It’s more likely there was a technical issue that affected the data stream. For example, between the MMP and your system — or, there’s a malfunction in the app itself. You check your platform data including impressions, clicks, app open rate, events, etc. to control for any attribution issues. Everything looks good on your end. You contact the client to flag them on potential data stream issues.
Sometimes good campaign management entails deductive reasoning and intuition. There’s plenty of variation across apps in campaign performance. That being said, when things go awry, there’s no set playbook for how to deduce the cause of the issue.
It’s critical to approach campaign challenges in three ways. First, it’s important to rely on past experience and use your intuition when things go wrong. This is also why it’s important to lean on a growth team that has a long history of app growth experience. Second, you should approach challenges with an attitude of curiosity. Remember: every obstacle you encounter is a learning opportunity that can benefit future campaigns. Finally, you should put yourself in the position of the user and think logically about what actions could have - and likely did - result in a certain campaign outcome.
After breaking for lunch and taking your daily round of client calls, you pivot to doing a deep dive review of the campaign of another game app in your lineup called Tootie Crush.
You recently onboarded this casual game and you’ve been working through the initial segmentation phase. The analysis of a campaign’s performance is similar for the apps you work with across categories. That is, optimize and manage an app ad campaign on multiple levels. This includes but is not limited to campaign spend, by segment, creative, placement, and other variables. It’s critical to optimize on multiple levels as the data gathered can show strong or weak performance on different granular levels. Therefore, the more data you collect, the more options you have to optimize it towards more successful performance.
About a week ago, the growth team at Tootie Crush enabled additional events data to be passed to your system on their most valuable users, also known as their whale users. These are users who provide a high or better LTV and thus are high-performing users. For Tootie Crush, whale users can provide large deposits or take a large number of actions within the app. Your goal is to zero in on these high-value users and retarget them to return and continue to engage within the app.
Checking your campaign dashboard, you see the campaign has gathered enough data on your segments to take reasonable action of whether to push, pause, or expand your segment optimizations.
Zooming out on the campaign’s overall performance, you notice that ROAS has dipped over the last 24 hours. You start drilling down on specific levels of the campaign to see if you can identify the issue.
After looking everything over, you think you’ve identified the culprit: an ad format that was working perfectly at the start of the campaign until this week. There's an issue with the image and thus performance has dropped due to lack of delivery and/or engagement. You go to either remove the creative or edit the creative so you're not wasting budget on it and plan to monitor ROAS over the next couple days.
Since game apps generally set revenue-tied goals, identifying whale users is a good long term segmentation strategy. Even the smallest dips in ROAS should be monitored closely as ad delivery issues or other technical misfires could be wasting your ad spend.
There’s a little bit of magic that goes into good ad campaign management and it never follows a set strategy. The alchemy of past experience, segmentation of different user behaviors, noticing changes in bids and ROAS, and being generally curious to the inner workings of an app, are what make for a fantastic growth marketing manager.
Stay tuned for upcoming installments of our Day in the Life of an App Series to get campaign tactics for apps in other categories.
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