AppLift Blog

The mobile games marketing Blog.

AppLift Blog

Asia Pacific is the world’s largest market for mobile games, presenting a big, though challenging, opportunity for games publishers worldwide. The specifics of the Asian mobile games market conditions and the trends in each of its countries and regions, South Korea, Japan, China and South East Asia, represent so much variation that it’s important for publishers to get to know each one before attempting to enter the Asian market. (more…)

Whether that’s an independent app development shop, a major brand or a zoo, running a business is hard work. Here are five reasons why app marketing can often be reminiscent of managing a wildlife park – complete with illustrative GIFs. (more…)

Last Wednesday we aired a webinar on the best practices of leveraging TV and YouTube as effective user acquisition channels for your mobile games. For those who attended, we sincerely hope you enjoyed it! For those who missed it or if you would like to watch it again, no worries: you will find both the presentation deck and the video recording below.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have additional questions or simply would like to know more about our TV and YouTube offerings. (more…)

Welcome to a new episode of our Mobile Industry Exposed interview series! Today, for the fifth instalment, we caught up with Ionut Ciobotaru, Managing Director and Co-Founder of mobile native publisher platform PubNative.
Ionut is no stranger to us at AppLift since, before launching PubNative, he was heading up AppLift’s product team. (more…)

Television commercials, billboards, and magazine ads are the “must haves” when advertising traditional products. They have been around for years and will continue to be a staple in most companies’ advertising budgets. This fact, however, does not seem to apply for mobile game developers. Mobile games are anything but traditional and mobile game developers looking to acquire users have, until now, mostly stuck to advertising on mobile devices. Even though digital advertising is estimated to reach $47.8 billion in 2014, TV advertising will also keep on increasing up to $68.54 billion, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.Times are changing: both traditional and mobile companies are starting to embrace the second screen.

(more…)

Welcome to the fifth instalment of our Asian Beat series! Having dived into South Korea (twice), made it big in Japan and scrutinized the behemoth Chinese market, we now move on to a smaller but extremely promising country: Vietnam. For this specific post we benefit from the insights of Anh Hoang Duc, analyst at Dynamo Partners and native of Hanoi.

A couple of months ago Flappy Bird, an app developed by Dong Nguyen, a Vietnamese developer, roared out of the gates like no app before, leaving behind a mobile games industry flabbergasted by its sudden success. Flappy Bird put the Vietnamese mobile games market in the spotlight in the global developer community, and yet many of the country’s facts and figures are still not widely covered. This post aims at shedding some light on the Vietnamese mobile games market, which has many of the characteristics needed for mobile success: a young population who have grown up with smartphones and tablets as their primary internet touchpoint, widely spread internet penetration, and the booming number of smartphones.

(more…)

As the saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. How about a motion picture then? There is no doubt about the fact that video ads are currently one of the most compelling way to advertise your mobile game (or app for that matter). Video is a strong medium because it enables you to convey a lot of emotions in short period of time. The truth is, however, that when talking of video ads for mobile user acquisition today most people think of in-app video clips. (more…)

It is now time for the fourth instalment of our Mobile Industry Exposed interview series, which has so far seen us talk with key mobile industry players from games market research firm Newzoo and mobile marketing platform Swrve, as well as attribution tracking and in-app analytics company adjust.

(more…)

Once again, we are keeping you up to date with the latest news at AppLift as well as a round up of issues affecting the wider mobile industry.

AppLift is TRUSTe Certified (AppLift)

We take the safety and security of our website visitors’ and partners’ data very seriously and we’re pleased to announce that we now have TRUSTe certification. This means that we comply to TRUSTe’s rules about the collection, storage and use of personally identifiable information, non-personally identifiable information and cookies and other tracking technology data.

Apple Reveals why it Rejects Apps (Business Insider)

Last week, Apple published a report on its own website about common grounds for apps being rejected from the App Store, and the top 10 reasons behind app rejections in the week ending September 28th 2014. This is big news, since Apple usually stay quiet about their reasoning and processes. The number 1 reason, it states, is “More information needed”. This may refer to contact information, a link to the publisher’s privacy policy or user support. Others include crashes and bugs, complex or unrefined user interface, and using names or icons similar to those of other apps. If you’re going to take inspiration from Flappy Birds or Swing Copters, you’ll need to be discreet.

Five New PubNative Building Blocks are Unveiled (PubNative)

The mobile native advertising platform PubNative has announced five more of its native ad building blocks from its arsenal of over 25 elements. The building blocks are essential for unique truly native ads; mobile publishers can select the ones they need to match their ads to their app, in form, function and purpose. Now, 10 building blocks have been revealed, the latest five being: app category, sub-category, app review text, app review pros and app review cons. PubNative also links to integration examples, so mobile publishers can use inspiration from other native integrations to learn what’s possible.

Amazon Acquires Twitch for $970 Million (PocketGamer)

Twitch, the live video platform and community which connects developers, publishers and gamers, has been acquired by Amazon. The deal was greenlighted, Twitch says, due to their shared beliefs in Twitch’s values, vision and community. This is just the latest development in a multi-faceted ad strategy for Amazon, which may be planning to use Twitch to develop its own video ad network.

Games to Global Brands? Rovio, Creative Mobile and Lima Sky Discuss (PocketGamer)

Mobile experts from Rovio, Creative Mobile, Lima Sky and more sat down at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2014 for a panel about consumer connections and brands. Turning a games title into a big global thing, they say, is about creating a connection with users, and understand what they want. These users also have to feel attached and heard in order to personally identify which your brand. We believe this is something all publishers should aim towards – for greater engagement, more positive reviews and better retention rates.

Top AppLift Content

We recently published some best practices about how to achieve and keep active users here on our blog. First we uncovered our top five best practices for optimizing your app store presence with better ratings, and then we divulged our favorite tried and tested user retention strategies.

Upcoming Event Highlight

We are excited to head to Japan’s capital for the world’s most diverse digital marketing event, ad:tech Tokyo. If you’re attending, we look forward to meeting you there!

Effective retention strategies are the key to successful mobile game monetization. Creating a game, and marketing strategy, which hooks users in and keeps them returning results in good player retention levels and more revenue.

(more…)

At AppLift, we take the data privacy of the visitors to our website very seriously.
For this reason we have applied to, and received TRUSTe’s Privacy Certification for the property AppLift.com. This means that our Privacy Policy as well as the entirety of our website practices have been reviewed for compliance with the TRUSTe website certification program. (more…)

We are pleased to present the third instalment of our Mobile Industry Exposed interview series, which has so far seen us talk with key mobile industry players from games market research firm Newzoo and mobile marketing platform Swrve. (more…)

Welcome to Asian Beat #4! Having talked about winning moves in South Korea and cracking Japan, we now move to the Chinese mobile games market.

It’s no secret that the China is emerging as one of the most important mobile games markets this year. The forecasted figure for the number of Chinese mobile gamers in 2014 is 288 million, and this is predicted to rise to 770 million by 2018. China is hot on North America’s heels; according to a SuperData Research report from May of this year, the Chinese mobile games market is set to overtake the US and Japan to become the largest mobile games market in the world in 2015.

(more…)

App reviews, ratings, referrals, social media endorsements and shares are all beneficial to highlighting the quality of your app or game to potential users browsing the app stores. But just how influential are app reviews, Facebook Likes and the like on click-to-install conversion rates and how can you encourage your players to review and Like your app or mobile game? (more…)

What does the last two weeks in mobile look like? We interview Swrve’s CEO, PubNative talks about native advertising and a PG Connects panel talk about the console/mobile convergence. But there’s no denying it: China is the talk of the town right now when it comes to mobile games news. As well as an opinion piece about China’s booming growth, the last two weeks have also given us a WSJ interview with the Vice President of Tencent’s game business. Stay tuned also for our upcoming Asian Beat installment devoted to China!

AppLift Interviews Swrve CEO Christopher Dean about Games Publisher Best Practices (AppLift)

For the second part of our Mobile Industry Exposed interview series, we talked to Christopher Dean, CEO of Swrve, about Swrve’s A/B testing case studies, best practices for mobile games publishers in terms of product, engagement and retention, and their 2014 New Players Report, which found that 50 percent of revenues accrue in the first three days of a player’s life.

PubNative Reveals Five of its 25+ Building Blocks for Mobile Native Ads (PubNative)

AppLift-funded native advertising SSP PubNative is the first platform of its kind to offer truly native ads accessible through an API with no SDK required. It allows mobile developers and publishers to create ad ‘templates’ that perfectly fit its app’s design, using up to 25+ building blocks. These can range from one image on an in-game billboard, to panels on a carousel in a music app, for example. The first five building blocks are revealed here.

Console Goes Mobile, and Mobile Goes Console (PocketGamer)

One of the panels at PG Connects Helsinki 2014 focused on key trends in the mobile games industry. Apart from that mobile games are now reaching 10 to 20 percent of the world’s population, becoming a mass market, one other trend stood out: console developers are moving towards mobile games marketing methods and analytics, and mobile developers are moving towards the high production values of console games.

Dean Takahashi Asks, “Will China Rule the World of Gaming?”(VentureBeat)

The latest DeanBeat reflects on China’s booming growth, the thriving Chinese games companies such as iDreamSky, Perfect World and Tencent and the growing trend for big Chinese players acquiring Western companies. Dean questions whether China will actually take over the world in terms of mobile gaming but does stress that they aren’t finished taking their share of the global market yet.

Tencent Games Vice President Bo Wang Banks on a Chinese Mobile Games Boom (Wall Street Journal)

Chinese internet giant Tencent is reaping the benefits of the huge opportunity in a country with 500 million mobile games players. The WSJ talked to their VP of Games about their mobile messaging apps and distribution platforms WeChat and QQ, their strategic partnerships with publishers and the growing Chinese mobile games industry.

Upcoming Event Highlight

The Digital Marketing Expo and Conference, or dmexco for short, takes place in Cologne from September 10-11. Find us in Hall 7, 1st level at booth D17. To guarantee a timeslot, book a meeting with us! We look forward to meeting you there.

In the midst of the holiday season and with the end of the year closing in, many game publishers are again planning to rely on tactics involving the much talked-about App Store Freeze. Understandably, remaining stuck in the top positions of the iOS free charts for a few days without having to incur any additional spend is any publisher’s dream. However, in 2013 these plans may well come across a small glitch:

The Freeze will probably not happen at all.

What is, erm…, was the App Store freeze?

Every year since 2009, iOS chart rankings (specifically: top paid, top free, overall and in specific categories) have remained frozen for a certain amount of time around Christmas. During this period, apps having reached top positions as the Freeze took place remained there unchallenged, benefiting from incredible exposure as millions of iOS devices were unwrapped and new, uneducated users rushed to the top charts to discover apps to download.

It should also be mentioned that only the front-end of the App Store was frozen; Apple kept on running its algorithm in the back-end (which could be accessed through their XML feed, used among others by app store analytics companies). This explains why the rankings jumped at the end of the Freeze: the front-end rankings were simply realigned with the calculations which kept on being performed under the hood during the whole time.

This is not the Freeze you’re looking for.

One of the reasons behind the sometimes staunch belief that the Freeze will happen again this year is the seemingly widespread confusion between the App Store Freeze and the iTunes Connect Shutdown. While the Freeze has so far been a rather mysterious and unpredictable phenomenon which was never acknowledged by Apple, the Shutdown is known beforehand. It simply consists in iTunes’s annual break, when all employees can go home and enjoy the holidays.

During the iTunes Connect Holiday Shutdown, Apple restricts the access of iTunes connect for developers, preventing:

  • The submission of new apps

  • The submission of updates

  • Price changes

  • Description modifications

The iTunes Connect Shutdown has little consequence on the daily functionalities of the App Store as it is indeed announced by Apple in advance, and should not be hard to prepare for. This year, it is set to take place between December 21 and 27.

Before December 21, make therefore sure to:

  • Give your app its definite price.

  • Update your description (in particular if you wish to give it a “holiday” feel)

  • Leave sufficient time buffer when you submit your app or an update so that it get reviewed before the Shutdown.

On top of this, do not schedule any price change during this period, as it would cause your app to become completely unavailable for download until December 27.

Now, why won’t the Freeze happen this year?

Induction. A straightforward assumption, given the trend that saw the length of the Freeze decrease continuously year after year since 2009.

Specifically:

  • Length of the Freeze in 2009: 1 week
  • Length of the Freeze in 2010: 4 days
  • Length of the Freeze in 2011: 48 hours
  • Length of the Freeze in 2012: 8 – 20 hours (depending on observations)
  • Length of the Freeze in 2013: meh

This assumption is obviously not 100% certain, but we wouldn’t advise anyone to count on the Freeze for their holiday marketing strategy this year. This trend also seems to take part in the more global current transition in user acquisition practices from quantity to quality.

As we reported on it earlier this year, Apple has already changed the ranking algorithm to reflect and drive this paradigm shift.

These holidays, stay warm inside and relax: the Freeze won’t happen.

It’s time for the second interview of our Mobile Industry Exposed, the interview series in which we feature key mobile industry players from games market research firms, mobile marketing platforms and more.

This time, we put the spotlight on Swrve CEO Christopher Dean. Swrve is an integrated mobile marketing automational platform that manages the customer life cycle on mobile, with in-app campaigns, push notifications, real-time responsive UX and A/B testing from a number of variables.
Christopher Dean is CEO of Swrve, an integrated marketing, A/B testing and optimization platform for mobile apps. Previously holding senior roles in Urban Airship and Skype, Christopher has a proven track record when it comes to making it happen in mobile marketing automation.

We talked to Christopher about the necessity of A/B testing and other best practices for mobile marketers, plus the most notable findings from Swrve’s April 2014 New Players Report and predictions for the future of the mobile games industry.

  1. Thanks for taking part in the Mobile Industry Exposed interview series. For the benefit of those who don’t yet know, what does Swrve do?
    We started by asking the question “what do marketers want to achieve?” and that’s what we built. In the mobile app universe, there are certain challenges that are universal. So it’s necessary to manage the customer journey, and step in to move the needle around the metrics that really matter to mobile businesses. That means converting new users to engaged users, or ensuring engaged users make their first transaction on mobile. How effectively a business drives these numbers is critical to success. That’s what we help them do.
  2. Part of your offering is providing analytics for retention, conversions and revenue. What challenges are there in tracking right now and how does Swrve overcome these?
    The biggest issue is in tracking revenue. Obviously your app store will give you a verified number for total revenue, but local revenue numbers are easily skewed by fraudulent transactions. The issue there isn’t so much with loss of revenue but with poor decision making. If you run a campaign and measure your ROI on false revenue figures, you’re going to be in trouble! We resolve this by verifying every local event with the app store, so the numbers used to measure success are all accurate.
  3. What other features do clients benefit from when they work with you?
    We provide everything a typical mobile marketer needs to do their job. That includes delivering push notification campaigns and in-app messages to targeted audiences, plus editing and personalizing the app experience live from our dashboard, with no engineering required. Every way in which you may want to communicate with your user base and build stronger relationships, we support it.
  4. Can you give some examples of A/B tests you have carried out for clients and the results you saw?
    One of my favorite examples is from a company called Beamly, which is a great second screen app that I’d recommend to anyone. Beamly decided to put a ‘hamburger’ navigation menu into their app. Everyone told them it would be a good idea, including the team at Google. The result was that engagement fell through the floor. With Swrve, they were able to A/B test that nav against a traditional ‘banner’ solution, and switch live to the winner. The traditional solution won, and drove engagement up 100 percent. It just goes to show that user data always beats expert opinion.

    Another example I love is SpaceApe Games. They built a fantastic immersive tutorial that everyone involved absolutely loved, including us. Unfortunately their retention rates didn’t appear that great. We helped them test a more conventional experience, and it turned out that this was what their users preferred. The result was retention uplift of around 10 percent and another valuable lesson learned. The team at SpaceApe were smart enough to accept what their users told them and let their beloved creation go!

  5. If you could give game publishers three pieces standardized of advice on product, engagement and retention, what would they be?
    On product: Test everything it’s possible to test. Don’t let that mean all creativity is left at the door. But make sure you know what works when it comes to tutorial design or store layout for example.

    On engagement: Treat your players as individuals. We, as an industry, are lucky enough to have an almost infinite amount of data relating to players. Use it! Engagement is about delivering relevant experiences and building a relationship, and that only happens if experiences and campaigns are relevant and personal.

    On retention: Optimize the first five minutes. It’s a fact of life that only one in five downloaded games is played once. That’s a lot of wasted user acquisition spend! Make sure the first session leads to a second.

  6. What are some mistakes you’ve noted that should be avoided by game publishers?
    Ignoring the above advice! I won’t name names, but it is extraordinary how many titles appear to have put little or no thought into how easy they make it for users to actually perform a purchase. Consumers are rightly wary of aggressive monetization strategies but as in any business you should, at a minimum, be easy to buy from. All too often that isn’t the case.
  7. Your 2014 New Players Report, which you made into a white paper, delves into mobile game player retention and user behavior for freemium titles. What trends and findings were there?
    We’re lucky enough to be sitting on billions and billions of events, which gives us the ability to really uncover how game players behave. The results are often surprising. I think most interestingly from the new player report was that over 50 percent of revenues accrue in the first three days of a player’s life. That demonstrates the importance of my earlier point – making it easy to buy. And it’s always interesting to see reconfirmed the tiny portion (in this case .22 percent) of players who contribute 50 percent of revenues.
  8. What new developments do you feel will be influential on the mobile gaming space in the next few years?
    It’s almost impossible to say, but I’m confident that we are going to see a continued increase in the number of games and apps in general that respond in real time to player and user behavior. In terms of what type of games we’ll see more of, I’ll leave that to the creative geniuses out there!

Thank you to Christopher Dean and Swrve. We will be publishing a new interview in two weeks’ time. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in the loop!

On Thursday we attended the Berlin edition of the App Promotion Summit, organized jointly by mobyaffiliates and all amber. This event took place roughly 5 months after the inaugural edition in London and aimed to address, discuss and provide insights on the main current challenges of the mobile marketing industry in the fields of discovery and distribution. (more…)

What has been happening in the last two weeks in mobile? Once again, we’re bringing you the latest in mobile news, both from AppLift and the global mobile industry. Our latest eBook, 7 Steps to Cracking Native Advertising on Mobile, is now out. Additionally, a reminder: if you’re going to Affiliate Summit East in New York, come and meet us there!

Alibaba Invested $120 Million into Kabam (Inside Mobile Apps)

Alibaba has joined forces with Kabam to bring their games titles to China, and has given them $120 million in investment. This is testament to how big the Asian mobile games market is right now, particularly China. As Kabam CEO Kevin Chou puts it, “Truly successful games companies have to be globally successful.” In other related news, we published our Asian Beat #3 about the Japanese mobile games market and Asian Beat #4 will share insights on China. Stay tuned!

AppLift Talked About User Acquisition (VentureBeat)

Our director of business development for North America, Andrew Birnbryer, discussed user acquisition on a panel at Casual Connect in San Francisco. He, James Peng from Storm8 and Matt Bruch from Liquid Wireless shared their best practices and current pain points concerning acquiring, engaging and retaining users.

Kim Kardashian Game Hit $70,000 Revenue a Day (Tech Times)

The free-to-play app from Glu Mobile is really raking it in, and is predicted to make over $200 million in its first year on the market. What’s behind the success? Profitable and ROI-optimized user acquisition campaigns, Kim’s celebrity status, or the simplicity of hanging out with celebrities wearing nice clothes? Either way, we’re happy that a major client surpassed their revenue goals!

PubNative Defined Mobile Native Advertising (PubNative)

The latest blog post from PubNative is a clear definition of mobile native advertising, complete with a detailed description of what native advertising means on mobile and examples of its integration into a gaming app. Mobile native advertising is so much more than social media in-stream ads and sponsored content.

AppLift Launched ‘Mobile Industry Exposed’ Series (AppLift)

We’ve launched an interview series to share insights from the top experts in the mobile industry. Kicking things off was Peter Warman of Newzoo, the Amsterdam-based games market research company who powered our latest infographic, the Global Mobile Games Landscape Reloaded.

Top AppLift Content

You can now download our most recent eBook, 7 Steps to Cracking Native Advertising on Mobile. For mobile publishers wishing to monetize their app, this is an essential read. Within our seven best practices for native ads, we talk about the main metrics, traps to avoid and how to achieve a seamless native user experience with in-app advertising, fitting the ads to the form and context of their publishing estate.

Upcoming Event Highlight

Affiliate Summit East is just around the corner. It takes place from 10th-12th August in New York and we have a booth at the now sold-out event. You still have time to book a meeting with us there!

Looking back on two interesting (yet slightly confusing) years of iOS app discovery

With now over 1 million apps available for download on the Apple App Store, app discovery remains a tremendous challenge for developers and publishers, especially for those on a budget.

Over the past two years, much speculation has been surrounding Apple’s true stance on app discovery, especially in regard to third party players getting involved in one way or another. Opinions differ greatly, but it does appear that three main ideas stand out: (more…)

We all love stats. And, at AppLift, working within and for the mobile industry, we love App Store stats. (more…)

On paper at least, Japan looks as though it should be the world’s most lucrative mobile games market. A Distimo report called Asia: The Leading App Market in the World, published in January of this year, indicates that Asia is the world leader in terms of mobile app revenue with 41 percent originating from here, with Japan being the biggest Asian market.

While the console games in Japan market fell 15.7 percent in 2013, the mobile gaming market is getting bigger. According to CyberAgent, a Tokyo-based internet media and advertising company, the domestic smartphone gaming market in Japan reached an overall annual revenue of $5.4 billion in 2013, half of the total Japanese gaming industry. This represents a 178 percent increase from 2012’s $3.07 billion.

Smartphone penetration is catching up, too, despite the Japanese clinging to their classic feature phones, which were already advanced enough to browse the mobile web and send emails, for longer than the rest of the world. As smartphones and apps become more appealing, more and more Japanese mobile users are jumping ship. Local data from Japan shows that from October 2013 to March 2014, 83.7 percent of all mobile phones sold were smartphones.

The Japanese mobile games market is however a tough cookie to crack in terms of player expectations and localization challenges. Despite this, many developers are trying to capitalize on the enormous potential of the Japanese mobile games market. What are the best ways to do so?

1. Appeal to the masses by combining genres

RPG games such as the high-grossing Dragon Quest Monsters Super Light and Monster Strike are big hits with Japanese gamers. Regardless of their primary genre, games that follow suit and include RPG elements are very successful, according to the Top Charts.

The main gameplay of the global hit Puzzle & Dragons (pictured above) involves the simple matching of 3 colors, which appeals to the casual gamer, but what retains users is the ability to collect monsters and developing them into more powerful creatures. The real fun for the more serious, experienced gamers is garnered from defeating enemies and making your legion more formidable. It mixes the social card game element with the action genre, which has been a winning formula for publisher GungHo.

Similarly, Quiz RPG: The World of Mystic Wiz by COLOPL (above), the second highest grossing mobile game in Japan as of February 2014, is based around solving trivia questions, but the game’s core entertainment comes from the leveling up of characters.

2. Heed the importance of localization

If you want to get Japanese users onboard, localization is essential. Japan’s English proficiency is one of the lowest of all Asian countries, so Japanese language localization really is essential.

For example, Infinity Blade 3 (above) and Plague Inc. (below) are two gaming apps that originated in the West and eventually came to top the charts in Japan – but only after finding localization experts to help translate and customize their app for the Japanese market.

A good example of other, non-linguistic localization efforts is Supercell and GungHo’s collaborative effort, pictured below. The barbarian soldier from Clash of Clans appeared as a character in Puzzle & Dragons in order to market Clash of Clans to the Japanese gaming masses.

3. Get your graphics right

Image is everything when it comes to appealing to Japanese users. The Japanese graphic style is totally unique – unlike in the rest of the world, the anime- and manga-style character designs are seen in the majority of games. Cute kawaii characters and graphics are also very popular with Japanese players, much more so than western style cute graphics.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that anime, manga and kawaii graphics are a total must, more of an easy win in the Japanese market. Western styles for fantasy games, for example, have also become popular in Asia, like those featured in World of Warcraft. The key is in the quality, whether you follow the local trends or not.

4. Select the platforms that are best for your game

Most games in Japan tend to be self-published on the  iOS or Android platforms, and to a much lesser extent, social platforms such as LINE, the instant messaging and calling app.  LINE is not an open platform, but rather is very selective over which games they allow on their platform, their preference being for casual games as they appeal to the vast majority of users.

Naver’s Puzzle game LINE Pokopang is one of the highest grossing apps in Japan, which is testament to the reach that LINE provides access to, but because they bear the risk of taking care of customer service, community management, server maintenance and marketing, they are careful when choosing which games to publish.

As usage of native mobile app games is increasing rapidly, social platforms like Mobage or GREE, which primarily support mobile browser games, are losing their popularity. For most games publishers, then, publishing on iOS and Android is our best practice strategy. The two platforms show a 50:50 split, with iOS offering the highest revenues due to user spending habits.

5. Engage and retain users with live in-game events

Data from our Seoul office indicates that, Japanese players, similarly to Korean players, react well to live in-game events. Games that feature in-game events show increased user engagement and retention rates when compared to games that do not. Examples include:

  • Monster Strike’s graphic showing that new characters are available in Gatcha. Gatcha is a popular business model in Japan, in players use in-game coins or premium coins that they have purchased to enter a ‘lucky dip’ or wheel of fortune for a new character or other virtual item.

  • Log-in events such as (in the Monster Strike example below) a player being offered a premium orb for logging in which can be collected once a day, to incentivize the user to visit the game every day.

  • Puzzle & Dragons’ notice which alerts the user that new guerilla dungeons are ready for them to use, with the aim of increasing the time they spend in their current session.

At GDC 2013, there was a talk about in-game events and how crucial they are to monetization. This article (written in Japanese) describes how publisher DeNa’s game ‘Blood Brothers’ inclusion of in-game events resulted in their ARPU doubling.

Japan is a lucrative opportunity for mobile games publishers and advertisers, when approached in the right way. In short, localize to meet Japanese user expectations and preferences; language, graphics, in-game events and RPG elements should all be food for thought.

In a bid to shed some light onto the world of mobile, games and advertising, over the coming weeks (once a fortnight) we are putting the spotlight on key industry players and executives from game publishing companies, mobile ad tracking providers, supply-side platforms and more. We will ask eight questions, specifically geared toward their expertise.

First up is Newzoo CEO Peter Warman. Newzoo are an Amsterdam-based market research company focusing on games, providing data and analysis on all segments, platforms and business models. It was their statistics and research that powered our recently published infographic, The Global Mobile Games Landscape Reloaded.

 Peter Warman is CEO and Co-founder of Newzoo, the games market research and consulting firm, servicing clients across all game business models and continents, such as Valve, Microsoft, EA, King, Wizards of the Coast, Nvidia, Plantronics and Wargaming. After being responsible for sales and business development at Europe’s largest interactive agency (LBi), he was responsible for internet development at Reed Business and operated as commercial director for a MMO for kids. Peter is a frequent speaker on the business aspects of the games industry. Peter enjoys opera as well as good German techno.

We asked Peter about their biggest and most surprising findings so far in 2014, the ever-formidable monster that is the Asian mobile games market and advice for mobile game publishers and advertisers for success in the year ahead.

  1. Thanks for featuring in our interview series, Peter. To give everyone a better understanding of what Newzoo do, who are your clients and how do you benefit them?
    Newzoo’s clients include the majority of the world’s leading games companies, both the traditional publishers and the new stars that have risen since the mobile and Games as a Service revolution changed our industry for good. To name a few: Microsoft, EA, Tencent, Blizzard, Valve, King and SuperCell. Increasingly so, we service global companies who are looking to move into our industry such as Coca-Cola, Facebook, VISA, Logitech and so forth. Newzoo clients have continuous subscriptions that include direct access to our data as well as continuous custom analysis support and strategic consulting. We have competitors on single products, regions or platforms but not when it comes to the full picture in terms of global regions and business models.
  2. You recently published your 45-page 2014 Global Games Market Report, something you update annually. What do you consider to be some of the key findings and biggest surprises contained therein?
    The continued growth of smartphone and tablet gaming was something that was unprecedented several years ago, even for us. To see this phenomenon in hard figures, at the rapid rate at which it is moving, is mindblowing. What I’ve found most interesting in compiling this report is that all the changes in the market give good reason to take a completely different approach to the international rollout of a game. For instance, for certain genres of mobile games, Russia is a bigger opportunity than Germany. And it could be worthwhile to localize into Latin America or Southeast Asia at the beginning, in order to avoid the highly competitive mature markets, as the difference in size is not so big any more and growth rates are in favor of these “emerging markets”, as we used to call them.
  3. According to the same report, Asia remains the largest mobile games market from last year. What do you see as the reasons behind this?
    Firstly, the uptake of mobile gaming in China is surreal. And it also seems that it is not affecting spending on non-mobile platforms like PC and MMOs. Secondly, I want to remind everyone that big grower Japan already had a multibillion dollar mobile gaming business on feature phones. To see this money migrate towards smartphones and tablets at a rapid pace is impressive, especially because the Japanese have only recently started to take to the tablet. While Japan, China and Korea are clearly leading the charge, they have strong wingmen in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia to ensure Asia’s continued position at the top.
  4. Were there any newcomers or surprises in the top-ranking countries in terms of revenue generated in this year’s report?
    When it comes to mature markets, Australia outperforms most countries in average spending and ranks relatively high in all app store rankings. Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and Switzerland are also amongst the fastest risers, putting most of these countries in or close to the top 10. Brazil also has a high growth rate, and the total size of the mobile market is frequently overestimated. In terms of total revenue, it still lags behind the rest. I do expect them to enter the top 10 at the end of this year though.
  5. You included Vietnam for the first time this year in your data and insights for worldwide gaming habits. What fuelled this decision and what’s going on there right now?
    Latin America and Southeast Asia are the hottest growth areas in the world. Despite a higher growth rate in Latin America currently, SEA is a larger opportunity in terms of potential market size. And with a population of almost 90 million, Vietnam is an example of a SEA country that should be on any game publisher or company’s target list. Later this year, we will be beginning a huge project to deliver market intelligence on the whole SEA region in the high level of detail and the cultural perspective that we have become known for when it comes to our studies into other regions of the world.
  6. What is your advice to mobile game publishers and advertisers for increased user acquisition and monetization in 2014, based on your research into and knowledge of the industry?
    Understand the bigger picture. Understand the reasons why certain countries and regions are growing so fast. Understand why certain genres appeal more to certain countries and cultures. The ranking of countries for your international rollout might turn out to be different than you expected, so it’s important to think before releasing your game in new countries. In this way you will be able to outsmart competition. The bigger picture should also involve knowledge of the consumers you are targeting. A smart local marketing effort is crucial, especially one that combines a CPI approach with LTV optimization and traditional marketing.
  7. In your opinion, which are the most interesting developments and trends set to make waves in the mobile games world in the near future?
    The uptake in growth countries in general will be very interesting to watch. For example when will smartphone penetration in India really take off? In terms of mobile games themselves, I expect more multiplayer and multiscreen functionalities, more triple-A core type games. And it might become more clear what role mobile devices are going to play in combination with the TV screen, for example whether we will control game content on TV through these devices or will we use our smartphones to pay to play games on any screen?
  8. What do you expect in terms of regional market size and growth in the next few years, both regionally and globally?
    We have published a lot of data, insights and predictions over the last year and the infographic with AppLift also provides market forecasts. If you want to know more ins and outs, invest in our global games market report or talk to us and AppLift!

Our thanks go to Peter Warman and Newzoo. The second part of our Mobile Industry Exposed interview series is coming up in two weeks. Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay up to date!

It’s here again: the AppLift newsreel, summarizing the last two weeks in AppLift and mobile games industry news. This time we have five highlights in the form of a video, our new infographic, a recent announcement from Google and one of the unmissable upcoming industry events, gamescom!

(more…)

With much anticipation and extensive coverage, Google released Android 4.4 nicknamed “KitKat” last week, along with its new phone, the Nexus 5. Google not being per se a hardware company, it produced its latest phone jointly with LG Electronics (Google has indeed always teamed up with various device manufacturers - including Samsung – for the production of its Nexus phones).

Unlike Apple, Google does not automatically push its operating system updates onto existing devices at the same time, as it preinstalls it on the latest Nexus phones, but instead rolls it out later onto specific models only. What the Mountain View firm however does for (almost) all existing devices and operating system versions is update its app store SDK, the Google Play services.

The latter enables apps to benefit from system-level Google services such as Google Maps, location APIs, account syncing, etc. The important thing being that, as updates in the Google Play services SDK can be easily pushed regardless of the device type and the operating system, this functionality does a great deal in helping Google address its OS fragmentation issue.

Google recently released an update to the Google Play services, version 4.0. This update is supported by all devices running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and above, which covers over 97% of all devices.

Among the main feature updates, there are improvements to Google Mobile Ads, to Google Wallet as well as to Maps and Location Based Services. However, the novelty which caught most of our attention is the following (quote from the Android Developers Blog) :

“New user control over advertising identifier

To give users better controls and to provide you with a simple, standard system to continue to monetize your apps, this update contains a new, anonymous identifier for advertising purposes (to be used in place of Android ID). Google Settings now includes user controls that enable users to reset this identifier, or opt out of interest-based ads for Google Play apps.”

In a recent blog post, we explained how recent changes to app store policies and regulations were drawing Apple and Google closer to each other. Here, it seems Google is making another step towards Apple’s recent efforts to improve privacy for their users (on the technical as well as on the PR front). The Android ID is being replaced by an anonymous identifier “Advertising ID”, which ensures that users cannot be tracked down to the individual device. The new anonymous identifier offers additional advertising controls, including the possibility for the users to reset the ID (similar to clearing cookies on desktop) and opt out of interest-based ads for Google Play apps. This move perfectly mirrors Apple’s transition from UDID to Advertiser ID For Advertisers (IDFA) earlier this year.

Developers have one year to update and comply with the new regulations.

This November, Google also gets (somewhat more) anonymous.

Mobile Game Publishers face tough decisions regarding the distribution of their games on a daily basis: localization, app store roll-out, user acquisition spend…
They need solid data to understand their markets and their users in order to back these important choices.

To help mobile game publishers get a better picture of the global mobile games market, we have teamed up with our friends at the Dutch global game market research Newzoo to assess the appeal of six global regions.

In the “Global Mobile Games Landscape” infographic presented below, we provide insights on global and regional gaming data across these six regions. We take a look at relevant metrics in terms of revenue levels, growth opportunities, monetization potential and user acquisition costs. Both macro and individual player level data is included, as well as a concluding regional appeal score for mobile game publishers.

Here are the key takeaways of the analysis:

  • The global mobile games market will grow 27.3% annually to double in 2016 and reach $23.9 billion.
  • This growth is fueled by an increase in the number of players, payers as well as a higher average spend per paying mobile gamer.
  • The tablet games market will show 400% growth until 2016, to reach $10 billion.
  • Already 966 million, or 78% of all 1.2bn gamers worldwide, play mobile games.
  • 368 million consumers worldwide, or 38% of all mobile gamers, spend a monthly average of $2.78 on or in mobile games. By 2016, these figures will amount to, respectively, 50% and $3.07.
  • With 48% of the global revenue, the Asia-Pacific region is by far the biggest market for mobile games.
  • Western & Eastern Europe will grow fastest with Compound Annual Growth (CAGR) rates of over 33%. Within the APAC region, China and South-East Asia boast comparable growth figures.
  • Average monthly spend per paying mobile gamer is highest in Western Europe with $4.40. In comparison, in North America this figure stands at $3.87, with however the highest share of payers amongst players worldwide (45%).
  • Costs of acquisition for loyal mobile gamers range from $1.11 and $0.74 on iOS and Android respectively in smaller Latin American countries to $3.70 and $1.71 in mature APAC markets such as Japan, South Korea and Australia.
  • Overall, Western Europe, North America and Asia Pacific will remain the most appealing markets for mobile game publishers.

To easily embed the infographic on your website, please use the following code (650 pixels wide):

<a href="http://www.applift.com/blog/global-mobile-games-landscape-reloaded-infographic.html"><img alt="The global mobile market for games will double by 2016 to reach $23.9BN" src="www.applift.com/wp-content/downloads/Infographics/RELOADED/The-Global-Mobile-Games-Market-RELOADED.jpg" width="650" /></a>

The infographic is included in full below (please click to enlarge).
You can also download the full-size pdf by clicking here.

Subscribe to our newsletter

* = required field
AppLift Content

We are pleased to announce that we received an additional investment of $7 million (€5 million) from Prime Ventures, shortly after our original series A funding round of $13 million. We’re also announcing the hire of former Rocket Internet MDs Hendrik Harren and Stephen Chung as MD and COO and MD Asia, respectively.

The funds will be used to hire further talent and focus on developing our Customer Lifetime Value optimization technology.

Please find the full Press Release below.

You can also download it here:

English | German | Korean | Japanese | Chinese

Prime Ventures Invests Additional $7 Million in AppLift Shortly After Initial $13 Million Funding Round

• AppLift continues to expand globally and invests heavily in its customer lifetime value optimization technology
• Hires former Rocket Internet MDs Dr. Hendrik Harren as MD and COO and Stephen Chung as MD Asia

Berlin/Amsterdam/Seoul/San Francisco – October 17, 2013 – The mobile games marketing platform AppLift announces an additional investment of $7 million from Prime Ventures.
This transaction comes shortly after Prime Ventures’s initial Series A funding round of $13 million and brings the total investment to $20 million.
Prime Ventures partner Roel de Hoop comments: “AppLift has overperformed significantly since our initial investment. The company has a world-class team in a fast-growing market. We are happy to support their fast growth, not only with our expertise but also with additional capital.”
AppLift CEO and Co-Founder Kaya Taner states: “After we announced the first funding round, we were approached by many other investors who were interested in a follow-on investment. We spoke with several of them but finally decided to give the additional volume to Prime Ventures. We are very happy with our collaboration and their contribution to our growth.”
Over the past year, AppLift has shown rapid growth and expanded with new offices in San Francisco and Seoul. The company currently works with over 100 major game publishers and 1000+ media partners and continues to benefit from the high satisfaction of its clients.
AppLift also announces the hire of former Rocket Internet MDs Dr. Hendrik Harren and Stephen Chung. Dr. Harren joins the AppLift headquarters in Berlin as Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer. His track record includes co-founding 6 companies from the Samwer Brothers’ incubator, including Africa’s most successful e-commerce venture, Jumia Nigeria. Stephen Chung, who was formerly Managing Director for Rocket Internet in Hong Kong and, among others, built up the e-commerce fashion company Zalora, takes the role of Managing Director for Asia. With these new hires, AppLift consolidates its business expertise and strengthens its presence and reach in the Asian Market. The company now employs over 65 people across its three global offices.
New hire Hendrik Harren comments: “I was impressed by how AppLift gained traction and achieved global success in such a short period of time. Its lifetime value technology is clearly ahead of the curve, setting new standards for mobile games marketing. The team is extremely fast-moving, professional and fun, and I’m very happy to be part of it.”
The additional funding will be used to execute further on the company’s global expansion and hire additional top talent in tech, product and business development. AppLift will continue to develop its real time-enabled game-specific Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) optimization technology, which leverages data to optimize media spend across a wide range of channels and yield maximum ROI for game advertisers.
Part of the investment comes as a secondary towards AppLift’s majority shareholder HitFox Group. The incubator will use the additional funds to cofound further synergetic ventures.

About AppLift
AppLift is a mobile games marketing platform. The company was founded in 2012 by HitFox Group, Kaya Taner and Tim Koschella. AppLift helps mobile game advertisers acquire loyal, quality gamers at scale on a CPI basis. Hereby, a strong focus is placed on tracking and optimizing the Customer Lifetime Value of the users delivered. On the supply side, media partners can easily and effectively monetize their traffic with relevant game offers, on both iOS and Android through non-intrusive, native advertising formats. AppLift offers its partners extensive and personalized support in order to deliver the highest performance. AppLift partners with 100+ quality game publishers such as King, Wooga and EA and with 1000+ media partners. The company is headquartered in Berlin with further offices in San Francisco and Seoul and has received $20m investment from Prime Ventures.
Further information is available at www.applift.com

About HitFox Group
HitFox Group is a fast-growing “incubator” focused on founding and buying companies within the mobile and online games distribution market. HitFox is co-founded and managed by serial entrepreneurs Jan Beckers, Hanno Fichtner & Tim Koschella. The Group currently employs 125 people across 4 Start-ups in Berlin, San Francisco & Seoul.

Further information is available at www.hitfoxgroup.com

About Prime Ventures
Prime Ventures is a leading venture capital and growth equity firm focusing on investing in European companies in the technology and related industries. The firm has invested in companies in the Benelux countries, United Kingdom, France, Finland and Sweden. From its offices in The Netherlands and the UK the independent partnership manages over €375 million in committed capital.
Further information is available at www.primeventures.com

Media contacts for AppLift:
Europe: Thomas Sommer | press@www.applift.com | + 49 1 578031 0785
USA: Jason Santillano | press_us@www.applift.com | +1 510 207 6138
Asia: Boyoun Kim | press_asia@www.applift.com | +49 176 84 222 511
Press and media: http://www.applift.com/topic/press.html

Along with the colorful release of iOS 7 and its unprecedented adoption rate, Apple watchers realized that the Cupertino company has doubled the limit on the size of apps and content that users can download when they’re not connected to a wifi network on their device; increasing it to 100 MB from the former cap of 50 MB. This does not come as much of a surprise as it has continuously been upgrading this limit; first from 10 to 20 MB, and then from 20 to 50 MB in March 2012.

Let’s take a quick look at the consequences of this update and place it back into its broader context.

For developers and publishers

If you look a the current distribution of the size of apps on your iPhone, you’ll probably notice a bias towards a zone just below 50 MB. This means that a lot of developers have strived to decrease their apps’ size to fall below that ceiling. With this new cap, they will no longer need to compromise so much on the quality of their apps and games for their next update in order to comply with the previous limit.

For publishers and advertisers

For advertisers with apps or games already above the 50 MB limit, this means that from now on they will also be able to target users outside of wifi networks. They should however be careful, as slow connection speeds and/or connectivity issues are likely to impact their conversions rates, which in turn will increase the cost of their campaigns.

Another point is that a lot of publishers/advertisers relied on a strategy by which they would stay below the limit, but then download additional content within their games after the install. This might be deceptive for the users if they haven’t been properly informed beforehand. With the former limit doubled, this strategy will in many cases no longer be needed.

For users (…and Apple)

Beyond these practical points, let’s take a look at the broader context of this move.

This increase is very likely to test users’ data plans, which have unfortunately not been doubled by carriers along Apple’s download limit. This push for data consumption could pass off as rather innocent if it didn’t come with a couple other changes going in the same direction.

  • With iOS 7, apps are now updated automatically, even outside of wifi networks (this can be disabled, but it’s on by default).
  • Another modification which has not been publicized, is the new “Background App Refresh” functionality, which “allows apps to refresh their content when on Wif-Fi or cellular [...] in the background“. Again, this function can be turned off, but it’s on by default.

See below for screenshots:

               

Now, what to make of this? Well, it could be that Apple is trying to push for more data consumption from its users to please the carriers in charge of selling, subsidizing and promoting their phones. After all, Android has had these functionalities for some time already, so it’s also about catching up and, once again, bridging the gap

Two households, both alike in dignity…

In the current raging game of phones, it has until now been rather easy for everyone to pick a side between Apple and Google, depending on design, philosophical affinities, love of customizability or simply need for monetization.

The distinction is particularly striking when it comes to app store regulations, where the permissive Google Play faces a stringent Apple AppStore. This split has a large part of its roots in the way both companies and their respective stores handle their mobile ecosystem: Apple keeps an iron grasp on its App Store developer policy, while Google applies more lenient rules in order to foster the Play Store’s diversity and reach.

This state of things between the two California giants has at least one merit: when picking a platform, you know what you are in for.

However, recent news on both sides brings a rather striking shade of grey over this great divide.

On Apple’s side:

Recent reports show that the Cupertino firm has altered the App Store Top Chart ranking algorithm, putting more emphasis on user ratings and engagement (such as time spent, day 2 opens, ongoing opens etc.). This moves the App Store closer to the Google Play ranking model, where the uninstall rate is allegedly as important as the number and velocity of downloads. Other observers report that Apple is experimenting with changing the interval with which the ranks are updated from every 15 minutes to every 3 hours.

These changes make it trickier to execute burst campaigns on iOS, and therefore more advantageous to acquire engaged and loyal users.

On Google’s side:

The Mountain View firm recently changed its developer policy, becoming much more stringent on several points:

  • Developers must now use Google Play’s in-app billing system for the purchase of virtual goods or currencies instead of third-party payment solutions. This will in particular impact third-party enablers (e.g. for carrier billing).
  • Google extended its restriction in the abusive use of keywords from description only to title and metadata as well (we suppose it was the case before, but they now added it explicitly).
  • The biggest blow, however, goes to developers making changes to the user’s device outside of their own app, such as placing new icons, shortcuts, bookmarks or sending system-level push notifications redirecting to other apps. These tactics are often used to drive downloads for third-party apps and thereby add an extra layer of monetization for developers.

Summing up: tightening control over the payment system, app store marketing assets, or what can be done or shown at the operating system level … rings a bell?

Rules of attraction

Like in any relationship (love or hate – take your pick), you end up improving yourself by learning from the other and eventually becoming more similar.

Apple, by switching its top rank mechanism onto engagement indicators, shows it’s addressing the App Store’s discoverability issue and embracing the trend for a more qualitative and regulated user acquisition market where quality matters as much – if not more – as quantity.

Google, by tightening the grip on its developer and publisher ecosystem, shows it intends to regain control over its own turf, especially in the battle for monetization, where it has recently been catching up on its nemesis. And, as it has learnt from the latter, levying taxes and rooting out local chieftains still remains the best way to go.

It’s unlikely that Apple will loosen their developer guidelines any time soon, or that Google will start implementing stringent ex-ante control over submitted apps. We can however see that both firms are trying to foster healthy mobile app ecosystems while maintaining a balance between quality and user experience on one side, and their need to tap more deeply into the growing pie of mobile revenue on the other.

Fascinating times!

In-app purchases and display advertising are often perceived as two competing business models for freemium apps. However, if implemented the right way, they can be used in conjunction with each other. How should you manage the balance between them in order to optimize your in-app monetization strategy? Eric Seufert offers his insights.

(more…)

A couple of days after the big WWDC announcement, iOS7 seems to have left very few people indifferent. Whether it’s the apparent lack of innovation or the fact that the new operating system seems to be a jolly mash up of the whole industry, a lot has been said and written about the new design and functionalities of Apple’s latest iOS vintage. Comments and reactions are often critical (however usually justified), a few are actually good, and some are also, by Internet tradition, funny.

Now, beyond the mere product announcement, mobile developers, advertisers and marketers need to ask themselves how the new iOS will impact the way they work, especially in the field of attribution tracking.

Everyone has in mind the slow deprecation and agony of the UDID, which started with iOS 5 in August 2011 and ended last May with Apple definitely rejecting all apps using this method of identification.

Many developers have since then resorted to the other available device ID, the MAC address.

This is where iOS 7 comes in.

The new operating system, due to be available for the general public in the fall, was already released in beta version for developers and the pre-release notes include a small paragraph at the end:

Click to enlarge

“In iOS 7 and later, if you ask for the MAC address of an iOS device, the system returns the value 02:00:00:00:00:00. If you need to identify the device, use the identifierForVendor property of UIDevice instead. (Apps that need an identifier for their own advertising purposes should consider using the advertisingIdentifier property of ASIdentifierManager instead).”

In other words, apps will no longer be able to retrieve the device’s MAC address in order to identify a user for advertising purposes. That’s what the IDFA (Identifier For Advertising) is for. Contrary to the UDID and the MAC Address, the IDFA can be deactivated or reset by the user. This means in practice that from iOS 7 onwards, hard device identifiers will completely stop serving for advertising and tracking purposes.

UPDATE: on June 7, AppsFire co-founder Yann Lechelle announced the deprecation of the openUDID, the open-source replacement to the UDID that he and the app discovery company started in September 2011 and which was rapidly adopted as a tracking standard across the industry. AppsFire says the advertisingIdentifier “works well” and advises developers to turn to the IDFA before Apple officially requires and enforces it.

So, what’s left? Developers and marketers sure need to learn to love and use Cupertino’s “soft” proprietary device identifier.

However, in the current state of things, fingerprinting solutions, such as HasOffers’s, remain the only Apple-compliant method able to identify all sources of traffic, including mobile web.

What do you think of Apple’s latest move? Will it change anything for you? Let us know!

On Sunday, we announced a series A funding round of $13 million (€10 million) by Dutch venture capital and growth equity fund Prime Ventures.

In the wake of this announcement, we were blessed with extensive media coverage by major industry publications: TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Inside Mobile Apps, PocketGamer.biz and TheNextWeb, to name just a few of them.

You’ll find most of the details around the funding announcement in the press coverage. However, we thought we’d chip in our own 2 cents and tell you what matters most to us.

First of all, we’d like to thank all our partners who, along with our fantastic team, made this success possible.

Next, the main takeaway from the announcement is that we’re going to use this funding to further invest in our mobile games marketing platform. We’ll roll up our sleeves and work even harder to provide better user acquisition and monetization services to all our existing and future partners, all around the world.

Finally, you might have read a mention of how fast the deal with Prime Ventures went through (in under 5 weeks). We’d like to take this opportunity to stress how symbolic this is of our business culture. In one of the fastest-growing (and most exciting) markets of all time, AppLift’s success more than ever hinges on speed: fast decisions, fast execution, fast delivery.

And we’ll continue to do just that.

Let’s keep shipping

Your AppLift Team

A few weeks ago the EU Commission made the headlines by investigating apps and games advertised as “free” but containing associated costs in the form of in-app purchase items (IAP). The Commission met with national enforcement authorities as well as large tech companies to discuss consumer concerns over the app economy and published a document summing up their common position on the topic.

While the Free-to-Play (F2P) model has now become a mainstream concept for anyone remotely related to the mobile games industry, it is only recently that the European Commission as well as several national authorities started looking for ways to bring more regulation into it.

As a mobile games marketing platform working with and in the interest of mobile game publishers on a daily basis, we thought to use this opportunity to take a deeper look into the current state of various F2P regulation policies in the US, in the UK as well as at the European Union Level. (more…)

It’s no secret that in the past couple of years, Free-to-Play has asserted itself as the main and most successful revenue model for mobile games.

With hits making industry headlines every other day and publishers breaking revenue records one after the other, it’s safe to say:

Free-to-Play is here to stay.

In our new eBook, 5 Steps to Successfully Market Your Free-to-Play Mobile Game, we’ve pulled together our experience and expertise in mobile games marketing to help you tackle the challenges that come with publishing and advertising a free game.

Here are our 5 Steps to Marketing your Mobile Game and make the best of all the distribution channels out there:

Within the app stores:

1. Master App Store Marketing

Outside of the app stores:

2. Go For a Wise Mix of Traffic Sources
3. Plan your Launch
4. Get Ready for the Long Haul
5. Track Beyond the Install

We hope you enjoy the read!

As always, don’t hesitate to drop us any questions or suggestions at blog@www.applift.com.

Best,

Your AppLift Team

Last week we attended and entered the prestigious Media Momentum Awards In Paris. Every year the Media Momentum Awards, organized by the investment bank GP Bullhound, celebrate the fastest-growing and most promising companies in the European digital space. The event hosted speakers from some of the largest and most renowned European companies, such as the founders of Business Objects, which was acquired by SAP for €4.8 billion in 2007 and of Criteo, which recently IPO’d at a valuation of $2 billion.

We are very excited that the Media Momentum Awards’ jury crowned AppLift as a “Rising Star“. This recognition, along with our successful selection in the RedHerring Europe awards last month (celebrating the top 100 European startups) acknowledges the hard work that we, as a company, have put in over the last two years to become the leading marketing platform for mobile game publishers.

We thank all our partners to whom we dedicate these achievements. We feel proud and honored to be working with you and look forward to keep shipping  :).

Yet another vintage of MWC comes to an end. After nearly a week of action packed, whirlwind days of mobile enthusiasm from: meetings, holding down the fort at the exhibitor booth, every excuse under the sun to attend a networking event or party, we are going to trim away the conference madness to extract the key points for attending MWC, for the mobile apps industry and more specifically, mobile gaming.

(more…)

As presented in our Global Mobile Games Landscape infographic, and with $5.9 billion in revenue in 2013, Asia-Pacific is currently and by far the largest market for mobile games. The Asian mobile games market is also overall very lucrative, with a monthly average spend per paying player of $2.86. (more…)

Today we won’t publish the “5 links you shouldn’t miss” as we have done over the past months.

However sad the news, there is one good reason for it: we are preparing a new, better format for this column.

We will release it very soon…stay tuned!

Hello and welcome to the first part of our series on the user lifecycle!

User Acquisition is certainly the hottest and most debated issue in the mobile marketing space right now. With almost 800,000 apps on the Apple AppStore, and as many on Google Play, discoverability in particular remains a major issue for app publishers.

However, app stores remain the main way to be discovered on mobile and to make the most out of them, you need to understand how they work.

There are two major steps to optimizing user acquisition marketing: discoverability and conversion.

Discoverability is about getting as many people as possible to get to your app’s landing page and can be achieved and optimized outside as well as within the app stores. (We’ll focus on the latter). Conversion relates to the percentage of people who, having viewed your landing page, decide to go ahead and download your app (click-to-download).

In this article we’ll look into App Store Optimization (ASO): free ways to get your mobile game discovered and downloaded. We’ll make a distinction between Apple’s AppStore and Google’s Play Store when necessary.

In the end, ASO is simply about two things: sticking out and going for the close!

Here’s how.

The Holy Grail of App Discovery: Getting an Official Feature

You may have read this already, but the first step in app store marketing is making a great app. As app stores are also in competition with each other, they are always on the lookout for great content and “poster apps” to showcase. Make sure to have your app and all app store assets spot on when you submit/upload .

On iOS, you should prepare and upload all 5 available screenshots for both classic and Retina resolutions right from the start.

On Google Play, there is no review process; however your game should offer a flawless user experience and be available for as many Android device resolutions as possible (especially the higher ones).

Getting featured by Apple or Google is definitely not a strategy you should rely upon, but you would be wrong not to take a shot! Get in touch with their editorial teams, sell the best and most innovative features of your game and think about timing (the best time to release is usually around mid-week).

Sticking Out from the Crowd through Search

It has been shown that discoverability within the app stores is achieved mainly through the search function. According to Nielsen, 63% of people use it to discover new apps. Therefore, optimizing all the information that will enable your app to show up as highly ranked as possible in search results (the so-called meta data) is paramount.

The main asset of your game is its title: both on Google Play and iOS, the keywords used in the title weigh greatly in the search algorithm. The title should be descriptive of your game’s core value but not too long (on iOS, it gets truncated after 12 characters.)

On the Apple AppStore, you can enter a list of keywords, which are used for the search function, but won’t be displayed publicly. Here’s some do’s and don’ts on how to choose them:

  • The list has 100 characters, including commas. Do not leave any spaces.
  • Keywords are specific to each local AppStore, and should therefore be localized and not just translated.
  • Don’t repeat the keywords already present in the title.
  • Don’t use phrases, only single words (eg “medieval, RPG” instead of “medieval RPG”).
  • Only use single forms, and avoid articles.
  • Focus on the long tail: tailored keywords will make you rank higher.
  • On iOS 6 the category of the app is automatically a keyword, so no need to add it to the list.
  • If your app is free, the word “free” is implicitly added as well.

On top of that, it is advised to use a keyword optimization tool, as they’re quite cheap and offer valuable insights. The main ones are appcod.es, Search Man SEO and MobileDevHQ.

On Google’s Play Store, there is no keyword list, but your game’s description matters for search results (which is not the case on iOS). Here’s a few tips:

  • Google’s roots are in search and keywords play a great part everywhere, even outside the Store. You can use adWord’s keyword tool as well as the auto-response search suggestions in Google Play to assess their popularity.
  • Include your main keywords around 5 times along your description, but be careful to keep it readable and cohesive.
  • Key phrases are as important as words.
  • Screen competitors (which you can’t do on iOS).
  • As descriptions can be modified on the go, it can be a good strategy to be opportunistic and include some trendy and/or seasonal keywords (Christmas, Olympics, Gangnam Style…).
  • Remember, it’s Google! Keywords matter everywhere: in the title, the description and even in the file names of your screenshots.

With keywords, the general trick is to find the sweet spot between the volume of the search traffic and their degree of competitiveness (how many competitors chose them as well).

Conversion: Going for the Close!

Once you’ve done everything to optimize your app’s discoverability potential, you still need to convince people to download it. This can mainly be achieved through the marketing assets present on the stores, which are both visual (icon and screenshots) and written (title and description).

General Tips for the Icon:

  • Don’t use words.
  • Keep it simple and uncluttered.
  • Make it consistent with the game’s content.
  • Make the content elements pop out.
  • Consider using a border so it looks good on any background.
  • Icons come with a premium on Google Play, as it’s the only visual asset which appears in search.

On iOS make sure that your screenshots aren’t too small and can be read on the iPhone’s resolution. Also, as they are now locked after approval, you can no longer A/B test them within the Store. Fortunately, there are some tools out there to help you overcome this hurdle: they typically send traffic to mobile web landing pages simulating the AppStore. Here are the main ones: Atmio and Sparkpage.

With iOS 6, Apple completely revamped the aspect of search with the last update, where visual assets are paramount.

The best way to optimize the conversion potential of your game on the AppStore is to go through a funnel of click stages and use the 80/20 rule to allocate your efforts and ressources. At each stage, users can download the app if they are convinced by what they see (A/N: being a big fan of Candy Crush Saga, I’ve already got it on my phone which is why the button says “open” instead of “download”). If not, they can either leave the page or go one stage further to get more information. Needless to say, the importance of the visual elements displayed decrease greatly at each stage of the funnel, which is why you should concentrate most of your optimization efforts on the first one(s). Also, remember that screenshots now require a full update to be changed, which is one more reason to have everything ready before submission.

First stage: the page which appears from search. On iOS 6, only one search result is shown at a time, therefore conferring a strong benefit to the first app displayed. The main assets shown are: the icon, the title, and the first screenshot (out of the five which can be uploaded). It is paramount that you get that first screenshot spot on, as it will make for most of the users’ first impression. It is wise to include a pop-up notification mechanism within your app to ask users to rate it positively, as the overall average rating will strongly impact judgements (it also affects the search rank).

Second stage: the top of the landing page, which appears after you click on the screenshot. This is where all the information about your game can be accessed. The first screenshot still comes at a premium, but the users can easily access the others by scrolling right. Don’t hesitate to add explanations and even combine the pictures to tell a story! The main thing being to show the users the main features and walk them through the app. On iOS they should all be vertical (contrary to Google Play). Also, don’t forget to localize them as much as possible.

Third stage: scrolling down the landing page.

There, users can access the more textual and descriptive data about your game: description, update notes and general information. You’ll notice that only the first lines of the description are shown, therefore you should put 80% of your efforts in the beginning of the text. Demonstrate value through favorable press mentions, review quotes and awards. The same applies for the “What’s New” section: go for the most attractive features of your update right from the start.

Fourth stage and beyond: the rest of the app and update descriptions as well as the reviews are no longer as important as all the other elements, but should not be neglected for the long tail of users who get all the way there.

We hope to have covered the most important aspects of App Store Optimization and that you enjoyed it. If you have any questions or remarks, don’t hesitate to drop us a line! If you like what your read, subscribe to the blog’s mailing list! We’ll also update the post to take into account the changes that might occur in the future.

In the mean time, stay tuned for the next part in our series: retention and engagement!

Big news! Today app store analytics company App Annie announced that it had acquired its competitor Distimo in the wake of an additional founding round of $17 million, bringing their overall financing to $39 million in the process.

This deal shows first and foremost that data and analytics continue to take on a growing importance within the mobile industry. We have always been very fond of both companies’ insights on the app store ecosystem and we are confident that this consolidation will enable even more powerful, qualitative and accurate analytics in the future.

With only one major company left in the app store analytics space, we also hope that these insights will continue to benefit everyone in the industry.

Good luck!

On the side of the gaming conference and trade fair Casual Connect Europe in Hamburg (meet us there!), AppLift co-founder and managing director Tim Koschella was interviewed by mobilbranche.de, a German website dedicated to mobile industry news. We thought the interview offered a good summary of AppLift’s vision and positioning in the mobile gaming space. For those of you who are lucky enough to speak German ;), you can find the original article here. Otherwise, no worries, here’s a translation: (more…)

The links are back! From now on we will select the main stories, facts, figures and charts of the two weeks that were.
Welcome to Mobile News of the Fortnight!

The Main Piece of News of the Fortnight (PocketGamer)

Developers on the App Store are now able to provide promo codes for in-app purchases. This new feature is good news for developers as promo codes were previously limited to initial app downloads only. The ability to give away in-app purchases using promo codes will facilitate the process of testing and promoting freemium games and other apps with content that can be purchased within an app.

The App of the Fortnight (Forbes)

Tencent’s flagship mobile app WeChat is acknowledged as the most powerful mobile app in China. Based on reported growth of WeChat MAUs, the app is on its way to become one of the most powerful apps worldwide too. Currently the number of WeChat MAUs reaches 396 million, twice its size since the beginning of 2013 (195 MAUs). Such growth can be threatening to the strongest WeChat competitors such as Whatsapp, whose global user base consists of 465 million MAUs.

The Finding of the Fortnight (MarketWatch)

In their online behaviors, phablet users are found to be distinct enough from smartphone and tablet users. Social networking on phablets constitutes around 54% of impressions, strongly surpassing the Q1 global average of all mobile devices (around 27%). Also, phablet users’ engagement level with the ads during the evening hours (8pm – 10pm) is very high, outperforming the ones of tablet users’.

The Evidence of the Fortnight (AListDaily)

While the F2P business model dominates the mobile games market (with 90% of all mobile games), there is evidence proving that paid mobile games still have good opportunities too. Recent examples of Fingerproof Games’ franchise The Room sales of more than 5.4 million copies at a price of $4.99 and Minecraft’s sales with over 15 million copies at $6.99 suggest that paid mobile games can prosper in the premium games niche.

The Impact of the Fortnight (VentureBeat)

A few months ago the Google Play Store changed the way it categorizes the game category. The number of categories increased from 6 to 18. This change facilitated the game discovery process. In turn, positive impact on games revenues and downloads can be observed on the recent reports.

The fast growth of the freemium model over the past couple of years has made it obvious that mobile game developers and publishers need to draw a thick line between user acquisition and monetization. Getting people to download your app is merely the first step. What follows is the need to engage, retain and finally convert those people into paying users. In other words, from player to payer. This distinction requires you to think ahead and plan the various steps that will lead to the efficient monetization of your user base. We can think of this series of steps as AVREM:

Acquisition – Virality – Retention – Engagement – Monetization.

Even though each of these steps requires distinct attention and uses specific metrics, they also impact each other and result in important trade-offs which you’ll need to address. For instance, if your monetization strategy is too aggressive, then it comes at the expense of retention as your users become annoyed by repetitive push notifications and intrusive ads or get stuck in their game experience by disruptive in-app purchase items.

The Big Picture

Therefore, when marketing your app it’s essential you take a holistic approach to the user lifecycle in order to secure a successful monetization strategy. Here’s a quick and simple overview of the different phases of the lifecycle as well as some examples of typical KPI’s to monitor in order to get a better view of the big picture:

AtAppLift, we’re committed to share our insights on mobile game marketing, and in the next weeks we’ll be posting a series of articles on how to optimize each of these items throughout the user lifecycle. We’ll be looking at best practices, we’ll dive into the relevant metrics, and we’ll help you address the arising trade-offs.

Here’s a peek:

  1. User Acquisition: the first one which comes to mind. How many users download your app, what are your traffic sources (organic, inbound marketing, paid traffic etc.) and how much you pay for them (Cost Per Acquisition or CPA). We’ll give you tips on how to optimize your app store marketing (among other things).
  2. Virality: is a happy by-product of Engagement and positively impacts User Acquisition. For instance, encourage and incentivize your users to leave positive AppStore reviews, and share your app on social media channels. The major KPI to measure virality is the K-factor (average number of invites sent by each user multiplied by their conversion rate).
  3. Retention: how many days your users keep on using your app after they’ve opened it for the first time. With the freemium model, users have no inherent incentive to keep using your game. Typical KPI’s include Day 1, Day 7 and Day 30 retention.
  4. Engagement: how often your users open your app during the day and how long they stay engaged (how many daily sessions per Daily Active User (DAU) and average time per session).
  5. Monetization: your end goal the very reason you’re in the game. The success of your monetization strategy will largely depend on your capacity to engage and retain users once you’ve acquired them. Most monetization strategies involve either the display of ad offers (banners, interstitials etc.), in-app purchase items (level unlock, purchase of virtual currencies etc.) or a mix of both.
    The most important KPI’s for monetization are: percentage of paying users, Lifetime Value (LTV), Average Revenue Per Daily Active User (ARPDAU). Monitoring these metrics is paramount because it will in turn enable you to know at which price you can buy traffic in order to get a positive return on investment (ROI).

Stay tuned for the first article in our series on the user lifecycle!

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or ask us directly!

Yesterday, Apple held the keynote presentation of its annual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in San Francisco. The company announced a myriad of new products and features, including iOS 8, the latest edition of the mobile operating system, which will be available to the public later this fall.

Overall, Apple’s announcements are quite strong, especially for app developers; for app marketers, Business of Apps nicely summed up the main improvements included in the release.

Here, we would like to focus on just a few which we believe will directly impact the life of mobile marketers. Then, as it has also been noted that many of these new features effectively close gaps between iOS and Android (widgets and third-party keyboard integrations in particular), we would like cast a light on a few things that we would like Apple  to catch up on in terms of app store marketing.

What we liked

In a previous post, we highlighted that App Store Optimization (ASO) is essentially about two things: discovery and conversion. Here’s how Apple’s new features help both of these:

Discovery:

  • “Explore” Tab”: this new page in the App Store will improve discovery through a couple features:
    • “Trending Searches”: this feature will help discover apps which are popular at a particular time and independently from the top charts (similar to Twitter).
    • Then, the new “Explore” tab will also allow users to go through categories and sub-categories seamlessly, via a continuous-scrolling interface.

  • “Spotlight Searches”: system-level searches will now return results from the App Store and not only from the apps installed on the user’s device, thereby improving discovery and additional downloads.
  • The search navigation system is back to vertical scrolling. That’s also a good thing.

Conversion

  • “App Bundles”: publishers will have the possibility to bundle several apps together and offer them at a discount, in an effort to facilitate and increase sales. Whether this will somewhat readjust the balance in the revenue between paid apps and in-app purchases is left to see.
  • “Video Clips”: this is by far the biggest improvement to help conversion in the App Store, as publishers will from now on be able to showcase their app through a short, “vine style” video on their app’s page. As reported in an earlier post, this feature had been predicted by Stefan Bielau at the App Promotion Summit Berlin back in November 2013. As for all other App Store assets (except for the description), it is likely that these video clips will have to go through Apple’s scrutiny and require to go through the update process.

And now, what was missing.

What we would have liked to see

  • More transparency in iTunes Connect: between the click and the download, the App Store remains a black box. It would be great for Apple to allow developers and publishers, beyond the mere install rate (or conversion rate) to really understand what goes on with their users: did the users find the app through search, top charts, or recommended apps? Did they read the whole description before downloading it? Ideally, Apple would make this data available to third-party tracking solutions so as to associate it with other metrics and parameters, such as click-through rate and the acquisition channel.
  • A/B testing: Apple should enable publishers to A/B test as many app store assets as possible (e.g. logo, screenshots, description, and even app name), instead of having to rely on work-around solutions, such as spending advertising money on displaying test creatives.
  • Intra-app searches: allowing Spotlight to look for apps both on the device and the App Store is a good first step, but it would be good for Apple to enable users to look for content within 3rd party apps as well (as is the case on Android). This would increase engagement levels for apps which have the content that users are looking for.

That’s it. Let us know if you have any questions and have fun with the new features!

AppStore marketing is a challenging sport.

In our last article we highlighted the importance of having all your AppStore visual assets ready as early as possible. This requisite has just been made all the more stringent by Apple who announced that, as of January 10 2013, screenshots will be locked once the app has been approved. This change in policy seems justified by their efforts to thwart a common scamming tactic employed by fake apps, which resides in swapping out approved screenshots with new ones stolen from popular iOS titles, in order to lure users in.

This new rule means that, from now on, it will require a full update to modify an app’s screenshots, as was already the case with the icon, title and keywords. For now, the description can still be changed at any time, without the need for review.

This seems like a very drastic measure in an otherwise laudable attempt to protect customers from scam, especially since no warning was given, and severely penalizes the vast majority of legitimate publishers who used this flexibility to test their marketing assets. It’s a big hurdle to all content-heavy apps in particular, which often relied on this feature to reflect and market their changing content.

A more amenable solution would have been to create a specific, lighter review process for meta-data (marketing assets) or simply to let users report scams after approval.

For app developers and marketers, the main consequences are:

    • Screenshots must be spot-on by the time your game goes into review. Actually, they should be when you submit the app, as you never know how long it will take for Apple to start the process. Therefore you need to reorganize your marketing plan in order to get everything finished in time.
    • Screenshots become more a part of the product itself and less of a flexible marketing variable for A/B testing. Pay attention to their consistency with the rest of your product marketing.
    • With the release of iOS 6, screenshots have become the main visual asset for AppStore optimization and user acquisition marketing (especially the first one, which appears in search). The fact that they need to be finalized by the time of the submission means that the marketing and tech teams should work closer together than ever before, in order to sync up for the app’s release and update calendar. Of course, you can submit a marketing update without any significant changes to the app’s binary, but given the time it might take for the approval to go through, you’d rather do it in one shot.

    • If you do go for a marketing-only update (note that you still need to submit a binary), take this opportunity to revamp all your other assets (icon, title, keywords).

Good luck to all app devs, publishers and marketers out there!

PS: if you’ve got any specific question, or if you would like to suggest us a topic for a future post, please drop us a line at blog-at-www.applift.com!

Welcome to our first episode of our Asian Beat series!

In this first issue we investigate the current state of the South Korean mobile games market. In particular, we look at the history of messaging app Kakao Talk as well as the reasons behind its incredible success. We also dive into the game trends, which have been rapidly evolving over the past couple of years.

To begin with, a few facts and figures:

One of the World’s hottest mobile games markets

According to the Korea Creative Content Agency (government agency in charge of promoting the content industry), the total South Korean games market already amounted to $9.16 billion in 2012 and the revenue for the domestic mobile gaming market reached $754 million during the same year.

The country is also extremely tech-savvy. Smartphone penetration in South Korea had already hit 70 percent by the end of 2013 (according to a South Korean government report), which is significantly higher than some Western countries, such as the UK (62 percent), or the US (56 percent). One specificity of the South Korean market is that Android is by far the dominant operating system, with an install base close to 94 percent. It is, after all, Samsung’s home turf.

N.B.: the install base represents the percentage of devices owned at a given point in time (snapshot), whereas the market share is the percentage of devices shipped over a given period of time – usually a quarter (trend).

Mobile games are also extremely popular and widespread among the population: as early as 2012, approximately 61 percent of South Korean users with smartphones played mobile games, and South Koreans spent on average one hour a day playing mobile games. (Source: Korea Creative Content Agency).

Given that games represent 37 percent of all app downloads and 92 percent of revenue among the Top 400 Grossing apps in the Play Store worldwide (source: Distimo), these figures are far from negligible.

Kakao’s dominance within the Korean mobile gaming scene

Mobile gaming became even more popular in Korea in the Summer of 2012, when “over-the-top” (OTT) messaging service Kakao launched their game publishing service. Where Kakao was originally simply a social networking service providing instant free text messaging and call services, the new platform suddenly started enabling developers to easily publish and distribute their games to millions of Kakao users.

Match-4 game “Anipang for Kakao” was the first game to become a national hit, with many other publishers following in its footsteps to publish their titles on Kakao. Games flooded onto the platform and, with Kakao driving massive installs, many of them managed to climb the top charts in Google Play and the App Store and enjoyed increased revenue on top of this. Within a year of its release, the platform had hit 30 million users and generated 400 million game downloads.

The mobile games market continued to expand extremely fast and, after further success of titles such as Moddo Marble (모두의 마블), Every Town (에브리타운), Wind Runner (윈드러너) and Pokopang (포코팡), the competition became very intense. At this point bigger, traditional online game publishers, such as Nexon, NHN, CJ E&M and WeMade also joined the race. Currently, over 450 games have been released on the Kakao platform, and an average of 4 new titles get released every week.

One of the key elements of Kakao’s success is its propensity to generate virality, as it is first and foremost a messaging service and a social platform with over 100 million South Korean users. Kakao’s social features play a great part in the visibility it generates for its featured games. In particular, the social invite functionality is instrumental to the virality of the titles published on the platform.

Here is for instance the screenshot of a game invite for Anipang on Kakao:

Key Milestones in Kakao’s development (source: beSUCCESS)

  • March 2010: Kakao Talk Launched by Kakao Corp.

  • August 2011: Series A investment from Maverick Capital and Cyber Agent Ventures

  • March 2012: Kakao releases Kakao Story, which bacame the most popular social networking service in Korea. It still has more Korean users than Facebook.

  • July 2012: Kakao releases its first game, Anipang, which becomes an immediate sensation in Korea.

  • August 2012: Kakao hits 55M users, 50 percent of whom are Korean.

  • December 2012: Kakao passes 70M users, more than 50 percent of whom are now outside Korea.

  • 2012: Kakao’s first profitable year, following successful launch of their games platform

  • February 2013: Kakao releases its games platform on iOS

  • May 2013: Series B funding raised from Tencent

  • June 2013: Kakao CEO, Sirgoo Lee, outlines his vision of the Future of mobile platforms

  • July 2013: Kakao passes 100M global downloads

  • September 2013: Kakao releases Angry Birds on its platform, their first overseas title

  • October 2013: Kakao releases it’s music streaming service and achieves 2M downloads in 4 days

  • February 2014: Kakao Corp. announces date of IPO

Changing game trends

Tendencies and preferences among gamers evolve rapidly. When the Kakao platform launched early 2012, casual games were the most popular type among South Korean gamers. Later that year, trading card (TCG) games such as Million Arthur grew to be the most successful genre. Right now, it is mid-core games with RPG elements which are topping the charts.

Interestingly, today’s top titles mainly consist of local games with high-end graphics on top of core RPG elements, and are generally published by large South Korean players, whereas global hits such as Clash of Clans and Puzzle & Dragons usually only manage to reach the middle of Top 25 charts.

Understanding the background and trends of mobile games market in South Korea is just the start. Next you’ll need insights on how to successfully publish and market your game.

To learn  how to localize your publishing and marketing efforts in South Korea, read the next Asian Beat, where we’ll be diving into how exactly you can succeed in the South Korean mobile gaming space.

Stay tuned!

Authors:

Boyoun Kim

Boyoun is Marketing Manager APAC and is responsible for developing and implementing the marketing strategy across the APAC market. Prior to joining AppLift, Boyoun worked as Online Marketing Manager at Google Korea.
Boyoun holds a Master’s degree with honors in Social Science from London School of Economics and is a big fan of all Batman movies.

Jun Lim

Jun is a dedicated expert in mobile game performance marketing with a focus on the APAC region. As Senior Business Development Manager Asia for AppLift, Jun is working with +100 game companies to acquire users for their free 2 Play games.
Jun graduated with a Master’s Degree in Digital Strategy from HEC Paris and TELECOM Paristech. Jun speaks fluent French and has watched Amélie over 25 times.

Pilsoo Shin

As Account Manager Asia, Pilsoo is building up the APAC business for AppLift by working with Asian game publishers and media partners. Before joining AppLift, Pilsoo worked as a starting member of InnoGames Korea.
His highest score in Flappy Bird goes over 150.

To make sure not to miss the next Asian Beat as well as the rest of AppLift’s insights, subscribe to our newsletter trough the form below:

Subscribe to our newsletter

* = required field
AppLift Content

A couple of days ago, in our summary of the WWDC14 keynote presentation, we wrongfully stated that we would have liked to see Apple announce more transparency and more advanced analytical features in iTunes Connect. This was without counting on the smaller developer sessions.

It turns out, our wish came true as they did announce just that.

In WWDC’s session on the new iTunes Connect, Apple announced that they had started offering both an analytics and attribution platform to developers through the iTunes Connect Console.

The video of the presentation can be accessed here and the underlying presentation there.

Here’s the gist of it:

Analytics

Through iTunes Connect, developers can now access the full conversion funnel throughout the user lifecycle, from App Store views to in-app purchases and drop-outs. In other words, developers are now able to track all relevant metrics for acquisition, engagement and retention.

Here’s the complete list of metrics tracked:

  • App Store Views (equivalent of an impression)
  • App Units (which stands for the number of sales, or the number of apps downloaded for one user account)
  • Installs (if the user has the app installed on several devices
  • Sessions
  • Active Devices
  • Retention
  • Stickiness (a single metric which combines acquisition and retention)
  • In-App Purchases
  • Average sales (Apple’s metric for average revenue per user or ARPU)

These metrics can also be broken down by geo and device type.

In particular, it should be noted that iTunes now offers retention data:

Attribution

Apple is taking on the attribution space head-on by allowing Provider ID Campaign ID, an addition to the App Store URL which allows developer to track the source of the install, both in terms of provider and and specific campaign.

Developers simply need to take the usual app URL such as https://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/candy-crush-saga/id553834731?mt=8

They can then add both the Provider ID (ex: “pid=1234″) and Campaign ID (ex: “cid=My_Campaign”) at the end of the URL, which would then look like the following:

https://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/candy-crush-saga/id553834731?mt=8&pid=1234&cid=My_Campaign

This is very similar to what Google allows on Android, with the Android Advertiser ID.

Developers can obviously break down all the metrics and parameters mentioned above by acquisition provider and specific campaign in order to assess the quality and success of their campaigns.

Needless to say, all of these new services are accessible without additional SDK, no extra code nor app update is required.

We are excited to see Apple finally enter the analytics and attribution space and won’t miss the opportunity to further analyze what it means for our industry as a whole.

First things first: we’re wishing you a happy, successful and (let’s make it) fun year ahead!

A couple of days ago we announced that we were going to increase the online presence of AppLift in 2013. Beyond regular company and industry news, we’d like to use our position as the first CPA network dedicated to mobile games to bring you informative and insightful content to help you acquire and efficiently monetize your users. Let’s grow the mobile space together!

In the last couple of years, we have witnessed a split between acquisition and monetization for mobile games, brought about by the rise of the freemium (or free-to-play) model. Although somewhat counter-intuitive, it has proven to be the major revenue-driver for mobile games in 2012 and it is likely to stay that way in the future.

The purpose of this post is to help developers and publishers with paid apps make a smooth transition to the proven freemium model, with some handy tips and tricks along the way. This includes making the most out of the AppStore’s capacity to support price-drops to zero (that’s where it gets most interesting).

It can also be a challenge to achieve successful monetization strategies with free mobile apps and there have certainly been failures along the way. But with paid apps, today it’s nearly impossible to successfully monetize. While there are a few notable exceptions that immediately come to mind, they tend to prove the rule; namely, that free apps monetize the best. Take a look at the iOS top grossing charts, and count the number of paid games. Very few make it there.

Overall top 40 in the US AppStore on 1.8.2013 (click to enlarge):

So although it may conceivably be nice to get the cash upfront, especially when you’ve put so much effort in developing and marketing a great game, evidence shows it’s hard to succeed with a pure premium approach.

First, you’re likely to drive a lot of people away by offering them an unmovable price. Second, you’ve laid all your cards on the table before the game has even started. Upfront payment (as low as 99c) can work for very well branded and well marketed products with great appeal and notoriety, or for luxury products which convey a feeling of exclusivity. However it’s not suited for apps that are targeting a mass market audience without that brand recognition.

And yet going freemium is not easy and the challenge of making a great free-2-play title that monetizes well shouldn’t be underestimated. But, if it’s done properly, it can turn out to be very profitable and very successful. In the current app economy, you need to give before you get, and free-2-play is the way forward.

Here’s our list of steps to make the most out of the transition:

1. Before departure, pack well: strive to make the best game ever, and think ahead.

Initially, if your app is still paid, you don’t need to have monetization items in your game. Building a solid, loyal user base and offering them good value is an important stepping stone to making a successful transition. However, it’s important to have an idea of how you’re going to implement these items in the future, because you’ll need to engineer as smooth a transition to freemium as possible in support of your existing user base.

2. First stop: Releaseville

When you first release your game paid, the price should be a sensible assessment of your overall product. Your release strategy also needs to offer an opportunity for serendipity and luck, as there is always a slight chance your game might take off on its own, or, better still, get featured by Apple. Launching midweek, when there is less competition and journalists are most receptive to emails, is one way of increasing your chances.

To ensure that your product is most prepared for the market, pay attention to all aspects of AppStore marketing right from the start: from the iTunes landing page to the icon, screenshots and description. It’s especially important since the launch of iOS6 where visual real estate on the AppStore is at a premium.

Update on 1.10.2013: Apple announced that from now on screenshots will be locked once the app is approved, and require an update to be modified. This stresses the need to have all your AppStore assets ready from the beginning.

You could even try a first price drop, albeit not to zero (eg. from PT2 to PT1), to test your game’s appeal and get familiar with the price-drop mechanics. Make sure you watch your KPI’s closely during the drop, and see how they respond.

3. It’s not (only) the destination…

At the same time you test your paid game on the market, you should already begin to prepare its metamorphosis and decide on your monetization strategy: should you go for in-app purchase items (IAP), ad offers, or both? Which part of the game should make the core of the user experience? How abrasive should your IAP be? How should you manage ad placement? It’s important to have these elements figured out from the start.

We’ll have more on app store marketing and monetization strategies down the road, so stay tuned!

4. The final stretch: drop to PT0

When you drop the price of your app expect some mixed fortunes to start with. The good news first: you’ll get traffic, hopefully a lot of it, to your app. The bad news: you won’t monetize it; at least not just yet.

The higher the price-drop, the better the value for users. However, be aware that some price-change scraping algorithms are programed to factor in and detect this kind of strategy, so remember to leave some time between the paid release and the price change.

5. Last stop before arrival: why content is king

By dropping your game’s price to free, it will probably be picked up by the bots and algorithms screening and scraping the AppStore for paid-for-free apps – the generic name for discovering previously-paid apps made free. This in turn will increase your chance to be featured by influent blogs, app discovery services as well as promo apps; for them, content is paramount because good game content helps the retention of their own audiences, which they themselves need to monetize:

(courtesy of AppTicker)

It might seem obvious, but in order to increase your chances of benefiting from such a godsend, you need to have top-notch content and user experience in your game in the first place. Content really is king.

Once you have received some good traction and started building a solid and engaged user base, it’s time for the next and final step.

6. Final stop: Freemium Town, all change!

When you submit your update don’t make Apple review time a variable, as it could take up to a couple of weeks: plan your update, submit it and have it approved as soon as possible; a technical detail: you don’t have to release it immediately as you can leave it on “hold for developer release” for as long as you need – so get approval early and launch when you’re ready. Also, add some awesome new free features you can communicate on in the update notes.

Ready, Steady, Go!

You’ve arrived at the destination: the time has come to release your updated freemium app into the wild – good luck and don’t forget to keep a close eye on those KPI’s!

Summing up:

1. Don’t compromise on the quality of your game experience – paid or free – strive to provide value.
2. Release your app paid, and optimize your AppStore marketing right from the start.
3. Think about your in-app monetization mechanisms early in the process.
4. Get the update approved as soon as possible.
5. Drop your app’s price to free and watch your KPI’s.

Questions? Ask us! @applift

What’s been going on in mobile the last two weeks? The short answer: a lot. Once again though, the slightly longer and more useful answer can be found below, in our five-piece summary of the hottest happenings, including some game-changing antics from Apple and some insights into the South Korean mobile gaming market from our blog! (more…)

Hi there!

It’s been some time since our last post, when we announced the launch of HitFox Game Ventures (now HitFox Group). A lot has happened in 6 months. Since the creation of AppLift in August 2012, we’ve been working hard to build the first and the best performance CPA network exclusively dedicated to mobile games.

And it’s paid off. Beyond numerous major mentions and publications (see here, here and there) and growing our team to 20 passionate mobile professionals, we’ve partnered up with several top-tier game publishers (Aeria Games, Kabam, King.com…) and we’re now proud to be in a position to deliver up to 10,000 non-incentivized installs per day for a single app.

So, what’s in store for 2013?

After yet another record-breaking number of mobile device activations and app downloads estimated during the end-of-year holidays, 2013 promises to be another extremely prosperous year for mobile gaming, as the shift from PC to handheld (and notably tablets) continues.

We’re looking forward to it!

As for us… beyond keeping on rapidly growing our offer range as well as our affiliate community, we plan to keep you more regularly updated on company and industry news. On top of that, we’ll do our best to use our position at the center of the mobile gaming ecosystem to bring you informative, relevant and insightful content.

For now…stay tuned. We’ll be back with more very soon!

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to visit our website, follow us, like us, encircle us and contribute to our mobile gaming professionals LinkedIn Group.

Happy New Year!

The AppLift Team

Follow us

Find us on facebook

Twitter Feed

Applift News