The Challenges of User Acquisition
We sat down with Nasrin Chou, User Acquisition Manager at PlayIgnite and PlayStack to chat about her experiences in UA and what challenges arise when bringing users to a game. Originally from Taiwan, Nasrin started out working in brand marketing before shifting towards performance marketing for games companies, eventually moving to the UK.
What is UA?
User acquisition is all about bringing in users to your game/ product. Traditionally this is done by buying ads through Ad Networks, such as Facebook, Snapchat, AppLovin and many more. Whilst bringing new users into the game is a good objective to have, the most important part of UA is acquiring organic users. When you bring new users in through ads, ideally, they’d talk to your friends about it, then they’d tell their friends about it etc. This word of mouth brings users in organically and is great as you acquire these users without any additional cost.
What’s the most important thing to consider when building your UA strategy?
One of the biggest challenges when thinking about user acquisition is knowing what sort of users to target. While it may seem best to just bring in as many users as possible, hoping they stay. You’ll find more success spending some time understanding what audience your product has and targeting your adverts accordingly.
Making sure you have good returns can be hard, as buying ads can be expensive. With a good analytics team to set up an LTV (lifetime value) prediction, it’s possible to estimate the return on investment you’ll see.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?
It’s important to remember that everything is global, you won’t be able to take an ad experience in one country and apply it to every other. Cultural differences can make the colour red symbolic with blood and violence in the West, while symbolising good luck in China. Ranging perspectives have different views on what is and isn’t acceptable, so you should be ready to localise specifically for your markets.
What metrics do you focus on for your UA?
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should justify and inform your decisions. Product managers might be thinking about retention, understanding if users brought in keep playing or stop, and at which point they do so, whether it’s day 1,3, 7, or even 30. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is essential for evaluating the performance of an ad campaign and can inform decisions on where to invest back into ads more efficiently.
You can use mobile attribution to more accurately pinpoint where users have come from, and determine which ad networks have been the most effective.
Is in house better or using an agency better?
If you’re a small studio, it’s possible you don’t have a UA team at all. While it’s possible to outsource all your acquisition to an ad agency, it’s generally a good idea to have one dedicated person in-house to monitor progress and liaise with agencies.
What advice would you give to studios just starting out?
When you’re setting up UA in anticipation of your first launch, make sure your clear on your own position in the market and who your competitors are. This will help you target your ads more efficiently. Be sure to test all your networks, as some will have different audiences to others. For example, one network might have a younger audience and lend itself towards more casual games, while another may have a more mature audience who prefer hardcore games. It’s also a good idea to spend some time on the creative for your ad, it’s the first thing potential new players will see, so make sure it’s up to scratch and shows off your game to them.