Not sure where to invest your UA budget in 2024?
To help you out with this, we’ve compiled a list of the hottest mobile game advertising trends that all marketers should know about in the year to come.
Without further ado, let’s go over the list!
1. Less Focus on CPIs
Having a low CPI is great — it’s a signal you’re doing many things right.
However, this metric is not as crucial as it used to be.
Especially for games in the casual category.
Since today’s casual mobile games market is highly competitive and saturated, CPIs are higher than ever before. Due to this, most UA managers are no longer hyper-focused on this metric alone, but pay equal attention to other important metrics.
In a recent interview for MAF, UA manager Fran Bašić from Fumb Games revealed: “We mainly conduct creative tests on Facebook and Google, analyzing KPIs like impressions, CPI, IPM, Install Rate (IR), CTR, and CPM.”
By looking into all these metrics, game marketers get a clear understanding of player journeys, from the impression to the install. In 2024, we expect the focus on CPI will decrease even further, and more studios will develop a holistic approach to their UA campaigns.
2. User Quality as Top Priority
Next on our list of mobile game advertising trends is a noticeable shift from user quantity to user quality.
This trend goes hand in hand with the decreased focus on CPIs.
Here’s the thing.
Since it’s no longer realistic to expect to acquire a large number of quality users at a low cost, game marketers are changing their priorities. After completing the initial creative tests with acceptable KPIs, the advertisers’ next goal is to optimize campaigns for long-term profitability.
To achieve this, they pay special attention to metrics like retention, LTV, and ROAS.
Retention insights provide a valuable snapshot into user behavior, guiding strategies for increasing LTV and ROAS. These so-called “profitability metrics” are key indicators of users’ long-term value and the return on the advertising budget.
These metrics have become the guiding stars for UA managers who want to reach quality users, and we believe that this trend will persist in the years to come.
3. More AI in User Acquisition
In 2023, AI has entered all pores of mobile gaming, and UA is no exception. AI tools have become a part of daily workflows for both sides of UA — creative teams and UA managers.
However, creative teams are using them more. When creating video ads, marketing artists no longer have to do everything by hand using motion design software. Now, they can turn to AI tools to create compelling parts of their videos in a matter of minutes.
Lately, we’re seeing mobile game ad creatives filled with AI voiceovers, characters, and dynamic scenes.
For example, in the image below, you can see two AI-generated ad creatives by Voodoo. In one of them, a Mount Rushmore sculpture talks about the game, while the other one features an AI character praising the game.
UA managers also turn to AI tools in their everyday workflow. Here’s how Mert, a UA manager at Ciao Games uses them: “I would say AI tools have become integral in my daily routine, particularly for data analysis and campaign text.”
This might go without saying — AI is the most prominent trend in mobile game advertising right now. We look forward to seeing how UA experts will use it in 2024 and beyond.
4. Driving Quality Users with Offerwall Ads
As we mentioned before, focusing on user quality will be one of the strongest mobile game advertising trends in 2024.
In light of this trend, we’re seeing a renaissance of offerwall advertising.
As you might know, offerwall ads are a form of rewarded advertising where users voluntarily complete goal engagements in exchange for rewards.
Offerwalls have a long history in the mobile gaming ecosystem but have significantly evolved over the last couple of years. Today, they are considered a valuable solution for acquiring high-value players.
This is especially true for one particular offerwall ad format — multi-reward ads. These ads present users with a set of tasks they need to complete to earn rewards, earning a part of it for every completed step.
Multi-reward offerwall ads have proven particularly effective for driving impressive ROAS and retention rates. A great example is how a gaming studio, Midnite Games, achieved a 170% ROAS and a 3.5x higher user retention using this ad format.
As offerwall ads continue to prove their effectiveness, we’ll likely see more studios integrating them into their UA mix.
5. UGC in Video Ads
User-generated content (UGC) has been a major trend in mobile game advertising for a while, and its popularity keeps on growing. UGC content is content created and shared by individual users, not the brand itself. This includes ads, videos, images, text, audio, or other forms of content.
For example, a TikTok video of a user playing a mobile game. Whether the user wins or loses the game, screams in anger, or is satisfied with the result, this can be great material for UGC ads.
The secret sauce? Authenticity.
UGC ads are created by ordinary people, coming across as genuine and authentic. On top of that, they often don’t feel like ads, as they seamlessly blend into the platform the viewer is using.
By definition, UGC ads are completely organic. However, in practice, there are many paid collaborations where studios pay content creators to act as real players and make videos about their games.
How effective are these ads? According to AppSamurai, UGC ads have 4x higher CTRs and a 50% lower CPC than standard ad creatives.
Lately, we’re seeing more and more UGC ads flooding the ad networks, so it’s safe to say that they will remain one of the hottest mobile game advertising trends in 2024.
6. Arrival of Google Privacy Sandbox
It’s finally coming.
Almost two years have passed since Google announced the arrival of its privacy framework. After a lengthy testing phase, Google’s Privacy Sandbox will come into force in 2024.
The goal of Google Privacy Sandbox is to eliminate third-party cookies and other identifiers that track users across apps and websites. Just like Apple deprecated its identifier for advertisers (IDFA), Google is eliminating GAID (Google Advertising ID).
Advertisers use GAID to track users’ activity across apps and deliver personalized ads.
Once the Privacy Sandbox rolls out, this will no longer be possible.
Instead, Google will roll out a set of features that should help advertisers with audience targeting without revealing sensitive user data. This includes SDK Runtime, Android Topics, Attribution Reporting, and Fledge — you can read more about these in our article about the Privacy Sandbox.
While this is certainly a big change, industry experts agree it shouldn’t have a seismic effect like Apple’s ATT. Google has had an opportunity to learn from Apple’s approach, and app marketers have had enough time to prepare and adapt to this change.
7. Fake Games for UA
Let’s end our list of the top mobile game advertising trends with something quite insane — creating fake gameplay for user acquisition. No, we’re not referring to typical fake ads where games use deceiving gameplay and take players to a different game.
This is next-level stuff.
Here’s a walkthrough of how it works:
- A user sees a gameplay video ad that advertises a game with simple mechanics (e.g., idle)
- They head to the app store where the screenshots mirror the advertised gameplay
- Throughout the entire onboarding process, the game remains consistent with the ads and screenshots
- Upon completing onboarding, players are suddenly taken to a completely different, mid-core gameplay (e.g. 4x strategy)
As you’re probably aware, mid-core games typically have very high CPIs. So, game studios have found a smart workaround — by introducing a low-CPI mechanic in both the ads and the onboarding process, they can cut down UA costs.
This trend was discussed in a recent Game Makers podcast, where the speakers gave several examples of games that use this strategy. This includes hit games like Frozen City by Century Games, Stormshot by FunPlus, Kingdom Guard by tap4fun, etc.
We don’t know exactly how users feel about this, however, judging by these games’ app store ratings, they don’t seem to hate it.
As you can see, while casual studios are decreasing their focus on CPIs, mid-core studios are looking for new ways to bring it down. This is certainly an interesting trend and we’ll likely see more mid-core studios joining the bandwagon.
Mobile Game Advertising Trends in 2024: Final Words
2024 sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
These are the top mobile game advertising trends we expect to make waves in the year to come. Since the mobile industry is constantly evolving, we’re excited to see which new trends will be added to the list throughout the year.
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