Neil Young On How To Create A $10 Billion A Year Mobile Game

Neil Young has already had a vast range of experiences in gaming, as an executive at Electronic Arts, founder of mobile game company ngmoco (later purchased by DeNA), and now CEO and founder at N3TWORK, once again entering the mobile game business. While some may feel that the mobile game market is overcrowded and that the opportunity isn’t great for game companies new or old, Young has just the opposite stance. Peak Mobile Not even… was the title of his talk at Casual Connect 2015 in San Francisco, where he proceeded to demolish the idea that mobile games were not a good place to be looking for growth.

Young pointed out that while in the West almost 80 percent of the market has a smartphone, Japan reached that point in 2010 with their Internect-connected feature phones. What happened to the mobile game market in Japan after that “You saw a 7X growth in ARPU from the end of 2010 to the end of 2014 in Japan,” Young noted. Japan has an astonishing average revenue per user compared to any other country, which Young attributes to continuing innovation by developers. That can happen elsewhere, Young contends, in a few years. “The Western market will be 8 to 10 times its current size,” Young said. “The #1 Western game will approach $10 billion per year in revenue. The rise of those high-LTV games will change the marketing landscape. It’s going to change how you design, develop, market, and operate the games.”

Young sat down with [a]listdaily after his talk to bring some more details for his vision of the mobile game future and the role that N3TWORK will play in it.

When you talked about how games would increase long-term value with innovation in the games, it seemed to me you are implying a very close relationship between game design and marketing. Do you believe marketing and design would have to work closely together in order to achieve your vision?

There is no separation. There’s a fundamental equation at the core of these businesses. The profitabilty of your game is the life-time value (LTV) minus the cost of acquiring a customer. That equation has to be owned by everyone inside your business. I’m approaching that from a business perspective, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be building things that are creatively rewarding and great as games — they have to be. The LTV part of that equation breaks down into this: How much money do you make, and how long do you keep people What’s the profile of those users Are those users a very small segment that are deeply engaged, or is it a broad segment of people that are less engaged?

Truly understanding the profile of the customers that are really driving your monetization becomes very important, which in turn leads you to the type of features that you would want to build. If you looked at the LTV over 365 days and realized you only only retain 2 percent of your audience after day 180, but 2 percent makes up more than 50 percent of that year’s revenue, your going to deliver very different types of features than if it’s “we make the lion’s share of our revenue from the front end on this game.”

The changes you’d make to the game would be very different if you’re just trying to retain people than if you’re trying to change that 2 percent to 4 percent or even 8 percent, wouldn’t they?

Exactly. There’s the revenue that you generate, and then there’s the relationship with the customers that you retain and the customers that you acquire. The other function of LTV is retention, so you want to figure out which features are going to drive better retention across my audience or for a given segment of my audience. That 2 percent , we don’t want them going on Day 365 — we want them to stay for seven years. Because if they stay for seven years then it’s like a seemingly infinite LTV. Once you’ve got that in place, you might say ‘Look, there’s this other group of people that sticks around for 90 days, who plays the game for 90 days that wouldn’t play it for 180 days What do we need to do for that segment of the audience?’

So what is the relationship between marketing and product development, or what should it be?

There is no relationship because they’re the same thing. At the center of what you are doing is this equation, and your business’ success is a function of these features, how well they retain and engage the audience, and the cost of acquiring a customer and how those features can aid or support that.

Before he left us so suddenly, Nintendo’s CEO Satoru Iwata had said that he was hoping with their mobile games being created with DeNA that they could get a small amount of money from a very large number of people, rather than a large amount of money from a very small percentage of the audience. Is this a realistic hope?

There are two ways to solve that problem. One way is to try to build a game that is broadly appealing and that monetizes really well. That $10 billion a year game that I talk about in my deck — in five years’ time I can see a path to a game that generates $10 billion a year in the West — for that to work, it has to be a scaled product. It has to be something that appeals to a really broad audience of people but monetizes at this really high level. That’s really what Puzzle & Dragons is in Japan. That is seen as a broadly appealing game, it’s been downloaded by over 30 percent of the population — it’s hard to find games in the West that have that kind of penetration other than Candy Crush or FarmVille. Nintendo is awesome as a partner for DeNA in that regard, because if there’s one brand that everyone on the planet knows, it’s Nintendo. The number of people that have played Mario or Zelda or Pokemon… these are incredible things.

Another way you can tackle the problem is you can say ‘It’s OK there’s only 2 percent or 4 percent of a given audience sticking around for a long time — and by the way, I don’t think 2 or 4 percent is a very good number, to be clear.’ What that really says is that of all the people we have promoted that title to, only 4 percent have become lifelong fans. What are the other 96 percent lifelong fans of? And how do you build a portfolio and start stacking these 4 perccent’s on top of one another so you can start programming your content to these core fan bases? That’s a little bit of like how cable television evolved. You went from trying to appeal to everyone to ‘look, there are these niches we can monetize at a very different level.’ It’s that way in the game space, too. DeNA has been quite successful doing that. You can take the same game framweork and build an audience by narrowcasting to people.

A Virtual & Augmented Reality Conference Is Coming In 2016

Video marketing is booming. Get the insights and knowledge you need to succeed at [a]list Video Summit Aug. 19. Get tix: http://alist.ly/1EVLyyz 

With both virtual and augmented reality set to make a big splash in the market sometime over the next year, consumers are getting more and more interested in both technologies. But it can be difficult to test these units out at trade shows, since they only have so much room on the show floor at E3 and San Diego Comic-Con. This February, however, they’ll take center stage.

Per a report from GamesIndustry International, Unity Technologies has announced that it will set up its own conference devoted to both virtual and augmented reality, where companies will unite to celebrate both technologies. Titled the Vision 2016 Virtual and Augmented Reality Summit, the show will take place at the Loews Hotel in Hollywood on February 10 and 11 of next year.

There are various companies that will be at the conference alongside Unity, including Oculus (creator of the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift), Qualcomm Connected Experiences Inc., Microsoft (creators of the Hololens tech that impressed so much during its E3 showcase), Sony Computer Entertainment (makers of the Project Morpheus headset) and Valve (teaming with HTC on its Vive device). Each will have presentations on the floor, alongside other companies.

“VR and AR promise to change the way we interact with technology and entertainment,” said Unity CEO John Riccitiello. “Vision Summer will bring the best minds together to discuss how the great potential in these technologies can be realized.”

There’s already an official page for the summit here, and although details are scarce on event details, Unity does break down its importance, and also enables interested parties to sign up for future news from the event.

“Virtual and Augmented Reality are already capturing the imaginations of millions around the world,” the site explains. “If you are passionate about creating games, films, ads, art, journalism and more with these cutting-edge technologies, then join us at the Vision 2016 Virtual and Augmented Reality Summit.

“Vision VR/AR Summit is an all-new cross industry event for artists, engineers, programmers, designers, musicians, directors and producers, hardware manufacturers, and researchers. It will be a unique event focused on furthering the knowledge base of anyone developing virtual and/or augmented reality content.”

As far as what inspired Unity to host the event, it explained, “Just like you, we’re excited about the world-changing potential of VR and AR. We’ve seen first-hand the impact a global community of game developers generously sharing their hard-won tech and creative knowledge, has had on the quality of games. Since we work so closely with all the major platforms, including Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus, and Microsoft Hololens, we believe we are in the perfect position to bring together the VR community and encourage knowledge sharing.”

Here’s hoping the show is a real success, not just a virtual one.

Mobile Ad Spending Continues To Thrive

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More and more companies are putting major spending into mobile advertising – and for good reason.

According to AdWeek, mobile advertising rose quite a bit last year, bumping up 65 percent to a total of $31.9 billion, per numbers from a report provided by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). This is mainly due to popular native and social promos that ran across smartphone and tablet devices. However, the numbers go a little deeper than that when it comes to which areas of mobile are getting the most of this money.

IAB’s report, in collaboration with IAB Europe and IHS Technology, indicating that spending on mobile display ads increased 88 percent from 2013 to 2014, reaching $15.1 billion. That’s nearly 50 percent of all total mobile ad spending.

However, the IAB indicated that mobile display ads were lightly defined, stating that it classified display ads as any promo viewed on any app or mobile website, including video, rich media, social media and banner ads.

Although the numbers don’t get into specifics as to what kind of mobile ad dominated with spending (whether it was banner or native/social spend), a lot of it is to believed to have been tied in with social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter – two sites that aren’t shy when it comes to promoted content.

Most companies, though, continue to rely on traditional banner ads that appear at the top and/or bottom of their webpage.

The report also stated that search generated 46 percent of advertisers’ mobile spending, totaling $14.7 billion. Meanwhile, revenue from mobile messaging apps surged 13 percent last year, reaching $2.1 billion in ad spending.

As far as which countries benefitted from advertising, the U.S. leads the charge, with a jump to $14.3 billion in revenue last year – a 77 percent jump over the previous year.

“Mobile devices are at the center of consumers’ lives across the globe and these numbers reflect brands’ increasing recognition that this medium holds great power,” said Anna Bager, SVP at the IAB, in the new report.

A few more details can be found on AdWeek‘s page.

The Force Awakens With ‘Star Wars’ Marketing Partners

YouTube. Facebook. Snapchat. Vine. Meerkat. Periscope. Twitch. Has your brand mastered them all Get the insights and knowledge you need to succeed at [a]list Video Summit Aug. 19. Get tix: http://alist.ly/1EVLyyz

With Disney’s D23 Expo happening this weekend, fans of Star Wars are on the verge of excitement, hoping director J.J. Abrams unleashes new information about the forthcoming blockbuster sequel The Force Awakens. But we already know one thing for sure — it’ll have big marketing partners behind it.

Variety confirmed today that LucasFilm has signed on with seven high-profile brands to promote the film, including Duracell, FCA US, General Mills, HP, Subway, Verizon and, a first for a science-fiction based movie, Covergirl and Max Factor.

Each partner will play their part in having tailor-made campaigns that promote the film in one way or another. Subway, for instance, is sure to have an “out of this world” meal deal with collectible cups and/or toys for its kids’ meals, while Duracell will no doubt “take charge” with its own Star Wars oriented campaign.

We do know one campaign for sure thus far — Covergirl and Max Factor will put a big push behind make-up based on the film. As you can see below, various shades of lipstick inspired by the movie will be available, including Dark Purple, Gold (like C-3PO) and Lilac, among others. Nail gloss, light side and dark side mascara, and other products will be available.

To help get started on promoting the line, Cover Girl posted an Instagram picture with a well-themed image for the forthcoming line, which you can see below.

More images of this inspired make-up line can also be found on Vogue‘s page here.

Little else is known about the campaigns at this time, but more details are expected to roll out closer to the film’s release on December 18th.

“We are thrilled to be working with such a stellar roster of promotional partners,” said Lynwen Brennan, general manager of LucasFilm. “The Star Wars brand has endured over the years, across generational audiences because it connects with people in a very special way.

“Our partners have all delivered original, stand-out campaigns that capture the familiar fun and excitement of our galaxy far, far away that we hope will delight fans as they get ready to experience Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the game’s marketing, as several other factors will come with play with merchandising. Toys based on the film are being produced, with a sample of the action figures included below. In addition, video games will play a huge part with Star Wars this year, including Disney Infinity 3.0 coming later this month, and Electronic Arts’ shooter Star Wars: Battlefront, set to debut on November 17th.

(Image source: Gizmodo)

There’s no question that the Force is strong with The Force Awakens. Relive the latest trailer below!

 

What Are YouTube Stars Really Making?

It wasn’t long ago that the Internet went nuts over the report that Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg made an unheard-of $7.4 million on YouTube last year. However, even after he addressed the matter in a special video on his channel, many are wondering – can that much money really be made on YouTube

While there certainly is potential in making a living as a creator on the channel, the take-home pay may not be as high as some people think it is. A report from Business Insider suggests that stars actually don’t get all the money from earnings on YouTube. In fact, it points out that Google keeps a 45 percent cut of any ad revenue gathered by one of their videos on the site – and that’s not even counting taxes and operating/editing costs.

Statsheep, a company that specializes in YouTube statistics, provided details on the report, indicating that PewDie pie actually earns $10.5 million a year on his channel. As far as the cut he keeps however, it’s far less.

Following YouTube’s cut of the profits, that number drops to $5.775 million. Then there are the taxes, bringing it down even further to $4.0425 million. So, in short, PewDiePie actually keeps $4 million a year – which isn’t too shabby, but is far lower than the ballooned estimate that some people were getting mad over.

Meanwhile, those on the lower spectrum of YouTube earnings see similar cuts, like Michelle Phan, a make-up tutorial specialist with a huge following on the channel. She earns an estimated $378,000 on her channel, but after cuts and taxes, it goes down to $145, 530. Again, not too bad, but not as high as what she initially earns.

And there are also the estimates of what goes into making videos, and the costs of production and promotion. Jason Calacanis, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who was originally part of YouTube’s professional partners program, explained, “We were huge fans of YouTube…but we are not creating content anymore because it’s simply not sustainable. YouTube is an awesome place to build a brand, but it is a horrible place to build a business.”

Calacanis estimates that he spent $25,000 to $75,000 in costs to make ten videos, without any money earned from advertising. So it’s easy to see how some YouTube stars would struggle trying to gain a big audience. It’s important to note that YouTube stars can derive substantial revenue from other sources because of their success on YouTube, such as products, endorsements, and other deals that wouldn’t have happened without their YouTube following.

More estimates and details can be found here.

This report should, by no means, discourage those from giving establishing a YouTube channel a try. Just realize it’s more of an uphill climb than you might think. After all, PewDiePie and company had to start somewhere…

For Marketers, Personalization Matters

YouTube. Facebook. Snapchat. Vine. Meerkat. Periscope. Twitch. Has your brand mastered them all Get the insights and knowledge you need to succeed at [a]list Video Summit Aug. 19. Get tix: http://alist.ly/1EVLyyz

Content personalization has come a long way over the years, and using it the right way can have a big effect on potential consumers… as long as it’s done the right way, of course.

Triblio recently published a post of 23 shocking content personalization statistics that prove just how effective it is. The full list can be found here, but we’ve highlighted the ten samples below to give you an idea just how far it goes.

Personalized CTAs resulted in a 42 percent higher conversion rate than generic CTAs.

Originally posted on Hubspot, the conversion of calls-to-action is much higher when it comes to more personalized responses. The chart below shows just how effective “Smart CTAs” are against normal ones.

Content websites have an average bounce rate of 40 to 60 percent.

There’s a full infographic from Quicksprout that explains how to decrease bounce rate for a website, and personalization plays a small part in easing a customer into sticking around.

74 percent of consumers get frustrated when website content appears that has nothing to do with their interests.

Relevancy with a customer’s interests is vital for a website’s progress, as showing them something they have absolutely no interest in is bad news. Janrain recently posted a huge article with study results that go a little deeper into the matter.

76 percent of marketers define real-time marketing as personalizing content in response to customer interactions.

Real-time marketing is a key factor when it comes to personalization. DMNews has a full infographic, found below, that breaks this down into more specific detail.

78 percent of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing.

Custom content can certainly go a long way for companies, and this breakdown from Demand Metric explains it in further detail.

90 percent of consumers find custom content useful.

That same report also breaks down how consumers feel when they come across custom content.

88 percent of marketers are considering adding content marketing personalization to their plans.

The super-hero themed post above also breaks down how vital an element marketing personalization is when it comes to future plans.

35 percent of Amazon’s revenue is generated by its recommendation engine.

Recommendations go a long way for not only customers, but businesses that run effective images. More details on this can be found in VentureBeat‘s report.

46 percent of marketers cited lack of time as the biggest hurdle to content marketing personalization.

Not everyone has caught on to marketing personalization, mainly because of the time it takes to make sure it’s done the right way. The Real Time Report have posted a more in-depth piece that explains this more.

75 percent of users select movies based on Netflix’s recommendations.

Finally, personalization really goes a lot way on sites like Netflix, as movie recommendations based on user’s tastes allow them to find new favorites to add to their collection. More data from this can be found in GigaOm‘s story.

The full list — and their respective links — can be found here.

SuperData: July 2015 U.S. Digital Sales

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Analysis from SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen, follows:

  • Mobile and downloadable PC games drive 12 percent YoY growth.
  • Angry Birds 2 struggles to crack mobile games market.
  • Legacy publishers Microsoft and Capcom double down on eSports.
  • Startups Kamcord and Mobcrush vie to become the Twitch of mobile gaming.
  • Razer buys OUYA in bid for $12.6 billion Chinese digital games market. 

Mobile and downloadable PC games drive 12 percent YoY growth in $1.0 billion games market?
Total sales for digital games in the US reached $1.033 billion in July, up 12% from the same month a year earlier. Biggest growth drivers in July were mobile and PC, which combined accounted for about 60% of the total digital games market. Despite a stabilization of the total addressable mobile games audience, average monthly spending has been steadily inching up. And as we reach the high-point in the struggle for platform dominance in the console segment, the last few months have seen increasingly aggressive DLC and free-to-play strategies. This includes, for instance, the July 28 release of World of Tanks on the Xbox One, which supports cross-platform game play. Following the media blitzes at E3 and Gamescom, the industry is now gearing up for the holiday season. Consequently, additional downloadable content dominated over new releases, which were mostly remastered or relatively smaller titles.

Even with 20M downloads Angry Birds 2 struggles to crack mobile games market.
Despite initial optimism, free-to-play mobile game Angry Birds 2 is not yet a commercial triumph. So far, it is still outside of the top 30 highest-grossing games on either the iOS App Store or Google Play despite its stratospheric download numbers. Publisher Rovio was once the top dog on mobile when pay-to-play was the norm and Angry Birds was a steal at $0.99. After switching to a licensing model, the company initially sought to replicate the model that companies like Disney and Nintendo mastered: building a billion dollar empire around highly recognizable franchises. However, as the mobile market has started to saturate, so, too, has Rovio started to see a decline in sales, ultimately resulting in having to lay off 110 late last year. The company’s dependence on a single franchise, and repeated failure to launch something of equal or greater value, continues to undermine its overall market position. Last year, the firm’s games revenue was up 16 percent year-over-year to $121 million, but despite its focus, earnings from consumer products fell 43 percent to $45 million. Releasing Angry Birds 2 was initially planned as a way to reverse its fortunes, but so far the mobile games market has shown itself much less welcoming to the popular franchise than when it first left the nest.

Legacy publishers Microsoft and Capcom double down on eSports.
Last week saw players compete at The International Dota 2 Championships for an $18 million prize pool, the biggest in eSports history. Publishers have long been cultivating competitive gaming as part of their marketing efforts, but only recently did it start receiving mainstream attention. And now console game makers, too, are realizing that having a robust eSports scene deepens the player engagement and retention. So it is no surprise that Microsoft announced a $1 million prize pool for the Halo World Championships, up from the previous total of $150,000. At the same time, Capcom decided to take a page out of the MOBA business model book for one of its most popular franchises. While players are still expected to purchase the game upfront, Street Fighter V will also features characters post-launch, which will be available for purchase with real money or earned by playing. Unlike previous Street Fighter games, Capcom will not release mandatory paid upgrades to the base version of Street Fighter V. With its new monetization strategy, Capcom hopes to easily draw back lapsed players when buzz around the game is strongest during fighting game tournaments like EVO.

Startups Kamcord and Mobcrush vie to be the Twitch of mobile gaming.
July saw mobile gaming live-streaming platform Mobcrush enter open beta, as Kamcord added live-streaming functionality and the ability to record videos to its service. The success of both companies depends less on their ability to pull viewers away from current titans YouTube and Twitch. Instead, it seeks to build an audience that is new to watching gaming video content altogether. The appetite of watching game-related video online has been growing and is currently one of the most popular categories on the internet. According to Matthew Patrick, celebrity YouTuber behind Game Theory with 4.9 million subscribers, “more people watch a video of a game, than play it.” Getting the 270 million mobile gamers in the US to start watching instead of playing does seem like a prudent bet. But we recently found that the current audience for gaming video content is mostly focused on console and PC games, as only 16 percent prefer mobile as their top gaming platform.

Razer buys OUYA in bid for $12.6 billion Chinese digital games market.
Originally coined The People’s Console, OUYA met its end as an independent company after failing to live up to the promise of its wildly successful 2012 Kickstarter. Last year OUYA stopped making its affordable, Android-based microconsole to, instead, focus on putting its digital storefront on other devices. Razer, a manufacturer of high performance mice and keyboards, announced it will soon add OUYA’s store and games library to its own Forge TV microconsole. More importantly, Razer’s purchase will give it a larger presence in China, where OUYA software currently runs on local microconsoles like the Xiaomi Mi Box and Alibaba Tmall Box. Microconsoles have not made a big splash in the West where full-fledged consoles dominate the living room. But low-cost microconsoles from local firms have a better chance to succeed in China. While consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are now legally sold in China, their prices are steep for gamers who are used to playing free mobile and PC games. The Chinese games market is on track to generate $12.6B in revenues across digital platforms, up from $11.4 billion last year.

Optimove CEO Pini Yakuel Talks Improving Player Conversion

YouTube. Facebook. Snapchat. Vine. Meerkat. Periscope. Twitch. Has your brand mastered them all Get the insights and knowledge you need to succeed at [a]list Video Summit Aug. 19. Get tix: http://alist.ly/1EVLyyz

A new case study with LuckyFish games, the developer of various social and mobile casino games, recently broke down how utilizing the retention automation platform Optimove helped its customer marketing operation, with a mission to increase conversion rates, as well as player payments and player future value.

This is isn’t Optimove’s first go-around with mobile, as it’s worked with Zynga, 888 and other studios to assist in delivering targeted, real-time customer marketing campaigns designed to increase engagement, retention and monetization. With the case study, it shows just how effective personalized player marketing can be for the gaming industry as a whole.

To get a better idea of how it works, [a]listdaily caught up with Optimove CEO Pini Yakuel, including what it does in general, as well as conversion rates and customer retention.

So tell us about Optimove. How will this benefit consumers in the long run?

When brands can communicate with each individual customer in the context of their particular preferences, wants and needs, the customer experience is tremendously improved. We call this communicating with “emotional intelligence.” Doing this successfully leads directly to increased brand satisfaction and loyalty. Not only is this terrific for customers, it’s also a big win for brands, especially in this era of intense online competition and consumer marketing overload. That’s exactly what Optimove does. We enable companies to communicate with customers on a one-to-one basis so that they can maximize customer spend, engagement, loyalty, retention and lifetime value.

We see that Optimove has partnered with many game companies, including Zynga and Caesar’s Entertainment. What’s the key ingredient in making such a partnership work?

The main ingredient is that Optimove provides a unique product which effectively addresses a critical need for online companies. While every company understands the importance of customer acquisition marketing, customer retention marketing is actually far more important to the financial health of companies. Once online companies “get” the importance of investing in personalized and proactive customer retention marketing — and see the growth and performance benefits — they never look back. In a world where players are evolving, and competition is fierce, rising above the noise by engaging players in ways they appreciate is a must in order to grow a business. Optimove’s solution intelligently automates the execution of this specific goal, something that our customers and partners appreciate greatly.

What is the biggest element that can define a popular social/mobile casino game? The draw of money The addiction of play?

More than anything, it’s the overall user experience. What defines a good game is whether players return to play again and again. There are two primary factors in a great player experience: the game itself (visual/audio design, playability, appropriate difficulty/challenge, etc.) and the brand experience that surrounds the game environment. Great personalized incentives and challenges, social interaction benefits and brand-player communications that exhibit emotional intelligence are the environmental factors that lead to repeat play and word-of-mouth viral effects.

Tell us about personalized player marketing, and how it caters to players in the long run.

On a strategic level, effective analysis of granular player data allows marketers to better understand the various personas represented by their players’ behavior, preferences and tendencies. On a tactical level, the successful analysis of player data allows the marketer to personalize offers and incentives to maximize their relevance to each individual player. Not only does this help maximize player engagement and spend (and reduce churn), it generates goodwill, enhanced brand perception and word-of-mouth promotion.

Most consumers have become intolerant to the bombardment of mass marketing coming from every website, store or app with which they have interacted. Instead of encouraging engagement and improving brand perception, generic marketing to large swatches of one’s player base leads to brand fatigue at best, and outright negativity at worst.

Modern consumers expect that the brands with which they have interacted will try to engage them via follow-up marketing communications. This means that savvy marketers, namely those who discover how to send highly-relevant offers to the right player at the right time, will enjoy all the revenue and brand perception benefits mentioned above, as well as a hefty advantage against competitors.

The future is already here: only brands that are able to interact with their players in the context of their affinities and preferences will succeed. Players expect their favorite gaming brands to understand what they want and need, and it is the marketer’s job to proactively provide those offers to the right players at the right time in the right way. When done correctly, brand-player interactions become more frequent, the brand-consumer relationship deepens and brand loyalty increases. Those marketers who fail this challenge will foster negative brand equity, lose players to the competition and will over-pay for new player acquisition. Gaming brands must learn to effectively personalize — or they will vaporize!

Per your case study, were there any startling results that you feel could be applied for future improvements to Optimize?

LuckyFish is a terrific customer for us, because they really “get” the need for personalized player communications and appreciate the breadth and depth of Optimove’s solution for managing, automating and optimizing the process. It is very gratifying for us to see a customer use our system to achieve the kinds of metric improvements that LuckyFish has seen. In terms of improving Optimove for the future, this is something we are constantly focused on and doing! One area of improvement is expanding our real-time facilities, namely to allow marketers to act on customer behavior immediately via a wide range of channels. Another is adding new and interesting channels. An example of the latter is our support for Facebook Custom Audiences. Before Optimove, companies were using Facebook for acquisition marketing, but not for retention marketing, because of the difficulties involved. We built our Facebook integration on top of our existing customer segmentation, personalized marketing and campaign automation engines, allowing companies like LuckyFish to use Facebook as an extremely effective personalized retention marketing channel. By allowing marketers to use all available customer communication channels in a coordinated way, Optimove allows true multi-channel retention marketing.

Conversion rates appear to be the highest according to your case study, but player payments and player future aren’t far behind. How do you feel these all come together to create a successful mobile experience?

At the end of the day, communicating with players in a personalized fashion, in the context of how they have interacted with the game, and based on a deep understanding of their wants, needs and affinities, will improve every player metric throughout the player lifecycle: it will increase conversions while the player is newly registered, it will increase player activity and payments while the player is active, and it will reduce churn over time. Together, all of these factors dramatically increase the value of nearly every player, delivering huge benefits to the game publisher. For this reason, it is now well understood that investing in one’s existing player base is where the brand’s highest potential growth engine is found.

Do you think social/casino games will improve with future releases What would you like to see new releases provide to consumers?

The future of games is going to be around personalizing and contextualizing both the game experience itself and the publisher-player communications that surround the game. In the not-too-distant future, every player will have an individual in-game experience, customized to his/her wants and preferences, as well as a unique relationship with the brand. As we like to say: in the near future, brands will either personalize or vaporize.

How are player personas defined? 

Optimize’s technology determines player personas using a combination of lifecycle stages (e.g., registered, new, active, churn, back from churn), activity history (e.g., game preferences, platform preferences, responses to prior campaigns, acquisition channel), behavioral attributes (e.g., play frequency, payment patterns, win/loss ratios) and demographic attributes (e.g., geographic location, age, gender). All told, hundreds of factors are analyzed for each player on an ongoing basis. While behind the scenes the Optimove software employs advanced customer modeling, multi-dimensional clustering algorithms and predictive analytics, the software’s user interface makes it child’s play for marketers to leverage the resulting player personas for managing, automating and optimizing personalized player communications. It is important to note that because many of the above factors change frequently, it is critical for the persona-segmentation to be dynamic and continuous: players change quickly, so marketers need to adapt quickly and ensure that every player is receiving the most relevant offers, incentives and messages for their specific situation.

From tracking these player personas, what insights are you able to garner? Are there any generalizations you have been able to draw from mobile game players?

Many marketers using Optimove track dozens or hundreds of distinct personas, each with its individual characteristics. Because the personas are generated directly from the player database, the various personas are quite different from one game publisher to another. Of course, there are similarities which can be leveraged to quickly determine the ideal communications for each (we’ve developed best practices for numerous persona categories, such as New, VIP, Risk-of-Churn and Back-from-Churn), but the measurement and optimization cycle that the software encourages marketers to follow is actually the only way to know, based on the data, that the person-based marketing is as effective as it can be. In other words, there aren’t any rules of thumb when it comes to player communications — the publisher needs to leverage its data, and to systematically adjust the per-persona communications until the winning formulas are found.

How does this translate to increasing player value?  Can you tell us more about that?

At the end of the day, communicating with players in a personalized fashion, in the context of how they have interacted with the game, and based on a deep understanding of their wants, needs and affinities, will improve every player metric throughout the player lifecycle: it will increase conversions while the player is newly registered, it will increase player activity and payments while the player is active, and it will reduce churn over time. Together, all of these factors dramatically increase the value of nearly every player, delivering huge benefits to the game publisher. For this reason, it is now well understood that investing in one’s existing player base is where the brand’s highest potential growth engine is found.