Instagram and video games have a lot in common, from visual-seeking audiences to target age groups. Many games advertised on Instagram have yielded positive results thanks to a variety of engagement options, although rising cost-per-click (CPC) prices may inspire a more organic approach.

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the average US gamer is 33 years old. Luckily for game marketers, it’s a great match. The largest group of US Instagram users is between the ages of 25-34, per eMarketer.

Cost Vs. Reward of Games Advertised on Instagram

Instagram is part of the Facebook Audience Network, so prices are subject to demand. To give you a general benchmark, however, AdStage reports median CPC for Instagram Stories placement to be $0.76, cost per mille (CPM) $3.96 and a click-through rate (CTR) of 0.54 percent in Q2 2019.

Feed ads appear to perform better, according to AdStage, with a CTR of 0.88 percent. CPC is lower, as well, at a median of $0.67. The trade-off is a higher CPM at $6.09.

Cost-per-install prices have lowered for iOS over the past few years when compared to 2015, although it increased for Amazon. The most recent US cost-per-install prices according to Chartboost are:

  • iOS Average: $1.44 ($2.23 in 2015)
  • Amazon Average: $2.09 ($1.78 in 2015)
  • Google Play Average: $1.33

Note: Chartboost figures in 2015 were broken down by iOS platform and did not include Google Play.

Case Studies

Mobile game developer Huuuge Games used Instagram Stories to boost awareness for its Huuuge Casino app, according to a case study published on Instagram Business. The developer launched full-screen Instagram Stories featuring slot machine gameplay with a call-to-action to “Play Game.”

Huuuge Games reports that the campaign yielded a 61 percent higher return on ad spend at a 24 percent lower cost per acquisition. In addition, the developer saw a 91 percent increase in payers’ rate for the free-to-play (F2P) game, indicating a motivation to purchase optional add-ons.

If awareness is your primary game marketing objective, it’s wise not to forget earned media value. King partnered with South Korean pop group BlackPink to promote Candy Crush Friends with a series of owned, organic posts on Instagram. 

In one segment, BlackPink members Lisa and Jisoo attempted to imitate dance moves as performed by Candy Crush Friends animated characters. The August 27 video has reached 219,254 views as of this posting, which is valued at roughly $24,178 in earned media value according to a.Network’s Earned Media Value Index (a.EMVI).

Instagram For Indie Games

Social media marketing isn’t just for AAA game titles—in fact, many independent, aka indie, game studios find tangible engagement around their projects on Instagram.

Sky: Children of Light is an upcoming mobile RPG title from Thatgamecompany that has nurtured an audience on Instagram. The developer’s main strategy has been to invite audiences to contribute creative content via fan art, music, etc. This gives future players a reason to share their inspiration and feel connected with Sky’s creators.

Another tactic used by game developers and publishers of all sizes is to create one large image using tiled posts. This encourages fans to engage with each of the images separately, increasing curiosity and engagement, such as this post on CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 profile, which garnered a combined total of over 60,000 views in the span of just eight hours. 

Visual Platform, Visual Product

“Being image-based, Instagram is arguably the best platform for branding,” freelance game marketer Bee Wakefield told developers at the Career Fair in April. “With clever color use you can match your style and theme to your game and keep it consistent throughout campaigns.”

With a plethora of new features and ecommerce integrations being implemented on Instagram, it could be time for game developers of all sizes to take another look at advertising options on Instagram.