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As 2017 begins, mobile market leaders are adding even more strategic focus to high quality user acquistion and how to target their budgets to the highest long-term ROI. While this might seems like a challenge for indie developers just getting started, there are a few key tactics that can help any mobile game developers make the most of their budget no matter what size. Read on to learn how you can do the same.

Ask the right questions to plan and scale

What are your company’s goals? The answer needs to be more specific than just “getting installs.” Large game developers, for instance, may set a goal of over 25% return on ad spend (ROAS) for their budget. Smaller companies that don’t closely monitor lifetime value (LTV) may have a goal such as maximizing installs on a $3,000 per month budget. Set a goal that challenges current capabilities.

After figuring out your goals, ask a follow-up question: where is the company in its game or portfolio life cycle? Indies on their first game might focus on building an online community, while devs with multiple games can use free cross-promotion to grow their player base. Large companies with known IP, like a comic book brand, have the most influence through word of mouth on networks like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Look out for the best tools

After determining current situation and goals, get up to speed on the latest tools. Targeting relevant players is a critical strategy for 2017, which is why we always recommend using Player Group Targeting. It allows you to hone in on players identified as highly likely to be interested in your game already. This in parallel with Chartboost’s affinity targeting methods, driven by advanced machine learning algorithms, can reach the most qualified players.

Developers can easily try these targeting tools and evaluate on the same cohort basis as usual. On average, we see player group targeting drive a 13% increase in retention and 27% increase in ROI for developers. Social casino company Product Madness recently used Chartboost’s new tools as part of a plan to become more ROI focused, simultaneously doubling installs and increasing ROAS by 40%. While any one tool may or may not work for you, it pays to stay current. Otherwise, competitors may be gaining an edge with very little effort at all.
Use LTV to keep up with pack

The last component of a strong acquisition effort is the ability to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, and act on the results. Leading game developers used to run ad campaigns for a week to predict the life time value (LTV) of an ad cohort. In 2016, that time has dropped to 2 to 3 days. That’s a stunning advance, considering that player lifetimes are also lengthening to months or even years.

Any large company should be able to respond in the same 2 to 3 day window. Smaller companies usually can’t achieve the same speed, but this can work in their favor. Smaller monthly budgets—of $10,000 or less—have fewer cohorts to manage and face less network saturation, giving a competitive advantage to offset the capabilities of bigger companies. Still, it’s useful for indies to learn about LTV and ROI, ensuring that their own acquisition efforts are meeting financial goals.

Despite all the consolidation taking place at the top of the market, the mobile game industry is still a huge space, with room for companies of all sizes. Companies that have great games and know how to ask the right questions have the potential to see success in 2017.

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