4 Must-Know User Acquisition Practices for Mobile Games

April 5 · Yoli Zhang · 4 Min read
Finding cheap installs or high-value users is no longer enough. Advertisers must now precisely target audiences, achieve high click, install, and engagement rates. Here are Chartboost's best practices for UA in 2022.
The Chartboost blog
User Acquisition

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Mobile gaming has kept up strong momentum out of its pandemic surge. In 2021, mobile game consumer spending grew by $15.5 billion, reaching total value of $116 billion. Meanwhile downloads grew to 83 billion, according to data.ai.

In this high-growth mobile ecosystem, a critical component to ensuring advertiser success is to find, define, and measure the lifetime value (LTV) of both advertising and in-app purchases (IAP). Finding cheap installs or high-value users is no longer enough. Advertisers must now precisely target audiences, achieve high click, install, and engagement rates, and reach IAP or in-app ad (IAA) goals to reach high return on ad spend (ROAS).

Here are Chartboost’s best practices for user acquisition (UA) in 2022:

1. Set Goals

IAP-focused advertiser’s main objective is to achieve Day 7 and Day 14 IAP ROAS goals while also monitoring key metrics like cost per install (CPI), installs, purchase rates and amounts, and retention.

For apps that earn some or all of their revenue from ads, a balance must be struck in the split between IAP and ad revenue while measuring the complete LTV picture. Key metrics to watch include Day 1 retention rate, ad impression rate, and average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU).

We also recommend that IAA-focused publishers work with a reliable mediation platform such as Helium by Chartboost to access impression-level ad revenue data. This data completes a feedback loop in which channel users enter into the game through an ad, then acquire more users in that channel to generate more ad revenue.

2. Choosing Partners

For larger gaming companies, advertisers usually put 50 percent of their UA budget into mainstream media sources such as Facebook and Google. However, there are various other media sources that budget is often allocated to as well, such as ad networks, DSPs, app store optimization (ASO), and influencer marketing. Learn from the pros: allocate part of your UA budget to test new partners.

Among the many choices, programmatic buying with a demand-side platform (DSP) is a must-try. DSPs offer real-time bidding at an impression-level, as well as sophisticated modeling and machine-learning algorithms to improve targeting and optimization. Advertisers also reduce their risk by choosing a reliable partner: Chartboost DSP charges advertisers by CPI and bids on cost per thousand impressions (CPM), leaving us responsible for the conversion rate from CPM to CPI.

3. Choose Wide Campaign Targeting

Do not to start with narrow targeting. Your game may find success from unexpected audiences. For example, if you’re a puzzle game advertiser, targeting European users instead of only the US market help you gain more high-quality users and offer better ROAS performance. According to the Appsflyer Gaming Genre Matrix 2021, 26 percent of puzzle gamers also play action games, meaning targeting action gamers also should be considered.

Different platforms can also offer surprisingly good performance. The Amazon Appstore often lifts the ROAS performance of Chartboost DSP customers by offering them with relatively lower prices.

4. Creative Optimization

According to SocialPeta, advertisers used an average of 537 ad creatives in 2021 — an increase of 132% over 2020. Advertisers are focusing on both ad creative quantity and quality to enhance UA. Video is especially important, representing more than 80 percent of mobile ads.

SocialPeta also shared what type of creative works best for each genre:

  • Hyper-casual games usually focus on gameplay
  • Casual games tell stories from female perspectives, about narrative or real-life scenarios
  • Social casino games use scenes with real people, hyping up the excitement of playing a physical slot machine
  • Simulation games (SLG) show off simplified gameplay to attract casual audiences into a more hardcore genre
  • Any game genre can benefit from celebrity and influencer-based creatives

To evaluate performance, Chartboost measures clickthrough rate (CTR), conversion rate (CVR), and installs per thousand impressions (IPM). Chartboost DSP targets creatives with high IPM to achieve higher funnel conversions. As top-performing creatives hit saturation over a period of time due to creative fatigue, we make suggestions to continue iterating and testing new creatives.

These best practices are a great starting point, but full user acquisition optimization goes much deeper. Now that you know what to do, how do you do it? Programmatic buying has become a necessity to optimize user acquisition. To see if Chartboost DSP is a good fit for your team, sign up with Chartboost today.