9 UA challenges and solutions for mobile game marketers

December 20 · Nick Schultz · 8 Min read
The top challenges in user acquisition range from ad fatigue to escalating marketing costs. UA marketers must craft better ads, create engaging games, and leverage the right tools for success.
User Acquisition

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Do you remember what you were doing on July 10, 2008? How about March 6, 2012? No? Well, we can tell you exactly what Apple and Google were doing. 

Apple launched the iOS store on July 10, 2008. Google followed with the Google Play store nearly four years later on March 6, 2012. You might not recall these dates specifically, but they each had a tremendous impact on mobile games. 

Apple and Google still control the space today, of course. The industry, on the other hand, looks much different than it did a decade ago. There’s more competition. Users have become less loyal. And marketing costs have exploded. Put simply, user acquisition (UA) is harder than ever. 

We’ve identified the top UA challenges mobile game developers face, so that you can begin to find viable solutions to overcome them. 

1. Escalating ad fatigue 

The average American sees 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day, which has led to serious ad fatigue, including “banner blindness.” 

(Just as it sounds, banner blindness occurs when users become used to seeing banner ads that they automatically ignore them.) 

A significant portion of your target audience does not want to view your ads. They’d rather play the mobile games they’ve already installed. Or they’d prefer to scroll through their Facebook and Instagram feeds. Or they’d choose almost anything besides engaging with your latest advertisement. 

This is a problem. Luckily, you can take action: make better ads. 

Start by studying your target audience and then creating advertisements that speak directly to them and demand their attention. Also, use video. It works wonders. 

2. Failing user loyalty 

Ad fatigue isn’t the only UA challenge you need to overcome. 

The truth is, today’s mobile gamers have short attention spans and high expectations. If your game is anything less than exceptional, your retention rate will plummet and your company’s revenue will decline. 

Once again, there is a solution: create better, more engaging games. Obviously this is easier said than done. But is it possible? Absolutely! 

You must study the data. Which characters, levels, themes, and game mechanics do your users like best? Find ways to give them more of what they like, and they’ll keep playing your game. 

3. A fragmented landscape 

Complicating matters, the mobile games landscape is completely fragmented. 

There are dozens of different devices out there, most of which are powered by one of two operating systems: Apple iOS or Google Android. 

There are also two main mobile app stores: Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store. (There is the Amazon Appstore as well, which reaches customers in 200-plus countries and is accessed on more than 200 million devices.) 

The solution to this UA challenge? Use the right tools. The right tools for this job allow you to streamline your UA efforts and ensure positive results. 

Chartboost offers tools that make it easy to target the right users for your specific game(s). By analyzing our data, you can ensure your marketing produces positive return on ad spend (ROAS). 

4. Constant competition  

What about competition? There’s plenty to contend with. Case in point: there are 2.184 million apps in the App Store and 2.65 million on Google Play

Your target audience has more ways to enjoy their time than at any other point in history. Unfortunately, it all competes for your audiences’ attention. 

To overcome this UA challenge and succeed as a mobile game developer, you must craft memorable and engaging marketing campaigns that entice potential users to hit “install.” 

Accomplish this and you’ll outpace your competitors, collecting an army of happy users and enjoying the extra revenue they represent to your company. 

5. Sky-high marketing costs 

Have you been to the store lately? The price of pretty much everything has risen, including UA costs. 

But before you can overcome this challenge, you need to know why costs are rising. The main culprits are: 

  • Inflation: Your company’s dollars just don’t go as far as they used to. 
  • Competition: More games in the app stores means you have to spend more money to get yours noticed. And more bids on ad space lead to even higher prices. 
  • Privacy regulations: Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, as well as GDPR and CCPA laws, limit the amount of user information that game developers have access to. This makes it more difficult to craft ROI-positive marketing campaigns. 

To combat sky-high promotional costs and ensure your games turn a profit, study the available data and continually iterate on your approach to marketing. 

6. Fewer revenue opportunities 

You may be surprised to learn that a mere 5% to 7% of app users make in-app purchases. If you rely on this revenue stream to keep the lights on, you’ll probably go out of business. 

Thankfully, mobile games can monetize via in-app advertising, not just in-app purchases. 

In fact, tools such as Chartboost Advertising make it incredibly easy to get started. Contact us to get started accessing proven and emerging ad formats that drive demand, strong CPMs, and high fill rates

Once you’re building top-level ads and creating an engaging in-game experience, Chartboost will help bring in new users. Doing so also increases the likelihood of in-app purchases, improving your game’s revenue by leaps and bounds. 

7. Omnichannel attribution 

Think about it: you build dozens of marketing campaigns, each designed to attract your target audience on a different platform. You might invest in in-app advertising, for example, Facebook ads, or you might decide to work with a PR company or a popular influencer in your space. 

The customer journey can be long and windy. A potential user may hear about your game in May but not install it until September. 

How can you possibly determine which marketing campaigns produce the best results? 

Fortunately, there are apps that can help you determine the origin of your installs and optimize your marketing efforts accordingly. The best attribution tools include AppsFlyer, Adjust, Singular, and Kochava. Investing in one can help level-up your UA efforts. 

8. Mobile app install fraud 

Mobile ad fraud is rampant. Mobile game marketers need to protect against it, or else it will remain prevalent. 

The different kinds of mobile ad fraud include: 

  • Click spam: When clicks are executed on behalf of users (usually without their knowledge). This practice is also known as click flooding, click fraud, and organic poaching.  
  • Click injection: When new installs are detected and hijacked. Fraudsters end up stealing credit and revenue for each install. 
  • SDK spoofing: When a false install is created using real data from legitimate devices. This practice is also known as traffic spoofing and a replay attack. 
  • Fake installs: When device emulators, device farms, and/or bots are used to create fake installs to collect the ad revenue generated. 

If hackers target your game, you’ll end up paying for fake installs. The good news is you can take action to prevent fraud! 

First, acknowledge the problem and commit to preventing it. Second, keep a close eye on your advertising efforts for anything that looks fishy. Third, invest in an anti-fraud tool. Three of the most popular options on the market are Adjust, Kochava, and Singular. 

9. Lack of transparency 

As mentioned, Apple’s ATT framework, GDPR, and CCPA regulations make it difficult to acquire user data. What’s more, the data within reach of mobile game publishers isn’t always shared by ad networks, UA channels, and other tools. 

It’s difficult to design and implement effective UA strategies without reliable data sources. Luckily, there’s a solution to this UA challenge: Partner with Chartboost. 

As a platform made by developers, for developers, complete transparency is core to our mission. We provide access to granular campaign data and insights, which you can use to properly evaluate your UA efforts and determine the best ways to optimize.  

Supercharge your user acquisition efforts 

UA challenges are very real, but they shouldn’t keep you from finding success. Work smarter by following the advice above and you’ll start connecting with your target audience, growing your user base, and driving more revenue for each of your mobile games. 
Contact us to get started overcoming all of your UA challenges and produce a positive ROAS for your mobile gaming company.