Taking tried and true app marketing strategies from the Eastern markets and applying them to Western markets isn't as straight-forward as one would think. There are cultural, language, creative and many other tactical differences that challenge marketers to be effective in their user acquisition campaigns in new territories.
Here, we take an introspective look at real campaigns from our experiences with global game publishers to highlight the successes and challenges.
When is the Right Time to Enter a New Market?
Typically, the end vision for gaming publishers is to bring their game to as many markets as quickly as possible. But, it’s best to first start with a smaller set of markets at home before expanding abroad.
With one major APAC-based gaming company, we started off by focusing our UA activity on South Korea only for their anime-styled RPG. We ran campaigns there over a six-month period before rolling their RPG title out into the new GEOs outside of their home market, including France and Germany, due to strong market potential. It was the right time to expand to another market because of the initial stable campaign performance in South Korea. Additionally, research showed that RPGs were popular and profitable in the additional expansion territories.
The US campaign for this anime-styled RPG first launched with a low three-figure daily cap and was soon scaled to a four-figure daily cap during the promotion. Currently, we are live at a significant scale. The main KPI was Day 1 retention rate as the company wanted to focus on new, quality users.
Furthermore, the key focus was also the return on advertising spend (ROAS). The KPI was to achieve 20% ROAS on Day 30. Due to proactive optimization of the purchase rate, the achieved ROAS was above 35%. Since the US launch in November 2018, over 200,000 high quality, new users were delivered in the US, and the campaign continues to deliver high quality users at a significant scale.
The next campaign for this anime-styled RPG targeting France launched this past June, followed by a campaign in Germany. The game successfully launched in France delivering a total of 25,000 new users so far. The company was very satisfied with ROAS and retention quality. Also, the German launch has been successful this month with very high ROAS results.
For the developers of another Western gaming company, it was looking to expand the audience for its fantasy adventure game internationally into APAC after successes already achieved at home. Again, as for the aforementioned anime-styled RPG, it was the right time to expand the audience for this fantasy adventure game after initial proven, sustainable campaign successes in their primary market.
Campaigns in the US and European for the fantasy adventure game launched together at once in March 2019. All the KPIs were met, including a main KPI, the retention rate and Day 7 ROAS, which were delivered above the benchmark.
How to Enter a New GEO
Professionals on the ground in a key region can make a significant difference in managing relationships with publishers and networks due to language and cultural nuances. Additionally, it’s highly important to have local expertise for developing effective creative ads that reach the target audience.
Tailored UA Strategy
It’s helpful to look at the performance of other similar apps or games in a market to set benchmarks as guidance for performance. This will also help with estimated volume (or reach) and potential costs for entering a particular market.
How to Grow Post Initial Launch
Focus on constantly optimizing your campaign to keep improving the results is the key. From bidding and targeting to testing campaign creative, there is a continuous cycle of levers to pull and balance your campaign.
Consider exploring new mobile advertising channels outside of Facebook and Google, such as influencer marketing or TikTok advertising (newly available to advertisers in this past quarter).
It’s crucial to look beyond traditional ways of advertising in order to unlock the potential of new opportunities. Always be looking ahead to new UA strategies and new channels to expand the limits of your campaign.