The beginning of the year is a great time for predictions about the coming 12 months. Generally, predictions lists are not that exciting as the writers are usually not willing to make bold guesses (that usually turn out to be wrong) about their particular area of expertise. My area of expertise is the mobile app gaming industry and while I am willing to be wrong, I am fairly certain that our industry is going to witness the following 6 trends over 2015.
1. Asia + Emerging Markets: The traditional gaming industry will renew its focus on Asia and emerging markets, as a high number of quality games continue to come out of those regions. In order to be successful, American and European developers will need to offer games that can appeal to different and diverse cultures in both the Far-East and the West. Some of the most successful games of 2014, including Plants vs. Zombies and Clash, had slight differences in the versions offered across the world, while still fundamentally being the same game.
China’s momentum in particular will continue to grow – China’s mobile gaming ecosystem is growing at a rate of 93% per year, has a fairly gender-diverse user base, and gaming giants Sony and Microsoft have released their gaming consoles in China.
2. Marketing Fragmentation: Regarding the marketing infrastructures that developers will utilize, they will need to intake hundreds of distribution channels and be able to optimize each of them, depending on their effectiveness in different geographic locations.
While Facebook will continue to remain an important arrow in a marketers quiver, its importance will actually lessen as developers look to scale and seek out more cost-effective solutions. Last year, developers shifted an increasing amount of money towards Facebook advertising, and while the industry buzzed with consolidation, it certainly has not been proven to be the top marketing medium in all markets.
3. Creativity: The gaming market is extremely saturated, with an abundance of games that all look similar to each other, or lack a strong appeal. One way developers can stand out is by offering a product that is superior in its creativity and uniqueness, even down to the individual-user level. Creativity is an inexpensive way for publishers and developers to be successful, and will provide an avenue for lesser known developers to break out from anonymity.
However, there are risks associated with being too creative as what appeals to one group of users could be worthless to the masses, and the biggest game developers can already get by without being too creative, because of their giant audiences.
4. Beacon and Cross-Device Marketing: 2015 is the year that we will finally see more synchronization between mobile messaging and display advertisements using beacons to deliver offers and content. This will enable developers and advertisers to offer ads and content that is highly visible and relevant to any given person, increasing engagement and boosting click rates.
5. Retargeting: One of the most valuable activities that developers and publishers can do is to re-engage with former users. Technology makes it relatively easy to run highly-targeted ads (and repeat ads) at hardcore gamers who spend lots of money inside apps. The popularity of Real-Time Bidding (RTB) technology will continue to grow, allowing marketers to bid-on and purchase individual ad impressions, and this will make retargeting both more effective and popular this year.
6. Programmatic Ad-Buying: Speaking of advertising, programmatic ad buying will continue to flourish in 2015. According to recent studies, programmatic ad-spending accounted for approximately 45% of the US digital display advertising market in 2014, with over $10 billion spent. This budget, combined with the growth of real-time bidding, will lead to a significant spike in programmatic ad buying.
Now let's make it happen! (If it doesn’t happen though, I am perfectly fine with you coming back to me in a year's time and telling me how foolish I was).