Jan 14, 2019 IN Game Dev Talks

UA Manager: How to raise players' interest in a f2p game?


Have you ever wondered how players find out about the games and what does it take to raise their interest in them? Yes, the 12th episode of our knowledge-sharing series will finally tackle the highly requested topic of User Acquisition in Free-to-Play game dev world. Check out our Senior UA manager Szilvi and her useful tips and advice. (And if you feel like watching the full interview or digging into other useful Free-to-Play topics, just visit our Youtube Chanel)

How does your team’s workflow look like at Pixel Federation?

Our UA team is part of the Marketing department and consists of UA managers, Data Analysts, Motion and Graphics designers. Pixel Federation has currently 4 games running in the app stores - Diggy’s Adventure, Seaport, TrainStation, Emporea, and each of the games has a dedicated UA manager and a separate budget. UA manager then divides the budget between Ad networks, which are the companies that act as a broker between advertisers and publishers. Until last year, around 80% of our money went to Facebook campaigns. We spent almost 8 million Euros on Facebook campaigns, 4 million on iOS and 4 million on Android platforms. But this year (2019?) we decided to diversify and put eggs in several baskets. We currently cooperate for example with Google, Chartboost, Adcolony, UnityAds, Vungle, etc. You never know when the FB campaigns will stop performing to our satisfaction and we like to be prepared.

Szilvi, how does your typical day look like?

I come to work, open the campaigns that are running and look at the data that we have. We have an amazing Data Analytics team that made us a specific dashboard, where we can check out and evaluate our campaign performance very quickly and effectively. They also created a special metric for us which we call SCORE. It is one of the main metrics that we are looking at and is calculated from predicted revenues divided by actual spend. A score above 100% means you got your investment back plus additional profit in the period of 1 year. But of course, we are checking even standard metrics such as CPI (cost per install), RtP% (registration to pay - regtopay), number of payers etc.

How do you actually set up the campaign?

There are 4 steps: text, creatives, audience, targeting. First I choose the creative type and its format (video or picture, square or vertical etc.) and combine it with the text and headline. Recently, we’ve started preparing these texts in cooperation with our Community Managers and Social Media team as they understand the speech of our players from the first hand. When the banner or video is ready, the next step is choosing the audience - what kind of people I would like to target. What is their gender, age range, country, etc.? I can choose from various clusters of specific language speaking countries or regions, target people with specific interests or lookalikes.

Can you describe us a lookalike for one of our games?

Let’s take Seaport for example. We could focus on English players and who made a purchase within the first day from the registration. Or players, who had at least 20 logins in the past 30 days. We could target players that are dispatching their ships every day or are regularly buying our special offers. You see, the possibilities are endless. That’s why we closely cooperate with our Data Analysts because you have no chance to realize what your target is unless you know your audience. Another important thing while setting up the campaigns is to have a structure. I would suggest starting with broad campaigns, then set up the interests (a.k.a group of people that love navy, sailing or ships...) set up campaigns for these distinct interest groups and just after that to use lookalikes.

And what does it mean for the company to have you - marketing guys?

Marketing is the way to boost the organic traffic to your product, even if you have the best product in the world, without a correct way of marketing, most of the possible customers just won't find out about you. Especially in the f2p gaming world where the competition is overwhelming. The simplest way to describe what we are doing is that we are fishing for high-value players and buying the best ones for Pixel Federation.

So to wrap it up, what are your biggest challenges that you have to deal with as a UA manager?

To set up a successful creative process, which means to come up with the right creative type or the format, then to implement and test it and use it in a normal rotation in the campaigns. And then Targeting and Re-engagement campaigns. How to set up the rules, what kind of people we want to invite back to the game and what will bring them back? I guess that these are our biggest challenges.

So now you know how we do it. Do you have more questions? Have you faced similar challenges? Tell us about the process and let’s talk about the topic in the Facebook group called Free to Play Game Developers. Please, feel free to invite your fellow game developers as well. :)

Katarína Zacharová

PR Manager

With Pixel since 2014, grew from Community management, through Social Media to Public Relations. Hates pizza but eats it anyway.