Jan 14, 2019 IN Game Dev Talks

UA Resolutions for 2019

Špak Tibor
UA Team Manager

2019 is going to be big for us in Pixel Federation. With 2 brand new games to launch very soon, 4 established titles in the app stores and lots of strategic challenges ahead, I stated my goals for the upcoming year.

Usually, I don’t make new year resolutions, at least I thought so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about that kind of resolutions like improving my K/D in my favorite FPS or going to the gym at least three times a week. At the turn of the years, it’s a period of budgeting and planning and it forces us to think about what has been done and set some goals. We’ve identified some challenges for our current games, we have two new games in the pipeline, constantly tweaking our user acquisition strategy and process. It made me think about what should be done to achieve all the goals and get over challenges that we will be facing in the upcoming year. Our CEO used a quotation on one occasion last year, which states “What got you here, won’t get you there”. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of motivational quotes, but this is so true. And voilà, it seems we have some resolutions. Aside from our UA goals and all the KPIs, I came up with my own few professional resolutions as the result of my wrap up of the last year and planning for the new one.

Are whales everything?

A couple of years ago, when I started my user acquisition role with Pixel Federation, one of the first things I’ve learned about free-to-play business is, that only about 2% of players are payers. Quite a common fact, isn’t it? When Facebook introduced lookalike audiences for the first time, we came across the question, what are our most valuable users, that we want to use as a base for building our first lookalikes? The instant answer was “whales”. Despite the fact that our first campaigns were performing pretty well and with good ROAS, we were completely wrong and very soon we’ve realized that focusing solely on whales is a dead end with no prospect of scale. Diversification of user base and especially payer base is crucial for stable and sustainable business. And of course, it’s way easier to acquire 100 players who will eventually pay you 1$ each, then acquire 1 whale, who will pay 100$.

Resolution No.1: Better understanding


This story leads me to my first resolution to keep the focus on the healthy structure of our players as a base for sustainable growth. In other words, my goal is to dig even deeper into each cohort of our players to better understand their in-game behavior, buying habits, and frequency. A better understanding of our minnows, dolphins, whales and even engaged players is the key to fine tune the targetings, use the right optimization for certain audiences and goal and last but not least to be able to adjust creatives, their tonality and messaging accordingly.

Resolution No.2: Creative development


Talking about creatives, I got to my second resolution. Creatives are in my opinion most impactful advertisers input to user acquisition campaigns on any ad network. Therefore, having a vital ongoing discussion with the creative team is a must. We have already running production testing process for new creatives to ensure regular creative rotation in our campaigns. However, more precise briefing and working feedback loop can lead to better user acquisition results. As the UA managers need to understand their audiences better to tweak the targetings and optimization of the campaigns and provide a quality brief, the creative team has to adjust the visual, copy or voiceovers accordingly. This is the way how you talk to your potential clients - your players. Creatives can easily ruin your UA campaigns, or boost you to the next level and help you ensure further scale. At the end of the day, being agile in creative development as well as in testing and feedbacking the creatives can save a lot of money from your testing budget as well as on production. So my goal is to keep this wheel turning and make it more efficient.

Resolution No.3: Never stop learning


I’m pretty sure that I can come up with loads of resolutions while I’m in pace, but the last important for now is to be more explorational. This is not only about exploring new ad networks, digging in ASO keywords, or diving into data to see what made a real impact on our games user base. It’s about constant learning, openness to all the innovations out there, new UA sources, creative formats, distribution platforms. At the same time, sometimes it’s good to do the step back and re-test approaches, targetings, formats or creatives, that failed the tests before since nothing is set in stone. My mission in this is to encourage the rest of the team to do this explorational adventure with me. I hope that I’ll not fail with my resolutions, because we can learn a lot. So what are your resolutions?

Cover image courtesy of the amazing artist Eniac

Špak Tibor

UA Team Manager

UA Team Manager