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A new pool of players is changing UA

This article is part of a Gaming Insights series paid for by Facebook.


When it comes to games app advertising, the key to continued growth is user acquisition and audience expansion. But with such a vast and diverse audience, it can be tricky to know where to begin. Many games advertisers also face the challenge of finding new players among an already over-saturated market. Similarly, creative approaches might not be varied enough to motivate someone to download your game, while changes and disruptions within the advertising landscape can make personalization more difficult.

The answer? It’s time to tap into gamer motivations.

Over the past few years, many gaming companies have been targeting their advertising campaigns to the same group of audiences. It ends up slowing down their growth, as everybody is trying to grab this rather small group of gamers, so it gets harder to convert them. Expanding beyond this overfished pond becomes critical to gaming companies.

Your pool of players is changing

Gaming has become a mainstream culture, with more and more people playing. According to research, 86% of internet users now play mobile games, and 80% of self-described “non-gamers” actually play games on their phones. This signals a much larger pool of potential players that gaming companies can tap into.

Source: GlobalWebIndex Q3 2018 Base: 113,392 Internet Users Aged 16-64 

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic drew millions more to gaming. We’ve seen an influx of new mobile gamers around the world as well as reengaged lapsed players, with many of them embracing gaming as a new outlet for much-needed connection and entertainment in isolation.

Source: “Mobile Gaming Behavior Post COVID-19” by Interpret (Facebook IQ-commissioned online survey of 6,238 mobile gamers ages 18+ across DE, KR, UK, US, Jul/Oct 2020) 

And this audience is more diverse than ever, with 50% of recent and established mobile gamers in the U.S. identifying as female, 43% of established mobile gamers 45 or older, and 39% of recent adopters under the age of 34. All these new players create new opportunities for game growth, and new ways to evolve your digital advertising strategy and creative approach.

Source for all stats: online survey responses of 1,434 mobile gamers in US, from “Mobile Gaming Behavior Post COVID-19” by Interpret (Facebook IQ-commissioned online survey of 13,246 mobile gamers ages 18+ across BR, CA, DE, FR, KR, UK, US, VN Jul-Oct 2020) 

This diversity includes the reasons why people play as well as who is playing. Recent surveys have shown the reasons people play vary greatly, which is why it’s so important to understand their motivations, and we’re going to show you how to do just that.

Source: Online survey responses of 728 established mobile gamers in the US, from “Mobile Gaming Behavior Post COVID-19” by Interpret (Facebook IQ-commissioned online survey of 13,246 mobile gamers ages 18+ across BR, CA, DE, FR, KR, UK, US, VN Jul-Oct 2020) 

Introducing The Big Catch Playbook

In 2020, we collaborated with 16 global gaming advertisers to build an advertising creative framework called The Big Catch. We discovered that by experimenting with different ads based on player motivations, you can expand the pond in which you’re fishing for new players. This was effective in converting different players in 100% of our tests, and attracted and converted higher-value audiences(1). Big Catch digital ad creatives also had 26% higher Ads Quality Ranking than control creatives(2), meaning ads performed better in the auction and saw greater distribution at a reasonable cost.

The 4 steps to get started

We have identified eight player motivations, which we’ve explored in great detail in the free-to-download Big Catch Playbook. They are:

That’s not to say these are the only eight motivations, but they provide a solid starting point to begin examining your games, and how to use your ad creatives to attract players with different motivations.

Take Relaxation for example. This applies to players who just want to kill time, relax or calm down. 62% of established mobile gamers in the U.S. play to relieve stress(3). We’re talking about gameplays like puzzles, repetition, and zen mode. Some players are motivated by constantly making progress in the game, whether building or improving things, while some just love to connect and bond with friends.

This Merge Dragons ad below showcases relaxation by positioning its merging gameplay as a therapy — clean your land to clear your mind.

When it comes to escapism, we know that 30% of gamers in the U.S.(4), 30% in the U.K.(5) and 17%(6) in Korea play to immerse themselves in a character/world. Players who are motivated by escapism often seek distraction and relief from possibly a potentially unpleasant reality. Role-playing, fantasy, and alternate worlds all speak to this motivation. Look for the extraordinary in your game and show wild adventures and non-humanoid characters to appeal to players looking to escape.

As this ad creative for Happy Color demonstrates, upbeat music and scenes becoming washed with colour. Even leading with a positive reason to play the game “When days are darker, fill them with color.”

Discovery is also a powerful motivator for curious gamers, who play to learn something new. Creative that shows gameplay with big maps, multiple worlds, and hidden objects can spark a potential player’s interest. Consider showing side quests, enigmas, and escape rooms to instil the thrill of discovery.

This creative for Klondike shows how to pique their curiosity. After a brief intro, it shows sweeping landscapes, prompting the viewer to “Explore and discover many secrets and breathtaking adventures.”

This innovative new framework for games advertising will help you significantly expand your reach and impact. Gaming companies of any size can benefit from the Big Catch advertising approach. It’s an ongoing process of learning what works and why, and incorporating these learnings into your everyday advertising methods.

To get started, get our free-to-download, in-depth Big Catch Playbook to learn more about the eight player motivations, how to test and learn, and key considerations, as well as info on expert regional partners who can help you bring this to life if needed.

Sources

1. Source: Chi-squared test of 16 Gaming A/B tests
2. Source: Creative Shop analysis of ads quality score, new vs. BAU creatives, 18 gaming AB tests.
3. Source: Online survey responses of 728 established mobile gamers in the US, from “Mobile Gaming Behavior Post COVID-19” by Interpret (Facebook IQ-commissioned online survey of 13,246 mobile gamers ages 18+ across BR, CA, DE, FR, KR, UK, US, VN Jul-Oct 2020)
4. Source: Online survey responses of 728 established mobile gamers in US, from “Mobile Gaming Behavior Post COVID-19” by Interpret (Facebook IQ-commissioned online survey of 13,246 mobile gamers ages 18+ across BR, CA, DE, FR, JP, KR, UK, US, VN Jul–Oct 2020).
5. Source:  Online survey responses of 1166 established mobile gamers in GB, from “Mobile Gaming Behavior Post COVID-19” by Interpret (Facebook IQ-commissioned online survey of 13,246 mobile gamers ages 18+ across BR, CA, DE, FR, JP, KR, UK, US, VN Jul–Oct 2020).
6. Source: Online survey responses of 1318 established mobile gamers in KR, from “Mobile Gaming Behavior Post COVID-19” by Interpret (Facebook IQ-commissioned online survey of 13,246 mobile gamers ages 18+ across BR, CA, DE, FR, JP, KR, UK, US, VN Jul–Oct 2020).


Rodrigo Zannin is Creative Industry Lead, Creative Shop at Facebook


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