Using Television for App and Mobile Game User Acquisition

George Osborn

In App Marketing. February 3, 2015

Stefan Bielau is Managing Partner at Dynamo Partners and he spoke at App Promotion Summit Berlin 2014 about “Using Television for App and Mobile Game User Acquisition”. The talk covered the following areas:

  • Why TV is a great way of marketing apps and games
  • Case studies of success using TV to promote apps
  • How to develop and manage a TV-based app campaign

We’re now able to share with you the audio, video and transcript from Stefan’s talk – enjoy!

Using Television for App and Mobile Game User Acquisition Video:

Using Television for App and Mobile Game User Acquisition Audio:

Using Television for App and Mobile Game User Acquisition Transcript:

I am Stefan Bielau. I run a consulting firm called Dynamo Partners. We help clients usually starting from the inception of an idea through development, user acquisition, until something like data analysis becomes a bigger part of their business.

We work across various categories of projects or mobile products ranging from publishing houses, fitness apps, games obviously is a big play in it. And throughout the last, let’s say, 12 months, in particular, when sitting down and working in media plan, clients started to ask, “How we can achieve actually to go to the next level?” Because what I recognize, a lot of players, bigger publishers, bigger companies who have been very successful so far in the mobile space are seeing especially in local markets a situation point where it’s getting harder and harder to acquire high quality users and to achieve further growth. Obviously this is why TV became most recently a hot topic to be discussed. And I am happy to be involved so far in 12 campaigns where we were using TV in order to promote particular mobile applications. I wanted to share some insights about that with you.

It’s early play and mainly triggered, as I said, by the fact that you might have reached a certain situation on one hand. On the other hand, to grow further, it becomes more and more pricey and expensive to acquire the right users and the right market for the right price. So even if you look into channels like, obviously considered among the best, Facebook, the acquisition costs are still growing. And I don’t see anything in the near future that that might change across basically all channels for user acquisition when you look into this play, especially.

Another topic, why TV or alternative acquisition channels are considered right now as the next bigger thing, especially in 2016, is that if you want to build a successful business around your mobile service or around your mobile application or game, you have to do what people are doing, probably since advertising and marketing exist, you have to do multi-channel marketing. In order to build a brand, in order to reach out to users you might not be able to acquire through your natural acquisition channels, you have to go outside of your traditional marketing approach. And in our case, the traditional marketing I consider mainly the display side of things.

Why would TV be a valuable piece to your media plan or user acquisition strategy? Well, obviously reach. It’s out of question that through TV advertisement, you can reach a lot of people, especially those who might be not into social networks or on certain mobile or online outlets where you place you advertisement. The interesting thing here is, what we have seen in the campaigns, that the quality of the user actually reflects that’s a high premium environment you’re putting your ad in. It’s the nature of TV. You give them a clear call to action, “Get the app now,” and you trigger a certain intent of the user to go in the app store, look up your app, and try it out. So it’s clear that the quality of the user, which is then reflected in their monetization and engagement metrics is significantly higher. I have seen cases where you compare the monetization level of a standard display campaign on Facebook with the TV acquisition campaign and we have seen 20% uplift compared to the Facebook campaign when it comes to the monetization. This is one of the key elements when you consider TV and how you want to go and approach it in terms of making a call for it.

Two other interesting things. One I’ll call the”halo effect.” What you get out of a TV ad is the over spill into your social networks. So we have seen more Twitter followers, more Facebook likes, more YouTube views during the time the campaign was airing. Other than that, if you run simultaneously a mobile display campaign, for example, we’ve seen up to 0.8% of higher click through rates during the time you were promoting the same application on TV. So the brand recognition is obviously something you get out of TV advertising for your application.

And another thing, number five, so called “carry over effect.” I don’t know if it’s a right word but it’s at least how I call it. It’s when you consider running a campaign for a longer time and in between, let’s say, two major peaks where you spend significantly higher, for example, TV can help you, through the quality of users you have acquired, to sustain a certain level, which triggers more organic installs, higher quality, to have a bit more of an efficiency in between where you can lower the spend on maybe traditional other channels, but through the first flight you ran on TV, you might have acquired users who have high quality, who have great usage, and they keep you going in terms of the visibility and the organic install rate in the stores.

So the efficiency is positively affected as well. I say it simply works because even though it’s a tiny number I was involved with, I have had the chance to get some more insights of certain TV campaigns for applications. And due to NDAs and certain other agreements, I am not able to share the name of the app or the publisher, but at least I can try. I was trying to use public information from App Annie to explain the certain details and findings throughout those campaigns.

Here’s a great example of a free application, a free game actually by a major publisher, which we’re trying most recently two types of TV campaigns promoting their apps. In the first area, you see a burst scenario where from a Friday into Sunday, the app was heavily promoted in the UK through various channels. In comparison, at a later stage, so there’s two weeks in between, the same app was featured on TV for almost two weeks during a second flight. And the interesting take here is actually that this carry over effect I was talking about, we were clearly seeing when we stopped the first flight until we had it into the second one. There was no, and this is a major learning, there was no other paid acquisition going on at this time for this app in the UK. So we were clearly able to measure the attribution of the TV campaign during those two types of campaigns.

Another great thing, same game, same market, drilling or digging into the actual performance, how it is reflected in the ranks, what we’ve seen here in the simulation category, that’s the yellow chart, that the campaign was able to move the needle for this application from, I would say, number 100 position in that respective category into the top 20s. So the peak was on the 4th of November. Whereas for the second category, this game was ranking in beforehand from, I would say, sixty-ish, fifty-ish rank, it was able to move in the top 15. So this is the impact clearly dedicated to running TV spots for this particular game in the UK.
Another interesting finding, same campaign, same game here, is when you look at the drop off. What happens after you stop spending? The first picture on the left shows a Facebook campaign the publisher was running in late September of this year and the red mark or the red line actually marks when the campaign stopped. So he stopped spending on Facebook buying installs through the ads there. The second picture shows what happens after the TV campaign actually stopped.

And the interesting learning here is that you can compare how fast and how steep the drop off is taking place after you stop spending. When you look into the TV piece and you go into the engagement metrics and the monetization metrics, usage and what not, you will see that the engagement and usage is higher. And as we know, the ranks, and this is reflected here, work to a certain extent also reflecting the usage of an application. It is a marker for the quality of the user also reflected here that TV acquisition actually brings in high quality users. This was one of the interesting findings in this particular case.

Overall we’ve seen 20% higher engagement rates, numbers of sessions, session time, the numbers of events, and as I said before, this particular campaign also reflected the almost 20% uplift in the usual average monetization for the users who are buying in a purchases, so it’s a free app. Don’t forget about this. It works also for other applications. In this particular case, it’s a free health insurance application. So you can compare insurance offers within this app. Here the publisher is based and running solely his business in Switzerland and they were doing a campaign between the 18th and the 31st of October, so last months. And it ran into the promotion of the iOS as well as the Google Play application. And here you see the impact in the store for this particular app when it comes to the iOS store. That’s Google Play. As we all know, the impact and the volatility… the movement within the store when it comes to Google Play is much slower. It’s less volatile and still they made a jump here.

That’s an application for kids, and that’s interesting because it’s a paid app. So it’s an app which sells for $3.99, which was promoted on TV stations across the Netherlands. The interesting take here is, if you look into the whole period, they were doing TV all the time. But they, at the beginning, were testing out certain channels, the frequency of spots, the length of the spots. So it’s the classical play in every kind of new marketing channel you want to head into. First you test, then you optimize, and then you scale. And at the beginning of November, they started to scale, meaning that they figured out beforehand what are the right placements, what are the right spot length, the call to action in those particular spots in order to drive downloads consistently. And not only downloads, the monetization level stayed on the same, let’s say, continuous growth rate. The interesting take here was that you’re able, A, to promote a kids app on TV, B, even if it’s a paid app, it works for you, and the monetization month over month, I was told, is above 1000%, which is a big take if you just look at this market, at this one particular application.

My last example, it’s an interesting one because it’s also special. It’s an iPad game only. It’s a free game. Again, we’re in the UK here, looking at the iPad charts. The creation of the spot here was key to figure really out how to promote an application or a game which is only available for one platform, the iPad. So they put a lot of effort into the creation of the spot, figured out what might be the right demos, what might be the right channels to promote this particular app in. And then what you see here is a three days campaign, kind of a burst scenario once again, Friday into Sunday. And the interesting take is that you see this kind of sustainability after the campaign stopped, on the top right. So after the campaign ended, the ranking position, which was achieved, the publisher was able to sustain and maintain at least for the next couple days. It’s as of yesterday I took this chart, the same as it was during the campaign. So that’s one of the takeaways here for me. This carry over effect is something really, really interesting. You invest first, and then you can leverage from this initial investment for a certain amount of time.

What I would recommend, if you are interested in learning more or doing more research about TV in order to get started, you have to be honest to yourself. What do you want to achieve? If it’s a test and you want to try TV for the first time, that’s obviously something different from accelerating your growth if you are an establish player. If you have a certain budget, then you move on with this, or you want to achieve certain branding effects from a TV campaign, which might be more important for a more mature and established company compared maybe to a startup or a new game developer. Number two, define the KPIs to measure those particular goals you set yourself initially. I know it’s hard and obviously there is a kind of a gap between a TV spot here and the app store performance and the downloads and what not follows through.

But there is a way of doing so, using the time stamp of a particular spot, combining it and matching it with the time stamp you get from the attribution tracking partners or from the app stores themselves. So there has to be a little bit more investment on the tracking side, mainly internally. There are no tools who are able yet to match that, but it’s worth it in a sense that when you move further and you want to say, “Okay, let’s test this,” my recommendation, pick a market which is kind of isolated market, where you have a clear picture, not spending anything, of getting out really how TV worked for your application converting into a certain higher download volume plus the measurement of the quality user.

So pick one market where you don’t spend anything else. Understanding the burst was a traditional campaign planning, so as I said, every one of us is familiar with the old bursts. There are ways of using TV in a same way of triggering downloads in a very short amount of time with a heavy spent in media, in those particular days to achieve the ranking, to achieve this visibility. Plus on top we get the much better quality of users compared to the old bursts. Or you go and say, “Okay, I want to do a little bit longer campaigns” and you run into something which is then requiring a more traditional approach to TV planning, buying and promoting.

We heard it a couple of times today already. Don’t worry so much about the spot in a sense that everyone should have his video in place or at least some raw material for the app stores. There is an easy way. There are certain creative agencies out there and partners who can help you to leverage this and make a TV spot out of it, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, whatever you have already for the app store available or even if it’s at the end, animation of your screen shot. That actually works. I have seen it being used throughout a couple of campaigns where they were using only screen shots with a couple of templates, good voiceover animation. That was the spot. So it’s not always required to hire Bruce Willis or Robert De Niro for a spot. Of course, pay attention to ASO conversion rate optimization because the traffic you get from those campaigns actually has to convert. You bring this traffic to the store. You want to make sure that you convert the most of it.