Mobile gaming is the biggest piece of the gaming market, contributing 57% of the $173 billion global video games revenue in 2020. Worth $98 billion in 2020, mobile gaming is expected to grow to $272 billion by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic not only brought millions of new customers to mobile gaming but also increased the time spent on gaming and the spending propensity of existing gamers. Currently, there are over a billion weekly game downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play, resulting in more than $1.7 billion in weekly spend. Clearly, the industry is booming.
Expectedly, mobile game publishers are spending significantly on advertising – predominantly on social and digital channels – to drive KPIs such as new installs, daily active users, in-app purchases and in-app advertising. Most publishers work with Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) to understand their advertising performance, optimize their marketing and grow the business. While large media companies such as Facebook and Google provide tools and analytics to measure ad performance across their own channels, MMPs provide independent, third-party measurement and cross-platform attribution.
MMPs rely largely on Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA), so far the preferred measurement technique for direct response brands such as gaming companies that have a high share of digital spends. MTA relies on individual, user-level data to measure ad performance, with the most commonly used approach being Last Click Attribution which measures the last touchpoint a customer clicked on before making a purchase and gives it 100% of the credit for the sales conversion. However, the digital advertising landscape is changing, heralding significant disruptions in the way advertisers measure and attribute impact. What are these changes?
1. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and other data privacy regulations came into effect in the EU, US and other parts of the world a few years ago. This caused companies to tighten rules around ad serving and user-level tracking, with large digital platforms increasingly adopting a walled-garden approach that made cross-platform and channel attribution difficult.
2. The world’s most used browsers such as Safari, Firefox and Chrome are gradually ending support for third-party cookies, which fuel much of the digital advertising ecosystem. Instead, they are transitioning to privacy-preserving technologies based on aggregated data. This is a huge impediment for advertisers to deliver user-level targeted ads.
3. And perhaps most significantly, Apple has already turned off “opt-in” by default with iOS 14, cutting off access to the IDFA system, and replacing it with a lower resolution attribution system called SKAdNetwork. Even the most optimistic reports estimate opt-ins are only about 15% of consumers. As a result, advertisers will need other ways to measure marketing effectiveness in the Apple ecosystem. While Android is unchanged for now, Google is also tightening its privacy practices that will make it harder for advertisers to track users on Android phones and tablets.
What all this means is that the methods most mobile gaming companies have been using to measure their media spend and its impact (click-throughs, purchases, ROAS) will no longer work as they used to. They will need to move beyond digital-focused attribution models and start measuring their media contribution holistically.
Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) is often thought of as a measurement technique for more traditional brands, with a higher proportion of offline spend. But even digital advertisers like mobile game publishers can significantly benefit from the wider view that MMM delivers, especially now that the data sources underpinning MTA are disappearing. What it lacks in terms of a granular view of user-level insights vis-à-vis attribution is more than compensated by the holistic view it offers, allowing advertisers to optimize marketing allocations across channels and maximize marketing ROI.
With the latest advancements, today’s MMM solutions are privacy-friendly, highly resilient, and deliver data-driven statistical analyses that quantify the incremental sales impact and ROI of marketing and non-marketing activities. They require no individual-level information as all analysis is aggregated and are highly customizable for the specific circumstances and metrics of different industries such as gaming. In addition, they are highly scalable and available, with actionable insights that can used for forward facing scenarios.
Modern MMM SaaS solutions can be perfectly adapted for gaming to make them suitable for direct response advertisers. Here’s how gaming companies can capitalize on MMM.
1. Speed – Projects run faster and updates happen more frequently.
2. Reduced Cost – Code-free MMM SaaS eliminates the need for outside consultants and minimizes the use of advanced skill sets.
3. Scale and Coverage – With lower costs and faster timelines, more game titles and markets can be analyzed, maximizing marketing spend improvements.
4. Always-on Decision Tools – Integrated simulation, forecasting & KPI diagnosis tools allow for continuous decision support.
5. Transparent – No proprietary methodologies are used and there is full visibility into models and methods. Integration with experiments improves the validity of results.
6. In-House, Secure and Privacy-Friendly – MMM can be run in-house and on-demand. Strategic data is protected by running MMM on the company’s own cloud, without data transfer or third-party hosting.
Demand DriversTM from Analytic Edge is one such MMM SaaS solution that gives mobile game publishers the ability to run MMM and other measurement analytics in-house, using an automated and integrated process. It offers significant cost, scale and speed advantages and provides an alternative to both MTA and traditional MMM approaches. Demand Drivers is already being used by game publishers to get a holistic view of the effectiveness of their advertising spends across channels. It helps them measure the incremental impact of marketing (social, digital, search, new game releases, game events, game updates, TV, print etc.) and non-marketing (competition releases, macro factors, Covid, holidays etc.) events, and make faster and more responsive marketing decisions.
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 – Research & Markets Mobile Gaming Thematic Research Report 2021
 – App Annie 2021 Mobile Gaming Tear Down Report