Top 5 trends that power mobile game marketing

Gaming and social are two things that tend to go hand in hand. While single-player experiences like Device 6 and The Room are utterly absorbing, there’s something about beating a friend’s top score on Crossy Road in front of them or going head-to-head with a nigh-unstoppable friend in Real Racing 3.

These are why it’s not really surprising that social media and the infrastructure behind it is proving more important than ever to the success of mobile gaming. But why is it important, and what can you do as a marketer to take advantage of it?

Here are some of the most important ways in which social is powering how consumers discover and enjoy mobile games in the industry right now — as well as some advice on how you can take advantage of it.

App stores working with social platforms

Arguably the hottest trend right now is the newest out there. Pinterest recently announced a partnership with Apple that’ll enable users to pin their favorite apps to pinboards. This includes Apple, who’ll be curating its own board on the site; this is the first time it has worked with a third-party to provide recommendations.

Fresh as it is, we think this could have a real impact on the market. Say that Apple uses its board to further the reach of their featured apps on Pinterest and other platforms. This could give game developers creating great products the chance to massively expand their organic reach, simply as a result of the app store’s opening up a little.

Furthermore, it may well be possible that other approved social platforms and curators could get approved to work with Apple in the future. As a result, the organic reach of unpaid social discovery could be set to get an enormous app store-fueled boost in the coming weeks and months.

Paid social discovery

Whether that really grows into something bigger, what is undoubtedly a proven trend is paid social discovery. The effects of Facebook’s multibillion dollar mobile advertising success story, accounting for 69 percent of its revenue, and Twitter’s continued efforts to muscle in on the market has made paid ads on social platforms the major route for acquisition for most developers.

And the reason for this is the undoubtedly higher quality of users found on such platforms. The sheer range of targeting options, combined with the increasing sophistication of in-app analytics measures, allows marketers to precisely target players who will respond well to their games. And with Facebook citing a reach of 1 billion users, it is a well that will take considerable time to fully tap.

Furthermore, it is only likely to get bigger. While we could see platform changes, the vast quantities of user demographic data collected by the social giants and the targeting opportunities afforded to marketers will continue to expand in the long run. The question will be whether new channels, such as Snapchat Discover, will prove to be as useful.

Social engagement and retention

Perhaps the biggest and most widely accepted reason behind the use of social in game marketing is its role in improving game play experience. Social engagement, powered by something such as Facebook Connect, can be incredibly useful for increasing engagement and retention in-game through the use of sharing and competitive mechanics. And though we’re arguably beyond the stage of Farmville-style news feed spamming, social integration in smart ways is still proving hugely popular.

Monument Valley’s photo prompt at the end of each level design has encouraged thousands of players to naturally share. Candy Crush Soda Saga (the follow-up to a game seen as a high point of social integration in mobile gaming) still shows you how far your Facebook friends have progressed in the game. And Best Fiends from Seriously shows that exchanging a follow on Twitter for an in-game unlockable is still an effective and fair way of increasing reach.

But ultimately all these mechanics are working to the same end – to help make sure that your game is a compelling experience. And we all know that the longer players are retained and engaged, the more likely they are to provide continued value through monetization, sharing, or reviewing – making social integration essential to the mixture.

Social video streaming and YouTubers

Finally outside of the mechanics of a game itself, online social video is proving to be a real driver of traffic for mobile gaming. And there are two main areas pushing it.

First, there are the increasingly established YouTubers who are bringing their influence to bear. While PewDiePie’s chart topping influence for Flappy Bird is often cited, there are a wide variety of people creating videos about mobile games who are reaching out to thousands, and occasionally millions, of subscribers.

At the same time, the second part of the social video phenomena is helping to get players to take a deeper look at titles. Streaming sites such as Twitch have allowed channels like AppSpy to garner 3 million views of their long TV show-style streams, allowing editorial power to hit home with people.

While this is a nascent industry with some ethical issues about paying for coverage to be ironed out, it nevertheless remains a promising area for marketers and promoters to latch on to. In the same way that video is the future of advertising, video is rapidly becoming an essential method for users to discover new apps and should be taken advantage of.

Hanit Marinov is the VP of marketing for Perion Lightspeed, the leading provider of effective mobile advertising products.

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