Discussion led by: Josh Burns, Founder, DigitalDevConnect
Learn the best practices from app marketers at Seriously and Quidd.
During E3 in June, The Mobile Growth House hosted leading app marketers and game publishers for an afternoon of best practice sharing. Programmed in a roundtable discussion format, the event covered those marketing strategies most relevant to mobile games. Most notably, influencer marketing tactics emerged from the open dialogue.
In collaboration with TMGA, Josh Burns, Founder of DigitalDevConnect, recently extended this conversation with Tess Thormodsgaard, Marketing Director at Seriously, and Adam Hadi, VP of Marketing at Quidd to dive deeper into why some influencer campaigns succeed, while other fail.
Enjoy this excerpt of their Q&A. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:
“Make sure the influencer plays and likes the game. If the endorsement is fake, it’s obvious, and the integration won’t work. Viewers are too smart for that, and it looks bad for all parties.”
– Tess Thormodsgaard, Seriously
Josh Burns: How does influencer marketing fit into your overall marketing strategy?
Tess Thormodsgaard: We used influencer marketing to help us launch our game in 2014. It’s a tactic that has been part of our strategy from the very beginning. At the time, we were a small company with a smaller marketing budget, but when we learned from a Variety article that YouTubers were quickly becoming some of the most influential people in Hollywood, we knew this was an area that we wanted to own.
When combining that influence and scale with the fact that about 70% of all YouTube views were on mobile, we realized the consumer could be one click away from downloading Best Fiends. Since our launch of the game, we’ve partnered with influencers on over 3,000 videos and have supported most of our big game updates with influencer marketing.
Adam Hadi: I treat influencer campaigns the same way I treat any other performance channel – same reports with the same KPIs. While there are certainly many differences, most notably in terms of execution, they also share many of the same challenges – targeting, saturation, etc.
Josh Burns: What are some key tips you would give to game developers planning to work with influencers to promote their games?
Tess Thormodsgaard: Focus more on the views and engagement than the subscribers. This seems fairly obvious, however, many people in the business are still trying to push subscribers as a way to understand cost, scale, and/or success. That said, it’s essential to make sure you vet each influencer in terms of engagement with the channel and, most importantly, in figuring out if that channel’s audience is a fit for your brand. It’s a lot of manual work, but you have to put in the work to get positive results.
There are many ways brands can find success, but it’s crucial to keep what’s best for your product, for your brand, and for your audience at the core of everything you do. For example, we’ve found that for our casual game (
), channels geared toward family, lifestyle, and LGBTQ+ are a great fit for us, unlike traditional and more mid-core games that use gaming channels. Sometimes, it’s a lot of trial and error before finding that sweet spot for your brand.
“An ad network wouldn’t agree to terms on a guaranteed CPI or CPA or ROAS without first getting an idea of what conversion looks like on their network, so don’t expect influencers to do so either.”
– Adam Hadi, Quidd
One more pointer – make sure the influencer plays and likes the game. If the endorsement is fake, it’s obvious, and the integration won’t work. Viewers are too smart for that, and it looks bad for all parties.
A successful integration depends on authenticity and transparency, and works for everyone involved – the brand, the talent, and most importantly, the audience. To this end, we also have to understand that the influencers have their own brand, tone, and voice and we need to integrate our brand within their content. It’s a lot of letting go of the creative reins and allowing the influencer to speak to their audience in a way that’s familiar and on-brand for them. After all, they know their audience best.
Adam Hadi: As with any marketing channel, it’s often nearly impossible to guarantee a campaign will be ROI positive. With influencers, we often have to take on more risk than we’re used to. An ad network wouldn’t agree to terms on a guaranteed CPI or CPA or ROAS without first getting an idea of what conversion looks like on their network, so don’t expect influencers to do so either. They are in the same position, except running a small test budget in order to get data back isn’t an option.
Don’t confuse the demographic of the creator with that of the audience. A male creator may have a very female audience. Also, don’t always trust age demographics from the platforms themselves, as they can be misleading (i.e. kids watching on a parent’s device).
Be prepared to handle a large percentage of unattributed view-through installs. This is challenging, and it will vary a lot by platform and even by individual campaign, but ultimately doable.
Josh Burns: Many companies in the gaming space are now working with influencers to promote their games, so how have you been creative/innovative to work with influencers to make your campaigns stand out?
Tess Thormodsgaard: We’ve explored talent outside of the traditional gaming category. We’ve worked with ASMR channels, beauty channels, cooking channels, vloggers, etc. and have found great success. Within these niche categories, we garner support and awareness, as well as someone to organically and authentically endorse our game to a loyal and tight-knit community of their own.
As a company, we’re constantly finding new ways to integrate influencers into the game. For instance, during a Treasure Hunt event, we hid YouTubers’ symbols within our game. The influencer asks their audience, through a video or supporting social, to go find it in the game and report back. Integrations like this are really powerful for us. They are a great way to find new players and to keep audiences engaged and involved.
Adam Hadi: In a recent campaign for Quidd, we had two YouTubers collaborate in a competition against each other to see who could get more of their fans to open up one of their sticker packs. Users could open one or the other, but not both, so that was fun. Watch YouTuber #1. Watch YouTuber #2.