This article gives you an overview of the key findings of our Mobile Insights: Growth and Monetization 2022 report, specifically around benchmarks for user acquisition (UA) you can use to strategize and grow your game.
Back in June, we published our Mobile Insights: Growth and Monetization 2022 report on growth and monetization to serve as a guide for developers of all sizes to establish benchmarks both for monetization and UA.
The report analyzed Unity’s data from 28B+ ads served each month, 168M daily average users, 235M+ average monthly installs, and 46M+ average monthly in-app purchases (IAPs.)
Here we focus on some key insights to help you with your user acquisition strategy for your game, like the best location and duration for a soft launch and how to get the most effective CTAs in your ads.
Fine-tuning your soft launch strategy for UA
Studios of all sizes often conduct soft launches to better inform their UA strategy regarding daily active users (DAU), retention, and return on ad spend (ROAS), before wider deployments.
While this seems like a simple and safe option, picking the right location, time, and duration for your soft launch is vital for it to actually serve its purpose. Here is the data so you can make the right choice for your game:
Picking the right location
Most studios look for countries that have a high volume of DAU and devices for larger sample sizes, or countries whose primary language is English. This makes Canada the top choice for publishers to soft launch in, followed by Australia and the Philippines.
Choosing the right time
The price of ad impressions varies depending on season. Traffic in the first three months of the year is often the cheapest – with January being the top choice, followed by the summer months of July and August.
Deciding on the duration of your soft launch
The average duration of a soft launch is six and a half weeks. However, different genres see various lengths for soft launches depending on the game's complexity, the audience they are intended for, and how quickly they churn players.
How long until you reach peak DAU during your soft launch?
The average time to reach peak daily active users (DAU) is about 6.5 weeks. Hardcore gamers jump quicker into the latest games, especially for genres like simulation, action, strategy, and racing, where peak DAU is achieved from four to seven weeks.
Games that cater to a casual players base see slower growth, with genres like board, puzzle, and casual titles ramping up around the 10 week mark.
Optimizing your ad spend
A big part of scaling up your user base is making the most of your advertising dollars, from early soft launches to wider release stages. To help with this, we analyzed key performance indicators (KPIs) for each genre of game to highlight the most effective genre-to-genre combinations and also identified what types of games advertisers should consider advertising in.
In the Mobile Insights: Growth and Monetization 2022 report, we have detailed heatmaps per genre with five key metrics: Click-through rate (CTR), install rate (IR), installs per 1,000 impressions (IPM), conversion rate, and day seven retention (D7). The data shows which is the best genre to advertise your game per those metrics, depending on the objectives and goals you want to achieve.
Here are some of the key takeaways, but do take a deeper dive into the report for more detailed benchmarking as there are clear variations per genre:
- Advertising in hypercasual games has 38% higher CTR than other genres
- Games that are advertised in games of the same genre generally perform better with cannibalization not being a concern
- D7 retention is much higher for games targeted at casual audiences for word, board, and puzzle games, than hardcore gamers for racing, role-playing, and simulation games.
Getting your ad creative right
Knowing where to advertise is just one part of the equation as your ad creative must follow suit and complement your targeting strategies. The Mobile Insights: Growth and Monetization 2022 report explores what ad characteristics were the most utilized and got higher clickthrough rates.
We also dug deeper into the data to determine the creative attributes that drive clicks and conversions vs. ads that don’t have those characteristics and encourage you to take those into consideration.
The key findings from the report paint a clear picture of what makes people click on an ad:
- Top ad creatives that showed actual gameplay performed better than any other ads, even if it was for a few seconds
- Voice-over performs better than on-screen text for instructions
- Incentivized real money (cashouts) does not work
- Showing gameplay of the player losing or failing at the game is effective
- A real person reacting to the game doesn’t generate much click action
Note: We evaluated top ad creatives per game genre within the Unity Ad Network based on CTR performance. These ad creatives were then coded based on whether or not they have each of the specific characteristics we were evaluating for.
Timing the CTA in your ads
The moment you show your calls-to-action (CTA) within your ads influences CTR, conversion, and install metrics and can vary depending on the ad format being used.
- For interstitials, the majority of the clicks come in the first 10 seconds of the video, but conversions and installs happen around the 20-second mark, suggesting that users who really are interested in installing the game watch the ad a little longer.
- For rewarded videos, the majority of the clicks come in after three-quarters of the ad is viewed, around the 20-second mark. This timing is also consistent with install and conversion rates.
Securing steady growth for your creation
Getting your game to scale sustainably is an important milestone for any game developer. We wanted to provide a useful benchmark for all studios to optimize their UA campaigns and set themselves for success.
With careful planning, decision making, and execution that follows the steps we laid out here and in the report, developers of any size can be confident they’ve set their game up for a long future.