Ad Monetization 7 min read  - July 13, 2023

15 Top Strategies for Summer 2023 - from Mobile App Industry Veterans:

explore key strategies to boost your mobile app & user numbers and increase engagement, (...) natural growth, using social features in your app, and adapting to new privacy rules.

In the competitive world of mobile app marketing, simply having a great product isn't enough. Developers and game studios face the ongoing challenge of attracting and keeping users engaged, especially with the constant changes in privacy policies and technology.

At Appodeal, we know how tough these changes can be. We're here to help you understand and adapt to this ever-changing landscape. We're lucky to learn from industry experts who successfully share their insights on attracting and engaging users.

This article will explore key strategies that can help boost your user numbers and increase engagement. We'll discuss the importance of natural growth, using social features in your app, and adapting to new privacy rules.

These insights come from industry veterans who have been through it all. They aim to help you survive and thrive in this challenging environment. So, whether you're a big game studio or a new app developer, this article offers useful tips to improve your marketing efforts and take your app to new heights.

Let's dive in!

Holiday Season Mobile In-App Ad eCPM Report '23

Table of contents

  1. Embracing the SKAdNetwork Framework
  2. Creative Challenges and Loss of Hyper-Targeting
  3. Shifts in Marketing Mix
  4. The Importance of Schemas
  5. Looking Forward to SKAdNetwork 4.0
  6. Adjusting Attribution Models
  7. Exploring Different Channels
  8. Leveraging Social Features for Organic Growth
  9. Utilizing Social Platforms and Influencer Content
  10. The Role of Virality
  11. Referral Programs: Unlocking Organic Growth
  12. Deep Linking: Ensuring Smoother User Experience
  13. Capitalizing on Apple Search Ads
  14. Leveraging Google for User Acquisition
  15. Prioritizing Creatives: The Secret Sauce to Higher Engagement

1. Embracing the SKAdNetwork Framework

It's no secret that implementing the SKAdNetwork framework has profoundly affected mobile app marketing. Many apps and games in the industry found hitting the scan conversion thresholds challenging, particularly with regard to retargeting campaigns, especially on iOS. Nonetheless, the community has learned to adapt and work within this new framework.

Adjustments had to be made to how teams allocate their resources. The scan ecosystem changed the traffic mix, meaning not all ad networks and partners could successfully transition. Teams learned to be flexible, moving funds to where they saw the best return on investment.

2. Creative Challenges and Loss of Hyper-Targeting

The lack of visibility into the working creatives on iOS has made creative campaigns more challenging. Furthermore, the loss of hyper-targeting capabilities means that the audience on iOS has broadened significantly.

As a result, campaigns have had to be more versatile and creative in reaching the right audience.

3. Shifts in Marketing Mix

While the marketing mix has not drastically changed, some subtle shifts have occurred.

Budgets are now consistently being switched from one channel to another at a faster rate. Additionally, the focus has moved towards testing new channels quickly, adapting to the SKAdNetwork situation. This approach impacts how budgets are allocated and how campaign success is measured.

4. The Importance of Schemas

A key challenge and a path to success in navigating the SKAdNetwork framework is working on your schemas. This refers to building a schema of aggregated reporting data points without user-level data.

This could include binary coding around reporting to SKAdNetwork or tracking different events and user levels. Although the lack of user-level data might feel like navigating blind, optimizing schemas allows you to measure performance better.

5. Looking Forward to SKAdNetwork 4.0

There are mixed feelings about the potential opportunities and features SKAdNetwork 4.0 might bring. While some are optimistic about Apple providing more visibility and transparency for performance marketers, others believe it won't restore the scenario to what it was pre-SKAdNetwork.

Adoption rates of SKAdNetwork 4.0 have not been as high as anticipated, but it promises to offer a more extended measurement period beyond the initial 24 to 48 hours, making it easier for developers who optimize for long-term returns.

6. Adjusting Attribution Models

Navigating these changes has also required a shift in the preferred attribution models. A mix of SKAdNetwork and other models like probabilistic matching are used to gain as much data as possible. This dual view empowers performance marketers to make better-informed decisions.

As the mobile app marketing landscape evolves, so do marketers' strategies. Despite not offering immediate, actionable data for UA teams, media mix modeling, and incrementality are becoming increasingly crucial. In conjunction with other performance marketing tools, these models help secure a smoother transition into the future.

7. Exploring Different Channels

Expanding into new channels isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. The team at Appodeal discovered that venturing into areas such as CTV (Connected TV) posed measurement challenges. Even when direct response metrics aren't readily apparent, persistence is key. While these challenges may be more daunting for smaller companies, sustained effort is how you build momentum over time.

Not every channel will be a direct response gold mine, but diversifying your efforts can offer incremental growth and open up new user bases. It's all about consistent application and patience in seeing your efforts bear fruit.

8. Leveraging Social Features for Organic Growth

The discussion turned to an essential question: how to leverage social features to drive organic growth?

Firstly, social features within apps were highlighted. Some games and apps are built with a more social environment in mind, encouraging users to invite others to join the experience. This social engagement within apps has the potential to drive organic growth, with user referrals acting as a powerful marketing tool.

The conversation also pointed to plans for Player vs. Player (PvP) mechanics in certain games as a future growth driver. PvP can introduce a competitive edge to the experience, encouraging players to invite friends to join the competition and boosting user engagement and growth.

9. Utilizing Social Platforms and Influencer Content

The experts also discussed leveraging social features within platforms, such as collaborations on Instagram and Spark ads on TikTok. User-generated content (UGC) on platforms like TikTok is an invaluable resource. Brands that already have a presence or following on such platforms can capitalize on content created by fans to promote their apps.

The win-win situation is that influencers boost their engagement, brands get promotional content, and costs are minimal.

10. The Role of Virality

Lastly, the potential virality of games was highlighted. Some games, by their nature, have high virality due to their interactive gameplay, encouraging player-to-player interaction.

While not all game genres may be equally suited to this, incorporating social and viral elements within the game can significantly contribute to organic growth.

11. Referral Programs: Unlocking Organic Growth

One of the crucial ways to encourage organic growth in your mobile gaming community is through well-implemented referral programs. You can create a self-perpetuating growth engine by incentivizing current users to invite their friends to the game. These invitations can be trackable, allowing you to measure the referral program's success.

For instance, with Appodeal's advanced analytics and insights, you can monitor the conversion rate of referral invites and assess the overall performance of your program. Although the process of sharing can be as simple as hitting a share button and texting it out, Appodeal ensures that your in-app sharing feature functions seamlessly and tracks results accurately.

12. Deep Linking: Ensuring Smoother User Experience

Deep linking is another powerful tool that mobile game developers should consider.

It allows you to direct users straight to specific in-game locations from external platforms, thus enhancing the user experience and increasing the likelihood of conversions. These links can be shared through various channels, such as SMS or social media platforms, to invite friends to join a particular game or event within the app.

13. Capitalizing on Apple Search Ads

Apple Search Ads have grown significantly in recent years, and their use has become a cornerstone of effective app marketing strategy. They are a more premium and accurate channel, even if they may be more expensive.

Since Apple search ads are seamlessly integrated into the Apple Store, it allows you to track data more accurately, which can help you optimize your campaigns for better performance.

One approach to expanding Apple Search Ads' effectiveness is targeting specific keywords. This strategy can be particularly beneficial for games with famous IPs, allowing them to target relevant keywords and reach a highly engaged audience.

14. Leveraging Google for User Acquisition

Google also plays a crucial role in user acquisition. It has effectively mastered lower funnel event optimization, making it an excellent source of Android traffic. Its recent advancements towards supporting SKAdNetwork and introducing Quality of Service (QoS) bidding make it an even more compelling choice for iOS traffic.

One of the benefits of Google is that it can match your ad copy with the right people, making targeting easier. This advantage, combined with effective video content, banners, and text ads, can significantly enhance your ad's performance and user acquisition.

15. Prioritizing Creatives: The Secret Sauce to Higher Engagement

Finally, the most effective marketing strategy often revolves around creatives. Creatives are still the most impactful way of drawing in users. The conventional format of hook, gameplay, and call to action remains the winner of all ads.

Different iterations of this format, especially in creating a call to action or depicting gameplay, can significantly impact your ad's effectiveness. Pairing this with user-generated content (UGC) or influencer marketing can further enhance your creativity and improve its performance.

In Conclusion

In the dynamic world of mobile app marketing, the most powerful strategies focus on creating quality products, building and nurturing strong communities, and leveraging genuine, compelling advertising. A thriving, satisfied community translates into a successful product; engaging your players and creating resonant content fosters a sense of belonging that can encourage organic growth and virality.

Simultaneously, exploring new channels, maximizing the potential of in-app social features, and adapting to the shifting landscape are critical steps toward driving this organic growth. Indeed, as the mobile app ecosystem evolves, so should your strategies.

The current climate may prompt a shift towards more traditional marketing, but this can be viewed as a golden opportunity to get back to the roots of marketing and reinvent your strategies. Quality products, genuine ads, and user-focused methods reign supreme.

Facing this rapidly changing landscape might seem daunting, but remember: it's not a sprint but a marathon. Consistent efforts and the right strategies and tools can pave the way for your app's sustained growth and success.

Holiday Season Mobile In-App Ad eCPM Report '23

At Appodeal, we're committed to standing with you—game studios and mobile app developers—through these changes. We offer the tools, insights, and support you need to thrive in this vibrant, evolving arena. While the path forward may be uncertain, we believe that together, we can navigate this exciting new world of mobile app marketing and unlock your product's full potential.

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ASO & Organic Traffic 12 min read  - September 1, 2021

12 Tips for Bad Reviews on Social Media: How to turn Angry Mobs into Loyal Players

These 12 tips will help you to handle bad reviews & toxic user behavior on Social Media, while creating a friendly community for mobile games.

When struggling with bad reviews and toxic user behavior on social media, creating a friendly community for mobile games may seem like an impossible goal.

Managing a large, fully-formed community like that of the city builder SuperCity, with almost a million Facebook followers, comes not only with perks, but with some challenges too. Reducing toxic interaction on posts and among the players being one of the top. 

Although it is a natural trend for large gaming communities to deal with trolling and even turn into angry mobs, sometimes, the community manager can set the proper tone for communication on social media. 

Playkot's city-builder SuperCity started as a browser game on Russian social media platforms to be voted "Best New Facebook Game" in 2014. SuperCity quickly built a large community on its social media, and we have just celebrated our 10th anniversary. 

When I became SuperCity's community manager, It was quite a challenge to fight the negative spirits of some players. But at the same time, it was an experience that taught me a lot about user behavior in videogames, and crowd psychology, in general. 

The following 12 Tips boil down the strategy that we employed to improve the atmosphere in SuperCity's community:

  1. Show that You Care
  2. Keep your Communication Simple
  3. Do NOT Wait to Reply to your Gaming Community
  4. Find Out the Reason Behind the Comment
  5. Never take the Comments Personally
  6. Distinguish Between an Angry Player and a Regular Troll
  7. Choose the Right Level of Moderation
  8. Be Open to Feedback
  9. Encourage Positive Contributions
  10. Generate Positive Contests & Giveaways
  11. Don’t just cover Online, go Offline too!
  12. Try for a More Personal Approach
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1. Show That You Care

It was not by accident that I have chosen this for the very first tip. 

Care should be at the core of every interaction you have with your online community. 

It's not enough to affirm it publicly that you care about your community. You must internalize it and keep it in mind in every action you take. 

People feel when you genuinely care (or not) about them. 

You show them that you care by approaching them nicely and positively. 

When dealing with your community, try to approach your users the way you know they will understand you best. 

Try to use polite, caring words. Be generous with the "Have a nice day" wishes and friendly emojis. These little things can really improve your communication with the players. 

If you want, you can make someone's day better. 

2. Keep your Communication Simple

Try to think of your players not only as customers but also as people: they could be your little sister or brother, not at all happy with the new update. Imagine your father or grandmother not understanding the new interface of their favorite game. 

I tend to make this mental connection between my family and audiences with players over their forties. When my father bought his first smartphone, he had such a hard time understanding how to use it. 

It's the same with your gaming community: try to explain your news and game updates the same way you would with your grandparents. 

If your community is small, do your best to answer to all players. That will boost the engagement rates on your social media channels, and it will also show the players that you care about their comments. 

As your gaming community gets bigger, it will become difficult to answer all your players. 

Some companies prefer to respond when the answer is relevant for all the players to read. Or you can hire moderators or staff to help you keep answering all your players. 

In this line of work, emotional burnout can happen very fast: too many contacts can feel overwhelming, resulting in low-quality work or losing valuable people. 

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3. Do NOT Wait to Reply to your Gaming Community

Giving a quick reply to your players, being there when they need you is also a way of showing you care.

You may have the perfect answer, but if it comes too late, there's no point in it anymore. 

This is particularly important for reviews on App Store and Google Play.

Sometimes, players submit their issues there, instead of writing to support or on your social media platforms.

It's always a good idea to monitor your feedback on the App Stores. You will find there all the feedback of your latest update. 

The best scenario is to solve their issue from the first message without asking them to contact you via support or email. 

You can turn a bad review into a five-star rating just by answering promptly and showing that you care about their issues.

4. Find Out the Reason Behind the Comment

This means going a little further into the player's psychology. 

The reason behind their anger may or may not be the game itself. This is something you'll have to find out and adjust your communication accordingly. 

If several players come to you with the same complaint, something may be off with the new event or whatever might be the object of their messages. 

However, that might not always be the case with individual complaints. Waking up to several angry paragraphs from one of your most loyal players does not always mean yesterday's update was a fiasco. 

Take the time to listen to the person who came to you and determine what caused this emotional reaction. Based on the messages you have received, ask them about the issue. 

Do it with empathy, in a polite and caring manner, and you might be surprised. It's not uncommon that, during the conversation, the player drops something along the lines of "Actually, yesterday I was really upset because of reasons" or "I couldn't sleep all night because my legs hurt terribly." 

I don't know any Community Manager that hasn't received something like that. 

Just keep in mind: the reason for anger might not always be your product. 

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5. Never take the Comments Personally

You may feel a bit frustrated by the loss of work time when you find out that the real reason was not work-related at all.

Don't take it personally! 

My advice here is not to cut the person off. If you do, you may come off as rude. Listen to them for a while, and, if you can, say something nice.

This will not only consolidate the bond you have with that particular player, but you will also have one good deed added to your karma: everyone needs to be heard out once in a while, might as well be by an online game community manager.   

You may even end up with a loyal user who will defend you and your game when other players rant at you.

6. Distinguish Between an Angry Player and a Regular Troll

If you've been on the internet for some time, you're probably familiar with internet Trolls.

They are the worst nightmares of every community manager. 

Not only is it tiresome to see every new post you publish overridden with negative comments, but you'll soon find the regular players rally up against you as well. 

Never let the troll loose. If you do, more negative comments will spring up like mushrooms after a rainy day.

The last thing you want is for the top comment on your newest post -Yes, that one with 600 likes and 90 replies!- to be a faceless profile solely made to have some fun at your expense. 

There are many theories on internet trolling. Be it what some call the mob mentality or something else. Trolls are very good at finding weaknesses, real or made up, and presenting them in a way that will make others feel like they have a point. 

Distinguishing between a player who is genuinely upset and a regular troll is not easy. You can only learn that by practice. However, if you want to get rid of your trolls, you must set the right parameters for communication on your social media.

7. Choose the Right Level of Moderation

To ban or not to ban? That is the question. 

The topic of how strong moderation should be is often a sensitive one for community managers. Nobody wants to come off as iron-fisted. The flip side of this is a too relaxed approach and having your community infested with toxic behavior and trolling. 

How should strong moderation be against a troll? As strong as necessary! 

The level of moderation is individual to every community. Large communities, such as SuperCity, are prone to trolls and things getting out of hand quickly. Small communities can have more flexible policies that don't require such careful monitoring. 

Trolling should not be tolerated on your social media. However, if a user genuinely sends you negative comments or reviews, you'll have to address it.

One of the main purposes of a Community Manager, after all, is to address all feedback. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, game developers have to learn to take critique just as much .-or even more- than praise. 

But again, Do not mistake trolling for feedback. Trolls will never bring anything constructive to your community.

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8. Be Open to Feedback

Another way of showing that you care about your players and the comments they leave is to be open. 

Never stop asking them for feedback. Ask about your users' opinions in your posts, dedicated polls, or even player surveys. 

Be mentally ready to accept both positive and negative feedback.

When you receive it, be honest about it with your team. If the latest event was not well-received, don't sugarcoat it. Describe the situation as it is: in a logical, non-emotional manner. 

It's great for players when you put their suggestions into practice. It increases their loyalty when they see that you act on their feedback. 

It also creates a feeling of belonging for your players. Their opinions are materialized in their favorite game! 

When you act on your users' feedback, make sure to emphasize it when speaking with your community. Release a dedicated post, tweet about it, spread the word. 

Players love to see when game developers take their feedback into account. 

Depending on how close are your product team and your community managers, these magic moments will occur more -or less- often.

9. Encourage Positive Contributions

It is just as important to encourage & reward positive contributions to your community as it is to limit the damage done by negative comments. 

To set an example of good behavior will offer players a new outlook on things. It will also help steer them in the direction you'd like the community to head to. 

Find the silent players that love your game, and make them speak out. 

For every successful project, there are supportive players out there. However, your supporters don’t tend to be as vocal as their polar opposites. 

For SuperCity, we introduced something called "SuperCity Hall of Fame". 

We gave the SuperCity Hall of Fame award to players that had meaningful contributions to our community: helping other players out with useful advice; writing creative stories about our game; helping us track down some technical issues, or simply having a consistently positive attitude over time. 

The reward was a special frame for Facebook profile pictures that could not be found elsewhere. They had to be attached by us for each winner's picture. 

The winners would also be mentioned on our page, and their pictures would remain in a dedicated SuperCity Hall of Fame album. Moreover, the award also came with a little bit of in-game currency. 

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10. Generate Positive Contests & Giveaways

People love having the chance of winning something.

Therefore, contests and giveaways are some of the most powerful tools in the community manager's arsenal. 

Contests and Giveaways increase activity on your social media, while they set a more positive mindset inside the community. 

Working together towards common goals, on a daily basis, has created strong bonds between the players and that was something we tried to encourage and promote as much as possible as the true identity of our community. 

A big part of SuperCity's game strategy was being part of a friends' group that would help each other out. 

Many of our contests revolved around the idea of online friendship, with one notable merch giveaway. Most of our contests involved tagging a gaming buddy and having them tell us why they consider them such a good online friend. 

If they got lucky, we'd send them both an item of exclusive merch. 

11. Don’t just cover Online, go Offline too!

Sometimes, online communities evolve to the point that online friendships turn into real-life, long-lasting friendships. This also tends to reinforce the online bond. 

This was also the case for SuperCity. After a long journey over the years, some people in our community started to trust each other more and shared fond memories. This encouraged some of our players to meet in real life. 

Observing that trend, we encouraged our players to organize meetups and form bonds in real life. We considered it a beautiful thing. 

What starts in the virtual world may have a wonderful impact on people's lives. 

A group of players from France had the first initiative of this kind in 2019. Sadly, no one from SuperCity was able to attend in person, but we supported the meetup with our merch and also got some souvenirs from them in exchange.

The meeting got an entry on our official SuperCity page and more people from other countries started organizing themselves too. The next meeting was, a few months after, in Canada. 

The meetups had the potential to develop from local meetings to more international meetings.

I was also supposed to attend the 2020 meetup in France, but that was, unfortunately, postponed to 2021 and then to 2022 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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12. Try for a More Personal Approach

One of the challenges of SuperCity’s Community Management team, was to change the way the players viewed ourselves and our company. 

Stereotypes, especially negative ones, have the ability to latch on very easily. 

Sometimes it’s not easy for players to see game developers as people too.

Among our negative comments, there was a recurring theme of us being the evil corporation that was thinking of nothing else except our profits. Ironically, we are still very far away from being a big corporation. 

If you’re a small developer like us, don’t let that kind of comment get under your skin. Let your work ethic and values speak for themselves with your hard work, your games, and the way you handle your community.

The key here was for players to see we are also regular people with personalities and dreams of our own. We love our game, SuperCity, just as much as they, and we care about them. 

Some game developers and community managers prefer not to expose themselves. Therefore, they choose an impersonal approach. -in my case, I took the risk and chose the exact opposite.- 

The players of SuperCity community know my real name and how do I look. I also created a Youtube channel. A place where I personally:

  1. Explain the new events and features of the game.
  2. Feature interviews with team members.
  3. Filmed special moments from our office life. 
  4. And much more!

Moreover, we organized an event called "SuperCity Mail Time". This is a unique chance for players to send to us a gift and get something in return from us. 

There are many big companies that would not feel comfortable leaving a postal address out in the open. In our case, we are proud to have a small museum with souvenirs in our office, that come from all around the world. And so far, not a single bad comment has been to my mail.

This has proven to me that, in most cases, negative comments were just online rants and nothing serious. 

However, such an initiative does come with some risks, so If you decide to for it, first analyze if it's worth the try for your particular situation.

Turning Angry Mobs & Bad Comments in Social Media into Loyal Players

These are some tips from my own experience as a manager of a large online gaming community, I don't claim that SuperCity has a 100% hate-free, positive vibes-only community. Such things don't exist. 

However, the above strategies did improve our game’s atmosphere. Some tips may be applicable to other cases as well, some not, it's up to every manager or developer to see what works best for their community. 

This is perhaps the beauty in our line of work: there are no two identical online communities. Each of us has to be willing to accept the challenge of experimenting and finding new ways of bringing people together.

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By Diana Craciun, Community Manager @ PlayKot.
Diana is an ex-pat working for the Russian gaming company Playkot for over four years now. She started her career as a community manager for one of Playkot's most popular games, SuperCity. Soon after that, Diana moved on to mobile games, such as the mobile version of SuperCity and the company's new project, Spring Valley Farm Adventures. Managing SuperCity's community of almost a million followers on Facebook provided her with plenty of experience dealing with negative comments, toxicity, and even downright trolling.
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How to Become a Top-Funded Mobile Game Developer on Kickstarter - Interview with Mike Bridavsky

Part of what made us so successful, if you look back at our Kickstarter, is that we worked really hard to make really exciting rewards... we made a lot of exclusive one-of-a-kind items that you could only get on Kickstarter

We have recently interviewed Mike Bridavsky, the creator of the mobile game "Lil BUB's Hello Earth". A Kickstarter project that raised almost $150,000 a few years ago and, today, it still remains as one of the 5th top-funded mobile games in the crowdfunding platform.

Learn from Mike's experience How he became a top-funded mobile game developer on Kickstarter, and how he created a successful Kickstarter campaign and got to raise funds for his cat, Lil BUB, and other homeless pets by developing a mobile game.

APPODEAL: Mike, you have a lot of experience with Kickstarter, and you raised more than 100.000 dollars on your campaign, is that right?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: Yes. It was a few years ago, and it was around $140K or $150K.

APPODEAL: That’s Incredible! And how did you become so successful?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: (laughs) Well, the thing that sets our Kickstarter campaign apart from any other mobile games in Kickstarter, is that our videogame is centered around the story of a cat named Lil BUB.

Lil BUB was a real cat -was my cat- and she was one of the most famous cats on the planet at the time… maybe she still is. Therefore, most of the supporters of the game were really supporting Lil BUB. Also, most of the funds we raise are for charity, for other homeless pets, and this Kickstarter was a fundraiser too for them.

I always wanted to develop a videogame and I thought it would be fun to make it about Lil BUB. One of my friends, a musician, had a similar interest and did all the music for the game. And then we had other friends that had experience making games, and we did a Kickstarter, and it got funded. And part of the story is that BUBs also wanted to create a videogame.

But most of the funding, I believe, it was just to support BUBs. To support her in creating this videogame (Mike laughs again).

And part of what made us so successful, if you look back at our Kickstarter, is that we worked really hard to make really exciting rewards. I knew that most of BUBs fans probably didn’t care that much about the game itself, and they mostly cared about supporting us. But what they do care about is having merchandise, which is something we’ve been doing for a long time.

So, we made a lot of exclusive one-of-a-kind items that you could only get on Kickstarter. Since it was the only way to get these items, the people wanted to support us. And they knew that their money was going to help homeless pets. And that made a very successful Kickstarter.

The lesson to be learned is to figure out what your audience is looking for, what interest them and how to get them to support you. In my very specific situation, I knew exactly our fans.

We have a huge fan base, and Lil BUB has over 6 million followers. Over those, there’s, at least, 20.000 that are very invested in everything we do.

I knew, if we wanted to do this video game -obviously we would have to do a good job- it would be funded.

We were very fortunate that we had such strong fan base.

APPODEAL: You’re totally right. It is true that (one of the things) to become successful on Kickstarter, you have to build a big fan base or a big community.


If I was just somebody who wanted to create a videogame and didn’t have six million fans or supporters, unless I got lucky, or someone (influencer) discovered my game and thought it was genius and told their supporters, I don’t know how well we would have done.

Being a part of a community or creating one is very important.

And also having something that stands out of that community too. There are lots of Kickstarter campaigns for mobile games, and they are competing against each other. I’m not part of the Mobile Gaming Industry in the same way that a lot of other people are. But I can say that you need to have something about your game that stands out from the others.

APPODEAL: Indeed. And (you said that) charity helped you to become successful. What (do you think would have happened) if your Kickstarter wouldn’t have the idea of charity?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: I think the idea of doing charity to become successful is the wrong way to think about it.

With Lil BUB, we were charitable from the beginning, that was the main thing we did. And that’s part of the reason why became so successful: we started the first national fund for special needs pets, we raised over $800.000 for animals in need in just the past six years. That’s a big part of what we do.

But obviously, if your main interest is making videogames, then probably charity isn’t your number one priority. If you have something you care or you are passionate about, then yeah, adding a charitable component is important, as long as you truly feel that is important to you.

It’s not a (marketing) trick. You’re not just trying to get people to give you money because they think it’s going to a good place. And then either you’re not going to do it or you’re not going to donate as much as people think you are.

Unless charities are part of your campaign, then don’t make it a very important part of it.

Now, I don’t know if rules have changed, but at the time, we weren’t allowed to donate funds directly from the Kickstarter (or you’re not allowed to say that funds from the Kickstarter are going to charity). You can say that you are going to make a personal contribution after the Kickstarter is paid out.

But again, I don’t know if they added a charitable component now. I haven’t looked at Kickstarter in a while.

APPODEAL: And you’re still in the Top Charts!

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: (laughs) Well, that’s news to me! I didn’t know that we were still in the top.

APPODEAL: And from your experience, if you still remember it, tell us a bit more where to start a Kickstarter campaign or how to run it?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: Well… when I started my campaign, I went on Kickstarter, did some research and looked at other successful campaigns and get inspiration from it.

I’m looking at my campaign page on Kickstarter right now and… How long ago did we do this? Wow! It was four years ago!

Well, part of that could also be that in the past four years are doing more Kickstarter campaigns, which means there’s less money to go around for everyone. But I’m surprised that we’re still in the Top 5.

And who is the number one?!

APPODEAL: (laughs) You would like to make another mobile game and become the number one?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: (laugh) No, no. I’m just curious I haven’t thought about this at all.

APPODEAL: Well, maybe you can tell me some tips and secrets? Something you have discovered that could help other developers with their Kickstarter campaigns? To become successful and earn money?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: Personally, I can only say what worked for us.

I knew exactly what would work for us, and a big part of the success of our campaign were the rewards. We had a lot of really nice merchandise rewards. Actual things that you receive in the mail. We were prepared to do that because I’ve been running an online store for about three of four years. We have been making t-shirts and mugs and all this stuff. And made art prints, pillows, pins with the art of the game.

And since the fans wanted those items, they were happy to contribute on Kickstarter to get them. I would think that, for any sort of video game, a lot of people want the videogame but they also want all the other things that come with items: merchandise, a t-shirt or something like that.

That (producing merchandise) involves a lot of work and additional expenses.

We got funded for $150,000. That seems a lot of money, right? I can’t remember now but I believe that about $90,000 of that went just towards making the merchandise and shipping it up.

It is broken down in our page where the money goes and, for us, a huge part of it was just that. It has to be part of your plan so the other thing to be careful is if you get really excited about doing merchandise, pins, t-shirts, hats, whatever you want to do... don’t get too carried away because you’re going to have to pay for that stuff.

And if you get $150,000 and then it cost you $145,000 to make all your merchandise, then you’re only left with $5,000. And you can’t really make a game with that.

And in the end, our budget was very small to make a game of the size that we were making, and that was the big obstacle for us. We didn’t anticipate how much time and work it was actually going to take. And no one ended up getting paid. There was only five of us on the team.

My friend Matt who made the music; Drew who did all the artwork; Florian who was the developer and did all the programming; Ed, the project manager; and me, that came up with the idea.

We were working non-stop, and what we thought would take about a year, it took three years.

APPODEAL: Indeed, it was big. It was released on Google Play, on the Apple Store, on Windows, Linux… right?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: Yes, it was released for all the platforms.

For what I understand, a lot of these campaigns never end up getting finished. Based on my experience with this game I can see why some developers never make it to the end.

Once we started making the game, we realized, you know, we’ve got five people when we really need like 40 people working on it, just to do it the way we really want.

Considering that, I think the game turned out pretty cool.

APPODEAL: You're totally right! Still, there are some rumors that the mobile developers get about 30% of the funds on Kickstarter during the first 3 days… is that right?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: Not for us! 

I have done two Kickstarter campaigns, by the way. The first one was for a book, also with Lil BUB, and the second campaign was this videogame. Both funded around $100,000 each, and for, at least the way I managed these campaigns, at least 50% of all of our funding came in the last 48 hours… in the very end.

And this happens because I pushed extra hard in the last 48 hours saying “hey, this is our last chance to meet the goal if you want this to happen”. And people see that the clock is ticking and they start telling their friends “hey, we really want this to happen and you fund do this too”.

And then we started adding stretch goals like “hey, if we can get to this amount, then we will do this, and if we get this other amount, we will do that”. People get really excited when there’s a deadline, like “time is running out! We gotta hurry up!”.

Because of that excitement, we got most of our funding in the last two days. Especially in the last three hours. We saw it jump like $20k to $30k bucks in the last few hours.

APPODEAL: So tell us, for all the mobile game developers who're listening, what would you recommend them to become as successful as you in Kickstarter?

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: To whoever is listening, I could be wrong, but in my experience with our game I can tell you what I prioritize as the most important things, as far as just the game goes.

Number one, for me was the story. Every good game has a story. I’m not a gamer anymore. I played games very aggressively from the years 1985 to 1993, and that is the extent of my videogame experience for the most part, other than scrabble here and there.

But I believe that story is the most important.

And number two, I would say are the graphics. Ever since I first got into video games, to me, the look of the game and the graphics were what would draw me in. When I was a kid when I would just see how cool a game looked, that made me want to play the game.

So, story, graphics… I do believe the music is very important. I am a musician and I own a recording studio so, to me, music is very important in general.

But some of the things that stick with me for my favorite games are the music. I feel like the music sorts of sets the mood. And the mood, the story and the visual aspect of the game are the three things that I think make a game very special.

Those are the three big things that we focused on: the story, the graphics and the music.

After that, I also wanted the game to be challenging. I would say, sort of comping up with a way for the game to not be too easy. For me it is important.

I discovered later after we made our game that it was too hard for what people expect from video games now. Also, there’s a term called “NES hard”, which means that games used to be much more difficult. When I played as a kid, there were games really hard to play. And now people want something that’s a little easier.

Maybe that’s where I went wrong and maybe why after we got funded the game didn’t become widely successful. Maybe it’s too hard to play.

But for me, it was important for the game to be very hard and have a lot of tricks, easter eggs… which makes the number four: the difficulty level. It is important whether you want it to be very easy or very hard.  

And if you want five tips, I have to come up with one more… let me think about it because there is probably something very good there.

APPODEAL: (laugh) Don't worry, four tips are good enough.

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: No wait, I got it! The important thing in mobile gaming is to make people want to keep playing the game. Mobile games nowadays are experts at that. The most popular games are experts in retention mechanics. They make games that get you to keep coming back.

Mechanics such as, you know, you got a clock and then every hour you get this treasure chest, and every two hours you get this… and then you have mini-games that you play that add value to the overall user experience. There is always something to do to keep you engaged!

This is something that I did not consider whatsoever when making my game. However, I am now aware that create a good retention strategy is pretty important for mobile games.

APPODEAL: Indeed it is, Mike. We recently started an Accelerator Program, and we have a team of experts that help mobile developers to tune their monetization and game mechanics, launch their games... and a very common request we get from game developers is to help them tweaking and improving their Retention Metrics!

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: (laugh) Then you know better than me!

APPODEAL: (laugh) Anyway, thank you Mike for your time and telling us all about your experience with Kickstarter and your mobile game today. It's been a pleasure to have you here today!

MIKE BRIDAVSKY: The pleasure is all mine.

Marc Llobet
Product Marketing & Growth @ Appodeal
Monetization Desktop Column BlogBanner

Resources 2 min read

Adding Privacy Policy in Google Play: 3 Essential Steps

Whether you’ve already been warned by Google’s *“Warning of Google Play Developer policy violation: Action Required Policy issue”* or you believe your apps might fall victim to the new regulations, you should consider a few steps to fix the violation. Here’s a quick overview that may be of help.

Resources 2 min read

Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet

Growth 4 min read  - November 12, 2020

How to Monetize a Shopping List App Worldwide, with Listonic.

Last week we had an amazing webinar with Kamil Janiszewski, Chief Revenue Officer & Co-founder at Listonic. We discussed, among other things, How to Develop & Monetize an App like Listonic and turn it into one of the most popular and profitable mobile shopping apps in the world. If you don’t want to miss the […]

Last week we had an amazing webinar with Kamil Janiszewski, Chief Revenue Officer & Co-founder at Listonic. We discussed, among other things, How to Develop & Monetize an App like Listonic and turn it into one of the most popular and profitable mobile shopping apps in the world.

If you don’t want to miss the upcoming webinars, follow us on YouTube!

Here’s the full webinar on “How to Monetize a Shopping List App Worldwide”:

This webinar was hosted by Wing Poon, VP Marketing at Appodeal.

Listonic is a Shopping List App, available from over 50 countries, with over 1,5 mill. MAU (monthly active users). Every month, millions of people improve their shopping experiences thanks to Listonic.

Over the years, the app has grown a lot. At the very beginning, it was mostly used by geeks & early adopters, but, update after update, they become more popular. Now, their core-target are families with newborn children who have to adapt and organize to new routines. And Listonic helps to face their new schedules with tips and useful shopping tools.

The interview was mostly focused on Listonic’s monetization strategy. As Kamil says, Listonic gets “almost 90% of their ad revenue from banners”. This may come as a surprise for some app & game developers, even more on these days, where the whole industry only talks about rewarded videos & playable ads. But there is still plenty of space for all types of ads, and Listonic is an excellent example of a top app that thrives from a well-developed ad monetization strategy, strictly based on banners & native ads. 

Kamil also told us about product management, user workflows, the ups and downs of their company, and even localization. Did you know that a top-grossing app, such as Listonic, needed up to three attempts to launch Listonic in the international market with success?

In the video description (on YouTube), you will find the timecodes of all the topics discussed during the webinar.

Here are the top insights from Kamil Janiszewski, that we encourage you to read:

1. Locate your App with Engaged Native Speakers

Sometimes, indie developers tend to use cheap translation tools and services due to a lack of time or budget. The final translation can be detrimental to the success of your app, and Listonic knows about that.

For a long time, Listonic was only available in Poland. However, the team put a lot of work and energy into making a sound localization of their app. One of the top lessons they learned is that “good translations for 40 languages are not about getting a translation agency and translate. It doesn’t work like that”, says Kamil. “If you do it with an agency, you’ll probably get mediocre translations. You have to work with native people, and it would be even better if those people use your app and know it well.”

2. Don’t Neglect your ASO (App Store Optimization)

Back then, when Listonic launched its app in the global markets, ASO (App Store Optimization) had a significant impact on your game’s success. As Kamil remembers, “the knowledge out there wasn’t public.” 

Today the ASO ecosystem has evolved, and it’s easier to make a sound ASO strategy, but still, “It’s a tough job to do it well. You have to test things for yourself and talk to people who do it with big brands”. Listonic did it that way, and they still do. A/B testing all your ASO efforts is the key to make it work.

3. Are you planning to Launch an App? Analyze Everything!

When you launch an app, you want to get to 1 million users. It’s hard for some indie developers to set realistic goals when launching an app.

Listonic started with simple tools, such as Spreadsheets, to perform their market analysis. It took them a lot of time back then to list all the product categories inside their app. Kamil and his team asked themselves all sorts of questions, such as “how many downloads the main players do? Are the players strong or not? Do they use in-app purchases or ads?”

Listonic looked at their metrics to find the answers. Once they interpreted the data, they were able to define their product goals. Listonic also did several benchmarks of the competition to define their user interface. Testing their prototypes with the users was the way to go before launching anything in the app stores. 

4. Always A/B Test any upcoming Changes

As Kamil perfectly expressed during the webinar, “If you are very, very lucky, then you make an application, and it works, and it grows, and you’re happy.” But reality doesn’t always go your way, and “usually developers have to do a lot of changes and a/b tests in the application, in communication, in the way you acquire the users.”

If you’re not sure that a specific feature or an incoming change in your next version is going to improve your application, then A/B test it. There are plenty of tools to help you test your app. Even in your Appodeal dashboard, you will find an excellent feature to segment your user base & test your monetization strategy. As Kamil told us, “It’s a game of a/b tests.”

5. Find a good Ad Mediation Platform

“If you plan to monetize in several countries and probably will, you must find a good Ad Mediation Platform that fits your needs.” 

One of the things experienced by Listonic is that “95% of the most popular ad networks in a country won’t make that much money” without an ad monetization platform. As Kamil says, “it’s worth to integrate a good mediation platform, like Appodeal” 

We also asked Kamil to tell us what makes a Good Mediation Platform. From his point of view, “Customer Support is the key”

One of the things that Listonic values most from the Appodeal Ad Mediation platform is that “Sometimes a guy from Appodeal ping us on Skype and tells us: look guys something is happening here, let’s fix or improve it. It’s awesome to partner with someone that cares for your business as you would

So, app developers should consider integrating their preferred ad monetization platform as soon as possible, and watching their revenue grow.

Do you want Appodeal to take care of your games and applications, just like we do with Listonic? Then sign up today and integrate our SDK!

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Marc Llobet
Product Marketing & Growth @ Appodeal
Monetization Desktop Column BlogBanner

Growth 4 min read

How to Monetize a Shopping List App Worldwide, with Listonic.

Last week we had an amazing webinar with Kamil Janiszewski, Chief Revenue Officer & Co-founder at Listonic. We discussed, among other things, How to Develop & Monetize an App like Listonic and turn it into one of the most popular and profitable mobile shopping apps in the world. If you don’t want to miss the […]

Growth 4 min read

Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet

Interviews + Q&A 6 min read

Meet Ryan Morrison, the Legal Superhero Fighting for Game Dev Rights

Indie developers fight an uphill battle, often devoting spare hours to development after full-time day jobs, or quitting a steady income to stake it all on a dream. When you add issues like trademark infringement, confusing contracts, and the big players bearing down on the little guys

Interviews + Q&A 6 min read

Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet

Appodeal < 1 min read

Appodeal joins IAB and Blockchain Working Group

We are excited to announce that Appodeal has become a member of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). This organization has been pushing industry standards for years by conducting research and providing support for the online advertising community.

Appodeal < 1 min read

Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet

Appodeal 9 min read  - June 13, 2020

How WordBakers Went From an Indie Team’s First Game to a #1 Top Earning Hit

As the pilot app of Appodeal's Accelerator Program, WordBakers went from an indie team's first game to a #1 top earning hit. A new holistic approach that combines funding, monetization, UA and end-to-end analytics was deployed to scale WordBakers and its revenue. Here is how it was done.

WordBakers (iOS | Android), an addicting word puzzle game, was the first game developed by the indie team at Oazis Games and published by NewPubCo, in association with Appodeal. It was also the first app for our newly launched Accelerator Program, as well as our first successfully accelerated app! 

We recently helped WordBakers reach #1 word game on Google Play in its launch market of Russia, and it continues to gain in popularity all over the world with over 1.2+ million installs in just a few months. 

WordBakers Selected as The Pilot App

Right from the beginning, WordBakers showed great potential. It had incredible retention rates from its initial users and the team behind it was also very talented and committed. But with WordBakers being the team’s first game, they were struggling for a long time to take it to the stratospheric level where it belongs, especially on the revenue and user growth side of things. 

That was why we invited WordBakers to be the first game that we accelerated. 

Most people know of Appodeal as an ad monetization platform. But, over the past year, we’ve been expanding our offerings to turn apps into top earning hits. This includes funding for UA and development, as well as managing and aligning our monetization, UA and app analytics solutions into one holistic solution, called the Accelerator Program

Before our team got started accelerating the game, Appodeal gave the WordBakers team an initial credit line of $100K that was used to further develop the game. As the credit line was meant to be deducted from the game’s future profits, this partnership agreement meant that both the teams were equally dedicated to the game’s ultimate success. 

After the dev team transformed WordBakers into a chart-topping quality game, it was time for our team to start turning it into a top earning hit! 

First Things First: Analytics!

The foundation for any apps to succeed is to have the right analytics setup from the get-go. Without it, app developers would be driving blind, not knowing what needs to be improved or what is working well. That is why the first thing our team did to set WordBakers up for success was to implement the right set of analytical tools.

Using the right mobile attribution tool is key for:

  • Understanding where and how users found WordBakers
  • Tracking the LTV (life-time value) of different cohorts of users
  • Determining the ROAS (return on ad spend) of user acquisition channels

AppsFlyer, a leading mobile attribution company, is our trusted partner for this. 

After our team helped set up AppsFlyer into WordBakers, we then aligned its data with our ad monetization data stream into DataCore, our end-to-end actionable analytics dashboard (soon to be a part of Appodeal’s regular analytics dashboard).  

DataCore aligns Appodeal’s ad impression-level data with the attribution and UA analytics so that it is possible to obtain extremely useful yet difficult to obtain insights, such as:

  • Identifying the ad whales, where they came from, and where to acquire more
  • Seeing the eCPM decay to see the optimize number of ads to serve per user session
By using impression-level ad revenue data through Appodeal, publishers can get insights on how many ads to serve per session before the ROI plateaus.
  • Understanding the LTV of ads and IAPs, and broken down into detailed views, such as UA channels, monetization configurations, product changes, user segmentation and even device types
  • Obtaining LTV predictions, based on the different configurations, to see how they affect what matters -- user’s potential revenue generated
  • Gathering A/B testing results by comparing how product changes, such as the game’s default difficulty settings, or monetization setups can affect the LTV outcome
Appodeal's advanced analytics offers insights on LTV and predicted LTV for a/b testing app product changes.

With AppsFlyer and DataCore set up, we now had the analytics foundation in place. 

For the initial stage, we just needed to start tracking one important metric: ARPMAU (average revenue per monthly average user).

Why ARPMAU? Because this number takes into account the revenue generated along with retention and engagement rates. The higher this number, the more sustainable and healthy the app is considered. 

Since WordBakers was a new app, we needed more users to help us determine its baseline ARPMAU as well as for conducting A/B tests to optimize their monetization setup. To do that, we simply ran a UA campaign on Facebook to acquire a batch of new test users.

Once we got enough initial users, the fun part could begin.

Now Show Me the Money

With the analytics and test UA campaigns up and running, our monetization team got to work on one main goal:

To optimize the monetization setup so that the ARPU (average revenue per user) ends up being higher than the cost of install. 

To achieve that, here are the top actions our monetization team took:

  1. Integrated Appodeal’s ad mediation SDK with in-app bidding enabled to give WordBakers access to over 70 top ad networks and DSPs. They included global ones like Facebook Audience Network, Google’s Admob, Unity Ads, Applovin, Chartboost, Liftoff, and AppGrowth, as well as top regional ones like Yandex and MyTarget.
  1. Placed and tested various mobile ad formats to see which ones performed the best. For WordBakers, Rewarded Videos proved to be the best performing one, followed by Interstitials, in terms of both user experience and revenue generated.
  1. Launched A/B tests of over 60 user segments, ad placements and product settings configurations using the Segments tool to identify the optimal ones in terms of both revenue and retention. 

    In this example below, our monetization team a/b tested four different monetization setups and discovered that the segment disabling CPI ad networks led to the highest LTV, around 7% higher than the segment in which price floors were used.
Appodeal's advanced analytics offers insights on LTV and predicted LTV for a/b testing ad waterfall segments.
  1. Created numerous manual ad waterfalls, line items and price floors using the Demand Control Center tool to ensure that the most valuable ad placements get filled by the best paying demand sources.
Appodeal's Demand Control Center gives publishers full control in how they want to set up their ad waterfall.

With the users acquired from our initial test UA campaign, in a month our team was able to fine-tune the monetization setups that led to ARPU increasing by 20%. 

Next, it was then time for our UA team to launch UA campaigns at scale to turn WordBakers into a top earning hit!

It’s UA Time!

While the monetization team fulfilled one part of the equation by reaching its goal of obtaining a high ARPU, our UA team worked on reaching this main goal:

To minimize the cost per install while maximizing the numbers of high LTV users

Thanks to the set up of DataCore and AppsFlyer earlier in the process, our UA team had all the necessary analytics infrastructure in place already to accomplish this.

Before launching UA campaigns at scale, it was important to set them up for success first. And that was by optimizing the first experience a potential user has with an app: the app store page. Otherwise, a UA campaign could have the best click-through-rates but terrible install conversion rates if the app store page was unappealing.

Preparing for high conversions

That’s why the first thing our UA team did was A/B test around 40 different hypotheses for the app store page.

After over 10 rounds of a/b testing, this app store page provided the best install rates.

For example, we tested many variations of the store icon and discovered, after 8 tests, that the “W” icon drove the most installs. Compared to the “Word” icon, it converted 29% better and 8% better than the no word variant.

While those tests were running, our UA team created around 100 ad creatives in various formats, like Playable Ads, Video Ads, Full-Screen Ads, Native Ads, and Banner Ads. We would next dynamically test all of these creative concepts to identify the ones that not only resulted in high conversion rates but also eventually high LTV of the users acquired from each particular creative. The creatives that succeeded best would be allocated more ad spend dynamically. 

This is one of the many high converting video ads created by Appodeal's UA creative team.

Ready to unlock UA campaigns at scale

Up to this point, our team had taken many steps to set the scaling of WordBakers up for success: getting the advanced analytics in place, optimizing the monetization setup, improving the app store page and preparing ad creatives.

It was finally time to unlock the UA credit line of $1 million Appodeal had committed to take WordBakers to the next level!

Our UA team focused on three main UA channels: Facebook, Google Universal App Campaigns and programmatic ad exchanges via our DSP, AppGrowth.

Why these three channels? Let’s go back to DataCore, integrated from earlier.

Besides being known to be the more effective channels, we were able to use the LTV per user data as well as LTV predictions obtained from DataCore and feed them to these channels. These channels could then use these data to obtain more similar high LTV users. Our platform also has a built in automatic UA optimizer that can adjust the budgets of the campaigns to the most effective ones dynamically.

Appodeal can give insights of the LTV and predicted LTV of all the different UA campaigns and automatically rebalance the UA budget to those that generate better ROAS.

We also used cohort analysis to decide on which users to target. Users got assigned to specific cohorts based on a number of parameters. Thanks to the LTV predictions Datacore could make projections and understand if those campaigns were profitable or not and adjusted the rates accordingly and automatically.

Appodeal's advanced analytics includes insights on the ROAS, LTVs and their predictions based on the UA source of where the users came from.

In just a month of launching the UA campaigns, we had found the perfect sweet spot where the ARPU ended up higher than the cost per install, and the conversions of high LTV users were consistent. 

It was finally time to scale.

As WordBakers' UA campaigns scaled, so did the in-app ad impressions for generating ad revenue.

The Results!

Shortly after we scaled the UA campaigns, WordBakers reached #1 word game in their top target market of Russia. 

WordBakers reached #1 word game in Russia.
Source: SensorTower

It continues to rank among the top 10 word games and is gaining in popularity in other markets with 1.2+ million downloads

Each day, the WordBakers team earns over $2,000 daily from in-app advertising and an additional average of $400 daily from IAP in this one game, and their revenue continues to grow.

“Having our game be accelerated by the Appodeal team was a game changer. With their team’s help in managing and optimizing our UA and monetization, our first gaming app WordBakers recently reached #1 word game on Google Play in our launch market of Russia. In just a few months, our game started earning us over $2,000 each day. For a small indie team like ours, the results so far were unimaginable! We can’t wait to see the Appodeal team continue to make our game a popular hit around the world.”

CEO of NewPubco
Within a two month period, WordBakers saw its ad revenue increase by over 5 folds to over $2,000 daily.

After the success of WordBakers, we are continuing our partnership with the team behind WordBakers. They’ve since been working on new games. Once they are launched, our team is looking forward to accelerating them into top earning hits as well. 

Overall, we couldn’t be more proud to see the success of the team behind WordBakers. 

And we can’t wait to help other mobile dev teams thrive as well!

What is truly different about the Accelerator Program is that it is one that puts the mobile dev team’s interests first. What we are offering is a wholly different model than the traditional publishing one. We do not require their intellectual properties (I.P.) for teams to receive fundings for UA and development.

Our approach is more like a self-publishing platform.

At Appodeal, we encourage indie teams to be independent in the truest sense of that term. Mobile dev teams get to do what they do best -- creating awesome apps. And we do what we do best to help them turn their apps into top earning hits. Forming true partnerships with mobile dev studios is what we strive for.

If you would like to partner with us to have your mobile game be accelerated too, feel free to submit your game here

We are currently accepting up to 30 promising apps this quarter to turn them into top earning hits. Perhaps one of them will be yours?

Appodeal Accelerator Program
Marc Llobet
Product Marketing & Growth @ Appodeal
Monetization Desktop Column BlogBanner

Appodeal 4 min read

LTV Forecast: How to scale the app with positive ROAS?

This Growth Engine will learn from all your historical data to predict and forecast your future metrics. And, the more data you feed to Appodeal, the higher the accuracy of your predictions!

Appodeal 4 min read

Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet

Ad Monetization 2 min read

How to Automate your UA Campaigns to save time & money

For mobile developers lacking time, the key to ensure top-performing ads relies on the ability to manage metrics efficiently and make data-driven decisions fast. Really fast.

Ad Monetization 2 min read

Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet

Interviews + Q&A < 1 min read

Experts Share the Most Effective Methods to Monetize Mobile Games [VIDEO]

At Appodeal, we believe that monetization should be a core aspect of your mobile game strategy, rather than an afterthought. To help you make the most of monetization, we spoke with industry experts at Game Connection about the most effective tactics for raising revenue: [embedyt][/embedyt]

Interviews + Q&A < 1 min read

Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet

Growth 7 min read  - June 5, 2020

Q&A with Newvoy's CEO & Founder, Yang Lu: The monetization of Cooking Voyage

"We know what we want to achieve. It hasn’t been easy, but the dedication of our development team was essential."

Yang Lu & Jun Zhu have been developing mobile games for women and young girls since 2011. In 2018 they founded Newvoy Games, a studio based in Canada and China that employs over 20 people. They focus on creating fun casual games for mainly female audiences. 

This March, in the midst of COVID-19 situation, they globally launched Cooking Voyage, a cooking mobile game that is growing rapidly in the app stores. In just a few months, 500K+ users have already installed this magnificent game on their mobile devices, and their metrics seem unstoppable.

To understand and learn more from the Newvoy Games’ success, Appodeal, has invited Yang Lu to share her story with us.

Yang, thank you for sharing your experiences with us! How did you come up with the idea for Cooking Voyage?

Hello Marc, the pleasure is all mine.

In all these years developing Mobile Games for women and girls, we’ve seen that cooking games have consistent metrics. We have acquired a lot of experience in a very specific target audience, and we saw that Cooking games have a good reception from them. It is a genre that allows us to develop and produce a lot of content, not only in our core-mechanics but also with other extra features that spice up the experience of our users.

I also must confess to you that I have been a super fan of cooking games myself for many years. I played them a lot, and creating a great cooking game has always been a dream of mine. Cooking Voyage is not just a business enterprise for me, but also something very special and esteemed for me.

In your opinion, what makes your game stand out from the crowd of other mobile "cooking" games?

Jun and I, the co-founder of Newvoy Games, have more than 10 years of experience in the mobile game industry. We know what a good cooking game should look like and, from the very beginning, we were very confident about how Cooking Voyage should look like.

As a game producer, and also as an avid player of the genre, I get to build a strong background in game mechanics. We know what we want to achieve. It hasn’t been easy, but the dedication of our development team was essential. We built the team from scratch and started developing from nothing. Cooking Voyage is our first game, and we have endured so many experiences, struggles, and emotions during its development.

It was such a challenging process, but we are really proud of our game now. Everyone in our team is very motivated and excited to make Cooking Voyage, and all our future games, even more successful.

Considering that you are an indie studio, your game has shown an extraordinary growth from the get-go. How much time did it take to soft-launch, test and tweak your monetization strategy?

In August of 2019, we planned to soft launch the game for 4 months. We already did a tech launch and we were expecting some bugs and issues, but back then, the build was solid.

However, once we soft-launched it, we became aware of stuff that we did not expect. We needed to still tweak some details on our game, and we decided to keep it longer in the soft-launch phase, for about seven months. 

However, this was never a problem. We know unexpected things can happen. We were ready to extend the duration of our soft launch, and we did it. We wanted to be sure that everything was prepared before we globally launched the game. 

Was your monetization strategy clear from the very beginning, or did it evolve after testing and getting user feedback during the soft-launch?

If we compare what we have now with the first release of Cooking Voyage, the levels are way more accessible now than we had initially. 

In our earlier stages, we designed our levels to be challenging. We thought that the game levels were easy enough to give our users an enjoyable but still challenging experience. That turned out to be a big mistake.

During the testing phase, we realized that it is more important to keep new players engaged in the game, instead of challenging them too much. So, we spent much time and many iterations gathering data, adjusting, and balancing the difficulty of each level. 

Even today, we are still tweaking our levels to make them entertaining to everyone. This strategy may delay a bit of the first purchase in our monetization funnel, but it improves our retention rates.

I imagine the Covid-19 situation may have had an effect on your global launch in March of 2020?

I heard from some industry experts saying the Covid-19 situation increased the time people spent on mobile games. In our case, I can't compare how much it affected us. Cooking Voyage is the first game developed by Newvoy games, and we have no other projects to compare with. 

However, we got several player reviews saying that our game is entertaining them a lot during the quarantine lockdown. They even thanked us for making such a fun game! 

I am glad that our game can provide people so much fun and help them fight the quarantine's boredom.

Actually, at the time we were soft launching the game, it was already featured once in Google Play’s “Be the first to play” collection, which is a dedicated section to promote open beta games with great potential, and help them with their soft-launch stage.

After that, we decided to launch our game globally, and it instantly got featured in the App Store. We felt so proud back then. For us, getting recognition from the App Store is such an honor. The game got featured in most of our major markets: the United States, Canada, China, Australia, Japan, etc. During that time that we were featured, we got 100k+ organic installs. That was a great head start.

We know this is just the beginning. Not only for the game but also our team. Now we must keep working to keep this growth. We know we can achieve it, and we are on it!

With that wave of new users, did you detect new user segments, fluctuations in your metrics, or other stuff that you didn’t expect?

Indeed, when Cooking Voyage was featured, we were shocked to receive so many users coming from China.

This is something we didn’t expect at first. Then, when you look at our game more in-depth, even the style and mechanics we used, and compare all of them with what’s trending in East-Asian countries, it makes much more sense to get so many installs from China. It looks like there’s potential for us to grow there and expand our market there.

And apart from that, we also experienced some minor technical problems. Mostly due to the high number of users playing at the same time and the capacity of our servers. But we managed to fix almost all of them.

Could you tell me a bit more about what metrics are the most important for you (at least on your current stage)?

In our current stage, one of the most important metrics for us is retention, especially long-term retention metrics such as “30D retention”. We knew from the very beginning that retention was a crucial metric to the long-term survival of Cooking Voyage.

During the development stage of the game, we aimed to create a joyful and long-lasting experience, with lots of content. Our game has many features, scenarios, and improvements to unlock, even in the late stages of the game.

We are still working and developing new content every month to improve our retention rates. If our players have a sense of progression and involvement, they will come back.

When you aim for loyal users & long-term retention, you must be careful not to be overly aggressive in your monetization.

Yes, that’s absolutely right, but it is also tough to find the right balance. Games that have long-term retention rates are likely to survive longer and keep a steady growth in an ecosystem as over-crowded as the mobile game market.

You must find the perfect balance of your user’s LTV and your monetization strategy. If your monetization strategy is too aggressive in the early stage, that will increase your churn rate, and hurt your long-term retention. The average player’s lifetime will be shortened. 

We, game developers, must always have in mind the ultimate value of our game: to provide fun to our players.

I also noticed you don’t push ads in the early stages of the game. Have you tested the impact that it has on your retention rates, right?

We didn’t test our Ad monetization strategy that much on Cooking Voyage. 

We have learned a lot from our past experiences developing mobile games for women and girls. We know that, when aiming for long-term retention and user loyalty, we must avoid putting too many ads in an early stage of the user experience.

The FTUE (first-time user experience) and the earlier stages of the game are just too precious. We focus all our efforts to show the user the best stuff of our game. If we keep them engaged and retained, then we have more opportunities to impact them with ads. 

What’s the greatest lesson you have learned after the global launch of Cooking Voyage?

There are so many lessons that we learned, and we are still learning that it is hard to choose one. Probably the greatest one would be to never take anything for granted.

We still need to continue working a lot on Cooking Voyage. We want to improve its stability, balance some of the levels that we currently have to make them more adequate to the level of the user, optimize our monetization strategy, and keep improving the long-term retention rates. 

Overall, we want to create a great game that provides our players as much fun as possible!

Thank you for your time Yang Lu, and for letting us know your experience with your amazing game!

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Marc Llobet
Product Marketing & Growth @ Appodeal
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