GamesBeat

Pushy business: The world of mobile gaming engagement

jetpackjoyrideWhen picturing the average gamer, I wouldn’t blame you if your mental image depicts a teenage male. He’s got the latest gaming console and the greatest mobile gadgets – loaded with every imaginable game app – all but surgically attached to his hands.

That image, though classic, would be inaccurate.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, today’s average gamer is 30 years old (it had been 37, but the ESA recently changed its metrics for this statistic, resulting in the lower age) and has been playing for 12 years. About two-thirds are adults, and nearly half are women. Gamers clearly are a more diverse group than most people recognize.

Not only that, the buying power of gamers is evident in the $24.7 billion they spent on games and equipment in 2011. This makes the demographic an attractive target for marketers seeking to boost engagement with game apps. It’s also why marketers are following these consumers into the mobile space, where they spend so much of their time.

Mobile marketing messages: Less is more

Today, mobile gamers receive billions of push notifications, mobile e-mail, and even some SMS messages from marketers looking to drive player engagement though signups, social shares, and in-app purchases. Many of these messages, however, aren’t having their intended effect despite mobile devices holding more potential for brand engagement than any previous innovation.

Research shows that message overload results in 69 percent of mobile phone users to unsubscribe from mobile marketing updates, while 60 percent say they unsubscribe because the messages aren’t relevant to them. How can marketers seeking to enhance their connection with gamers maximize the likelihood that their mobile marketing messages will be opened and acted upon?

Simple. With measurement.

Mobile message analytics may be in its early stages, but it’s already capable of helping developers and marketers capture gamers’ long-term attention, boosting engagement, and return on investment. Mobile analytics can provide the tools to target game-playing mobile consumers by linking individual message copy to user behavior and gathering granular, real-time data. That includes pushes sent versus opened, session times, repeat visits, and in-app actions and marketing goals such as social sharing or upgrades.

Another powerful way to measure the effectiveness of a mobile message is through A/B split testing, wherein different versions of a message is used to test tone, urgency, personalization, or calls to action, which opens up a world of constant testing, feedback and improvement. Real-time data tells marketers which message gets the strongest return on investment and should be used on future campaigns.

With intelligent, actionable analytics, marketers can separate what works from what doesn’t and use that knowledge to craft well-timed messaging that is relevant to individual mobile gamers. This is the case with the push notifications that come with many of today’s apps.

And speaking of apps. …

The push-notification potential

Today, when it comes to mobile gaming, apps rule, and push notifications are the preferred method of game app developers and marketers to reach mobile gamers. Apple alone has delivered about 1.5 trillion; over a billion pushes daily have been sent, received and acted on.

For marketers who want to drive engagement with gamers, push notifications are the best bet. Gamers agree: 72 percent favor immersive ads and push notifications over banner ads, which are more like annoying mini-billboards screaming random offers.

Developers and marketers must create messaging that provides value, which in the gaming world might be reminders of new levels, “perks” for a “skill tree,” the announcement of a new expansion pack or enough XPs required to reach a new level – any one of which is delivered at the right time. Real-time analysis of what works and doesn’t is critical. Through techniques such as A/B split testing followed by retargeting to reinforce the message, brands can secure a valuable foothold in gamers’ minds, hearts and wallets.

Mobile analytics has the power to pinpoint the right messages for each member of the widely diverse gaming community at the right times. It’s a win-win: gamers get an enhanced play experience while brands score the long-term engagement and ROI they want.

OtherLevels CEO Brendan O'KaneOtherLevels CEO Brendan O’Kane has more than 20 years of experience working in the online and mobile industries. It recently opened its first office in the U.S. and works with game studios such as Halfbrick (Jetpack Joyride) on their push and SMS campaigns. Prior to leading OtherLevels, O’Kane once worked for Oracle.


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