SAN FRANCISCO — Giant video game publisher Electronic Arts is succeeding at grabbing new players through mobile app promotion on Twitter.
John Lorge, senior manager of customer acquisition at EA, said in a session at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat 2014 conference today that the company has been testing Twitter’s effectiveness at promoting mobile games to a targeted audience. This has been going on for a few months, and the results show that Twitter is a contender in the hard task of getting apps discovered when stores are loaded with thousands of games.
Richard Alfonsi, the vice president of global online sales at Twitter, said the value of mobile app promotion is that it can show the right ads to the right users at the right time. And with geo-location data, it can show the ads to them at the right place. Twitter unveiled the program earlier this year, and the beta test has been going on for a few months.
Lorge said that the company has had good success getting new players from Twitter for existing successful games like The Sims Free Play, Real Racing 3, and The Simpsons: Tapped Out. People are responding to big images and keyword targeting. The large images on Twitter are a lot more appealing than taking out smaller banner ads on mobile screens, Lorge said.
The cost per install, or cost of getting a new user, has been lower than on other platforms, Lorge said. And it has been good for finding “high value” users who will spend money in free-to-play mobile games.
Twitter also had a lot of impact in reaching fans during the ongoing World Cup soccer series and the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) video game tradeshow, largely because it has a real-time focus. At any given moment, Twitter can tell fans what is happening with their favorite games and news being announced about them.
Aside from games, Alfonsi said that mobile app promotion is working well in categories such as packaged goods, travel, and entertainment.
Session moderator Robert Scoble asked how important location targeting is with the mobile app promotions. Alfonsi said that location is becoming more important because about 80 percent of Twitter’s use is on mobile. People are now unlocking their smartphones 110 times a day, he said.
“Twitter is real time and it tells you what is happening right now,” Alfonsi said. “That’s an excellent mindset for app discovery.”
Lorge said that EA was nervous at first because Twitter is so interactive, and people can comment on the ads or retweet them with potentially negative commentary. But so far, the results have been positive he said.
“We’ve had tremendous feedback and our community teams are really excited,” Lorge said.
Alfonsi said,”You shouldn’t be bashful about engaging with users. I have seen negative situations turn around 180 degrees because the advertiser got engaged. The deer in the headlights” approach where you go silent isn’t good.
But not everything works perfectly. Lorge said it is harder to get an audience of paying players for niche hardcore games. For the moment, the Twitter ads have been more effective at getting customers for casual games.
“If you hit everybody with a niche product, you may poorly invest your advertising resources,” Lorge said.
Lorge also said that Twitter works well in global territories.
“Some countries like Japan are hard to target, and Twitter has good reach there,” he said. “It’s an easy experience to build these campaigns.”
Alfonsi said that advertisers can improve the targeting by loading data about their own users into the system, such as the types of devices used and other data collected via cookies.
“You can get as granular as you want,” Alfonsi said.
Lorge said the company is constantly testing social ads, and that was how it settled on Twitter as a prime platform for user acquisition.
Alfonsi said that you can reach hundreds of millions directly on Twitter and as many as a billion beyond the messaging network via the app promotion platform.