If your marketing is limited to just performance campaigns designed to drive installs, you’re missing the boat. Join this exclusive VB Live event to learn how gaming powerhouses combine awareness and performance marketing into a single, powerful engine of discovery.

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Awareness marketing is all about brand recognition — and, if you’re aiming to make your game a part of the cultural landscape like a Candy Crush or an Angry Birds or a Best Fiends, creating brand affection is essential. It’s all about appealing to emotions to build demand, so players will seek it out. Awareness marketing can not only convert new fans but also rally your current fan base and boost in-game monetization.

But unlike performance marketing, which evolved solely to drive transactions in that moment, awareness marketing doesn’t result in an immediately measurable action, like an install. That’s why cash-strapped developers focus on performance, says Matt Marshall, CEO at VentureBeat. “That’s where the priority is now,” says Marshall. “There’s the assumption you spend money only to get an immediate ROI, and that you can’t afford expensive brand or marketing tactics.”

But while awareness marketing is often considered too unrealistic financially, it’s actually not as out of reach as you think, says Phil Hickey, the VP marketing and communications at gaming powerhouse Seriously. And it’s an important complement to performance marketing.

“For us, we didn’t have a massive budget when we launched [in 2014] and we had to be very scrappy,” he explains. “From day one, your first fan counts and you need to take them on the journey with you as you grow. A lot of that’s free. It’s just effort, and it’s engaging with them — liking things, retweeting things, acknowledging even things that are going wrong.”

Eli Danziger, product manager at YouTube, agrees. “It can be as much or as little as you want to get started with,” he says. “We’ve seen folks spend quite a bit with some quite large budgets on awareness marketing. But it’s generally after they’ve gotten a little bit more experience with the tactic, and they understand a little bit better that it drives a positive ROI for them.”

For folks who are just getting started off in this area, the most important thing is to try smaller, less expensive tactics, Danziger explains, “like engaging with best users, understanding what about the game is really resonating with your fan base, and trying out a couple of different things to find out what works best for your marketing strategy and also for your game.”

Rob Singer, CMO at social music-making app Smule, whose background encompasses different industries, has witnessed the power of awareness marketing across a broad range of verticals.

“In terms of budget, it is what you make of it,” says Singer. Start really small, he advises. “One great way to start is to really find your core fan base and identify who some of the main influencers in that base will be. If you can get people who already have a reputation, who others look up to and follow, and get them to really talk about your brand in ways that are authentic, it’s amazing how quickly that can spread.”

At Smule, professional musicians often come on the platform and perform duets with community members. “These really big musicians will then blast it out through their social channels, and we will literally get hundreds of millions of views against it,” Singer says.

Awareness marketing starts with building a community, Hickey says, and also thinking broadly and creatively to build a powerful brand with a rock-solid foundation of fans.

“We had to tap into other influencer groups, mainly through YouTube, which a lot of companies have had so much success with,” he says. “What we learned about our brand was we weren’t just a game company–a lot of our influencers are beauty and lifestyle and LGBT+ community and groups that aren’t normally considered the target group for gamers.”

“Everyone is a gamer,” he adds. “Especially in a mobile space.”

And building relationships with those types of influencers and their communities is one way to really build at scale, Hickey says, without paying the kind of money that people are paying for television advertising or similar traditional media.

But neither does it mean eschewing performance marketing altogether.

“We recognized early that it’s very, very hard to build a brand through just performance marketing,” Hickey continues. “It’s very important to have some kind of baseline of performance marketing, and obviously you get some very good users. But it’s a very crowded channel. Once you recognize how much you can spend there, there’s a limit.”

To learn more about how to lay the foundation of powerful awareness marketing, build robust communities, and tap into the cultural zeitgeist to generate positive ROI, check out this this third installment of our Building Games Communities series today.

Don’t miss out!

Access this VB Live event on demand right here.

In this VB Live event, you’ll:

  • Learn how to use YouTube and other channels to drive brand awareness for mobile games
  • Find the right time to invest in brand awareness marketing in your mobile game lifecycle
  • Understand the right KPIs to measure ROI on awareness marketing

Our esteemed panel for this rockstar discussion includes:

  • Matt Marshall, CEO, VentureBeat
  • Phil Hickey, VP Marketing and Communications; Seriously
  • Rob Singer, CMO, Smule
  • Eli Danziger, product manager, YouTube
  • Wendy Schuchart, Moderator, GamesBeat

This VB Live event is sponsored by Google.