During the latest ChinaJoy game festival held in Shanghai couple weeks ago, we got constant lectures from big names predicting that client game is yesterday, web game is today, while mobile game is tomorrow. In what seems to be echoing the prediction, we’ve seen innumerable startup riding on the trends which supposedly lead to tomorrow and flocked to gold mine the future by making their contribution to the thriving mobile game world.

Burgeoning Mobile Game Market

According to a recent report, over 70% of Apple app store’s IAP (in-app purchase) were made within game apps, even though game only represents 17% of total apps in the Apple ecosystem. The sheer revenue potential speaks to a grand future picture. However, what always accompany the opportunities are risks and competition. Spotted the early promising sign of mobile gaming, in addition to some long-established mobile game developers like WiStone, PunchBox and so forth, big guys like Juren, Shanda and Renren also branched out to the new and untapped territory.

With deep pockets under their belt, they could hands down beef up a brilliant team during short amount of time to craft mobile games and then splash tens of millions RMB to promote the outcomes. So facing the mounting competition and changing landscape, how to stand out from the crowd and bring as much attention as possible  to its offerings at minimal and even no cost becomes a big challenge for small and medium-sized mobile game startups.

Unmet Needs of Low Cost Marketing

Previously at the very early stage of mobile gaming sector, “free for limited time” is one of the most common tricks developers resort to when coming to marketing within the Apple ecosystem. It’s free and generates a lot of buzz, which is good, but the practice is neither scalable nor durable. For example, when an app is provided “free for limited time”, in the first few days the downloads might be skyrocketing, then gradually it’d decline.

Often times, other than “free for limited time”, developers’ll have to seek help from CPC-based mobile ad platform. With more and more developers entering the market, the costs for CPC-based ads are rising irrationally. For example, UAC (user acquisition cost) has hit RMB 20 per user which is unaffordable for smaller teams. Given the fact that most mobile games won’t last for 3 months, you might not even able to make enough revenue off the players during such short life cycle to justify the marketing cost.

According to Neo Zhang, founder of GuoheAD, with traditional mobile ad platform, you won’t know who’ll see your ads featuring your latest title which costs you ten months and big money to get shipped. Sounds like the classical problem of “Yeah we knew that half of our ads budget was wasted, it’s just we didn’t know which half”.

On the other hand, it seems that CPC-based mobile ads were employed to do some tricks working around Apple’s App Store. According to some industry insiders, developers buy mobile ads in an aim to play around with ASO, namely App Store Optimization, to rank up in App Store. It works for a while, but requires a lot of input and you better pray that Apple doesn’t alter its ranking algorithm from time to time.

So are there any decent ways of promoting mobile games that are cost-efficient, durable and actually effective?

Cross-promotion Platform MiX to the Rescue

Well there might be. Leveraging on the experience in its well-received mobile ad platform and understanding on the needs of small and medium-sized game developers, GuoheAd, one of the leading mobile ad platform in China debuted the first Chinese mobile game-centric cross promotion platform MIX to make app marketing an easier task for developers with limited budget.

The CPA-based platform delivers GuoheAD’s interpretation of mobile game startups’ needs in marketing: it should be targeting the right AUDIENCE in the right CONTEXT with delightful EXPERIENCE, or ACE by initials.

MIX gives developers the opportunity to pop up full-screen billboard ads in game apps when someone is playing with the game, which gives you the right audience (players) in the right context (while they’re playing games). And since the ads was fully customizable (appearance, when and how to show up), the ads experience is also good without interrupting users too much. For example, ads can only show up when player pause the game or level up in the game. And you can change the ads appearance like backgrounds, buttons, images and so forth to make it fit in. This is utterly important if you don’t want users to get fed up with pop-up ads.

Most importantly, MIX is totally free to use for now. It comes along with an Exchange community where you can find other developers whom you can do cross-promotion with. Better yet, you can cross promote your own game pipelines to route users from faltering games to new titles. That could be a very practical solution for small time developers with big pipelines.

The service which can increase conversion rate by 10 times has been sent live here http://mix.guohead.com/home/, you can check it out and give it a try if you’re currently developing and marketing you own mobile games. At the end of the day, what could be the better place to advertise a mobile game than do it within a mobile game?

Gang Lu

Dr. Gang Lu - Founder of TechNode. He's a Blogger, a Geek, a PhD and a Speaker, with passion in Tech, Internet and R'N'R.

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