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How Mobile Games Marketing Should Tell Its Own Story


Gareth Williams, Premier’s Director of Games, recently spoke in an article on Gamesindustry.biz about how mobile games require very different PR tactics to those of traditional console & PC game campaigns. He made some points that resonated with us at The Specialist Works – having worked on a large number of successful mobile game campaigns, understanding that very different tactics are also required for TV advertising.

For big console publishers, the usual PR objective is to create significant levels of awareness in the build up to the game’s launch. This basically amounts to positive coverage in the gaming press (good reviews, competitions, high view counts on trailers etc), giving something for publishers’ sales teams to wave in front of retail buyers. And with a relatively short shelf-life at retail, consumer awareness pre-launch is key. They’ve got to fly off the shelves. But the situation is very different for mobile games.

Williams, speaking from a PR perspective, noted that the specialist games media simply doesn’t pay any attention – PocketGamer being the only dedicated outlet carrying any significant weight. Instead, he suggests cleverly thought out stunts (like King’s Candy Crush Soda Saga re-enactment with giant inflatables over Tower Bridge) or competitions (like Square Enix’s Lara Croft Go with hidden clues in The Metro giving readers prizes) as a way to boost awareness and define the identity of the game in question, “Modern mobile PR doesn’t follow the same paths and patterns as traditional gaming PR, but instead can be determined by the product, or the story it wishes to tell.”

How Mobile Games Can Benefit

From a TV advertising angle, mobile games require different paths and patterns again. Big budget console & PC titles keep that singular focus on generating pre-launch hype, boosting demand for launch day. So their TV ads need to be exciting, memorable and even more entertaining than the games they promote… cinematic trailers, basically. Mobile games can, of course, benefit from exciting advertising; but the audience, the product and the desired response are completely different.

They don’t need to whip a core gaming audience into a frenzy, having them fantasise about a game for weeks on end. For many mobile game publishers, the initial objective is to create a big install base of players – and these can be free players. But crucially, they get the advertised product right there and then, for free. ‘Download it now for free’ says the TV ad, ‘OK’ say a good chunk of the audience – who happen to have their phones in their hands, or to-hand, whilst watching TV.

At this point of the campaign, most console game marketers can nip off to the pub; and maybe start thinking about marketing the next title. The budget for that last game’s gone… hopefully it worked and people go out and buy it on Friday. But basically, that’s that.

For Mobile Game Marketers, The Story Continues…

DRTV campaigns can give mobile publishers the insight and data they need to optimise a subsequent campaign for the same, or related, titles. In turn, they can better target higher value players and those more likely to convert to paying customers… whilst also broadening the install base ever further.

CPAs can be kept low with intelligent buying on international TV, and existing players can be better retained with sustained marketing activity. Clash of Clans, as an example of a particularly successful mobile IP, launched in 2012 – but was advertised in the vaunted Superbowl spot in 2015, years later, and continues to be advertised on TV, Cinema and elsewhere.

The moral of the tale? Along with different PR tactics and creative strategies, mobile game TV campaigns are telling their own story, outlasting anything seen from even the most successful console franchises. This can potentially bring vast amounts of data to inform continued growth and solid relationships with customers… and they all lived happily ever after!

The end.