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Uplift-ing Stories: Mobile Game Retargeting in 2022

September 8, 2022
Retargeting
Maikka Piquemal
Brand Content Writer
Kate Lovejoy
COO Retargeting/US Managing Director
Brett Patterson
User Acquisition Director at Influence Mobile
Jenny Pacheco
Senior User Acquisition/Retargeting Manager

At this year’s MAU Vegas, our very own Kate Lovejoy, Adikteev’s COO and US Managing Director, moderates a discussion with mobile game experts Brett Patterson of Influence Mobile and Jenny Pacheco. This resource powerhouse shares their best tips and tricks to achieve the finest in-app strategies today.

Watch the video here:

Getting started with retargeting

KATE

To start things off, I can tell you a little bit about Adikteev. We are a mobile growth engine, essentially. We help with app retargeting and also cross-promotion— helping you to active, upsell, and retain your existing users. 

Let’s get into some tips and tricks. I think one of the reasons I was most excited to talk to you two today is, truly, you represent an ideal retargeting partner. You’re both very willing to test and iterate, and our retargeting programs that we work on together evolved over time. You guys were very much adventurous with us to find the audiences, to figure out measurement and all of these. I’m curious what your philosophy is around retargeting. How do you approach a retargeting program at a high level?

JENNY

With my background in graphic design project management, I took that experience of knowing and having great insights into what makes really strong composition and design — that was the approach that I’ve leveraged when I first started managing retargeting. At DoubleDown, when I was first involved, we didn’t have evergreen creatives to run. (Maybe Brett has made some but we didn’t have access to them.) I was able to pick just a past marketing creative that I thought we could repurpose for a paid retargeting creative and it ended up working amazingly and was a hit-it-out-of-the-park creative. Then, we tried to iterate on how do we repurpose this, how do we pick out the elements to make it work as a retargeting creative. For future creatives, that really worked. That was, kind of, the leverage I took: looking at strong creatives as a place to start, but the involvement came through partnerships. First off was a partnership with Facebook where we had Yuko, Raffa, and Bryce really working with us day-to-day to encourage us, to have a testing mindset, and they were there with us day-to-day in the support of setting up the tests and the follow-through of how to measure the tests. That was just a great mindset to start with. After the partnership with Facebook, it led to a partnership with Adikteev where I was just so impressed by your commitment to providing excellence to your partners and we couldn’t have done it without you. You worked with us to figure out the nuts and bolts of getting our data attribution to work. It turns out we were missing some data attribution that was affecting our numbers. Thank you for helping us along the way to get started on the right foot. And also, the creatives you built for us were so impactful and meaningful— they were a big differentiator to our success with you. 

KATE

That’s amazing to hear! I will definitely go back and tell our design team about that and pass it along. And Brett, talk to us about your approach.

BRETT

I think that having Jenny work at the same company as me was actually wonderful for DoubleDown. I was so early in the retargeting space that most of these things just didn’t exist. Most of my spend was on Facebook canvas and doing desktop retargeting more than anything. We were 40% mobile at that time. It’s literally teaching my Facebook reps how to do retargeting, doing it on anything and everything, and trying to figure out what was incrementality; how to think about just setting up a campaign and proving it successful for leadership so they have the faith in you to keep it running. It was big business to us back then. It was a lot of getting things set up when they just didn’t exist. There’s no dashboards. There’s no one telling me what to do. It was just like trial by fire. And then, the DSPs came along after I left the company. I’ve tried a lot of them along the way and I definitely settled with Adikteev as one of the better platforms that we use at scale. It makes those problems I’ve faced earlier in my career much easier to work on with a partner like Adikteev and Kate. 

KATE

It’s interesting what you were talking about setting up measurement and making sure you can prove that. I think that’s definitely something we could touch on later as well. What are some of the things that you wish you knew before you started retargeting? I know we’ve all learned a lot about the retargeting process. 

BRETT

I would say, for someone to tell me what to do. I just wish there were all these things I had nowadays— literally anything and everything just to give me a tip and a trick to make me look good, cause I was definitely missing from back in the day. I wish I could have done a better job looking at the future too. I was so under the weeds trying to just figure stuff out. I wish I could have just looked down the road to see what’s going to come. We have a lot of great tech at some companies, like deep linking and incentivized deep linking. Those were great things and tools. I wish I could have foreseen how to advance those along the way a little bit more to get more. 

JENNY

I would say the importance of being a data attribution detective and really understanding how retargeting attribution works, how reattribution windows work, making sure your settings in MMP for retargeting are set up correctly just to make sure you’re not missing any of the attribution that could benefit your performance. We had that experience first hand. And also just setting up the links yourself, doing the testing yourself, and opening up your MMP dashboard and seeing the data come through in real-time to know it’s working. And the other important thing is don’t be afraid if you’re trying out a new campaign strategy and it flops. Sometimes, in order to figure out what works, you first have to figure out what doesn’t work. You have to embrace that process and have passion for the experience. Ultimately, the outcomes will work if you do enough testing. 

Measuring retargeting success

KATE

I totally agree. How would you suggest measuring success for retargeting?

JENNY

It’s important to know what’s happening with your campaigns on a day-to-day basis. Setting up your MMP attribution is so important so that you can optimize on a day-to-day basis. It also affects if you’re running creative testings. You need that attributed data that’s tied to the creatives to see how that performance is doing so that you know what you’re doing with your creative tests at a granular level. On the flip side, you need the incrementality measurement to be able to answer those yes or no questions, like “Is retargeting working? And, is it working at the platform level and at the network level?”— to be able to go back to your leadership team or your data team and prove to them that these are the numbers and we are net positive retargeting is worth investing in. The third piece that is also important to look at is knowing which segments have the lowest cost per returned users. I think it’s important to look at those three factors when you’re determining where you’re going to move your budget around and where you’re investing in the future. 

KATE

Those 3 are critical. I think the second one in particular is something we’ve always thought about a lot— how do we ensure that our clients can go back to their teams and prove that what we’re doing is having an impact, is incremental, and is not cannibalizing organic performance. We’re always on incrementality. Brett, how do you view measurement success?

BRETT

The ultimate battle that I’ve always had with my execs is to do no harm. Retargeting is such an interesting space to figure out. It gets complicated. If you can show, just like what Kate has mentioned, do no harm, what’s incremental is profitable. We would be dumb not to push towards lapsed segments. One of the other great things that you could have even if it’s not profitable is there are other missions retargeting can help with. If you have a new feature you just might want to do a complete burst to your general audience and ensure that there’s something new out. Maybe it could help monetization. So, there are other impacts you can have on the business than sometimes just being profitable. 

KATE

It feeds to one another, right? You’ve talked before about how user acquisition and retargeting feed into one another.

BRETT

One of the great things I love about Adikteev is I get so much data that you guys pass back to me. One of the reports that I commonly get from Adikteev is on what sources are actually in and clicking on to return to the app. I take that information and pass it back to the buying team and say, “Here are some new sources that’s coming up,” and it becomes a full loop. It really just feeds the beast and then you can do retargeting again and etc.

The importance of quality creatives

KATE

Brett, these are where your high LTV users are hanging out— go find them elsewhere. One of the fun things to talk about is creatives. We all love creatives. It can be so impactful. How do you approach retargeting creatives?

JENNY

I think it’s true what they say: creative is king. It’s important to optimize, optimize, optimize. Run creative refreshes frequently and also establish a testing process. What I found that works really well is kinda having a pathway to testing your creatives for them to then become evergreen creatives in your regular campaigns. What I would usually do is I would start off a non-payer segment, which is a lower cost to run, and I have a KPI for that tests of click-through-rate. If those creatives win in that ad set, I move them all along to a pair ad set where I test for ROAS. And then, if they perform well there, we move on to the evergreen creatives. It’s just a great way to find new creatives that work for your company. 

KATE

That’s really smart. I love that idea of testing for the CTR first and then moving to ROAS. I’m sure that’s very successful. Brett, how about on your side?

BRETT

Having the right message in the creative is really paramount. No install, make sure you’re tailoring the right audience, if you can get into the granularity of the segments, too. For example, you might have a low tier or high tier— having that messaging to say that I’m going to provide an incentive potentially for each group. Different messaging is really important to say. You could get a big incentive coming back versus maybe a lower incentive. 

JENNY

That’s important to touch on. I think ads that have deep links that offer rewards give so much more encouragement and enticement to get that user to come back. I’ve seen really great success with ads that have rewards in them. 

Audience segmentation

KATE

It’s the fear of missing out, too. I think it’s just not the incentive. It’s this fear we have of the urgency. So, I have two more questions for you here and an important one is on audiences. I think that’s one of the first questions most people ask when thinking about running a retargeting program: “What audiences should I run to make sure it’s successful?” What are your recommendations on how to define those audiences?

JENNY

I would say a good place to start is to segment your payers and your non-payers. With your payers, if your audience size is large enough, you could split it into high LTV, mid LTV, and low LTV; and also, figuring out what days lapsed segments you want to try. To start off, maybe 7 days could be a good place to start. Then, through testing, you’ll figure out if it would make sense to start earlier, starting at 5 days or 3 days or 15 days. You just kind of have to figure that out as you go along.

KATE

With that testing process, Adikteev also helps by looking at your in-house organic data string to understand what’s the average number of days between purchasers and when are your users never coming back. It  could help define the initial testing point. Brett, on your side, on audiences, what do you think about that?

BRETT

You had already touched on what I would touch on. No matter what the app, if you have a successful user acquisition campaign, there’s going to be some portion of the app that is  targetable. If you’re just getting in the retargeting space, set it up with your payers, your paying segments, and pick up lapsed time. Adikteev will help you get the campaign off the ground, no problem, but that’s gonna get you to the fastest profitable point of retargeting very quickly. I would say figure that out. And then, if you want to test other audiences down the road, there’s tons of opportunities. Like Jenny has mentioned in the beginning, you’re going to fail— but, just fail happy, I guess. 

JENNY

Another topic I want to bring that relates to audiences is that, if you’re working with Facebook or you have a lot of Facebook followers with your app like your Facebook Fan Page, you can run boosted posts. It’s a way to reach more people or a broader audience more effectively for content that has short duration, like a promotion or sale. You can use your customer retargeting that is already set up if you’re running paid Facebook campaigns and run boosted posts to those audiences. It’s a short duration. We usually have good success with that. 

BRETT

We’ve done this at the same company so I can attest. You get far more exponential reach with a boosted post on Facebook if you have the followers. You need the followers to support it.

What makes a successful retargeting program

KATE

It’s all quite complementary— running with a DSP, with Facebook. They’re all very complementary. It’s a great tip. I guess my final question: what are the components of a successful retargeting program? 

JENNY

I would say strong partnerships. You really need good support with your data team and your creative team. You could do so much more with a team mindset versus an individual mindset. It’s really important to have strong partnerships, like with Adikteev. They’re proactive, they’re hardworking, they go the extra mile, they’re collaborative. The next thing is good MMP support: understand how attribution works, also enable view-through attribution to make sure you’re not missing out on any attributions. Another is impactful and unique creatives that include characters, bling, or rewards deep links. And then, just in general, having a testing mindset and trying new things, rolling up your sleeves. Figure out what works by figuring out what doesn’t work.

BRETT

It’s going to be everything that we have previously mentioned. Success is going to be what your company is going to be happy with. I go back to my saying before: do no harm. With retargeting campaigns, make it profitable. Show your execs you’re doing something good for the company and expand the crap out of it. 

KATE

Love it! Well, that’s a great place to end. Thank you guys so much. It was a great time talking to you today. We will be over the cabanas after this, so come by Adikteev at cabana 15. We’ll be chatting about retargeting. Thanks, everyone!

Maikka Piquemal
Brand Content Writer
Kate Lovejoy
COO Retargeting/US Managing Director
Brett Patterson
User Acquisition Director at Influence Mobile
Jenny Pacheco
Senior User Acquisition/Retargeting Manager

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