The Importance of Lookalike Audiences in Your Mobile Game Marketing Strategy header graphic

The Importance of Lookalike Audiences in Your Mobile Game Marketing Strategy

When it comes to nailing down the persona of an average mobile gamer— well, there is none!

There are currently around 2.4 billon gamers in the world, and they range widely in demographics like age, gender, profession and personality. And 85% of gamers don’t even identify themselves as such, even though 30% play games daily!

While this huge market presents a great opportunity for gaming companies and developers, it can also make it really difficult for them to target good potential consumers through marketing campaigns. Many companies aren’t able to narrow down exactly what type of audience is most likely to install their game. And unfortunately, they waste a lot of ad spend with trial and error.

Luckily, there is a way for mobile gaming companies to find and target their ideal niches, and it’s actually quite simple: Using lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences can not only help you increase your return on ad spend (ROA), but it can also help you achieve higher conversion rates and reduce cost per installs (CPI).

Let’s take a deeper look at what lookalike audiences are, how to use them, and what type of benefits they can deliver for today’s mobile gaming providers.

What is a Lookalike Audience?

Lookalike audiences are used by companies and marketers to reach potential customers who are similar (in demographic, online activity, and preferences) to their current customers. They increase the probability of generating high-quality leads through appealing to audiences similar to audiences who have already invested in a product or service.

Think of lookalike audiences as a matchmaker between potential customers and companies.

Lookalike audiences can be used on display ads for different social media channel ad platforms, or for retargeting ads based on website visitors.

There are a few ways to generate lookalike audiences to use on these different ad mediums. Most lookalike audiences are uploaded utilizing current customer data from:

  • An email marketing list (subscribers)
  • Website visitor tracking pixels
  • App activity data
  • Engagement data from social media
  • Or data from offline activities (such as live events or phone calls)

Some companies use multiple lookalike audiences for the same campaign. Or, if they know the specific parameters they’d like to target, they can set up a unique lookalike audience that focus on user factors such as age, gender or interests.

Let’s dive a little deeper into how it all works.

Types of Lookalike Audiences

Three different coloured person icons surrounded by social media logos

There are two common mediums where data to create lookalike audiences can be gathered and used for targeted advertisements: social media and search engines. Here’s a short guide on how to use them on both:

For Social Media

All of the major social media platforms— Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.— offer advertisers the ability to use lookalike audiences.

Both Facebook and Instagram use the Facebook Ads Manager platform. Because of their robust customer data, Facebook is also by far the most popular platform for using lookalike audiences in advertising. And it’s the platform we’ll be focusing on most in this article.

Facebook Ads allows you to build lookalike audiences using internal company data, or third-party data collected by the social media platform including who engages with your company’s posts, videos, events, and profile.

LinkedIn and Twitter both have their own internal advertising platforms as well and use similar methods as the ones mentioned above.

YouTube  uses the Google Ads platform, which we’ll discuss in more depth below.

For Search Engines

Google Ads, Bing Ads and Yahoo Ads use ‘similar audience targeting’ (which is basically the same as lookalike audiences) by searching for potential new customers who are similar to your company’s existing customers (using data about website visitors and converters).

These search engines use machine learning to understand what a website’s audience have in common to find more like-minded customers. They use criteria such as topics a customer likes to perform searches about, or other websites they frequent. Then, they use display advertisements across different sites to market to those similar audiences.

4 Key Benefits of Using Lookalike Audiences for Mobile Gaming

There are four important benefits to using lookalike audiences that stand out among the rest. These benefits are especially important to mobile game studios and developers for the very reasons we discussed above — the mobile gaming audience base is both very large and very diverse.

The global games market is set to generate about $159.3 billion of revenue in 2020. Lookalike audiences can help your company hold onto as much profit as possible by:

1. Increasing Ad performance

The goal of every online advertiser is to get the most bang for their buck. And in order to achieve that, you have to reach audiences who are already (knowingly or unknowingly) interested in your product (or in this case, your game).

Put quite simply: when using lookalike audiences, you can be assured that your ads will only be seen by users who are similar to your current customers. This increases the likelihood that these new audiences will be interested, and in-turn, engage with the ad. And hopefully, they’ll convert— just like the customers they’re modeled after.

2. Optimizing for ROI

Already having a clear idea of approximate interests and demographics for the targeted audience of an ad also makes it easier to prepare copy, images, and pricing that users will find engaging. This, in-turn, helps to increase conversion and lower CPI.

And because social networks are interested in providing their users with the most relevant content possible, they actually reward companies for running engaging advertisements.

This means, the better your ad performs, the more the platform will show it. And as the number of clicks and conversions on the ad increases, the cost for running the ad will actually decrease! Talk about maximizing ROI.

3. Delivering Higher LTV (Lifetime Value)

Gaming marketers can get really strategic with lookalike audiences in order to ensure they’re targeting segments that represent their most high-value customers.

By using advanced segmentation capabilities, you can identify the most loyal customers in your databases (and which of your customers are most likely to make repeat purchases with higher order values). Then, you can create a lookalike audience from only that segment.

You can also use customer micro-segments (based on each customer’s unique needs and preferences) and run some omnichannel campaigns that keep audiences interested by delivering ads that match the customer’s exact needs and wants.

Basically, modeling a larger audience with similar attributes to customers with a high-lifetime value is the best way to increase CLTV without wasting time or effort.

4. Making Performance Monitoring and Adjustments Simple

One of the most important pieces to making lookalike audience ads successful is to perform consistent monitoring. Watching ad performance closely allows you to make assumptions and adjust and optimize as needed. This results in a better use of budget, and a more efficient ad process.

You can also experiment with A/B testing of different ads to lookalike audiences to enhance performance even further.

graphic showing the four benefits of lookalike audiences

The 4 key benefits for mobile gaming companies in using lookalike audiences: increased ad performance, optimized ROI, higher CLTV, and easy monitoring.

Best Practices for Using Lookalike Audiences

There are some important things to consider before using lookalike audiences in mobile gaming campaigns.

Considering the end goals

Not all lookalike audiences will perform the same in different campaigns. It’s important to remember that different lookalike audiences should be used to achieve different goals.

For example, if your goal is to generate awareness for a new game release, launching an ad using a lookalike audience from your Facebook Fan Page would be a great bet. On the other hand, if your goal was to increase downloads, then a lookalike audience modeled after your current customers would be a better choice.

Testing Audience Sizes

Just as you should consider different lookalike audience types for your campaign goals, you should consider different audience sizes as well.

When advertising to smaller lookalike audiences (say 500 people or less) the audience base will most likely match your company’s current customer base very closely. On the other hand, if you are advertising to a larger audience (5000+), it will increase potential reach, but decrease the level of similarity with your custom audience.

Facebook uses a scale to demonstrate this that ranges from 1% to 10%— the smaller the audience size, the more closely the results will match the source list. Most marketers find the highest success in the 2-3% range.

Basically, when optimizing for similarity, aim for a smaller audience. And when optimizing for reach, go with a larger audience.

Three women look at a smartphone

Focusing on Quality over Quantity

Lookalike audiences are only as good as the data they’re constructed from. Therefore, in order to get the best possible results, you should focus on audience quality over audience quantity.

As an example, Facebook’s advertising guidelines for using lookalike audiences recommends aiming for a total reach of 50,000 people. However, advertisers should really take this with a grain of salt. After all, if the goal of the ad is conversions, then 500 loyal customers will most likely perform better than an audience of 50,000 fans.

As with all forms of online advertising, the more niche the better. Instead of aiming for broad audiences such as “all app installers,” hone in on more advanced metrics that will facilitate reach to a narrower customer base.

Key Takeaways:

Lookalike audiences take internal or third-party data about a company’s current customers and turn it into a model for the type of potential customer they want to attract. Those audiences are then used as a targeted segment for advertisements. This is ideal for mobile gaming companies and developers due to the fact that their target markets can be so vast.

Lookalike audiences help to:

    • Increase Ad Performance
    • Increase ROI and reduce CPI
    • Increase CLTV
    • And make performance monitoring easier

When running ads to lookalike audiences, you should consider:

    • The campaign’s goals
    • The ideal audience size in order to meet those goals

In Closing…

Online and mobile gaming is truly in its prime and growing every day. Statistics show that the industry is projected to surpass $100 billion by 2023. That means that now is a perfect time to try new campaigns and experiments to reach a fresh, unsaturated customer base.

If you’re looking to benefit from all the incredible things lookalike audiences can do for your gaming company, there’s really no reason not to try it. Start with a small budget and grow as you gain the confidence.

<a href="https://get.theappreciationengine.com/author/grantspychka/" target="_self">Grant Spychka</a>

Grant Spychka

As AE's Captain of Customer Success, I get to bridge the gap between product development and customer feedback/insights, working closely with our development, marketing, and sales teams. Outside of work, I'm either running after my kids, running on trails for fun, or running an embarrassingly low K/D ratio in pretty much any game.