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App Retargeting Strategies To Drive Revenue To Your Mobile Game

« Atypical times bring new opportunities. It’s time for gaming to seize the moment and rise to the challenges the market presents. »

2020 brought us isolation measures and movement restrictions. As a result, the majority of users are facing significantly more time at home. It is hence not surprising to see more people downloading and playing games on their devices. There is an almost urging need for entertainment.

The increased organic app usage is good news for the gaming industry. Still, is it the spike in downloads and average daily active users on gaming apps temporary, or a permanent change? Can this organic growth be converted into increased revenue for gaming advertisers?

The shifts in the economy and users’ behavior are taking gaming businesses to pivot, hereby seizing the opportunity to reevaluate and tweak their monetization strategy towards sustainable growth by creating a loyal as well as profitable user base. Here we look at how gaming apps can plan their retargeting campaigns to focus on retention and incremental conversions.

Users turn to mobile gaming in times of lockdown

The growth in mobile games downloads and time spent on gaming apps is unmistakable. During the lockdown, data from App Annie shows an increase of weekly mobile game downloads by 80% in China and 35% in South Korea. The same growth is visible on DAUs according to IronSource data. For China, we can observe a 60% increase, along with higher player engagement, on rewarded ads and increased paid installs (up 25% in the US).

This increased activity in mobile games is felt mostly among hyper-casual, strategy/puzzle, and RPG gaming genres. One of the noticeable shifts in user behavior is the increased interest in multiplayer games for its sense of connection with other users and thus “real-life” entertainment factors.

Along with this scenario, Sensor Tower’s 2024 market forecast projects growth in games spending that could reach $72.6 billion worldwide in 2020, up 15.2% year-over-year for the next five years. So, if the spending potential exists, how are app marketers trying to capture it to create incremental and sustainable app growth?

Retargeting is one of the keys to a well-rounded strategy for gaming app monetization. According to Appsflyer data, retargeting for gaming apps can drive an uplift of the average revenue among paying users of over 50%, more than double the industry average. This poses an opportunity for marketers to use retargeting as a way to retain and monetize the surge of organic users downloading their apps.

Pave the way to mobile game monetization with retargeting

It is time to work on a retargeting strategy that focuses on converting and nurturing profitable users. For gaming, retargeting is a very appealing tool to achieve higher retention rates and stable revenue streams. It is effective when it comes to generating long-term engagement that creates incremental value from non-paying and paying users, as well as everyone in between.

Here are some of the considerations that go into building a retargeting strategy focused on driving revenue.

It all starts with segmentation

The current economic conditions and shifts in user behavior advise advertisers to rethink their user segmentation.

Can you identify a pattern on the behavior of your audience segments facing the current Covid19 situation? Are your users engaging with your game more or in a different way? Users that have completed specific actions (let say, users that have reached a higher level, have more sessions per day) signal a higher level of interest in the game. This higher engagement acts as an important factor to group users into different segments, which you can retarget with specific goals in mind.

App marketers know that this type of dynamic segmentation powered by real-time data is the key to unlock a sustainable retargeting strategy that goes beyond the simple payers vs. non-payers approach.

So, don’t wait for your new users to churn. Identify your big spenders (whales), your low spenders, and users that haven’t made an in-app purchase yet but show signs of being more engaged with the app. Unlocking all the different segments in your user base is the first step to reactivate them on a larger scale.

Here are some suggestions on how to rethink your approach:

  • Users that have just installed an app can be retargeted with a unique “new sign-up” offer as a way to build a great first impression in the game and get them to start playing right away. It is an excellent way to improve new user retention while providing a memorable onboarding experience.
  • Users that haven’t converted but are playing more and in a consistent manner might be more open to convert. Target them with a special offer to level up in the game (or get perks such as more points, coins, a higher level character), encouraging users to come back to the game more frequently and play longer sessions.
  • Users that converted in the past but haven’t made any other purchase in the last 14 or 30 days can be retargeted with a new game offer or a special bundle discount that entices them to purchase again and to continue playing.
  • Reward your most loyal users and users that spend more time in-app with exclusive content or a higher status in the game as a sign of appreciation for the time and investment they put into the game. It will keep them engaged and lead to increased retention and time spent playing.

Map the gamer journey

Know your users’ behavior inside out. Do you know the flow of each of your user segments? Track all the relevant events happening in your game. Then, identify any churn moments and any pattern on the type and frequency of actions taken in your game. Test and optimize these user loops to create not only a smooth but hyper engaging journey for your players. Different game genres have a different appeal. Find out what makes your game addictive and “sticky,” and leverage on that also via paid channel communication.

Here are a few possible scenarios:

  • Do you find your users reaching a particular level/chapter but decreasing activity or even lapsing before they can tackle the next one? Look at your game journey and see if you can engage them before they reach that stage. Use retargeting to remind them that they are close to unlocking a new challenge, offer them an incentive to keep playing (free lives, a chance of purchasing a new level) before they lose interest.
  • Do you monetize your users only after a certain level of the game? Use retargeting to guide your users towards that level, entice them with the benefits of doing so: a more engaging challenge, more credits to unlock features, etc.

A smooth journey from ad to app is critical for the performance of your retargeting campaigns, especially when it comes to driving revenue. You will want your users to land at the correct spot where they can seamlessly perform the intended action (downloading, purchasing, or signing up). Make full use of deep links / iOS universal links to drive your users to a customized landing page (such as a store page) within the game. This is a simple and proven step to employ on your retargeting campaigns. Here’s a real-business example: by implementing deep linking in their retargeting ads, a brand was able to increase their conversion rates by 63 to 99%.

Diversify your creative messages

A successful retargeting campaign relies heavily on hyper-relevant messaging (messaging targeted to each user segment) and engaging creatives. By the time you know your user segments and have defined your goals and KPIs, it is time to craft what you want to communicate to your targeted audiences and what trigger events to consider.

  • For example, do you have new levels or storylines in your game? Retarget your regular users with content updates. Users that have played for a while and passed all levels will have a compelling reason to come back and engage again with the new content.
  • Focus on creating messaging that is focused on instant gratification like promos and rewards for an irresistible game experience. This messaging establishes a sense of urgency and curiosity on players to keep them visiting the app regularly.

Creatives have a substantial impact on improving click-through rates and retention, which, ultimately, will lead to a higher user LTV and revenue. Diversify your messaging, make it highly customized, and use the different creatives formats available to you.

One of the top recommended practices when it comes to creatives is to run A/B tests to identify the best performing elements and optimize from there. Use the insights from regular A/B testing to fine-tune your creative strategy and see your engagement rates soar.

Grow your gaming app with retargeting

Let’s not forget that the competition in mobile gaming is real. During unforeseen times like these, and with more gaming apps competing for the same users, businesses need to reevaluate their plans, react, and adapt. The longer a user engages and stays in the game, the better chances it has of converting and becoming a loyal customer. App retargeting contributes to improving the player’s lifetime value, which will reflect in higher revenue in the long term.

Consider the long term gains that a retargeting strategy can offer. Don’t oversimplify your approach and, don’t forget the valuable players you already have. Look deeper into your data, measure often, and find what is bringing you incremental uplift.

Game on - it’s time to play. If you would like to learn more about how to build a retargeting strategy for your app, talk to one of our experts at