The AppQuantum team has shared an in-depth study on using bloggers as mobile games influencers, discussed the pros and cons of this practice, and gave a piece of advice on how NOT to work with bloggers.
Every mobile marketer has at least once thought about influencers as a promotion channel. In the past few years, mobile game marketing hardly looks complete without bloggers. In this article, we, the mobile publisher AppQuantum, share unusual and practical life hacks for working with bloggers. From the article you will learn how to:
- choose the right platform and influencer for your product;
- negotiate with a blogger to advertise your game on mutually agreed terms;
- get really high-quality ad content from the influencer.
Influencer marketing is not a new concept in the industry, but it has become wildly popular among marketers over the past few years. Every day, influencers receive dozens of offers of cooperation from brands, including gaming ones. This gives bloggers the ability to put almost any price tag on their services.
Even though the cost of ads through influencers is really high (and sometimes has worse performance) compared to targeted ads, mobile developers continue to advertise with influencers. Why? Here are some reasons:
Some games are gaining immense popularity thanks to memes going viral. Consider the case of the indie game Among Us. The hype around it arose when the streamer Sodapoppin with 2M+ subscribers drew attention to the project. He made a funny review of the game, after which memes went viral on social networks – this boosted the game to the top charts. Although it happened by accident – the developer did not pay anything to the influencer for advertising. Nevertheless, thanks to Sodapoppin, the game has become wildly popular.
A chance to bypass "banner blindness"
Many influencers are really good at integrating ads into their content organically. Some do it so masterfully that it is not immediately clear when exactly the transition from the main part of the video to the sponsored one happened. There are talents who make ads so creative that it transits from the category “Oh, another boring promo” to “What will he advertise today?”. Unfortunately, there are very few influencers at this level, and their ad release schedule is completely busy for several months in advance.
The influencer has authority and credibility. The audience knows and loves them. People believe that their idol will not advise "anything".
What, Where, and How to Promote
Not every game fits influencer marketing promotion. And not every platform is suitable for mobile game advertising.
It is inappropriate, for example, to engage influencers in full-scale casual projects marketing. They will not have enough diverse game content even for a 10-minute video, and the player's LTV will be much lower than the cost of attracting them.
Hiring a blogger or actor (and we’re not talking about a Hollywood star) to shoot in an ad creative is cheaper and more efficient. This creative will then be used for user acquisition on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and ad networks – increasing reach and lowering costs.
Twitter is not commonly used as a platform for paid mobile game influencer marketing. On YouTube and Twitch, casual games are also difficult to promote. But in the case of complex projects like RPG mobile games, this is exactly what is needed. Bright narrative, dynamic gameplay, beautiful art, various game mechanics - there is enough space to breathe. You can shoot both a complete overview for 20-60 minutes and a high-quality video sequence for ad integration.
How to Pick an Influencer
When choosing an influencer for mobile game promotion, you can go one of several ways. There is no right or wrong option among them, each has its own pros and cons. Ideally, you should try different approaches and decide which one is right for your game. Or maybe mix them all together.
Let's say you, with your hardcore RPG project, are looking for new channels for attracting traffic through influencers. You start with what lies on the surface and decide to buy ads from PewDiePie. Today he has 110M+ subscribers, and charges about $300-500k for advertising. A huge audience will see the ad and learn about your brand. But how many will actually convert from this ad? Yes, you pay for a huge audience, but besides the target users, you “buy” completely irrelevant ones.
Out of all PewDiePie’s audience, let’s say only 10k people might be interested in RPGs like yours. There is no point in overpaying if, as a result, we will interest only 0.01% of viewers. However, it should be noted that advertising from such celebrities often leads to a sharp boost in organic installs in several countries at once.
Spy on a blogger from competitors
This is a common strategy in many areas of business, and influencer marketing is no exception. It's like fitting into an air pocket behind a racer when you get less resistance. Someone has already gained an audience that loves to pay for fantasy heroes. So why not try going after them?
But this option also has disadvantages.
First, we lose the opportunity to attract an additional, “near-target” audience. Second, there is a fear that the audience of this blogger will not be as loyal to your product. They are already accustomed to another RPG game, why do they have to play another one and invest money in it?
On the other hand, there is a chance that the audience of that other project may be interested in something new. Many people need an additional, so-called "pocket game". You enter these games when you want to distract yourself and kill time. And if this is a game of a similar genre, there is a high chance that players will love it too.
Seek fresh faces
This is the most resource-demanding but at the same time the most scalable option. You won’t be able to avoid it if you are aiming to build full-fledged influencer marketing for your game.
Furthermore, we should note micro-influencers, who usually have a small but very loyal audience. This is an important brick in the wall. You can even build an entire empire of ambassadors with such influencers.
Bloggers who are just starting to develop their channels do not yet have a huge amount of offers from advertisers. In order to turn on YouTube monetization features, you need to reach a certain milestone. That is why such bloggers appreciate it when the first customers come to them. This brings you +10000 to brand loyalty.
Also on the positive side: this is a pretty fresh face in the blogger field. This is you opening the doors to cooperation with gaming brands. You have such a great possibility to build strong partnerships with these creators.
But there are also some drawbacks here. Due to lack of experience, quite often these types of bloggers do not know how to shoot high-quality ads. You need to be prepared for several rounds of edits when accepting a draft (and believe us, not all the bloggers are patient with this).
How to Organise Work with Influencers
There are several options for working with influencers. The most common among them are: to hire an advertising agency or to build an in-house influencer marketing department. Which one to choose?
The option with an agency is suitable when: a) you do not yet have the opportunity to allocate a separate employee for this direction, b) nothing is known about your product or company in wide circles. Bloggers do not know anything about your brand, and you do not yet understand which of them to pick and what conditions would be appropriate.
The best option, in this case, is to go to an influencer agency. They have more resources, expertise, and authority. In addition, they already have good relationships with influencers, which means it will be much easier for them to negotiate the best terms of the deal.
When you, a young development studio, come to a more or less large influencer with an offer to cooperate, they most likely will not even read your letter. They regularly receive huge amounts of requests like this and choose the most relevant options for themselves.
It makes sense to recruit an in-house team when you have already made several ad launches, obtained case studies, and collected enough data to be able to perform analytics. You already have an idea of which ad topics work for your project, and you can predict conversions and the result of an ad campaign from the start. Your own team will also allow you to spend your marketing budget more efficiently (do not forget about the agency's commission, which can be up to 30%).
How to Negotiate Profitable Cooperation
Well, you decided on the blogger. Now you are moving to the negotiations stage. Most bloggers, especially when talking about the US market, are ready to work exclusively on fixed payment conditions.
The interests of many influencers are represented by agents who take on part of the tasks, including negotiations with advertisers. For this, they obviously take their percentage of money. In such cases, it is almost impossible to agree on any other model other than a fixed rate.
Sometimes it’s agreeable to work with a CPM payment. In this case, do not forget to set the period during which you will count impressions, and to agree on an upper limit for the cost that you are willing to pay.
We also recommend using this model in cases like this: you see that the channel is completely suitable for you in terms of content and target audience, but the number of views on videos varies greatly – sometimes it carries a difference of thousands of views.
Regardless of which model you choose to work with, always pay attention to the following things:
- number of views;
- engagement rate;
- channel’s target audience – you can request this information from a blogger, but you will get more accurate data if you use analytics tools for this;
- creator’s charisma – last but not least. A lot depends on how well an influencer communicates with the audience and presents content. You can check the examples of promos they created for other advertisers in order to understand what to expect from this blogger.
Sometimes an influencer can even become your brand ambassador. As a rule, the players themselves become ambassadors. They have been playing your game for a long time and are so imbued with it that they start a channel on YouTube or Twitch. On the channel, they begin to share with the world the content made by the game. This is how the community appears. And with the right approach, this channel can become a powerful tool for working with both current and new audiences.
How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Collaboration with an Influencer
For mobile games, there are several approaches to assessing the effectiveness of traffic from influencers. Which one to choose depends on the marketing goals, or the specific ad campaign, or even the product’s characteristics. Games with good monetization have much more room to maneuver here.
One of the options we use at AppQuantum is to issue unique promotional codes to bloggers we collaborate with. Bloggers share these promotional codes with their audiences. After people activate these codes in-game, with a high degree of accuracy we can determine how many players came from each influencer and whether advertising on their channel paid off.
But you need to remember that when advertising with an influencer, a significant part of the installs will come from organic traffic. Sometimes advertisers forget about it. Depending on the GEO and the number of previous launches, the amount of organic traffic can bring up to 40% of additional direct installs.
Checklist: How NOT to Work With Influencers
1) Send a standard pitch to everyone
Finding an individual approach to a blogger is the key to successful collaboration. At the very least, watch a few of the blogger’s videos and try to find the real name of the person you are going to contact. An attentive attitude towards your partner always pays off.
2) Advertise only with game bloggers
Most developers only order ads from gaming bloggers or streamers. This sounds as logical as possible, but the endless stream of offers allows bloggers to set almost any price tag for their work.
But what if you don't have to advertise only with gaming bloggers? Let's say we are working on a game about tanks, the main target audience of which is men above 35. We turn on the logic and think about where such an audience can live, gradually expanding the search. What might such an audience like? Weapons? Hunting and fishing? Cars? Charcoal grill cooking? We go through all the suitable channels.
Yes, these channels usually have lower conversion rates than gaming channels and this is due to the fact that viewers do not come to YouTube to watch mobile game ads. They come to find out more about the new AMG or learn how to roast meat on a grill. However, despite the lower conversions, non-gaming channels will help you to scale and reach a new audience when all the old channels have “burnt out”.
3) Dictate an influencer on how they should behave in the video
Often, at internal mobile game publishing meetings you can hear remarks like: “This blogger is kind of boring…”. But how do we know if they are boring for their audience? Maybe their audience comes to their channel to listen to their monotonous speech? We do not know this for sure.
Therefore, dictating to an influencer how to behave in the frame is the same as trying to produce a professional casino player. You tell them what to bet on so as not to risk it. But the trick is that they know how to take risks better than you. So are we publishers and game developers entitled to teach bloggers?
4) Treat the blogger like an employee
Perhaps, the biggest mistake a developer makes when working with a blogger is when they perceive them as a subordinate. It is not without reason that influencers are called talent in American agencies.
It is important to remember that any gaming blogger is just a person who loves playing games for their own pleasure. And shooting reviews and streaming just brings them a pretty penny. By dictating tough conditions and controlling every little thing, you, at best, will get boring content, at worst – are risking losing a partner.
5) Prescribe every detail in the brief
Creative freedom is crucial for a blogger. That is why you should create comfortable conditions for them. There is no need to write a detailed script in the brief – which could lead to the video being unnatural, feigned, and boring. Your best bet is to send the influencer a list of the game's core features that resonate with their audience the best.
Also, there is no need to overwhelm the blogger with enormous guidelines containing a bunch of links to third-party resources. With a probability of 99%, he will not read it or forget shortly after reading it. Remember that brevity is the soul of wit.
In the brief, it is better to clearly state what cannot be done. This also applies to the quality of video and sound, peculiarities of placing tracking links, and to the video materials used.
Despite all of the above, it must be remembered that there are times when footage is shot so badly that it is simply impossible to launch it. You need to be ready for this both mentally and legally.
From Theory to Practice
Games should use bloggers to advertise as soon as the budget is available. Are there investments from the very start? Then feel free to go to influencers.
If you have a budding mobile game, picking the right influencer and negotiating with them can be a daunting task. AppQuantum is actively cooperating with bloggers. We have built our own influencer marketing department and a large up-to-date contact database of influencers from YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms.
Thinking about starting to promote your mobile game through influencers? Let's talk.