Campaign mode: Next Games attracts 8X more downloads via automation

Mobile games developer Next Games used App campaigns’ automated targeting and optimisation to help increase the number of users downloading its latest titles.

Crafting engaging games is one thing — putting the game in the players' hands is another. Helsinki-based mobile games developer Next Games wanted to attract new players to its latest titles The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land and The Walking Dead: Our World.

The game developers turned to mobile-first performance advertising agency, Nara Media, to reach new users and drive more paid app installs. Initially the team created separate mobile app promotion campaigns on Google Search, the Google Display Network, and YouTube. After the launch of App campaigns, Next Games and Nara Media decided to trial it in an attempt to improve results with less manual input.

Streamlining app advertising

App campaigns streamline the entire process of promoting apps across Google’s properties including Search, Google Play, YouTube and the Google Display Network. The setup is quick and simple and doesn’t require adverts to be individually designed.

All that’s needed is a few lines of text, some assets, and a starting bid, plus the languages and locations the ads are to be shown in, and the rest is taken care of. The algorithm then tests various combinations to find which ads perform best and displays these more often.

“When we initially launched Google activity across the Google suite, our biggest challenge was scaling performance and having time to explore new markets due to the complexity of running and continuously optimising the individual campaigns,” says Max Thomas, Head of Campaign Management at Nara Media.

Test. Measure. Optimise.

The team automated targeting and bidding, optimising the campaign towards finding valuable users who were most likely to make in-app purchases from Next Games. They also opted against testing too much at once, instead choosing to allow enough time and budget to properly measure the results of each individual test.

Nara Media worked constantly with Next Games to assess the quality of users they were acquiring which gave them the insights needed to make proactive decisions around scaling in areas where they saw strong performance and cutting back where results weren’t as strong.

Overall this led to less time and effort being spent creating and manually modifying campaigns and more time on creative strategy. “The introduction of UAC activity has allowed us to focus more on strategy, thinking creatively, and investigating ways to increase volume in our strongest markets as well as export Next Games’ apps into new, untapped regions,” explains Thomas.

Player one wins

After the transition to App campaigns the impact was both immediate and clear, which encouraged the team to expand the range of countries where the campaigns are seen. Overall the App campaigns helped to increase the Google Ads download volume of The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land by eightfold year over year while still hitting return on investment targets. Encouraged by these results, Next Games are looking to export to new markets using App campaigns to help launch new mobile games.

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