How gaming apps go global: The campaign that drove 60 million downloads

Mladen Vlasic, Tea Dora / December 2020

When people started spending more time at home, interest in online gaming increased around the world. Searches for “best online games” rose 100% compared to 2019.1 It looks like this digital trend is bound to stick around ⁠— making it crucial for game creators to pursue smart advertising strategies to capture the attention of this audience.

How gaming apps go global: The campaign that drove 60 million downloads

Launching an app ⁠— in a pandemic no less

Entertainment brand Outfit7 is a UK video game developer based in Cyprus with a mission of bringing fun to homes around the globe. Their Talking Tom and Friends franchise became a huge hit — featuring five adorable characters across more than 20 mobile apps and games, a CGI animated series, YouTube videos and more.

How gaming apps go global: The campaign that drove 60 million downloads

For the launch of its new My Talking Tom Friends app, the brand wanted to expand its reach beyond its core audience of gamers.To do that, it planned to hone in on markets where it had a smaller footprint. Outfit7 wanted to focus on countries with strong game performance and develop a campaign focused on reach and engagement.

“We realised launching our new long-awaited game was a great opportunity to drive massive reach and generate engagement via YouTube ⁠— and reach even more potential players,” said Tea Dora, senior marketing director at Ekipa2 d.o.o., a Slovenian subsidiary of Outfit7.

Reaching customers around the world

Deciding on launch locations requires data from past campaigns to provide useful insights. Having been active (and seen results) in these countries before ⁠— and based on the sheer size of the opportunities ⁠— Outfit7 identified the U.S., India, Russia, and Brazil as its four most important markets to reach new customers.

Then it looked at creatives. “When talking about campaign materials we spend quite a lot of time thinking what works on which market and how to cater to different users⁠ — while maintaining the look and feel of the campaign,” added Dora.

In this case, the YouTube trailers for the My Talking Tom Friends app showed characters interacting, but not speaking. This allowed Outfit7 to use the trailers in vastly different markets with different languages.

Creating a complementary strategy

Although Outfit7 had advertised in India, Russia, U.S and Brazil for past launches, the teams chose to change up their strategy. They wanted to reach the upper funnel but still hit their ultimate goal: app installs.

The brand was already running App Campaigns as its main strategy for driving conversions among its core audience. To complement this approach and reach new users, Outfit7 focused on YouTube, where it already had a strong following. The teams released three trailers ⁠— using in-stream and bumper ads ⁠— in a phased approach. One trailer was launched per week. When a trailer was launched, the others would be paused to avoid overwhelming the audience and to maximise storytelling. Each trailer was segmented to reach IOS, Android, and other devices.

Outfit7 was focused on avoiding overlap between its ongoing App Campaigns and its new YouTube-focused strategy. It didn’t want users who saw one campaign to see the other. Therefore, the firm looked at historical audiences and created lists to separate their potential players. This complementary approach of branding and performance campaigns was designed to drive installs among core audience members and evangelise the brand to non-core audiences.

Results around the world: U.S., India, Russia, Brazil

The launch of the My Talking Tom Friends app achieved over 20M downloads in the first few days. The YouTube campaign gained more than 200% uplift in Search for people that had seen the trailer. The App Campaigns delivered 60M installs in the first two weeks. In the end, there was only 8% audience overlap between the two campaigns. Another win? My Talking Tom Friends was #1 on the Google Play and iOS charts of 40 countries within five days of its global launch.

All four regions saw high lift in brand searches on Google and YouTube. The devices varied by country, with Brazil achieving the highest lift across mobile, India across desktop, and Russia across tablets. Regionally, the U.S. recorded the best-in-class increase in ad recall and high awareness uplift, even though there was already high brand awareness before the campaigns.

The launch was the most successful yet in Outfit7's history. The teams have now committed to use this same duo-campaign formula ⁠when they have new launches in the future.

Marketer takeaways

  • Grab viewers’ attention around the globe with high quality graphics that work across audiences.
  • Consider introducing two complementary campaigns for branding and performance, to evangelise your brand and drive action.
  • ⁠Be smart about audience segmentation. Cross reference audiences to avoid overlap.
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