Understanding product marketing

The Evolution of Marketing in the Digital Gaming Era

Written by Alina, justDice’s Snr. Product Marketing Manager

In the dynamic tech world, the mobile gaming industry stands as a powerhouse, accounting for over 50% of gaming revenue and constantly setting new trends. This post dives into this booming sector, focusing on the pivotal roles of product and performance marketing. We’ll explore how these separate yet connected fields shape the success of mobile games, balancing the creation of products with product-market fit strategies and effective marketing combinations.

The ever-changing industry has spurred the emergence of new professions, and marketers are no exception. User acquisition, or performance marketing managers, have been around for a while, while product marketing roles are relatively new.  

With digital products, where product and marketing are interconnected much more than in the case of FMCG, a product marketing role adds even more confusion. Who are product marketers, and how are they different from other marketing specialists?

Who Are Product Marketers? 

To answer this question, let’s see how this marketing field emerged. For decades, traditional marketing roles included brand management and marketing communications, with the difference between the two being quite clear. Few dedicated digital marketers mostly focused on display advertising, i.e. targeting a broad audience to support advertising campaigns running in ATL (TV, radio, print and outdoor, etc.) channels. 

The Marketing Pivot

In the early years of the digital boom, the opinion that a good digital product sells itself was common. Inevitably, this changed when competition became tough, with mobile gaming quickly turning into one of the hardest industries to enter and succeed. This is when the first performance marketers and product managers emerged and took over. Product marketers appeared later in an attempt to bridge the gap between a product, its image and how it is distributed.

Key Goals of Mobile Game Marketing

Mobile game marketers aim to tackle the following goals:

  • Finding the Optimal Product-Market Fit: Tailoring games to meet the preferences and needs of the target audience.
  • Increasing Brand Awareness: Making the game known and attractive to a broader audience.
  • Generating Installs: Encouraging users to download the game.
  • Enhancing Retention: Keeping players engaged and active over time.

Understanding the specific goals of each marketing role is essential to distinguish the functions of product and performance marketers and the unique contributions each makes to the mobile gaming industry.

Performance Marketing

Performance marketers specialise in driving measurable results, such as installs and return on ad spend (ROAS). They heavily rely on analytics, metrics, and data-driven strategies to optimise ad campaigns across various advertising networks (Facebook, Ironsource, Google Ads, etc.). A performance marketer is constantly optimising and refining campaigns to maximise ROI. The most common key performance indicators (KPIs) for them revolve around metrics like cost per install (CPI), cost per action (CPA), retention rates, and lifetime value (LTV) of acquired users.

Product Marketing

Product marketers focus on finding an optimal product-market fit: understanding the target audience and positioning the game on the market. They determine the benefits relevant to the audience and craft messaging to attract and retain players. Product Marketers closely collaborate with product teams to gather user insights, conduct market research and adjust the marketing strategy. They oversee the entire user lifecycle, from Play Store to onboarding and retention, and work on player engagement and retention strategies. 

Paths Cross

While their primary focuses differ, both roles are interconnected and collaborate extensively. This includes:

  • Performance marketing relies on product insights to optimise campaigns, and product marketing uses data from user acquisition to refine messaging and targeting.
  • They align strategies to ensure user acquisition efforts align with the game’s positioning and the audience’s expectations.
  • They work together to create a feedback loop where performance insights inform product enhancements, and product updates are effectively communicated in marketing efforts.

A Recent Test Case

In a recent case, a collaboration between performance and product marketers helped achieve better results in testing new game concepts. The initial test setup was to develop a video creative and test it within an existing campaign for another product. While this approach had several benefits, the results could be quite inaccurate. With this setup, one could only rely on CTR (click-through rate). CTR is a reliable indicator of video creative performance, but it can only be this good for determining whether a potential new game will be successful. 

The revised test setup included developing a game storefront and running dedicated campaigns on several networks. This requires more resources but deems more reliable results: this way, one can rely on IPM (installs per mille) and compare results on different networks, thus getting a much more accurate prediction. 

The new approach facilitates game development and helps product and marketing teams focus only on products that are more likely to succeed. 

To Round Off

The connection between product and performance marketers is not just beneficial but essential for the growth of any mobile game. Performance marketing plays a vital role in driving a steady influx of users, while product marketing ensures these users find real value, engagement, and longevity in their gaming experience. 

This collaborative effort paves the way for games that not only capture attention but also sustain it. As we navigate this ever-evolving landscape, remember that these two disciplines can turn a good game into a great one.