Developers like Lucktastic, a F2P sweepstakes app, play a seemingly never-ending game of balancing quality vs. scale when acquiring users.
Increasingly, they’re turning to mobile video and playable ads to find users who stick around after the install.
“In a category like ours, you need scale to succeed, but we also really have to care about retention,” said Alex Betancur, co-founder of casual game publisher Jump Ramp Games, Lucktastic’s parent company.
Playable ads in particular help vet users before they download because they’re like mini-interactive movie trailers for the experience that users can expect within the app.
Although playable ad units aren’t new, advertisers are finally starting to throw more money at them.
In Q3 2016, 33% of app advertisers said they were incorporating playables into their campaigns, according to a recent AdColony survey, compared with 64% in the first quarter of 2017. And 45% of advertisers cited playables as the unit they’re most excited about in 2017, beating out full-screen video (22%), social video (18%) and native ads (4%).
“If a user can see the mechanics of our app beforehand, if they can get a sense of what it’s like to play, they’re more likely to stay,” Betancur said.
Lucktastic’s 6 million monthly active users tend to skew slightly more female and fall roughly between the ages of 18 and 44 years old. Because its target audience is so broad, Lucktastic focuses its targeting strategy on the likelihood of retaining a user rather than on demographics.
And rather than hunting for whales – the few players that recoup user acquisition costs for the many by spending an outsized amount on in-app purchases – Lucktastic, which doesn’t offer in-app purchases and monetizes primarily through advertising, is looking for loyal minnows.
“We’re always going to be free-to-play, so we really need to understand the different levels of user engagement driven through our partners,” said Lucktastic CRO Vincent Meyer. “And when someone can interact with our user experience in advance, they usually have increased longevity when they actually get into the app.”
Lucktastic has been working with mobile app monetization company Vungle to create playable ad units and identify the inventory sources most likely to generate engaged users.
“Sure, it’s great to drive thousands of downloads a day, and volume is obviously an important part of user acquisition, but it really comes down to the downstream metrics,” said Catherine Mylinh, Vungle’s VP of marketing. “What we’re trying to do is help performance marketers figure out how many users out of a given subset will install an app today and what those people will be doing in the next 7, 30, 60, even 90 days.”
Lucktastic optimizes its spend, creative and the publishers where its playables are shown based on performance and downstream in-app engagement.
Since hooking up with Vungle for user acquisition, Lucktastic has seen a 45% increase in install rate pegged to specified spend levels and desired retention rates.
“We create based on performance, we buy based on performance, we optimize based on performance and we’re data-driven and metrics-driven down the funnel,” said Lucktastic’s co-founder Tony Vartanian. “But quality is ultimately what matters to us."