Promoting Hit Tennis 3 on iPad with Chartboost

In July we launched our game Hit Tennis 3 into the iPhone charts with a hugely successful cross promotion campaign. This November we did it again for our iPad launch (as a universal game Hit Tennis 3.7). It worked again pretty well, reaching ranks in iPad top free #26 USA, #15 UK, #15 Italy, #21 Canada, #31 Switzerland, #6 Brazil, #15 Sweden, and #2 in the Netherlands. We did things a little differently this time:

  • Ran the majority of ads on Chartboost, mostly as direct deals for barter with our cross promotions partner companies.
  • Took a little more time before the campaign to test 6 different versions of the ad creative using paid downloads on Chartboost. Difference in final install rate between the best and worst ad was 2x. This can make a huge difference... our cross promotion partners can only run so many impressions, and every impression they run for us has an opportunity cost, so we want to make the best of our partners generous help.
  • This time around we were not running the promo during tennis season. (A key part of our launch campaign was that it ran during Wimbledon.) This promotion was timed to come after thanksgiving but before the busy holiday season rush, so we would not be asking our partners to run our ads for free when they could be getting 'holiday high' ecpms. So instead of a global iOS promotion, this was only on the iPad, and only in our major national markets (9 in total).
  • Ads ran between Nov 26th and Nov 30 inclusive, which was Monday-Friday.
  • Showed a total of 690,000 impressions, which generated 15,000 installs over that 5 day period.
  • Total downloads over those 5 days was 110,000. Over the preceding 5 weekday days, downloads were at  33,000. So the campaign received an organic lift of 77,000 installs, which is 5x more than the ad drive installs. (Thats pretty good!)
  • Hit Tennis is sitting nicely in the charts now, so we will continue to enjoy a higher than normal install rate for a week or two at least.
  • We entered into the top 50 in all the markets we advertised in, except Germany and Japan, where we didn't break into the top 100 free. The game isn't yet localized, its just in english. We will localize and have another crack at these markets next summer.
  • Come the last day of the promotion, we were sitting outside the US iPad top 100 free, so we decided to give the US an extra push with a paid Chartboost campaign. That campaign ramped up quickly and drove an additional 4700 installs, which pushed usup into the top 25 free in the US. (This was in addition to the ads our partners were still running for us in the US.)

This has been a successful campaign for our launch of Hit Tennis 3 on the iPad, and it will certainly be profitable:

  • The slide back down the charts will take probably 2 weeks, during which we will enjoy downloads higher than our 'base rate'. The weekend directly following the promotion achieved 87,000 installs worldwide.
  • We now have a Hit Tennis 3 user base on iPad to spread the word to friends.
  • We have more DAUs in the game, which means more IAP and advertising revenue (we're a Chartboost publisher), and we're seeing higher advertising ecpms on iPad compared to iPhone.
  • With our larger audience we are able to offer our cross promotion partners more impressions for their app promotions.

I know a lot of indies are skeptical about advertising. Many have tried by spending a few hundred bucks and seeing no effect and concluding that advertising doesn't work, or is only for big publishers, or is only for games with really strong IAP sales. I hope this article shows that:

  • Advertising free to play games can work for indies. The key is to work with other companies and cross promote with them. When we help each other we can run promotions just like big budget publishers.
  • You need volume. 690k impressions to drive 15k installs for this promotion. (15k installs at paid CPI rates would have cost us about $20,000.)
  • You need a good game that people want to check out, because the organic lift is the key ROI driver.
  • Spending a few hundred dollars is 'pissing in the wind' in terms of effecting downloads and revenue.
  • Spending a few hundred dollars in order to measure click through and install rates is a really good investment.
  • Spending a few thousand dollars tactically can work if you are watching the charts closely.

Thanks again to our partners for running our ad campaign. Thanks also to Chartboost, who continue to be a great partner for us.  What's so great about Chartboost?

  • 100% fill and strong ecpms for publishers. Its an important revenue source for us.
  • High click through and install rates... ie their ads do engage users and we get hardly any complaints about ads in our apps.
  • Fully transparent detailed reporting to both advertiser and publisher. However, country and device type reporting is not available in their web portal. These would be welcome improvements.
  • The direct deal marketplace is a great way to work with partners.
  • The staff are friendly, helpful, and responsive.