5 Essential Strategies For Driving Mobile Game Installs With Snapchat Story Ads

There’s a wealth of paid advertising options available beyond the Facebook/Google duopoly, and Snapchat is quickly becoming one of the most competitive solutions on the market.

Recent additions to their suite of advertising features have unlocked a world of creative and strategic possibilities for mobile game marketers in particular. Their new story ads are a highly flexible option for those looking to connect with Snapchat’s largely younger skewing audience of millennials, gen y, gen z, and tech natives. Its novel structure of 3-18 ten second snaps lends itself well to campaigns that feel less like paid placements and more like genuine, organic content that users would be happy to invite into their stream. Combined with their powerful new geographic and contextual targeting features, Snapchat’s advertising solution has risen to a level of sophistication formerly limited to only the most dominant new media forces.

But gleaning value from these features takes more than just flipping a switch. Mobile game marketers looking to drive high quality installs need to familiarize themselves with the medium’s advantages, limitations, and nuances. Snapchat users have complete control over their content consumption experience, including the ability to dismiss anything they find less engaging than what’s being published by the cultural icons and content creators that fill their feed. In order to deliver results, mobile game marketers need a thorough understanding of what they’re up against, as well as a strong grasp of the best practices for fostering engagement and driving the right kind of install.

Use Complimentary Lifestyle Filters
Snapchat’s audience filtering features include a robust set of lifestyle categories that can be used to narrow your targeting down to the users most likely to engage. Users are grouped into these categories depending on the content they consume, which advertisers can use to their advantage, but selecting the right categories is equal parts art and science. Those marketing games that leverage brand partnerships, sports tie-ins, or cultural touchstones would do well to familiarize themselves with the options available. Categories “Science Fiction & Fantasy” or “Combat Sports” offer a level of focus that could potentially deliver exponentially greater returns.

Demonstrate Gameplay
Whenever possible, develop creative that clearly illustrates what users can expect from your game after install. This not only improves campaign performance but helps to ensure that those who do make it into your game aren’t met with an unpleasant surprise if it turns out to be something other than what they had expected. Abstract creative has the potential to produce poorly retained, low value installs, whereas working from actual gameplay footage helps ensure first-time users don’t immediately churn out. While story ads aren’t quite at the same level as playables or rich media ad formats, their unique style of incremental progression can be made to illustrate the various steps of a standard gameplay engagement, essentially “faking” the experience well enough that the audience gets the gist of what your game has to offer.

Show Explicit Inputs
Story ads are an interactive medium, with user input serving to advance through the snaps before arriving at the campaign’s CTA. Use this to your full advantage by adding visual elements that invite users to emulate the same inputs that they would use in-game. Use imagery of fingers tapping and swiping on the appropriate elements to make it absolutely clear what it is you want players to do, much the same as how you would in an onboarding experience. You’ll see much higher completion rates than if you hadn’t.

Grab Attention Early
Because users are in the driver’s seat when it comes to campaign viewing, it’s on the advertiser to deliver an experience that holds their attention long enough to keep them from moving on. Snapchat itself has some valuable insight into designing a tile that earns a tap in the first place:

    “Create a Curiosity Gap: Draw Snapchatters in by creating a curiosity gap using a captivating headline and your canon assets. Tease out what Snapchatters might learn or how they will benefit from tapping into your Story.”

From there, make sure your first snap includes engaging visual elements that invite your audience into the narrative of your ad, either through familiar gameplay footage or universal visual language. Refer to your lifestyle filters when deciding what to include in your first snap. Knowing what content your audience consumes will help you make an educated guess as to what visuals will capture their interest.

Leave Them Hanging
Don’t be afraid to leave your ad’s narrative unresolved. Incorporate cliffhangers into your CTA to encourage your audience to convert on the ad, install the app, and see what happens next. Be careful, though. While this strategy can be effective, there’s potential for game marketers to shoot themselves in the foot if the opening moments of their onboarding experience don’t deliver on the narrative promise of the campaign. Since Snapchat, unfortunately, doesn’t yet offer deep linking for mobile install campaigns, marketers will need to work with their product and design teams to ensure that the two experiences are connected effectively in order to minimize new user churn.

While story ads might be a relatively new and experimental format for many marketers, there’s already significant evidence to suggest that they’re delivering results for advertisers of all verticals. Game marketers in particular have a lot to gain from familiarizing themselves with this latest collection of capabilities. The aesthetic overlap between Snapchat’s newly content-focused user experience and mobile gaming as a form of entertainment suggests there could be a long and profitable future for marketers able to marry the two effectively.

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