How To Measure A Hyper-Casual Game’s Trajectory to Success

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WeQ Studios’ managing director, Sven Lubek, lays out which data markers hyper-casual game developers should be paying the most attention to.

As you’re building your next hyper-casual game, it’s important to start thinking early on about the metrics that will help you understand how your game is performing against your objectivesin other words, establishing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Determining your game’s value and assessing its performance starts with knowing which KPIs are the right ones that you should care about and track.

There are two key areas to consider grouping these KPIs into: In-App Performance (IAP) and User Acquisition (UA). In-App Performance metrics offer you the day-to-day snapshot of where users are dropping out of the game, so that you can focus on extending the life cycle of players and their Life Time Value (LTV). There are several fundamental KPIs in UA that you should be monitoring every day, as they give you an accurate reflection on the overall success of your game and what areas may need modifying. 

Below are the top KPIs we recommend monitoring in your hyper-casual game, in order to drive ongoing success. We map out the user funnel and guide you through the user journey through the game and into monetization: 

User Acquisition

Cost per Install (CPI)

For your game to get discovered and for your app to stand out stronger, boost your ASO (App Store Optimization). It enables your app to become more relevant for the keywords that represent your game within the algorithms of the App Store and Google Play. As a result, should start getting more organic installs from users that are looking for a game like yours (high-value users). After making the ASO updates, you will also start seeing lower CPI’s, as you are still relevant for what your game is offering. As they are organic installs, the users are more targeted users: so you can get better retention from them, and therefore, more revenue.

Conversion rates of the App Store for hyper-casual games are:

  • CR: From the store page visitors to installs, the CR benchmark is from 20 to 30%
  • CTR: from an impression to the click, the CTR benchmark goes from 2.5 to 4% for games in general
  • CPI: from 0.02 (tier 3 countries) to 0.5 (tier 1 countries)

Now that your ASO is in place, we can look at CPI. 

CPI is the amount you spend for a paid install (e.g. on Facebook Ads campaigns) and is extremely important to monitor and measure. You pay once the app is installed, rather than the advert being viewed. A low CPI leads to more budget that can be spent on UA to drive more traffic to your game. It can also act as a flag for indicating the overall appeal of your ASO (landing page). A high CPI could be the result of many factors within your campaign set-up. 

For a successful CPI campaign set-up, ensure that you have developed the right creatives and messaging for the right target group and country. All the creatives you have in place and ASO should be tailored to that target group and reflect their needs, from the text (e.g. call-to-actions) down to the design. For example, the style should reflect the target user and remain consistent across the different channels.

Organic Uplift

Organic uplift is a way to measure the relationship between paid and unpaid (organic) app installs, calculated as the number of organic users acquired per each non-organic user. The higher the organic uplift, the more organic installs and, so, the lower effective CPI.

Essentially, it tells you if the market you are targeting actually like the game and whether you will have success with the game in the mid/long term. 

For hyper-casual games, this KPI is really important because if you don’t track your organic installs, once you decrease your UA investment, the keywords you rank for will decrease as well. Your app store ranking will then decrease as a result, organic downloads will decrease and your CPI will be higher. 

Note that if you are ranked for the main keywords your market is interested in, Google and iOS algorithms will give you a lower CPI, resulting in better conditions to keep acquiring users.

Retention Rate

The retention rate of your game is one of the most important KPIs because it shows the overall stickiness of your game and the retention of every user who downloads your game. For hyper-casual games, you’ll want to play close attention to retention rates on Day 1 and Day 7. For all other games, it’s critical to monitor retention rate on Day 14 and Day 30 as well.

This metric can act as a red flag to indicate whether there are areas of your game requiring change. For example, a low rate on Day 1 may mean that your game is not challenging enough for the user and thus the user doesn’t return after the first session. A promising Day 1 retention rate, but low rate on Day 7 may indicate that while your game is engaging at first, it lacks incentive for the user to return after time has passed. As a result, you may want to increase the difficulty of some levels or implement a daily reward in order to encourage players to return.

Benchmarks of good retention for hyper-casual games would be: Day 1 Retention: 40% of the users acquired on Day 0; Day 7 Retention: 15% of the users acquired on Day 0.


Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

Also referenced alongside ARPDAU (average revenue per daily active user), ARPU is one of the most popular and most important monetization indicators in gaming. It’s the amount of revenue driven from one player on average. It’s calculated by dividing the revenue for a selected time period by the active users from that time period. 

Normally, you would build cohorts of the user, that for example start on the same day and look at their ARPU. It does not make sense to look at overall users because in the early stages of your game, you want to focus on how your game concept is performing, rather than revenue. 

You’ll want to focus on other metrics such as retention, session length, stickiness and number of sessions, because this indicates that your game is fun and engaging for players – which is critical in building up your player base. 

Once you see that your game performs well and it matures in the market, you will have more of a player base, so you can start thinking in the revenue you are getting from your users. Then it’s even more critical to look at ARPU regularly as an indicator of LTV. 

Keep track of the ARPDAU, as it will help determine the limits for your CPIs. It will also give you a better understanding of the daily behaviour of your users and make it easier to know your LTV.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

The LTV gives you the limits of how much you should pay for each user you get into the game (paid installs).

Now that you find yourself at a more advanced stage of the game user acquisition journey, you can consider the LTV. Ensure that you have the ad monetisation networks, conversion rate and retention already optimised. So, to have a game that makes revenue, your CPI should be lower than the LTV.

Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS)

Last but not least, you’ll want to consider ROAS. Similarly to the LTV and CPI explained above, this KPI will gather together the sum of both, acting as a final conclusion and parameter for success: whether the game is generating revenue or not.

Effective Cost per Thousand Ad Impressions (eCPM)

eCPM is the cost that ad networks pay per thousand ad impressions in an ad space within your game. It’s an important metric to measure, as it represents the overall effectiveness of your game and the quality of users that you’re attracting to it. The higher the quality of users are as a result of UA, the better your overall eCPM will be from ad networks, and the higher your overall revenues will be.

Set benchmarks and gain understanding 

While it’s important to keep in mind differences in gameplay style and type that would result in different benchmarks for these metrics, overall these are the right metrics to monitor across all genres of gaming. Setting benchmarks for your hyper-casual game across acquisition, user behaviour and monetization performance will give you a guiding baseline for understanding your game’s chances of success, where and when adjustments need to be made, so that you can extend the lifetime value of your players and drive sustainable long term growth.

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The new rules of multi-channel customer engagement: handbook for growth marketers

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WeQ drives user acquisition and engagement to deliver mobile performance and branding campaigns at a global scale.”

Winning CX will come from Brands who can balance relevance, consistency and convenience to drive engagement. The kind of engagement that drives optimal customer lifetime value and real business impact.Download

In just 12 months, WeQ launched its brand and a host of products, expanded offices overseas and increased its global footprint. Most recently, WeQ announced that it had acquired a boutique games development studio and rebranded it as WeQ STUDIOS. Uniting the talents of its acquired gaming studio with its mobile advertising expertise, the new studio will provide exclusive access to gaming inventory along with first and third-party publishing services.

Here’s what Sven shares on why mobile performance is here to stay and the trends to follow in this space:

WeQ started off well-funded – thoughts on the launch in April 2018 and how we earned investors’ trust?

WeQ refers to the cultural change from an exclusive ego culture to a collaborative “We” culture.

Here, the collective human intelligence is in the foreground. For our brand, this means that we as WeQ combine collective knowledge and expertise with innovative technology.

From the get-go, we have gathered a highly knowledgeable team of experts with a wealth of experience in media, desktop, mobile, gaming, big data and machine learning. We then combined their human experience with machine learning in order to create bespoke mobile marketing solutions and drive high-quality user acquisition for clients, beyond the walled gardens of Facebook and Google.

We believe that all these elements have appealed to the investors and gained their trust, enabling us to start off on the right foot. By securing a strategic investment of up to $50 million in USD in internal funds and debt capital to accelerate an ambitious global growth path, we were able to position WeQ as a key player within the mobile advertising industry.

What makes WeQ a unique player in the mobile performance ecosystem? 

WeQ drives user acquisition and engagement to deliver mobile performance and branding campaigns at a global scale. Our team of experts enable clients to achieve their goals by combining a client-centric approach with purpose-built, state-of-the-art technology. We deliver to our clients in over 180 countries across different verticals: gaming, mobility, m-commerce, travel and more. 

As a mobile advertising company, WeQ is offering a unique approach that balances data with human intelligence – thus rendering us a unique player in the mobile advertising industry. The motto “Built by experts, powered by technology” is embedded within every facet of the organization, from campaign management to optimization.

 What is WeQ’s value proposition and competitive advantage?

WeQ is all about achieving measurable results for clients worldwide and our proprietary machine learning technology is at the core of WeQ. It enables us to deliver optimal results at a fraction of the cost, according to specific KPIs. WeQ’s proprietary technology is continually developed by an in-house team of machine learning experts, developers, and data scientists – in order to deliver the most targeted, optimized, and scalable mobile advertising solutions. This allows our clients to focus on what they do best: building great apps and growing successful brands.

Reflecting on WeQ’s success in APAC – what enabled it?

We attribute our recent success in South Korea and Japan to our dedicated team of account managers, who follow a hands-on consultative approach that is tailored to the market needs for each client. There is a strong consultation element, as we advise our clients based on the experience we have gained from previous campaigns in other GEOs. We enjoy sharing knowledge of GEOs and give them advice on how to run campaigns in Western markets and ultimately help them grow. We have a tailor-made and personalized approach at WeQ so we don’t just press some buttons: we are there on a personal level to help our clients develop mobile marketing strategies every step of the way, together, as a team.

Our APAC team consists of members who have local expertise and speak the languages natively to enable their partners to reach their goals, both in APAC and globally. This combined with our proprietary technology for successful campaign management and optimization enables us to stand out in APAC’s mobile advertising market landscape.

New office in Japan: In March 2019, we opened a new office in Tokyo. We opened our office in Japan to help agencies, app developers and networks to grow their apps. We want to work together to drive user acquisition and engagement via tailored mobile performance and branding campaigns. We have already been running offers from diverse verticals including gaming, dating and shopping. As Japan is one of the global leaders in technology and the number of mobile users, we believe that there is a high potential for verticals like finance, entertainment and lifestyle.

Looking Ahead – What’s next for WeQ in 2019

What are the trends that are driving the industry today, and how is WeQ meeting those needs?

Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing is booming with a projected $10 billion to be invested in endorsed ads in 2019. So, in March 2019 Elena Kutsopal and Olga Wese joined forces as Managing Directors of WeQ INFLUENCERS.

We launched WeQ INFLUENCERS to leverage our market expertise and deliver the most impactful and scalable influencer campaigns for global brands. We can now help brands and app developers engage with high quality consumers across a wide array of key markets. We’ve created a unique and effective way for advertisers to reach users where they’re most engaged, unlock new marketing significant channels (including YouTube, Instagram & TikTok) and maximize return on ad spend in influencer marketing. By leveraging influencers’ personal brands and connecting their communities with products across multiple social networks, we can deliver true engagement and transfer the loyalty from the influencer onto the product.

Gaming: We see a huge opportunity in mobile gaming. Hyper-casual games have seen unprecedented growth over the past year and the market is valued to be in the region of $2 billion to $2.5 billion in annual revenue. We are looking to branch out into gaming in Q2 and it will be a heavy focus for us in Q3 We are in the process of investing in talent and looking potentially at game studios. We want to help them publish and grow their mobile games and we will be willing to invest into new partnerships and additional gaming projects. We will be revealing more details soon.

What are the opportunities that you see in the future of the company?

APAC: Since APAC continues to be a top tier market for WeQ’s mobile advertising activities, we also have our sights set on expanding our footprint further within the region. We are continuing to expand our network in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea. With our newly established presence in Japan via the office in Tokyo, we aim to strengthen our existing relationships with local partners and expand our business reach.

What are the challenges?

Adapting Fast: To be successful as an entrepreneur in any field, you must see problems as opportunities. This rings mostly true with mobile advertising, where there is a constant need for innovation. Working in this industry does not only mean that we must be aware of the trends, but as a business we also must work in an agile way to ensure that changes are continuously made to stay ahead of the curve. The challenge is also the most exciting part: adapting fast to improve our offering and doing it well. 

Meeting our clients’ needs: This goes together with the other major challenge, which is meeting our clients’ needs daily from campaign management to optimization. We get around this by working closely with clients to understand their perspective and needs. For example, with mobile ad fraud being the biggest pain point for advertisers, our team worked closely with clients to understand their needs and perspective. They then took this feedback on to develop a comprehensive in-house fraud prevention solution that addresses the current compliance needs of the mobile marketing industry.

Developing Bespoke Solutions: We pride ourselves on developing our bespoke solutions with a tailor-made approach. This ensures that the needs of our clients are met, as there is no one-size-fits-all, so this is always front of mind for us.

What are additional key trends that you see impacting the advertising industry significantly over the next 12 months?

Mobile Fraud: Rather than “trend” we’d speak about the major problem faced by our industry – mobile advertising fraud – which is driving the need for a solution. Mobile ad fraud is growing at an alarming pace, with rates nearly doubling since 2017. We developed a solution to help us protecting clients’ campaigns called WeQ SHIELD and launched it in November 2018. Seeing as one of the key impediments to fighting fraud is the lack of unified benchmarks, WeQ’s compliance team has worked closely with clients to understand their perspective and needs for fraud mitigation. We have also gathered an expert team of data scientists and BI specialists who use machine learning to comb through hundreds of millions of events and data points daily.  As a result, WeQ SHIELD is based on AI technology and unlike other manual or static automated systems on the market today, it uses machine learning to constantly adapt our anti-fraud detection mechanisms. This uniquely empowers WeQ’s team to take immediate action in the increasingly complex and growing fight against fraud.

Brand safety: The other trend or need driving the industry today is brand safety. Organizations now need to encourage cross-channel marketing, so there is more emphasis placed on brand safety than ever before. At WeQ, we collected several hundred billion data points from our partners and aggregated them in our in-house database. Based on the learnings from these statistics WeQ Technology can make informed decisions to protect our customers. We work exclusively with premium advertising inventory and offer our customers full transparency, by giving them access to the various advertising placements up to the individual publisher level.

MTA Features Desk: Thank you, Sven for sharing your insights on WeQ’s journey. We hope to talk to you again soon.

About Sven Lubek:

Sven is a serial entrepreneur, having founded over 25 companies — including WeQ, Browsergames, Sven Lubek’s the ADEX, — across 15 different industries, with a range of these firms benefiting from extremely high profits. He has acquired over 20 years of experience in building and leading high-performance digital and mobile marketing companies.

About WeQ:

WeQ drives user acquisition and engagement to deliver mobile performance and branding campaigns. Headquartered in Berlin with an office in San Francisco, it has a global footprint in Tokyo and Seoul. WeQ’s experts enable clients to achieve their goals by combining a client-centric approach with purpose-built, state-of-the-art technology across 180 markets.

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