Gaming might not seem like the obvious place for marketers to get inspiration, but there is a lot they can learn about diversifying their strategy across multiple platforms and “finding their edge” in a highly competitive marketplace.
Speaking at Web Summit last week, Gabriel Leydon, CEO and co-founder of US mobile gaming company Machine Zone said understanding what makes your brand different in the market can help in the daunting and complex real-time ad bidding process.
“We’re operating in an auction marketplace where people are buying on Facebook or Google and you have to compete with somebody else who’s also making a bid for that same impression, so your intelligence in the bidding process really matters,” he explained.
Machine Zone employs 200 marketers across its Mobile Strike and Game of War mobile games. And describing Machine Zone as “probably the world’s largest direct response marketer and largest single product marketer on mobile”, Leydon advised marketers to find what gives them an advantage.
Diversification is the most important thing you can do as a marketer.
Gabriel Leydon, Machine Zone
For Machine Zone that is the amount of data it has from tracking more than 400 marketing KPIs, which helps inform its future ad-buying decisions. Another key aspect is diversification, argued Leydon, who emphasised the importance for a campaign to span video, playable, banner and full screen ads.
“We make over 20,000 creatives a week now, so it’s a very intense process. On Facebook we have around 50,000 different campaigns running at any moment. It’s very hard, but diversification is the most important thing you can do as a marketer.
“You need to focus on where your highest ROI is and then once you have mastered wherever you’re working, move over to the next network and master that,” he advised.
Having “maxed out” the mobile market, Machine Zone moved into TV advertising not because the team was excited about the medium, but because it is useful to drive clicks and mobile game installations.
“[TV ads] have a tremendous effect on mobile ads. They make the emotional connection from what consumers see on TV and it legitimises the product,” he said.
“Television increases the clicks and it increases the installs, it essentially increases your distribution on digital. So television is a great place to go once you have pretty much conquered the digital market, but I wouldn’t go there first.”
Why agencies ‘don’t work’
Leydon argued that as a rule, Machine Zone does not work with agencies as they “don’t have your best interests at heart”.
“They want to spend as much money as possible because they get 10% of whatever it is that you spend, so they’re willing to do things that are not necessarily in your best interest. This makes the advertising market very difficult, but it’s also an opportunity,” he explained.
“As a company, you can either go work with agencies and be incredibly frustrated, or you can go build it yourself, which is very hard and expensive, but at the end you have an incredible edge over the marketplace. We buy 40 billion impressions a month and we don’t even buy in China. It’s big operation, but an agency couldn’t orchestrate what we’re doing. WPP can’t do it, Publicis can’t do it – none of them can do it.”
Leydon advises CEOs to find one marketing expert to lead the team who will in turn recruit 10 other great people to build up the organisation. In any business, especially a startup, marketers have to prioritise agility and embrace change.
“Your product and your process should be changing constantly because the world is,” Leydon concluded.
“I’m always thinking about how we’re going to survive the next Pokémon Go. When it comes your way, what are you going to do about it and how are you going to make sure you’re moving forward?”