Is paying for Advertising worth it?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by jono, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. jono

    jono New Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    My app has had an ok run so far. I managed to get a few blog mentions a while ago and for a time sales were good. However as the weeks have gone by the sales have been waning besides the atypical update spike. Nowadays, my sales have more or less settled in the abyss of 0 to 1 a day.

    I felt the cause of this was simply that a lot of people haven't heard of my app. I didn't expect anyone to keep write about an app that's been around a while, so the only way I could think of raising awareness was paying for advertising.

    I've pretty much maxed out all the free forms of advertising I can think of like blog mentions, YouTube Demo Videos, Facebook Pages, Twitter and a Lite version.

    I did some (pay) advertising on Google Adwords, Admob, iPhone review sites and got pretty much the same result from all three: More sales, good reviews but not enough to cover advertising costs. It ended up being like 5 sales (at $.99) for every $30 spent.

    I'm kinda stuck on what I should do next.
    The "Spock" side of me says: Negative ROI. You are losing money by doing this. Stop right now. It is not logical. No Win.
    The "Kirk" side of me says: People are now hearing about your product, they are buying it and giving good ratings. You are building good value for your brand. If you stop, you won't loose money, but you won't make any money either. I don't believe in the no win.

    I dunno who to listen to...any thoughts?
  2. alexhardy

    alexhardy Member

    What kind of app is it? A game?

    The best advice I can give (as a developer, albeit not of iPhone apps) is that advertising works, if done right. If your app is a game, you need to be advertising on websites with a focus on iPhone gamers (like Touch Arcade) - where you know your target audience is reading.

    Taking a leaf out of Toki Tori's recent ads, if you've had positive critical reception then why not find a way to communicate that in your ads?

    Targeting is the key. Most likely a tailored ad for every channel you advertise through.
  3. jono

    jono New Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    It is a game that sells for $0.99.

    I believe advertising in general works too. Which is why I'm more than willing to try may different things. The results I've gotten above were by targeting to the max.

    Good copy on AdWords.
    Targeting people that mention iPhone in their facebook profiles.
    Making sure I only advertise to iPhone and iPod touch users through AdMob.
    Advertise on iphone app review sites and iphone game review sites.

    I'm not so sure that iPhone game review sites are the absolute best places to advertise. I think the number of iPhone users that read iPhone game enthusiast websites is tiny compared to the 20M+ people that own them.

    As for emphasizing "positive critical reception", that's something I hadn't thought of. I'll definitely give it a try.
  4. alexhardy

    alexhardy Member

    The number of iPhone users that read iPhone game enthusiast websites may well be tiny compared to the total user base, but they are the hardcore - the people that will talk about your game and drive it into the charts (where it may be seen by the wider user base).

    For example - an app like Zenonia wouldn't be doing as well as it is in the charts without the attention of the hardcore. Most people would either not notice it or (maybe) actively avoid it because of its complexity.

    You also have to consider that people on an iPhone games website are *looking* for new iPhone games to buy and play. Even if someone mentions iPhone on their Facebook profile, it doesn't mean they're in an "I want a new game" frame of mind while they're exchanging pokes and zombie bites :)
  5. NickFalk

    NickFalk Well-Known Member

    OK, here's the first rule: Never pass on a chance for some free advertisement. You're asked about your app and don't even mention its name? :eek:

    If someone asks you about your game you have a golden chance to make a sell, they've already shown some interest. Don't let the opportunity pass you by! Like this:

    Yes, it's a spiffy-looking rock-paper-scissors game titled: Ben's somewhat spiffy-looking but ultimately craptastic rock-paper-scissors game(tm)!
  6. jono

    jono New Member

    Jun 3, 2009

    What your saying makes sense. Though I have a feeling that even advertising on TouchArcade will lead to Negative ROI like it did everywhere else. Oh well. Never know until you try!


    I'm more interested in having a good discussion with other developers about what types of pay advertising works (if any) than trying to promote my app. I think there are better places to do it than this developer forum even if its free.

    Thought, the more I think about it, I doubt any developers will really talk about what works since I suppose its not in their financial interest to share such information.
  7. NickFalk

    NickFalk Well-Known Member

    Fair enough, but I was trying to make a point as well. It is frankly silly that you still haven't mentioned the title of your game. I'm not talking about spamming every channel, but when opportunity knocks you should open the door. It really is the first rule of advertising on a budget. :)

    I would give more advise if I could but I haven't really cracked it myself yet. Recommend sending press-releases through prMac though, I'm quite satisfied with the exposure.
  8. alexhardy

    alexhardy Member

    Maybe your first priority then should be making a solid website, where you can show off gameplay videos and talk about your game.

    Firemint's website for Flightcontrol (which is in the same price bracket as your game - at least for the time being) is very nice indeed.
  9. M of IMAK

    M of IMAK Well-Known Member

    May 26, 2009
    iPhone App Developer
    Austin, TX
    I think anyone participating in this forum has more common interest with their peers than competing interest.

    If you are getting 4-5 star reviews from those who try your game, I might recommend a week long free sale during WWDC. Be aware that this has a chance of permanently lowering your star rating by 1+ stars. So, if you are wary of this, then do the special with a lite version (you could make your lite version full featured, then remove it from the store). After the sale, I would price at $1.99 or $2.99, release an update, and see if you can get a hold on one of the top-100 game subcategory lists, dropping to $0.99 as a last resort. I would do this with our Serpents game, but we need to improve it first to make it a 4+ star game.
  10. Zincous

    Zincous Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    Sacramento, CA
    You should add a link to your game in your signature. So you don't have to mention it. But people will see it everytime you post ;)
  11. webjeff

    webjeff Active Member

    May 21, 2009
    Game Programmer
    Some advertising doesn't work... at least from my experience. I have paid for it and haven't seen the turnover I was hoping on getting.

    Maybe there's better ways to go about it, not sure. I haven't tried google ad words. I'm not sure how worthwhile that is.

  12. alexhardy

    alexhardy Member

    I dunno about that. There seems to be a nice community vibe on the iPhone, at least among the small devs.

    Besides - what works for one game won't necessarily work for another. There is no One Big Secret that will sell all products.

    * Some crap games will sell well (e.g. pretty much any movie tie-in)
    * Some games will sell in part because of recognition (e.g. The Sims, Peggle)
    * Some will make a huge noise then fade away a bit (e.g. Rolando)
    * Some will be lower profile but steady sellers (e.g. Fieldrunners)
    * Some games will come from nowhere and leap to the top (e.g. Fight Control, Shift)
    * Some games will take longer than anticipated to do well (e.g. Toki Tori)

    You'll have to find out what works not only for you, but this particular game you have. Your next game will be an entirely different situation again.

    Re: Google Ad Words - that doesn't feel like a good tactic. I'd give it a miss.
  13. NickFalk

    NickFalk Well-Known Member

    A lot of good points Alex and here is (hopefully) another one: People might not be interested in your game no matter what.

    This is something we all should keep in mind. There are several things that can put people off even if they do check out your work:

    • They don't like the app-icon
    • The graphical-style is not to their liking
    • It's a game-style that doesn't interest them
    • They have enough tower-defense games already!
    • The title is too short
    • The App Store description is annoying

    ...and probably a gazillion other reasons. Let's face it, even a quality product with a huge advertising budget can flop. So can our apps, even the ones that truly deserves success...
  14. JustinFic

    JustinFic Well-Known Member

    May 20, 2009
    Game Designer / Programmer
    Las Vegas, NV
    Haha, nice analogy. I'd say go with Spock in this case. It's costing you $6 to make $0.70 (after Apple's cut.) The only exception would be if that advertising puts you into the Top 100 list, after which your game's own popularity will advertise itself.

    Advertising an iPhone app isn't the same as advertising something on the web, though. Google Adwords are useless. Banner ads are (mostly) useless. You're better off doing personal promotion on iPhone gaming sites. Listen to and implement suggestions, get involved with the players, and keep adding value to your game. That support will build a good foundation that will get you noticed by the massive market out there.
  15. Kris Jones

    Kris Jones Well-Known Member

    Mar 21, 2009
    Producer/Publisher/Designer of Mobile Games
    #15 Kris Jones, Jun 4, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2009
    I don't know if the original poster even has a game out if they are unwilling to discuss it. They mentioned a Negative ROI (Return on Investment) when given the chance for free advertisement, which isn't good for their business. As a small developer, meaning you manage your own business, then I greatly suggest you promote your game as best as you can.

Share This Page