Our (poor) experience advertising with PocketGamer

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by jamesj3k, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. jamesj3k

    jamesj3k Well-Known Member

    Hey everyone, we just finished an ad campaign over at Pocket Gamer for Chuck the Ball and I wanted to share our "interesting" experience.

    The campaign: A giant 300x600 skyscraper Flash ad exclusively displayed in their iPhone section, plus a small button ad, both for two weeks.

    Total cost: Approximately $800.00

    Skyscraper Ad Performance:
    Displayed: 178,221 times
    Clicked: 1,012 times

    Button Ad Performance:
    Displayed: 287,221 times
    Clicked: 1198 times

    Unfortunately, we have no idea how many sales the ad drove because the day the ad started, we got featured on the front page of the app store. Coincidentally, the ad ended the day our featured status ended. However, even if 10% of the clicks were conversions, it wasn't worth it as a standalone campaign. However, if conversions were closer to 20%, then it would have been a good investment. I have no idea what a reasonable conversion rate would be. The featured status completely masked any effect the ads had.

    Ad performance aside, I was very disappointed with other aspects of the experience. The reporting they provided was very weak. All statistics (what you see above is all we got) were delivered via a manually generated weekly report so we had no idea what was going on until the end of each week.

    Another thing that made us really mad was the unfair negative review they posted for our game THE DAY THE AD STARTED. After ignoring our emails and our game for weeks, they chose to publish a negative review of our game on the same day the campaign started. Now- I am a reasonable person, and I hardly expect a site to sway their reviews for companies that are advertising with them. However, their reviewer was obviously playing an outdated version of the game and judging by the comments in his review, I don't think he spent much time with the game. They made no effort to contact us at all to ask questions about the game. I would have been ok with it if they had just contacted us to clarify the issues they were having with the game and then posted a bad review.

    So there you have it. I'll let you formulate your own opinion.
  2. ibelongintheforums

    ibelongintheforums Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2009
    one more reason why i never visit pocketgamer, but dont listen to their reviews your game is great!

    its sad how companys do that

    why do you advertise with PG anyways?
  3. lithiastudios

    lithiastudios Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2009
    Thanks for sharing your experience.. I'm always interested in reading about how effective ads are, I'm considering using some to promote an upcoming game.

    One way to help measure ad performance a bit is to use iTunes affiliate links. So that your ad links to the iTunes store with an affiliate referral code.


    You get a commission on sales generated with that link, so by looking at your commission sales, you can get a little more insight as to how many sale generating clicks you had.

    And also you can earn a trivial extra bit of money from the commission as well. :)
  4. Ph4ntom4

    Ph4ntom4 Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2009
    Anywhere with a site like that is only out there to make profit and has no interest in supporting developers. It took me 5 minutes to find the review of your game and even though i haven't played it the review does seem unfair.
  5. dannys95

    dannys95 Well-Known Member

    Sep 29, 2008
    #5 dannys95, Mar 5, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  6. jamesj3k

    jamesj3k Well-Known Member

    The only reason we went with them was because another developer said he had good luck with them. For our next title, we'll certainly consider Touch Arcade :) We're trying out adMob today for the first time and I'll it looks promising. I'll let ya'll know how it goes.
  7. arkanigon

    arkanigon Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2008
    Just wanted to say that your game Chuck the Ball is awesome!

    Thanks for the info on pocketgamer.
  8. Manta Research

    Manta Research Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    This is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!
  9. SSquared

    SSquared Well-Known Member

    Jan 27, 2009
    Software Developer
    Pacific Northwest
    That's sad to hear. When I used to review games regularly, I would send the reviews to Indie devs prior to posting so we could go over anything. I really enjoy working with Indies. I had one developer make updates to his game based on our discussions back and forth. I was able to incorporate those changes into the review.

    Hahahaha. I just realized I'm currently reviewing that same developer's latest game and he just came out with a big update of enhancements three days ago!
  10. coconutbowling

    coconutbowling Well-Known Member

    Dec 8, 2008
    That sucks. Chuck the ball is a really great game. I'm glad I don't go to Pocket Gamer. Touch Arcade is so much better.
  11. mstream2008

    mstream2008 Well-Known Member

    #11 mstream2008, Mar 6, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
    They (pocketgamer) have different teams apparently located in different countries: one does advertising, and reviews are written by totally different people. I know, I advertised there and had my game reviewed by their editors.

    As for CTR numbers you provided, it is not pocketgamer, it is iPhone banner experience in general. CTR is very low with almost all iphone web banners. I've advertised myself on toucharcade and on pocketgamer my game - Meteor Brick Breaker. Your numbers just look average. I'd say even a bit above average. You just should not expect too much from iphone advertising with banners.

    I myself paid for my iPhone banners from Palm and Symbian revenue (I'm happy now that I have all those platforms, which though do not have so much hype, still generate much more revenue for Meteor game than over-hyped iPhone).
  12. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    London, Ontario, Canada
    What I've learned from advertising is you need to be a lot more clever with it. Just throwing a banner up isn't enough. I'll leave it at that as I prepare "plan b". ;)
  13. exosyphen

    exosyphen Well-Known Member

    Whenever I advertise, I do some very comprehensive tracking, to know what is going on there.
    I was quoted $1000 recently by a PDA software site ... for 15.000 impressions. I laughed my *arse* off :)
    At 1% CTR, I would get 150 visitors ... and even if ALL of them would have purchased the game for $4.95, I would still be at loss.

    I explained these figures to the respective webmaster, and he came back with a quote for $800. Math is something difficult to do.
  14. Spotlight

    Spotlight Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2009
    You don't get the point of what advertising is meant to be.
    When you place a banner on a site, it's not because you want to get the money you spent for it, but you're working on your LOGO, you're working on users minds.

    I've never clicked on GL Golf banner on Touch Arcade, but the fact that this game is placed there (and on Thousand Apps.com, for example) , makes me feel like the dev has a good product and he's ready to invest on this.

    Advertising and placing the banner is just a part of the business and it's not the only weapon you have.

    That being said, it's all about the quality of your game.
    Honestly, Chuck the Ball doesn't look good at all and I guess that even an Ad on TV it wouldn't raise the sales that much.

    Marketing is for people who have a product with potential and know how it works, it's not for raising the sales of your (not good) games.
  15. brewstermax

    brewstermax Well-Known Member

    Chuck the Ball is a great game. It has a simple addictive concept, and is well designed. I like it as a game, but it does have some weak points, and if I took the time to review it, it would get a 4/5 maybe.
  16. exosyphen

    exosyphen Well-Known Member


    You are definately wrong, my friend.
    In your oppinion, if I have a good product, it's worth spending even $10 for one banner display?

    There is a limit after which even you if you advertise the next iPhone, it will kill your business.

    I agree that with $800 or with banners, you don't sell a product. Good or bad. But my point was entirely a different one. There are sites that charge amounts which are absolutely ridiculous.

    So far I have found Google Adwords to be the best choice.
    And this was after 2 years, a few millions of impressions and some complex charts to back up my research.
  17. supg328911

    supg328911 Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2008
    pro ping pong player!!!!
    wow that sucks....pg is just a garbage site...every time i click a link to their site i close it immediately i always hated it, and this gives me an even bigger reason to:mad:
  18. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    London, Ontario, Canada
    Alright, the PG bashing is a bit unnecessary.

    Advertising in general isn't the magic answer to everything. With such low profit per sale ($3.50 to $0.70, less if you're published), there's a good chance you wont break even with it. With so many apps, iPhone just isn't a cash cow anymore.
  19. arn

    arn Administrator
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    Apr 19, 2008
    A few thoughts

    - As Mike said, in general, advertising for a $0.99 app (I know Chuck is $2.99) is going to be hard to be profitable. At least not directly. Your only real hope is if you could boost sales to start momentum to get into a top list and it takes off from there. That will cost a lot though.

    - The lack of end-store-sales tracking is the missing component. If you knew that you made $1 for every $0.50 you spent, you wouldn't be able to spend your money fast enough.

    - I think PG's review of the app being independent of the ad spend is how it's supposed to work. I just think the timing was unfortunate.

  20. exosyphen

    exosyphen Well-Known Member

    Hi everyone,

    I would like to share some of my experience as an indie developer for the past 7 years.

    Many developers start in a "rush" thinking at figures and such, and losing focus. It has takes me 7 years to build up my own game genre and release several games and sequels on it. I rather develop games that will sell nice and steady for years to come, instead of a quick game which makes a financial bang and then leaves me wondering.

    I can build a new game anytime, or a sequel based on my current games, and all I have to do to break even, is send out a press release and wait for a week. But it takes years and patience to get there.

    If you have a cool game idea, stick to it. Port it to other platforms. Offer good support. Listen to your gamers (start a forum). It will pay off ... and pay off well.

    Often, the best deals and advertising came from places and using methods that are unconventional. For instance, we are now giving away 100 free game copies through twitter. It builds awareness, people spread the word, etc. Try working together with developers that make similar games.

    A banner is indeed a last resort.

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