Digital Marketing and Its Impact on Small Time Game and Mobile Application Developers

Stephen DiMarco has hit a very valid point in his post about how online marketing needs to start to assess some of the more qualitative side of marketing in terms of a brand rather than just Google Analytics or PPC, etc. In a world that’s primarily driven by unique page views, PPC campaign numbers, CTR rates, and other hard facts, it’s an interesting thought. As a gaming company, we offer post-marketing services which includes this marketing and it’s driven by numbers. We’ve yet to see how this affects us a brand, and Stephen’s got us thinking.

There are a whole slew of developers that are online at the App Store, but there’s an inherent problem with trusting a single developer. Many developers have delivered a product that’s a stand-alone app that is basically a flash-in-the-pan while others have consistently turned out mediocre but reliable apps. Who do you trust; the company that turns out one stellar app after a long hiatus or a developer that just needs some new direction or energy in their creative processes? There’s no real concept of a brand, there’s no Unilever or P&G for the App Store and therein lies the problem for marketers for iPhone development.

Although many people would argue that apps are products that have a repeat purchase cycle, etc, there’s yet to be a single developer that’s built a very successful brand using just their apps. People view apps like a utility and look to promote them as such. Very rarely does anyone ever hear about the developer but rather the app itself. This is a problem in an industry where the first firm to truly brand itself will gain a massive first-mover advantage. Indeed it will be difficult, but if a firm is able to do so, they’d easily take over the App Store.

The problem, to a certain extent, lies in the tools that are geared towards quantitative metrics rather than qualitative metrics. For example, Twitter following dictates whether you are a thought leader or follower, a PPC campaign shows how well SEO or ad placement is working. Yes, they do provide numbers which can help translate into potential leads, but there’s no concept of a brand.

Resultantly, firms are looking to use their marketing dollars to build a brand. For us, as game developers, there’s an added challenge. Although it may be easy to build one stellar app and continue to tweak it over time, such an effort doesn’t build a brand in the long run. At this point, firms need to realize how their marketing channels are being used besides the metrics they provide. Do you use your Twitter account to talk with customers? What type of a Twitter following do you have? Does your website show how committed you are to your vision? These questions begin to emphasize how qualitative metrics become important. It’s great having numbers, but as companies grow there’s a need to build a relationship with customers outside of the traditional client-vendor concept.

For example, in the case of gaming studios, a loyal group of customers translates into many benefits. Beta testers are easily found from your Twitter following or customers that have written great reviews for your titles. Ultimately these are the people that will promote you for free. They don’t show up in the metrics, you find them by talking to them. This is a brand building activity that many firms ignore. Again, for small startups it’s difficult to find the right people, but most of the time they’re hiding right under your radar. Yet many firms ignore the potential of these testers and continue to push out apps without sufficient testing. There’s no reason when there’s a small group of dedicated followers that you need to deliver a game without proper testing. These people will be the life line for your game as you need the critical honest feedback about gameplay, controls, graphics, user interfaces, etc. Without these people, you’d never get the proper feedback which helps develop a truly outstanding title.

Nonetheless, many firms do use these techniques but need to realize that there’s a brand to be built using these types of activities. Reward your beta-testers with promo codes for free games so that they spread the word about you, their recommendation to other gamers will go a long way in making your company stand out amongst the army of developers on the App Store. As mentioned by Stephen, there’s a need to change from the quantitative towards the qualitative side of marketing to build brands similar to IBM, Apple, or Microsoft for app development companies. Firms need to get away from the purely numerical side of marketing and start to see where they want to be in 10 years time.

Downloading Free Android Games And Apps – How To Protect Your Phone

Android applications and games are simply popular and fans keep looking for the latest and most interesting games or apps to download onto their phones. Usually to enjoy the exciting world of games and apps you need an Android application package or APK, which is that the file format that the Android operating system uses to install and distribute software especially the apps or games. The source of your APK downloader should be verified and trustworthy for you to have a pleasant experience downloading; but there are other simple things you can embrace to make sure that your phone remains safe from malware when downloading the android apps.

1. Keep off unknown sources

Google Play is the best installation source when it comes to the android apps, but you still have an option of getting the apps from other reliable sources. You can find Google Play APK easily today, but you ought to be careful with the APK file that you download because you could end up with malware on the device. What you should do is to ensure that the source is safe and disable unknown source installations on your device until a time when you feel safe enough to trust the download from a given source.

2. Double check your app ratings

Just because the games and apps are on Google Play does not necessarily make them safe for downloading. Always make a point of checking reviews and ratings of the android games and apps you are about to download because they can help you unveil technical issues you are likely to encounter. In essence the higher the rating of the game or app and the more downloads it has received, then safer it should be for you to download it. If you are interested in new releases that have little feedback on them, then take your time to research a little bit more about them before you go ahead with the download.

3. Check the app or game details

Details about the publisher and developer of the game or apps you are about to download can help you determine how legitimate they are. You can use independent discussion forums and reviews to get the details you need so you can confirm that what you are about to download is the correct app or game. Malware writers easily create apps that are very similar to the popular ones so make sure that you take your time to check that the app developer, name and publisher are correct before you do ahead.

4. Know permissions you grant

When installing a new app or game, you get a list of permissions that you grant the software. Unfortunately, not many users understand or take time to check what permissions they grant. Be on the safe side by evaluating permissions and why they are needed so you know whether they have a valid reason or they are suspicious. If what you are allowing the software to do is suspicious then don’t grant the permission.

Games and Brand Extension – Do They Click?

For this article I wanted to look into the way that traditional games and gaming elements have been used to enter the mainstream space from a business standpoint to either incentivise consumers or engage them on a different level.

Games are primarily an entertainment medium, but that hasn’t stopped companies from having games developed to reach a different demographic than perhaps represents their core market. An ad campaign may run for 2 weeks, 4 weeks or 2 months but branding within a game can have a much longer shelf life. The most common example of brand extension within the gaming arena focuses on movie tie-ins. Many Disney/Pixar films release a game based on the film around the same date. It helps consumers engage with the film on a deeper level and get to know the characters and brand better making it ultimately more likely that additional purchases of merchandise or DVDs are made. The main issue with game tie-ins however is often they are rushed to coincide with the film release and most end up being fairly average titles. The sheer fact that the majority are aimed at a very young audience means though that children tend not to worry too much about this and just enjoy controlling the characters.

Looking at something completely different from an engagement aspect. Papa John’s pizza in the UK released a mobile gaming app which had you deal with pizza orders and create pizzas as perfectly and speedily as possible. App was priced at 69p with the hook being if you reached a certain score then you could earn a free pizza. It was a well made game and was quite a fun stand alone game as well as being challenging in the later levels. The only disappointing part was upon reaching your free pizza it was for collection only which limited me somewhat but was still a good prize.

Weight Watchers UK campaign last year focused on treating weight loss like a game thanks to the point system that was in use. It was an interesting take on things but it wasn’t continued for the 2013 marketing campaign. Arguably, despite the fresh take on losing weight, it didn’t engage the largely female audience of its membership base as even now, females are still in the minority when it comes to enjoying games. It perhaps didn’t resonate as strongly as it should have.

When there is a natural gaming tie-in that fits organically such as in Wreck-It-Ralph you get the best of both worlds – a good film and a very relevant game. You even have in-game advertising which can be seen in many of the Need For Speed series of games. Rockstar also create such believable worlds with their Grand Theft Auto series that there are teams dedicated to creating fictional brands within this universe – they actually extend their own brands within the games and also into the real world. Rusty Brown Ring Donuts is one that always springs to mind.

I’d be interested to hear any other examples you may have experienced perhaps in countries other than the UK.