LITE Games GmbH was founded in 2014 in Hamburg, Germany, and focuses on developing and publishing “casual classics” on Android and iOS. LITE Games currently has 8 employees. Most of their apps are free to download and play without restrictions, monetizing almost exclusively through ads.
Their constantly evolving portfolio comprises more than 20 titles with a combined total of over 35 million downloads - the emphasis lies on the adaption of the classical card, board, dice, and puzzle games. Some examples are Rummy, Sudoku, Yatzy, Backgammon, and Othello.
LITE Games has been using SearchAds.com to scale their Apple Search Ads campaigns since December 2020.
The Challenge: Scaling Apple Search Ads with a Small UA Team
LITE Games has a small team of 2 Marketers, one in charge of all the UA operations for iOS and the other for Android. As the team needs to focus on store presentation, optimization, submitting updates, finding and testing new channels and opportunities all at the same time, scaling their Apple Search Ads campaigns became a real challenge.
When they first started with Apple Search Ads, they were only able to keep track of about 20-30 keywords at a time and identify the keywords that were delivering the strongest results. Increasing the bid and letting the campaigns run without a budget limit was also risky as they might have found themselves spending over budget with a high cost per install (CPI), and that wouldn’t be an optimal situation. They needed to set up a structure that would constantly adjust the bids automatically and save them time to find new keywords to test in their campaigns.
As LITE Games has a business model that generates revenue through in-app ads and not in-app purchases, they need to make sure that both the volume of users and the retention rate are maximized. The team doesn’t need to go after big spender users, but they had to make sure the users they acquire have a high playtime as that’s the only way they could make money out of the in-app ads.
Malte Köpke, Marketing Manager at LITE Games explains their business model as follows:
“We don’t earn a lot from the users in the short term, so we need users that stay long in the app, but are not very expensive. So, we don’t have to find the “whales” that go to in-app purchases, but the “time and ad whales” that stay in the app for a long time and are very loyal. They don’t have to play every day, but they should stay as long as possible because we’re earning when those players are playing.”
Therefore, their business model has made it crucial to measure the campaign success by combining certain in-app events, which was something they weren’t able to do in any of the UA channels they worked with before.
The Solution: Automating Bidding Based on Custom Goals
The LITE Games team utilized the Automation Rules feature of SearchAds.com to control their bids to make sure they’re not paying too much for the installs.
Before SearchAds.com, they would set the CPT bids in relation to their CPI goal, resulting in winning fewer auctions. For example, if the CPI is not supposed to be higher than €2.50, then the CPT bid would be €2 at most.
Now, with automation rules, they can safely increase the budget and let the automation rules keep the CPI in check while increasing the CPT automatically on well-performing keywords to generate higher volume and quality. This way, they have started to win more auctions and increase the volume more efficiently.
They have also used the Goals feature at SearchAds.com in combination with the automation rules. Connecting AppsFlyer, their Mobile Measurement Partner, to the dashboard of SearchAds.com, they were able to view in-app events and Apple Search Ads metrics on the same dashboard and create custom goals.
As the “time spent in the app” was an important success indicator because they were generating revenue through ads, they identified the certain actions that the users perform in the app, which led them to spend more time in the game. Those actions were the set of events that brought about the revenue growth for the LITE Games, so they created a custom goal out of those events that indicate high user activity.
They later created an automation rule that adjusts the bids for each keyword based on how those keywords deliver on this custom goal. The automation rule was increasing the bid amount only if the user quality was high indicated by the goal. Thus, they were able to squeeze more on the keywords that were bringing high-quality users.
As automation rules saved them time to look for new keyword opportunities, they have utilized MobileAction’s ASO Intelligence to see which keywords their competitors are ranking for. They were able to quickly compile a list of all relevant keywords on MobileAction and export that list to use in Apple Search Ads. So, instead of using multiple platforms to find and add the keywords to the campaigns one by one, they were able to speed up the keyword hunting and campaign setup process.
The Results: 83% Increase in Play Time
For one app, making use of all the features of SearchAds.com, they managed to increase both short and long-term retention of users they acquire through Apple Search Ads. Comparing the data of the two months before they started using SearchAds.com and 6 months after they started using it, they’ve got the following results for retention:
- D3 retention increased by 26%
- D7 retention increased by 27%
- D14 retention increased by 16%
- D30 retention increased by 22%
They’ve also seen an 83% increase in playtime after optimizing with SearchAds.com. As this is a key metric for them to drive revenue, it directly affected the return of the campaigns. Before SearchAds.com, they weren’t able to optimize any campaigns based on a combination of events on any UA channel. For that reason, Apple Search Ads has become their biggest channel to acquire high-quality users.
Now, the team has time to explore many more keywords than before. They went from using 20-50 keywords in most campaigns to easily using 50-200 keywords and not having to worry about price development and performance due to automation rules, saving time, and improving results.
As they started to handle a much higher number of keywords automatically, they have started to find cheaper niches without feeling overwhelmed by the data at hand. They were also able to adjust the keywords in the App Store based on the results to increase organic visibility and traffic.