At Game If You Are, we run a variety of digital ad campaigns for our video game clients – but the tools available to indies are more powerful and user-friendly than ever before, and it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to set up a simple and effective campaign. This blog post will take you through a couple of popular options for digital advertising, and look at when you might want to go it alone, or when you might want to bring a specialised company on-board.
Good options for indies
Gone are the days when advertising involved shouting down the phone with media buyers trying to stake a claim to the best real estate. These days, modern digital advertising platforms make the process of paid media not only more powerful, but also more straightforward than ever before.
While there are lots of specialised platforms, the performance-based marketing space in 2022 is dominated by two main companies: Google, and Meta. You might have heard of them.
Google Ads can be run in different formats Search ads display among organic search results on particular keywords. For example, if you were to search for ‘video game advertising company’, if we’re running a campaign on that keyword, you might find our website as a sponsored result. Search ads are great when there are popular keywords that you expect your potential players to be searching for. This might be the case if you’re working on an established IP, or if your game centers around a particular genre, topic or term that people are likely to be looking for – but may be less useful for many indies.
Display and Video ads are probably more useful for most. Display ads are the ones you see in sidebars and header areas when browsing the web, while Google’s video ads sit in front of YouTube videos and the like. These ads can be targeted based on the audience you’re looking to reach – such as their demographics, their interests, or their behaviours online. You can also ‘re-market’ to people who you’ve already engaged – for example, people who’ve visited your website before – increasing your chances of securing all-important conversions.
The Meta network – formerly Facebook Ads – is also a great option for indie game developers. With campaigns running across both Facebook and Instagram as well as partner apps and websites, Meta allows advertisers to reach a broad range of target audiences with their indie games, with text, image and video ads.
One of Meta’s strongest features lies in its ability to target users at a highly granular level. For better or worse, the Meta network collects and analyses enormous amounts of information about us all, which becomes a powerful tool in advertising. If you want to run a campaign for your niche video game that targets only 20-27-year-old PC gamers who love Katamari Damacy and live in Birmingham, then you can do that – maximising your results and reducing your costs in the process.
DIY or Agency?
But as an indie developer, you may be wondering whether to manage your own advertising, or hire an agency.
There’s value to going it alone – and not just financially. Running and campaigns, following the data and observing how people are interacting with your content, can be a great way not only of reaching more users, but also of learning more about how your target audience is interacting with your game. The “educated trial-and-error” approach of digital advertising lends itself well to market research, and watching the results come in in real-time can be informative.
The tools at your disposal are increasingly easy to use and, once your budget passes a certain point, you’re also likely to be contacted by Google or Meta to introduce you to an account manager who can help and advise you further (although this may require thousands of pounds in spends).
That said, if you are targeting particular conversion outcomes from your advertising, it may be advantageous to use an agency or specialist with experience crafting more complex campaigns. One-off ads rarely convert well to sales, and an understanding of how to utilise A/B testing, multilayered targeting, and remarketing can make the difference between an indie game campaign that flies or flops.
If you’re interested in how we can help to advertise your indie game, give us a shout!