Analyzing Family Island Advertising Strategy & Ad Creatives
(This article was originally published on Udonis’ blog)
Wondering how Family Island has gotten to millions of users in just a few years?
Keep on reading — I’ll answer this question by analyzing its user acquisition strategy.
You will learn about the creative concepts used to advertise this game, influencer campaigns, ad copy, and target audience. I will also break down Family Island ASO efforts.
But before we get into Family Island advertising strategy, here’s some quick info about the game.
About Family Island
Published by Melsoft Games in October 2019, Family Island is a casual farming game set in the Stone Age.
Here’s the premise of the game.
A volcano erupts and destroys the whole island. A family of four (Bruce, Eva, and their children) survives by escaping on a boat. They end up on a previously uninhabited island, having to start life all over again.
Thus, the game’s main goal is to help this family not only survive but thrive.
One of the first tasks is building a shelter and foraging. As the game progresses, players need to grow crops, mine, chop trees, build, upgrade, cook, collect resources, and trade. Additionally, the farm can be customized and decorated. There are also dozens of new islands that players can explore later on in the game.
What’s important to note is that this game has a narrative layer. We follow the family’s story — their relationships, struggles, and triumphs. It makes the game feel like a real adventure and keeps players engaged with unexpected twists.
Furthermore, Family Island has some choice-based elements like interactive story games. That way, players’ choices influence the game’s storyline.
How Successful Is Family Island?
Wondering how well is Family Island performing?
Check out these stats.
All-Time Family Island Downloads by Country
According to GameRefinery’s data, Family Island has been downloaded more than 8 million times on iOS. On Google Play, this game has more than 10 million installs. That’s more than 18 million downloads total!
The majority of downloads come from the United States, followed by China, Russia, the UK, and France.
All-Time Family Island Revenue by Country
In terms of revenue, Family Island is performing quite well. So far, this game has earned more than $62 million on iOS. That, of course, is due to its smart monetization strategy.
Furthermore, 48% of the iOS revenue comes from the US (more than $30 million). That’s almost a half! Significant revenue also comes from China, the UK, Japan, France, Germany, and Canada.
Family Island Advertising Analysis
Now let’s get to the fun stuff — here’s how Family Island is advertised.
According to SocialPeta, 95% of Family Island’s ads are video ads, 2.5% are image ads, and 2.5% are carousel ads.
Furthermore, this game is advertised on the following ad networks:
- Google Ads (25%)
- Facebook (22%)
- Instagram (15%)
- Messenger (15%)
- Audience Network (13%)
By analyzing Family Island’s video ads, I’ve identified the main creative concepts behind them.
All Family Island ads use the same formula — dramatic storyline + gameplay footage.
Here’s what I mean by that.
The first part of Family Island ads always includes a snippet of a storyline that serves as a premise for the gameplay footage that follows it.
For example, in the video ad above, we see the family struggling. Their tent is broken and leaking. The children are shivering as the rain and snow are falling and coming in through the holes. To make matters worse, their fire goes out.
This storyline sets the premise for the rest of the video — gameplay footage where the goal is to upgrade the tent. This part of the video also serves as a game tutorial. Ad viewers can see which materials they need to upgrade their shelter.
The rest of the Family Island video ads follow the same formula. The storyline at the beginning hooks people in, and then the gameplay footage sells the game by showcasing its features.
The connection between the storyline and gameplay is essential because it gives purpose and meaning to the gameplay. After you see children shiver with cold, the simple task of upgrading the tent becomes much more significant.
I’ve also come across a lot of mini-game-type ads for Family Island. As is usually the case with this type of ad, the goal is to save a game character from a dangerous situation by completing certain tasks.
However, these are not your typical Playrix-style pull-the-pin mini-game ads. In Family Island creatives, the scenes are three-dimensional, the production value is higher, and there’s no pin pulling or traditional puzzles.
Furthermore, the mini-game ads are also story-based, and the mini-game is directly related to gameplay. And most importantly, there’s actual gameplay footage, as the mini-game is just the first part of the video. This is very rare for this type of ad.
For example, in the video above, the family is once again cold due to being exposed to harsh weather conditions. This time, it’s just the mother and kids trying to get warm by the fire. The goal of this mini-game is to add five logs to the fire and keep the family warm. The thermometer on the right displays the task progress.
As it’s the case with most mini-game type ads, the task is completed unsuccessfully. In other words — it’s a fail.
This is where most mini-game ads would end. But in Family Islands ads, this is where gameplay begins. Of course, the goal is to upgrade their tent. Notice how the gameplay footage is the same as in the previous ad?
This is what I’ve seen a lot in Family Island ads — there are a lot of different variations of the same ad concept. This is a good thing — the more variations you have, the better you can test what works and what doesn’t. Also, you can target different user groups with different variations.
Types of Storylines
I also want to touch on the types of storylines featured in Family Island ads because this is what makes them stand out.
Besides the family struggling with the elements like in the previous examples, the most common theme in Family Island ads is infidelity. More specifically, it’s usually Bruce, the husband, cheating on Eva, his wife.
I’ve seen dozens of variations of this storyline in Family Island ads.
In the video ad above, we see Bruce cuddling with his mistress under the covers. Here comes the twist. His wife and daughter suddenly jump out of the closet. Eva presents a cake that says, “You will be a dad again,” and his daughter is holding a positive pregnancy test.
At this moment, the viewers learn Bruce’s wife and daughter wanted to surprise him with the happy news, only to discover he’s been sleeping with another woman.
That upsetting discovery prompts Eva to leave Bruce and take their kids to a deserted island and start over. This is how the storyline ties in with the gameplay footage that follows it.
This one is equally heartbreaking. In it, Bruce’s daughter walks in on him cheating, which makes her cry. Like in the previous ad, Eva is done with Bruce and takes her daughter to a different island, ready to start over with a clean slate.
The reason why these storylines are so dramatic is because of their power to capture attention. A good mobile game video ad needs a hook at the beginning. This is what a good storyline accomplishes — it gives people a reason to keep watching.
Furthermore, these storylines attract a specific group of players — women. But more on that in the following section.
As we’ve established, most plots in Family Island ads are about adultery and betrayal. More specifically, it’s usually about bad male behavior, as Bruce is the one who’s cheating in most ads.
Unfortunately, this is what a lot of women can relate to. The reality is that the majority of women have been cheated on by their partners at least once.
However, I must add that I’ve seen one ad variation where Eva is the one cheating, and Bruce leaves her.
There are also ads where Eva fakes her pregnancy test to make it look like it’s positive. In this one, Bruce figures it out and throws her off the raft. The ad then transitions into a cool mini-game where Eva is saved.
Interestingly, ads for Lily’s Garden also feature a similar fake pregnancy test storyline.
I hope that tampering with pregnancy tests is not something women do in real life, as it’s horribly deceitful. In any case, this is a storyline that I see attracting players of all genders.
It’s important to note that Family Island ads are not all doom and gloom — they also represent female strength and ability to overcome adversity.
What does Eva do when she finds out Bruce is cheating?
She leaves him, takes the children, and starts fresh somewhere else. In other words, instead of staying with a cheating husband and living a miserable life, she takes matters into her own hands and creates a better life for herself and her children.
That’s the definition of a strong woman who doesn’t take anyone’s BS.
This is another clue that tells us that Family Island ads primarily target a female audience.
That’s the case for a lot of other casual and puzzle games.
Well, most people who play games of these genres are women. Women over 30, to be exact. Thus, it makes sense to design an advertising strategy geared towards them.
So we’ve established that the main target audience for Family Island is women. However, we can go deeper than that.
When advertising a mobile game, it’s crucial to consider player motivations, i.e., the reasons why people play mobile games.
The goal is to connect aspects of your gameplay to different player motivations and produce motivation-based creatives.
For example, let’s say you have an action game. If you want to target players whose motivation for playing is defeating others and winning, you’ll create an ad that depicts exciting PvP combat that results in a win.
If we look at Family Island ads, they usually emphasize the building aspect of this game. This includes collecting resources and upgrading buildings, which are light mid-core elements.
These features attract two groups of players — players motivated by progression and those inspired by self-expression. The former group is driven by a sense of accomplishment. They enjoy building, creating, upgrading, and getting to the next challenge. The latter group likes game customization and leaving their mark whether through building or designing.
I also wanted to include examples of the Family Island influencer campaign, as it offers something new and different from the standard ads.
The celebrity featured in Family Island ads is none other than Mariah Carey.
Never thought of Mariah as a gamer? Me neither, but the ad makes her look like she plays Family Island regularly.
Such ads aim to say, “Hey, the famous singer Mariah Carey plays Family Island — you should too!”.
It’s pretty much a copy of Coin Master’s influence campaign that featured celebrities like the Kardashians, J.Lo, and Cardi B. Both Coin Master and Family Island celebrity ads create the illusion that these famous people play mobile games.
Notice how Mariah’s script is very specific — she has reached level 42, grows tomatoes and raspberries, and wins at every tournament. It sounds like she knows what she’s talking about.
Another interesting aspect of this video ad is that it feels like Mariah is letting you in on a secret. She’s almost whispering, “Let me tell you about my Island, Family Island.”
That makes it even more enticing.
Another video ad Mariah appears in was a part of Family Island’s Christmas campaign. As you can probably guess, it features her popular holiday hit — All I Want for Christmas Is You.
In it, Mariah says, “This Christmas, spend time with the family you love — spend time with Family Island.” As we know, the holiday season is when people flock to mobile games, as they have more free time. So this is a clever campaign, delivered at the best time.
Another great thing about this ad is that it features quite a lot of gameplay footage in the form of holiday-themed quests. For example, cooking a family meal, getting a Christmas tree, finding presents, etc.
The ad ends with another message from Mariah, “All you want for Christmas is Family Island,” which is a play on the song lyrics. Yes, it’s expected and a bit unoriginal, but it works.
Most Family Island ads include a “Play Now” button at the end. However, usually, this message appears as well — “Live the wildlife without leaving your home.”
It invites people to explore the wildlife and embark on an adventure from the comfort of their homes.
The ad copy is another essential part of a successful mobile game ad. If done right, it can improve conversion rates. The primary approach for determining the best ad copy for your ads is, of course, A/B testing.
Here are the two most common ad copies I see in Family Island ads. Judging by how often they include them, I’m guessing split tests have proved they achieve the most conversions.
- Romance? 💖 Island? 🌳 Adventures? 🎲 Yes, please! 😄😄😄
- Discover a thrilling new adventure 🤩🌴
A word that appears in Family Island ad copy the most is “adventure”. It’s a promise of a wild and exciting experience.
Other ad copies I’ve come across are the ones for Family Island’s influencer ads featuring Mariah Carey.
- Join Mariah Carey on an Island adventure🤩🏝
- Mariah Carey doesn’t want much for Christmas, just to enjoy Family Island!🎤🎵🤩
The first one is quite simple. As I’ve mentioned before, the ad makes it seem as though Mariah is playing Family Island regularly. The ad copy reiterates that — “Join Mariah Carey…”
The second one is another reference to her popular Christmas song. Once again, it is expected but cool nevertheless as it ties in nicely with the overall concept of the ad.
App Store Optimization
Paid user acquisition is an effective data-driven approach to getting more players for a mobile game. However, you can also acquire a significant number of users through organic channels.
When discussing organic user acquisition, I primarily refer to app store optimization, as this is the best way to get more free users.
By getting all the ASO elements just right, the visibility of your game in app stores improves, and people start downloading it.
Here’s how Family Island did it.
The title of this game is indicative of what it’s about — Family Island is a game about a family trying to survive on an island.
Furthermore, the full title of this game is Family Island — Farming game. The latter part is a strategically placed keyword that not only tells players what kind of game this is but also helps with discoverability in the app stores’ search results.
The lesson here is to keep the game name specific and straightforward so that the users get the idea of its central theme. Also, use keywords to further describe your game and boost your ASO efforts.
The current Family Island icon features the main characters, Bruce and Eva, on a raft. This is another clue to what the game is about.
The icon makes it even more evident that this is a survival-type game that follows a Stone Age family.
However, the icon doesn’t look as inviting and visually appealing as it could. Furthermore, the game characters are pretty tiny on an already small icon, making them hard to discern.
App Promo Video
Family Island app promo video follows the same formula as its video ads. Scenes in the first part of the video inform viewers how this family ended up on a deserted island.
Naturally, people want to know what happened to them, so they keep watching the promo video.
The rest of the video is all about game features and tasks that players experience early in the game. For example, gathering materials to build a shelter. This also serves as a quick tutorial, demonstrating which materials are necessary to build a house.
That way, users who choose to download this game will already know what to expect. Furthermore, they’ll have some basic knowledge to help them make progress early in the game. That, of course, is very important for user retention and overall engagement.
The screenshots or graphics added to the app stores should demonstrate some of your game’s main features and benefits.
We see the same thing on Family Island app store pages.
Some of the highlighted benefits are the ability to explore, farm, harvest, and cook.
This is also something that can be tied in with player motivations. For example, if you know a large group of players is motivated by discovery, highlighting the ability to explore is a great idea.
5 Things You Can Learn from Family Island Advertising Strategy
To summarize, here are the main takeaways from Family Island advertising strategy you can try for your own game.
Come Up with a Winning Ad Formula
As we’ve seen, almost all Family Island ads follow the same formula. That tells you one thing — it’s working.
Work on doing the same for your game. You’ll figure out that formula by testing as many different ad concepts as you can.
Produce Many Variations of Your Ads
Once you identify the winning formula, you simply need to produce many ad variations, and you’re all set.
For example, the adultery storyline is told in many different ways and from many different angles.
Pique Viewers’ Interest with Surprising but Meaningful Storylines
Story-based ads are all the rage in mobile game advertising, especially when talking about casual and puzzle games.
When producing ad creatives for your mobile game, start with a captivating story that will surprise viewers but also make them connect with the characters.
And remember — the more dramatic and outrageous, the better. I suggest you get storyline ideas from daytime soap operas — it’s what people respond to best.
Don’t Forget to Include Lots of Gameplay Footage
Ads for casual games rarely feature any actual gameplay footage. Family Island is the exception.
Even though all ads are story-based, each includes a piece of gameplay footage that relates to the story. That way, people know exactly what to expect once they download the game.
Final Thoughts on Family Island
You’ve come to the end of my analysis of Family Island advertising. Hopefully, it has shed some light on the strategy behind it.
For more mobile game dissections, go here.