Dissection of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Advertising Strategy That Will Leave You Spellbound
Does Wingardium Leviosa ring a bell?
If it does, you are the target audience for Jam City’s Harry Potter mobile game.
In this article, I dissect Hogwarts Mystery advertising and ASO strategies to uncover the magic behind this successful game.
But first, here’s some basic info you should know about Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.
About Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery by Jam City
Hogwarts Mystery is a mobile game from the popular American developer Jam City that’s based on an even more popular book and movie series. In both app stores, it is categorized as an adventure game. It belongs to the RPG genre and fantasy RPG subgenre.
(To learn how to advertise an RPG game, click here).
How Successful Is Hogwarts Mystery?
Released in 2018, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery acquired millions of users over the years.
To find out just how successful it is, let’s look at some numbers.
All Time Hogwarts Mystery Downloads by Country
Up until now, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery was downloaded more than 77 million times. Peak downloads happened right when the game was released in 2018. After that, the number of downloads dropped. However, the numbers were steady throughout 2019 and 2020.
It will be interesting to see how this game will fare in 2021.
All Time Hogwarts Mystery Revenue by Country
By 2021, Hogwarts Mystery earned more than $188 million in revenue. Just like downloads, net revenue peaked in 2018, when the game was released.
However, there was an increase in revenue in 2020, compared to 2019.
This game earns money through in-app purchases, a popular monetization method for this type of mobile game.
This is another thing we’ve dissected and explained in depth. So make sure to check out our Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery monetization breakdown.
Daily Active Users
There was a peak in daily active users in April/May, reaching 5 million. That’s most likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people turned to gaming during the initial lockdown.
From the end of 2020 up until now, this game had about 2 million daily active users, which is still an impressive number.
Monthly Active Users
The number of monthly active users also peaked in April 2020, reaching almost 15 million. In January 2021, it was twice as low — just below 7.5 million.
Hogwarts Mystery has excellent user retention. 46% of players keep playing after the first day. Day 7 retention is 22%, while day 30 retention is 10%.
Average Session Length
Average session duration is not as long for this game — as much as 19% of players play for just 11–30 seconds. 23% of users play for 1–3 minutes on average and 19% play for 3–10 minutes. Only 11% of players play for 10–30 minutes.
Above you can see how many times users play Hogwarts Mystery per month. 17% of users have just one session a month. That’s not good for any developer.
However, 14% of users play between 29 and 49 times a month. There are even 5% of users who play 100 to 199 times a month, which is a lot.
Who Is Playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery?
The fact that this mobile game is a part of such a popular franchise plays a big part in this game’s success. Harry Potter books and movies were imprinted in the minds of millions of children all around the world. Except that they are not children anymore, but adults with purchasing power.
I’m talking about — millennials.
This is the generation Harry Potter had the biggest impact on since the books and movies were at the peak of popularity while they were growing up. Most have a special relationship with Harry Potter to this day.
Demographics data confirms this. The average age of a Hogwarts Mystery player is 33 and 74% of them are female.
As a millennial, I can attest to this phenomenon — I still vividly remember the opening scene of Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone and the excitement I felt watching it. That music triggers an intense nostalgia that instantly brings me back to my childhood, whenever I hear it.
That’s why, for millennials, in particular, a Harry Potter themed mobile game is very appealing.
And mind you, I was never that into it or a part of the Harry Potter fandom — I simply watched and liked the movies when I was a kid. Now imagine a millennial audience that was and still are diehard Harry Potter fans who worship everything about it.
I bet they’re playing this mobile game.
However, millennials are not the only fans of Harry Potter, there are people from younger generations that have taken to it as well. That makes the target audience for this game quite large, but most importantly, ready to spend on anything related to their favorite wizard.
According to GameRefinery, these are the main three types of mobile gamers who are playing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery — Expressionist, King of the Hill, and Treasure Hunter.
Here’s how GameRefinery explains these player archetypes and how they relate to the game.
These players love customization and expressing themselves. Considering how many customization features Hogwarts Mystery has, it’s no wonder Expressionists are attracted to it. In this game, players can not only personalize their avatar but collect unique items, customize their dorm, and much more.
The Harry Potter world offers gamers a lot to explore. Players can collect and purchase many different items like books and wardrobe. This certainly appeals to Treasure Hunters.
The motivational drivers for this group of players are improving and mastering skills, completing milestones, and they also like some excitement. In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, there are many magical milestones and missions to complete, which makes this game the perfect fit.
Harry Potter App Store Optimization Dissection
Each element of the app store page listing has an impact on the game’s organic user acquisition. However, it also helps with paid user acquisition since users who click on an ad are sent to the game’s app store page.
On Google Play, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is an Editor’s Choice game, which further increases the game’s visibility and popularity.
Below, I go over each ASO element and break down why it’s effective.
The game title, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, works well for several reasons.
First, there’s the brand name “Harry Potter” that’s recognizable all around the world. The second part is also a reference to the books and movies — everybody knows that Hogwarts is the famous School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Furthermore, there’s the addition of “mystery” since this game has mystery game elements. In other words, the players can investigate different mysteries at Hogwarts. The main one being the mysterious disappearance of the main character’s brother which players need to solve.
The Harry Potter game icon depicts the King from Wizard’s chess featured in the Sorcerer’s Stone movie. That’s a reference only people familiar with the books and movies will recognize and understand.
And that’s the whole point.
The primary target audience for this game are fans of Harry Potter, which is why this type of icon works.
There’s also the famous Harry Potter brand/logo writing.
The main issue I have with this icon is that it’s pretty dark and almost illegible when I look at it on Google Play because the icons are small. It took me a moment to recognize what it even is, even though I’m familiar with Wizard’s chess. That’s not good.
An icon needs to not only be legible but pop out and catch my attention instantly, which is not something I can say for this icon.
Hogwarts Mystery ASO Keywords
Above, you can see Harry Potter ASO keywords for Google in the US.
On Google Play, the Harry Potter game ranks #1 for the following keywords:
- Harry Potter
- Harry potter Hogwarts mystery
- Hogwarts mystery
- Harry poter
- Potter Hogwarts mystery
- Harry potter Hogwarts
- Harry potter gameS
- Potter Hogwarts
Basically, all of those keywords are a variation of the game’s name and different combinations of the keywords “harry”, “potter”, “hogwarts”, and “mystery”.
We see similar keywords for Apple as well.
Hogwarts Mystery App Promo Video Breakdown
A great example of that is the Harry Potter app promo video.
Here’s what makes it good.
The opening scene depicts the shadowy, but easily recognizable Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the game title. It’s instantly clear that this is a Harry Potter themed game.
After this one-second scene, we get right into different game features — explaining them is the main purpose of an app promo video.
The first feature presented is “Experience quidditch like never before” and we see exciting scenes of the famous fictional sport. Then we see more scenes that everybody who watched Harry Potter movies will recognize — the Hogwarts grand hall, Hogwarts Express train, and the sorting hat ceremony.
It’s clever to include these scenes because they speak to everybody who’s a fan of the books or the movies. Who doesn’t want to sit in that grand hall or find out which of the four houses you’ll be assigned to? This game allows you to experience all of it, which is its main appeal.
Next, the app promo video showcases another important game feature — the ability to customize your character. It’s like in The Sims — players can fully customize the facial features, hair, clothes, and accessories of their character. This is an important feature to highlight because it’s all about expressing one’s creativity, which appeals to Harry Potter fans.
In the second half of this 30-second app promo video, we see short scenes of famous characters like Snape and Hagrid, and even more game features. In this game, players can fall in love and form relationships, learn spells, and uncover magical mysteries.
At the end of the video, there’s an image that depicts Dumbledore, Snape, and a student who represents the player that’s facing them. The only thing this app promo video lacks is a call to action.
Want to learn how to make an app promo video just like this one?
Head on over to my guide on how to create a good app promo video for mobile games. You can also download a template for a promo video script.
Screenshots are another way to visually represent game features in the app stores. Harry Potter graphics include the following features and benefits.
“Discover your bravery” depicts a student battling a dragon using spells. “Test your wit” shows a student with examination results. “Show your ambition” features Snape and the potions players can brew. “Experience quidditch” depicts a quidditch player in action, just about to catch the Golden Snitch ball.
“Decorate your dorm room” shows players that they can choose different furniture for their room. “Customize your outfit” refers to the ability to customize characters and showcases characters in unique outfits and styles.
As you can see, captions/titles are very useful for app store graphics because they highlight and further explain the feature that’s depicted.
The Hogwarts Mystery game description is separated into multiple sections:
- Witchcraft & wizardry
- Mystery & adventure
- Enter the wizarding world
- Friendships that matter
- Express your creativity
In each of these sections, you can read about different game features and benefits, which there are plenty of. Some might be drawn to the mystery aspect of the game, while others want to learn magic spells and brew potions. There’s something for everybody.
Paid User Acquisition: Hogwarts Mystery Advertising Strategies
A lot of what Jam City relies on to advertise this Harry Potter game is generational marketing geared mostly to millennials. However, if we look at the target audience more broadly, it includes all Harry Potter fans, regardless of their age.
Hogwarts Mystery Advertising on Facebook
Let’s start with Hogwarts Mystery Facebook ads, as they’re in the majority.
Facebook Ad #1
This Hogwarts Mystery Facebook ad uses the trendy before/after template for video ads. More specifically, we see a character before and after customization.
It’s a 9:16 split-screen video where “before” is at the top and “after” is at the bottom. The same can be achieved with a different aspect ratio and before/after can be on the left and right side instead of top/bottom.
As the pointer hand clicks on the “before” image, we’re led into a sequence that shows us the customization that took place. More specifically, the different hairstyles and outfits one can choose from. Finally, the character looks like in the “after” video.
This is a very simple ad that focuses on just one game feature — character customization. Since Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a role-playing game, being able to customize the main character is very important. It allows players to express their identity through the character.
Facebook Ad #2
What makes this 30-second Facebook ad interesting is that it features actual Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone movie scenes. We see students arriving in the Hogwarts grand hall and Harry with the sorting hat.
Now that’s how you grab the viewer’s attention in the first two seconds of the ad.
Just those two short scenes at the beginning are enough to hook people in and entice them to continue watching the ad.
Then we see the title “Enter the world of Harry Potter” and are transported into the game.
Notice that the first two scenes of the gameplay footage are parallel to the ones we saw in the movie — students in the grand hall and the sorting hat. That’s quite clever because players are shown that the game follows the Harry Potter movie. In other words, in the game, players can experience all the famous scenes/events from the the movie. That’s an important USP for this game.
The next 20 seconds of the ad showcase different game features like brewing potions, playing quidditch, fighting dragons, and learning spells.
The ad ends with a “Play free now” CTA. We also see the game featured on two mobile devices — a tablet and a smartphone.
Facebook Ad #3
This Facebook ad is almost 50 seconds long, unlike the standard 15–30 second ads. The first thing we see is Hedwig the Owl at King’s Cross train station. As the camera pans out, the famous Platform 9¾ appears. The camera goes right through it and we’re transported to Hogwarts.
Once again, this is an exceptionally well-made beginning of an ad. It follows the impress first, explain later technique for video ads. Those first few seconds are enough to grab the attention of any Harry Potter fan.
Next, there are some scenes I saw in other Hogwarts Mystery ads — the sorting hat scene, Hogwarts Express, grand hall, etc. It’s ok to use the same assets in some video ads but arrange them differently, or combine them with other scenes. However, make sure not to overuse some of them. Ad fatigue is real, and people get bored of same or similar ads very quickly.
Facebook Ad #4
This one-minute Facebook ad starts with a bang, like all other Hogwarts Mystery ads. In the first few seconds, we see a visually appealing scene of a Hogwarts student flying around on a Pegasus-like winged horse. It’s exciting, looks great, and most importantly — it draws attention.
After the “Welcome to Hogwarts” title, we get a full rundown of all Hogwarts Mystery game features. There are a plethora of amazing scenes from the game that are edited exceptionally well and show the game’s range.
The end of the ad consists of an image depicting Hogwarts at night, the game’s logo, a tablet featuring the game, and a “Play free now!” CTA.
Facebook Ad #5
This Hogwarts Mystery Facebook ad is even longer than the last two — 1 minute 45 seconds, which is very unusual for video ads. Since people’s attention spans are short, it’s hard to imagine that someone would watch an ad for almost two minutes, no matter how interesting it is.
The entire ad is about quidditch and it looks more like a short movie rather than a mobile game ad. There are incredible scenes of adrenaline-fueled quidditch action, training, teamwork, and of course, victory.
At the 1 minute 10 second mark, it seems like the ad has ended. There’s even an end screen with a CTA. However, the Golden Snitch ball appears, and the ad continues for another 30 seconds, which is a strange, but interesting choice.
Facebook Image Ads
The last Facebook ads I’ll dissect are three Facebook image ads.
All of them have the same ad copy — “Hogwarts is less fun without you and your stories! Continue your magical adventures TODAY!”
Based on the copy, I can conclude those are most likely retargeting ads. In other words, they’re shown to players who have stopped playing the game, asking them to come back and “continue their magical adventures today”.
Furthermore, the first two ads have the same image of a game character performing spells. However, in the first one, the quote is “I am what I am, and I’m not ashamed.”. In the second, it’s “Anything is possible, if you’ve got enough nerve.”
Both are quite inspiring messages for players who want to express their individuality and experience something new and exciting.
The third image ad features the Riddikulus spell. According to Harry Potter wiki, “Riddikulus is a charm that is used in defense against a Boggart. It causes the creature to assume a form that is humorous to the caster, thereby counteracting the Boggart’s ability to terrorize. Boggarts are defeated by laughter, so forcing them to assume an amusing form is the first step to defeating them.”
This is something only a Harry Potter fan might know, which indicates these ads speak to a very particular group of people. In other words, these ads are not for Muggles.
I also want to include one top-performing Applovin ad. It is about choosing your house, which is a big deal in the Harry Potter world. That makes it incredibly important to any Harry Potter fan, especially millennials. So much so that Gen Z is openly mocking Millennials for being so invested and protective over their Harry Potter house.
In the ad, we see the crests for all four houses — Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin, and a pointer hand hovering over them.
In this case, Gryffindor is the chosen house, which is an expected choice. I’m more of a Slytherin kind of girl.
In any case, being able to choose your house in Hogwarts Mystery is a very appealing feature. It’s a smart choice to create an ad about it.
4 Things You Can Learn From Hogwarts Mystery Advertising and ASO Techniques
To wrap things up, let’s go through some important lessons you can learn from this popular game.
Here are some actionable tips you can try right now to improve your paid and organic user acquisition strategy.
1. Grab the Viewer’s Attention in the First Few Seconds of an Ad
The first 2 or 3 seconds of a video ad are crucial — this is when viewers decide whether to continue watching or scroll past the ad. For that reason, the beginning of a video ad needs to be carefully crafted to draw maximum attention.
All Harry Potter ads succeed at this.
There’s always something really interesting, captivating, and exciting in those first few seconds. It demands attention and makes you stop and watch.
2. Utilize Generational Marketing
Most of Harry Potter advertising relies on generational marketing. That’s an approach to marketing where you segment a target audience based on generational archetypes, i.e., Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, etc.
As mentioned before, the majority of the target audience for this game are millennials who grew up with Harry Potter.
When targeting a specific generation, like the Millennials, you need to understand their characteristics, interests, and behavior. Then, create ads based on it.
For example, millennials are known to be very individualistic, some would even say self-absorbed. So, a Harry Potter ad that shows they can personalize their character and express their creativity is very appealing to that audience.
3. Create Ad Variations for Different Audience Segments
No matter how specific your target audience is, it’s still a good idea to further segment it according to things like interests and behavior.
So let’s say Jam City is targeting Millennials in the US who are fans of Harry Potter. That’s a good starting point, but it’s a very broad audience. It’s hard to create an ad that will appeal to such a large group of people.
For that reason, advertisers segment the audience into smaller groups and create ads for each one, based on their particular interests.
In the image above, you can see three variations of the same Facebook ad for the Harry Potter game.
The concept is the same — it’s an image of a couple on a date with the following ad copy: “Find your secret admirer at the Hogwarts festival. Solve the mystery and uncover the identity of who fancies you.”
This is an important game feature that allows players to find romance, go on dates, and fall in love. However, what makes these three ads different are the couples and the clothes they’re wearing.
In the first one, we see a boy and a girl. They’re wearing a flower head accessory popular with festival-goers and a preppy outfit.
In the second one, we see two boys, a gay couple. They also have flower headwear, but they’re wearing colorful shirts.
In the third one, we see two girls, presumably a lesbian couple. They both have darker hair with black rock and roll style outfits.
Each of those ad variations appeals to a different audience segment based on their gender, sexuality, and fashion interests. Plus, they offer representation for different identities, which is very appreciated by Millennials and younger audiences.
4. Create a Stellar App Promo Video
Although advertising is important, it’s not all about paid user acquisition. An app promo video can drive conversions organically.
That’s why you need to make a good one.
Here’s what a high-quality app promo video should include:
- Actual gameplay footage (not cinematics that misrepresent the game)
- An attention-grabbing opening scene
- Scenes that describe the game’s features and benefits
- A short introduction to the game’s characters/world
- Captions where necessary
- A call to action at the end of the video
Furthermore, a good app promo video needs to follow the game’s visual style and be on-brand. Aim for 30 seconds in length.
Final Thoughts on Hogwarts Mystery Advertising
You have come to the very end of my analysis of Harry Potter advertising and ASO strategies.
Congratulations, it was a long one.
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