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How to Advertise Board Games? Tips and Statistics for 2021

(This article was originally published on Udonis’ blog.)

Wondering how to advertise board games?

You have come to the right place!

In this guide, we cover:

  • Top 10 board games
  • Most successful board game publishers
  • Practical tips for advertising board games
  • Video ad examples from top board games
  • Board game statistics for 2021

Ready to master mobile game marketing?

Top 10 Board Games on Mobile by Downloads

Here are the most downloaded mobile board games in the past year.

  1. Chess — Play and Learn (Chess.com)
  2. Tile Connect (Higgs Studios)
  3. Onnect (Zynga)
  4. Happy Color (X-Flow)
  5. Tile Master (Higgs Studios)
  6. Tap Color Lite (Puzzle Saga Studio)
  7. Paint by Number (Better Life — Color and Draw)
  8. Numberzilla (Liftapp)
  9. Yahtzee with Buddies (Scopely)
  10. Colorscapes (Fuero Games)

How to Advertise Board Games in 2021: 5 Practical Tips

No matter how good your board game is, there’s no way it will reach the top charts if you don’t advertise it. You need to place your mobile game in front of users, the same goes for any other product.

So how do you advertise board games?

Here are some practical tips you can try right now.

1. Perfect Your Video Ads

Since mobile games are very visual by nature, the best way to promote them is by using video ads.

Video ads allow you to show users how fun and exciting it is to play your board game. It’s the easiest way to get more installs.

However, your video ads need to be superb in order for that to work.

The first thing you need to do is to test your creatives during a soft launch. Then you need to identify what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s how that process should go:

  • Analyze competitor’s video ads (later in this guide, I analyze video ads from top board games, so make sure you keep reading)
  • Identify market trends as well as key features of your board game and its USP
  • Create and organize your assets (video files, Photoshop files, music, animations, logos, fonts, layouts, ad copy, etc.)
  • Create multiple variations of video ads (different visuals as well as different ad formats)
  • A/B test video ad variations during soft launch
  • Identify winning elements
  • Create more video ads with those elements
  • Test again
  • Identify winning video ads and use that repeatable formula for future ads

2. Run Ads on Multiple Ad Networks

In order to maximize the results of your marketing campaign, it’s essential to run ads on many different ad networks.

Google and Facebook are definitely the main ad networks you should focus on. On Google, you should go with Universal App Campaigns, and on Facebook, you have mobile app install ads that let you choose between app installs, app engagement, and conversions objectives.

Apart from Facebook, other social media platforms you should advertise on are Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

To learn more about marketing your board game on TikTok, check out our TikTok Advertising Guide.

But don’t stop there.

There are even more ad networks where you can acquire users for your board game:

  • App Lovin
  • Unity Ads
  • Apple Search Ads
  • Chartboost
  • Ad Colony
  • Vungle
  • ironSource
  • Liftoff
  • Digital Turbine
  • AppLike
  • TapJoy
  • Fyber

3. Optimize Facebook Ad Campaigns for App Events

When creating Facebook app ads, you have three objectives to choose from: app installs, traffic, and conversions.

If you want to get more installs for your board game, you should choose App Installs in Ads Manager as the objective of your Facebook ad campaign.

Simple, right?

Well, not quite.

If your campaign objective is app installs, that means the ads will be shown to users who are likely to install your board game.

However, while optimizing ads for app installs will bring you more users, that doesn’t mean you’ll retain those users or that they’ll make an in-app purchase.

As we know, user retention drops significantly after day 1, and even more so after day 28 (only 6% of users keep playing after a month). A lot of users install a game, play it once and uninstall it or forget about it. Some even install it and don’t even play it once.

Not to mention that only a small number of users make an in-app purchase even if they keep playing.

So even though you can get a lot of installs, you might not be able to monetize your game, which is the end goal of every mobile game publisher.

So what’s the solution?

Facebook App Event Optimization

App Event Optimization allows you to optimize mobile game ads so that they’re shown to users who are likely to take a specific action within your game.

For example, you might want users who are likely to make an in-app purchase to install your app. You can do that by choosing “purchases” as the app event.

Other app events you can choose from are achieved level, content view, completed registration, app launched, etc.

4. Localize Your Advertising Campaigns

Just like with your mobile game, you should also localize your ad campaigns.

The mobile gaming market is global. Even though the English language and western culture have spread all over the world, in many places people still like to see ads in their local language.

It’s not just about the language, but also incorporating visuals that relate to other cultures. For example, adding cultural symbols and taking local holidays into consideration.

However, localization doesn’t work for all countries.

Let’s delve deeper into this.

In countries like France, Germany, China, Korea, and Japan, localized mobile game ads do really well.

According to ironSource, a video ad for a popular casual mobile game that was translated into Chinese got 15% more installs and a 40% increase in click-through rate (CTR).

So in these countries, localization is a smart choice.

However, there are some countries where localized ads don’t perform that well, i.e. localization has little or no effect on the number of installs.

For example, in Brazil, English ads perform better than ads in Portuguese, which is pretty surprising.

5. Use App Store Optimization as a Free Way to Promote Your Board Game

What’s great about app store optimization is that it’s a free, but effective way to get more users for your board game.

People are always looking for new games in both Google Play and Apple App Store. The key is to improve the rankings of your game so that users can easily find it and to make it irresistible for them to install it.

Here are the key components of app store optimization:

  • Keyword research
  • Visuals (screenshots, game trailer, etc.)
  • Game title
  • Game icon

Even though it might sound simple at first, all of these elements of app store optimization should be carefully considered.

You need to know all about current trends when it comes to game icons and visuals. You also need to study what your competitors are doing — the keywords, game titles they use, etc.

The key to app store optimization is testing. Only by split testing all of these ASO elements can you know for sure what works and what doesn’t.

It’s something that you should optimize all the time.

Learn more by reading our app store optimization guide.

Advertising Board Games: Ad Examples from Top Games

The best way to master how to advertise board games is by learning from your competitors. Let’s take a look at how top publishers advertise their mobile board games.

Monopoly (Marmalade Game Studio)

Monopoly is a classic board game everybody knows and loves — on mobile. Let’s see how Marmalade Game Studio advertises this game.

Ad Examples

Times have changed. Old school board games take up too much space and can be clunky and messy. We’re all about that digital life. That’s why famous board games many of us played as kids moved to mobile.

Since mobile devices have become one of the main sources of entertainment, it was the logical next step.

In this ad, Monopoly (re)establishes itself as the ultimate board game for game night. Only this time, you don’t need an actual board — a tablet or a phone is enough.

Since Monopoly has always been a family game, more than anything else, that’s what’s reflected in the ad. A happy family gathered around a tablet, playing this classic board game.

While the first Monopoly ad focused on families playing together during game night, this ad focuses on playing with friends. Unlike traditional Monopoly, the mobile version Monopoly allows users to play against their friends, no matter where they are.

This gives Monopoly a new dimension since it’s now a game users can play anywhere and anytime, even if they’re not in the same room as their friends.

Considering this ad is running during the coronavirus outbreak where social distancing and quarantine are the current way of life, being able to play with friends while being apart is even more significant.

YAHTZEE® With Buddies Dice Game (Scopely)

Yahtzee is hands down one of the most popular board games out there, with more than 10 million installs just in Google Play Store.

Let’s see how Scopely advertises this board game.

Video Ad Breakdown

Platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Audience Network

Duration: 00:30

There are many different types of ads for Yahtzee, which is a good strategy — diversifying ads is a smart move. This one is quite different from typical mobile game ads and that makes it stand out.

Besides the basic elements of a game ad like gameplay and fun music, it also has some creative elements.

The first thing that you can notice is that there are real people in the ad, which is rare for mobile game ads. In fact, it’s shot like a traditional commercial, which appeals to ‘regular’ people, not hardcore gamers.

As the woman rolls three of a kind, four of a kind or Yahtzee, gifts and people start appearing in her kitchen. It’s quirky and light, and it primarily targets the female audience, which is smart.

This ad focuses on the social and multiplayer aspects of the game. Yahtzee has always been that fun game you play with your friends or family, and the same is true for its mobile counterpart.

Just like the ad copy says, it redefines game night. Plus, the title of the game is Yahtzee with Buddies, which further emphasizes playing against other people.

Just like in the previous ad, there are real people playing so it’s easy to imagine yourself playing with friends.

Yahtzee Ad Copy Analysis

Here are a couple of ad copy examples from Yahtzee:

  1. 1 roll, 2 roll, Yahtzee!
  2. Challenge friends to play the all new #1 Dice Game: A Family Game Classic!
  3. Game night — redefined! Download New Yahtzee and play today!

The first ad copy references the game itself. The goal of the game is to roll five of a kind also known as Yahtzee. Anyone who has played this game on paper will instantly recognize this as a mobile version of the famous board game.

The second ad copy emphasizes that Yahtzee is a mobile game you play with family and friends, just like the traditional version of it. Because this game is a classic, it draws in non-gamers as well.

The third ad copy is in the same vein as the second one. Game night — redefined is a very good slogan that perfectly describes this mobile board game. You get all the fun of a game night, just on mobile. There’s also a very strong CTA that invites users to download this game and play it right now.

Bingo Blitz (Playtika)

Bingo is a classic game you can now play on mobile. Playtika’s version of Bingo is the most successful one and that’s all thanks to smart marketing.

Let’s see how it’s done.

Video Ad Breakdown

Platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Audience Network

Duration: 00:20

This is a great example of a seasonal game ad.

When you create video ads for your board game, it’s important to customize them according to holidays that are coming up.

That’s exactly what Playtika did with this Easter-themed ad for Bingo Blitz.

The ad itself is very simple and focuses on gameplay. Notice that it’s very colorful and utilizes music and sound effects.

That’s a good way of making your video ad more interesting and fun.

Bingo Blitz Ad Copy Example

Here are some ad copy examples from Bingo Blitz:

  1. Bingo Blitz, Play Everywhere Anywhere 😎🌠
  2. The Bingo Blitz Community is Here for YOU❣
  3. 🐇Hop Hop & Celebrate Easter with Blitzy🌻

In the first ad copy example, the emphasis is on the fact that you play this Bingo game everywhere. Considering this game is a mobile version of a classic board game (like most others are), it’s important to highlight that you can play this game on the go, wherever you are. That’s the main advantage a mobile board game has over traditional, physical board games.

Also, many gamers play mobile games to pass the time while commuting or waiting at the doctor’s office. Board games you can play on your phone are perfect for that.

The second ad copy is all about the community aspect and that’s a smart strategy.

Creating a community around a game is essential for its success. It’s what attracts users not only to install the game but to keep playing it, which improves user retention.

If your board game allows users to play against one another, it is recommended that you use this strategy and emphasize the social and community aspects.

As it was mentioned in the video ad breakdown, seasonal ads always work well. You can see that in the third ad copy.

Board Mobile Game Statistics You Need to Know in 2021

Whether you’re launching a new board game, or want to make your existing game more successful, it’s important to track and analyze key mobile game metrics.

You should also know how well other board games are performing and what is the benchmark for this genre.

That’s why we have put together all the most recent board game statistics.

Data source: GameAnalytics

Board Mobile Game User Retention Statistics

Let’s start with user retention — it’s one of the most important mobile game metrics.

It tells you the percentage of users that keep playing after a certain time period. Most commonly, it is measured for days 1, 7, and 28.

Day 1 User Retention Statistics for Board Games

Wondering what your day 1 user retention should be?

Well, according to GameAnalytics, if it’s 35% of more, your game is doing good.

Out of all mobile game categories, trivia and word games have the best day 1 retention rate (more than 40% for top-performing games).

As we can see, retention remained pretty steady for all board games.

The biggest fluctuations can be noticed at the top 2% of board games. The highest day 1 retention value they reached was 56.41% in August, and the lowest was 49.3% in January.

Day 1 retention for the top 25% of board games remained at an average of 32.43% over the course of the year.

The median 50% of board games’ day 1 retention was steady as well, averaging at 23.75%, while the bottom 25% of board games were steady at around 14.19% throughout 2020.

Day 1 user retention is a crucial metric because if it’s really low, you might want to consider moving on to the next project. Day 7 and day 28 user retention rates are by nature lower than day 1 retention, so it doesn’t make sense to waste time and money on a game that will not be able to retain enough users as time goes by.

However, if it’s anywhere from 20% to 30%, you still have a shot, but you should make some big changes to your board game.

Day 7 User Retention Statistics for Board Games

A large percentage of users stop playing after day 1. That’s the cold hard truth about mobile games.

That’s why day 7 user retention is significantly lower than day 1 retention.

Day 7 retention for the top 2% of board games held steady at approximately 30% throughout the year, with a sharp rise in December, going up to 39.95%.

Day 7 retention rate showed no significant fluctuations over the course of 2020. The average day 7 retention for the top 25% was at 12.52%, for the median 50% it was 6.77%, and for the bottom 25% of board games it was 2.38%.

Day 28 User Retention Statistics for Board Games

As you probably expect, day 28 is lower than day 1 and day 7 user retention rates for all genres. It’s hard enough to retain users after a day or a week, so it’s understandable that day 28 retention is quite low for all games.

Having 4% day 28 retention is considered good for most genres. However, you should aim for double if your game belongs to the classic genre (board, word, casino, trivia, card).

The good news is that board games retain a good number of users after 28 days.

Day 28 retention for the top 2% of board games was fairly high, averaging at 20.15%, reaching its yearly high in July, with 24.68% day 28 retention.

The top 25% of board games remained at approximately 6% throughout 2020, with a slight boost to 7.10% day 28 retention in December.

Retention at day 28 for the median 50% of board games was low and stable, averaging at 2.26%. It was nearly non-existent for the bottom 25%, averaging at 0.07%, ending 2020 with 0%.

How to Improve User Retention?

Here are some actionable tips for improving user retention for board games:

  • Make a fun, well-designed board game — if your game sucks, there’s not much you can do to improve user retention
  • Remind users to come back — that can be done by using push notifications
  • Reward loyal users
  • Regularly add new game content — it’s what keeps it interesting
  • Add daily challenges and leaderboards
  • Nurture the community around your board game and encourage user-generated content
  • Most importantly, avoid repetitiveness — it kills user retention

Here are some thoughts on improving user retention from Mike Khorev, a marketing consultant with experience in mobile game marketing.

“I’ve handled several mobile developer clients in the past, and I am also an avid gamer so I’ll answer this based on experience.

I think there are several factors that are really important in maintaining and improving user retention:

  1. First Impression

To keep gamers coming back, it’s very important to give them a great first impression and user experience. There are games that can bounce back from bad initial launch, but it’s typically more difficult. Make sure your game is well-polished during launch, and provide a good interactive tutorial.

Also, a huge aspect of a great first impression is the game’s overall designs and gameplay.

  1. The balance between “fullness” and DLC content

This is why managing retention is sometimes tricky. On the one hand, you’ll need to give users the feeling that they do get a finished game on their hands, but on the other hand, we’ll need to update them with new content from time to time. This can be very difficult to maintain in the long run.

  1. Realistic microtransaction

Microtransactions and gachas are getting all the backlash nowadays, but at the same time, we all know it’s how game developers (especially mobile game developers) make money nowadays.

In my opinion, it’s better to be honest with the microtransaction options (especially if it involves RNG/gacha), their % rates and overall don’t be too greedy. Give players affordable (or even free) ways to get something valuable out of your games so they can still have fun when they can’t spend a lot on microtransactions.”

You can read more about user retention here.

Average Session Length Statistics for Board Mobile Games

While user retention tells you the percentage of users that keep playing your board game, average session length shows you how long users play.

It is measured from the time a user opens up the app to when its closed and sent to the background.

Of course, the goal is to get user sessions to be as long as possible.

As usual, the biggest changes can be noticed with the top 2% of board games. Average session length fluctuated between 70 and 53 minutes per session, averaging at 61.56 minutes.

The average session length for the top 25% of board games remained at 10 minutes throughout the year.

The average session length for the median 50% of board games remained stable at 7 minutes, with the exception of January, when it dropped to 6 minutes.

Very few changes happened with the average session length for bottom 25% of board games as they remained at 4 minutes, only jumping to 5 minutes a few times a year.

ARPPU Statistics for Board Mobile Games

So, how much do users spend in games? ARPPU statistics will get you that answer! It refers to the average revenue per paying user.

In 2020, ARPPU for the top 2% of board games moved between $53.28 and $101.33, with the exception of December, when it nosedived to $25.22.

ARPPU for other games hasn’t changed much in 2020. For the top 25% of board games, it moved between $11.11 and $14.40.

ARPPU for the median 50% of board games averaged at $6.89 with no significant fluctuations, and the average ARPPU for the bottom 25% of board games was $3.2.

ARPDAU Statistics for Board Mobile Games

ARPDAU for the top 2% of board games varied significantly over the course of 2020. It peaked in late January with $5.23, then dropping down to $0.77 in May. It remained there, with spikes to $2.36, $3.39, and $2.50 in August, September, and November respectively.

For the bottom 25%, median 50%, and top 25% of board games, the line remained mostly flat throughout the year with ARPDAUs averaging at $0.10, $0.04, and $0.01.

The key to increasing ARPDAU is to offer your players multiple in-app purchases at different price points. Keep in mind that your game needs to be designed with in-app purchases in mind and they need to be strategically placed.

Conversion Statistics for Board Mobile Games

Conversion data is the percentage of users who made a purchase that day. Year over year, conversions have been steadily dropping for all mobile game genres. That’s due to the rise of in-game ads as a monetization method.

Again, the biggest fluctuations can be noticed in the top 2% of board games. Conversion rate ranged from the lowest 3.89% in October to the massive 74.3% in July.

Other board game categories had much smaller fluctuations.

The top 25% board games category had conversion rates between 0.84% and 1.20%, averaging at 0.99%.

For the median 50%, the conversion rate averaged at 0.57%, and for the bottom 25% of board games, the average for 2020 was 0.29%.

Final Thoughts on How to Advertise Board Games

Now we want to hear from you!

Do you have any questions about how to advertise board games? Let us know in the comments!

For more info on mobile game marketing, subscribe to our newsletter.

About Udonis

Since 2018 until today, Udonis Inc. has acquired over 150 million users for mobile apps & games. We’re recognized as a leading mobile marketing agency by 5 major marketing review firms. We helped over 20 mobile apps & games reach the top charts. Want to know how we make it look so effortless? Meet us to find out!

Udonis Inc. is an award-winning marketing agency specialized in mobile apps & games.

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