Category: Ad Industry

5 key mobile trends and what they mean for your marketing strategy

Ad games are the most effective way to engage your target customers on mobile, but creating an ad game alone isn’t enough – you also need to think about who your target customers are, where they spend their timeand how to reach them. So when you’re designing an ad game campaign, it’s important to keep in mind the broader trends shaping the mobile advertising market.


We recently spent some time at DMEXCO, the largest digital marketing conference in Europe, and saw a great presentation by Stephen Bardega, Chief Digital Officer at ZenithOptimedia, titled “The Mobile Imperative: Five Emerging Mobile Trends for Marketers”. We’ve summarized the five trends below and explained the implications for your brand’s mobile marketing strategy.

The world is approaching the mobile tipping point


The trend

In 2015, people spent an average of 2 hours per day on mobile, or 33% of their total internet time. This number has been growing rapidly over the past few years, up from 20% in 2012. Not surprisingly, mobile usage is even higher among young people aged 16-24 (nearly 4 hours per day). When you look at these trends, it’s clear that we’re evolving toward a world where consumers spend the majority of their internet time on mobile. Young people will be the first age group to reach this tipping point, with mobile usage crossing the 50% threshold in most major markets by 2018.

What it means for you

In the past, advertisers tended to treat mobile as an afterthought. In today’s environment, this no longer makes sense. If you want to target your customers where they spend their time, mobile needs to be a core part of your marketing strategy.

There is a growing population of mobile first users


The trend

“Mobile first users”, as defined by ZenithOptimedia, are people who spend over 90% of their total internet time on mobile. This group represents a small but growing percentage of the overall internet population. They’re young, urban and tend to be comfortable with mobile commerce, with over 25% of them having already made a purchase on mobile.

What it means for you

Mobile is critical for every advertiser, but it’s especially critical for brands that target young people. If you want to reach a youth audience, mobile is going to be your most important marketing platform.

The rise of global publishers makes it easier than ever for brands to reach their customers on mobile


The trend

The shift from desktop to mobile has led to a change in peoples’ internet behavior, with some activities making the transition more smoothly than others. Two things that have faired particularly well are social media and video. According to a survey by ZenithOptimedia, Facebook reaching over 50% of total mobile users in most major markets around the world, with YouTube not far behind.

What it means for you

When it comes to mobile advertising, not all channels are created equal. In order to reach your target customers, you should focus on the apps and services where they spend most of their time. That means not just social media networks like Facebook and video platforms like YouTube, but also messaging services like WhatsApp and Messenger.

Mobile is having a disruptive effect on search


The trend

Paid search is currently the largest segment of the digital advertising industry, accounting for $70 bn of the total $140 bn market. But in comparison to social media and video, search has had a rougher transition to mobile, with overall search engine usage declining over the past year. There are a few reasons for this decline, including:

  1. Smaller screens on mobile that make it harder to type a search query
  2. Consumers spending the majority of their time on mobile inside apps, where search is less relevant
  3. Social newsfeeds having displaced search as the primary way people discover content

One bright spot for the future of search on mobile is the growing popularity of voice search. ZenithOptimedia found that 23% of survey respondents have used voice search services, including Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana. Of those people, 50% are using voice search more frequently now than they did a year ago.

What it means for you

For brands crafting their marketing strategy for mobile, paid search will be less important relative to desktop. To the extent that you do use paid search on mobile, you need to tweak your strategy to reflect the differences in behavior between voice-based and typing-based search.

The rise of ad blockers has raised serious questions about the future of advertising on the mobile web


The trend

According to ZenithOptimedia, 27% of people use ad blocking software on desktop. With the release of iOS9, which makes it possible to enable ad blocking on iOS devices for the first time, the issue has become much more relevant for the mobile world. In addition to preventing ads from being served to consumers, ad blocking software prevents advertisers and publishers from tracking users’ online behavior. This makes it difficult to do targeting and remarketing, key techniques for improving the effectiveness of digital marketing.

What it means for you

The impact of ad blocking on mobile advertising is a subject of intense debate. Some people have called it thedeath of the web, while others have suggested that the issue is a red herring. The best way to shield yourself from the impact of ad blockers on mobile is to use native, in-app advertising formats like Facebook newsfeed ads, rather than mobile web banners.

For more info on the key emerging mobile trends for marketers, check out the full presentation here.

Our vision – empower anyone to be a content creator in the digital world

We’ve already spent a lot of time blogging about ad game campaigns, including how you can create one and why you should use them as part of your mobile marketing strategy. But ad games aren’t the only thing we care about at Gamewheel. Today, our co-founder and CEO, Evgeni, gives some background on Gamewheel’s vision and where we’re headed in the future.


Over the past few years, our team of serial entrepreneurs has tackled problems in a variety of different sectors. Whether we were building an educational DIY platform for parents or an augmented reality mobile game for kids, there was one common thread – our focus on creating technology that empowers people in the digital worldfostering humanity and creativity.

As time went on, we realized that our ability to empower people was limited by the amount of content we could produce. So instead of continuing to make our own new content, we decided to take our expertise in tech, design and gaming and package it into a tool that allows other people to create content. Our long-term goal is to become the go-to platform for creating adaptive, interactive content. Our vision is to empower anyone to be a content creator in the digital world.

The first version of our product is aimed at the digital marketing industry, where the lack of a good solution for creating highly optimized, interactive content at scale is a real pain point for advertisers. We’re solving this problem with a SaaS tool that makes it fast and simple to create ad game campaigns that are tailored to the needs of individuals brands and marketing goals.

To put it in less technical terms, we want to make advertising better for everyone involved. When advertisers can provide consumers with fun, relevant content, the consumer is more likely to become a customer, the advertiser gets more bang for their buck and the publisher makes more money off their traffic. Or to use a wonkier analogy, what real-time-bidding (RTB) did for ad serving, we’re going to do for ad creative.

But we’re not just focused on marketing. In the future, we’re going to build tools that make it super simple for people in different industries to create and deliver interactive content tailored to their individual goals. We know this is a big vision, but that’s the only way we know how to do things – by going big.

To achieve our vision, we put together an experienced team with a proven ability to execute. We also have a great beta product, a growing user base and a team of investors who believe in our team and vision. We’ll introduce the Gamewheel team in this space soon and continue to share updates on our company as we continue our journey of building a successful tech company based in Berlin.

Evgeni Kouris, Founder & CEO

3 Use Cases How Brands Leverage Gamification in Marketing

In the previous article “Trends for mobile advertising” we’ve already talked about how games can be leveraged to strengthen the relationship between the brand and the customer. Today, we’d like to have a look at a different use case for game technics – Gamification in marketing or gamified advertising.


Gamification leads to better customer engagement and loyalty

What is Gamification?

The goal of Gamification is to increase the probability that a person repeats desired steps, providing and opportunity to influence humans behavior through games. Essential game elements often used in the Gamification include scoring systems, ranking lists, virtual goods and small incentives. Gamification has become increasingly popular in marketing, education and other industry sectors.

Current research shows that Gamification increases customer commitment and loyalty, as well as the motivation of employees. If implemented correctly, it can have a high return on investment for companies (Dr. Städtgen, Gamification and Motivation, 2015). Today, we’d like to have a look at three use cases of how brands have leveraged Gamification in their marketing. But before we go into the individual cases, let’s have a quick look at the psychological background of why Gamification works.

Psychology of Gamification – Introducing the Prospect Theory

Why does Gamification work? You can find a hint in the Prospect Theory introduced by Kahnemann and Tversky. It shows that small incentives enable people to take an extra effort to do things that they otherwise would not.

The Prospect Theory is a behavioral economic theory that describes the way people choose probabilistic alternatives that involve risk — where the probabilities of outcomes are known. People take an effort because of their intrinsic motivation (brand commitment maybe too) in situations where they expect a reward. In other terms, people’s behaviors are being influenced by Gamification elements mentioned above, which can have a very small cost / investment for the brand.

(More information about Prospect Theory)

Gamification in marketing

Case Study 1: Nike

Nike+Fuel is a personalized app. This app demonstrates how a brand can stay connected with its customers through Gamification elements.

The goal of this project was to keep in contact with customers to gather information about them. Nike used Gamification as a way to give an incentive while customers were running and tracking their activity. Runners competed against others and collected their latest achievements and overall performances. Nike collected personal data about users which were valuable for content marketing. Furthermore, the app is linked to social media so users could compare performances from all over the world. After completing different levels customers are rewarded with trophies and badges, which in psychology science is called a positive intensifier. Nike increases its brand presence when customers share their training results on social media.


Nike gathered a high amount of data over a long period. This information can be used for personalized services and lead to an increase in productivity of R&D and digital marketing. At the same time, the game boosts the loyalty of the customer.

(Detailed Case study)

Case Study 2: Urban Sport Club

Urban Sports Club Gamification

Urban Sports Club Gamification

Gamewheel created a rock climbing themed game for Urban Sports Club. The company, a fitness flat rate, used a game in a lead generation campaign.

In this game theme, the user has to climb as high as they can to get a chance to win a 3 month contract for free. It’s a great way to for Urban Sports Club to gather new potential customer leads, engage their community in a very authentic way, present their value proposition differently and have the opportunity to create a special relationship with customers.


The majority of users replayed the game over 3 times, which shows a very high level of engagement. Urban Sports Club was able to capture the players data who participated in the competition in the leaderboard and add them to the existing vivid club community. Summarizing, games can offer new ways to power up communities and create a sense of natural & fun competition to boost engagement and capture new potential leads.

Detailed case study.

Case Study 3: Target

Target becomes Santa’s helper with ‘Holiday Wish’ app. Target developed a 3D animated game experience allowing kids to create Christmas wish lists and send them to Santa. The US retail giant generated nearly 75,000 downloads of the app.


Though the app was released in limited distribution for its initial launch, the data collected from users proved that it was a success. Over 100,000 wish lists were created, as well as 9,200 new Target.com accounts.

61% percent of users used the app multiple times a week, including 31 percent who used the app multiple times per day, generating over a million page visits to Target.com via the app. The average wish list was comprised of about 30 items and had an average value of $1,500.

Over the course of six weeks from app launch to the close of the holiday season, nearly 1.7 million total items were added to Target guest wish lists, for a total sales potential of $92.3 million.

(Detailed Case study)

How to create a game ad campaign using Facebook – the definitive guide

This post is part of a series about how startups can use games to engage their target customers on mobile. We publish a new post in the series every Wednesday, so stay tuned.


If you’ve been following this series for the past few weeks, you already know that ad games are a great way toincrease your click-through rates and lower your customer acquisition costs. You also know that ad games work great on mobile, especially on Facebook.

Today, we’re going to explain step-by-step how to design and launch the perfect Facebook ad game campaign, so you can start enjoying the benefits of ad games for your brand. The guide covers:

Elements of a campaign

There are 3 key elements of every ad game campaign: the ad, the game and the landing page.


The Ad

The ad is how you bring people to your game. It tells people, “hey, click here and you can play a game”. Your ad can be as simple as a link in your newsletter or a preview picture on your website. If you want to reach a wider audience, you need to run paid ads in a channel like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.




The Game

This is the part of your campaign where people literally get to “play” with your brand. Games that tend to work well in ad campaigns use mechanics that are simple, repetitive and rewarding. It’s also important that the game communicates something about your brand, product or service.




The Landing page

This is where a user lands after they finish playing your game. The landing page is typically used to communicate more information about your product/service or capture information about the player, like an email address. You can use an existing website as your landing page or create a customized one for your campaign.


Planning your campaign

To start planning your campaign, you need to ask yourself 2 strategic questions:

  1. Who am I targeting?
  2. What do I want to achieve?

The answers to these strategic questions will help you answer 3 detailed questions:

  1. Which channel should I run my ads in?
  2. What game should I use?
  3. What should I include on my landing page?

Who am I targeting?

Affect on channel

When choosing a channel for your campaign, it’s important to think about who you’re targeting. If you want to reach younger people, Instagram or Snapchat would make the most sense. But if you’re targeting professionals, LinkedIn would be much more effective. As we wrote in our last post, Facebook is a good all around choice that works well for most campaigns.

Affect on game


The demographics of your target audience also affect your choice of game type. We already covered this pointin detail, but the basic idea is that certain game types appeal to certain genders and age groups. So if you’re targeting young males, you should choose a racing or shooting game, but if you’re targeting older females you should choose a social or casual game.

What do I want to achieve?

Broadly speaking, there are three major types of campaign goals:

  • Generate brand awareness (brand marketing)
  • Help people understand your product (content marketing)
  • Get people to make a purchase (performance marketing)


Affect on channel

Some channels and ad formats that work well for each campaign type are:

  • Branding – rich media ad on the website of a well-known publisher with an embedded ad game
  • Content – single image ad in the Facebook newsfeed that links to your game
  • Performance – banner ad linking to your game, delivered programmatically through a service likeDoubleClick

Affect on game

Characteristics of games that work well for each type of campaign are:

  • Branding – unique mechanics that offers players a new experience
  • Content – communicates something about your product/service
  • Performance – short gameplay with a quick payoff

Affect on landing page

Examples of what to include on your landing page for each type of campaign are:

  • Branding – brand information, videos
  • Content – lead capture form, case studies, infographics
  • Performance – checkout form

Creating your campaign

Once you’ve planned out your campaign, it’s time to start creating the different elements.

Creating your ads

Every advertising channel will have slightly different requirements, but there are two main elements you can play with – text and images. There are also more complex formats like video and rich media, but those are beyond the scope of this guide.


With Facebook, your ads consist of:

  1. ad text
  2. ad image
  3. headline
  4. link description
  5. call-to-action button

It’s best to come up with 2-3 options for each element, and then mix and match them together to create different versions of your ad. This will allow you to run A/B tests to see which version performs best.



For the ad images, it’s important to highlight the fact that you’re offering users a game, not just a standard marketing pitch. You can do that by including a screenshot of the game in your image, or just by adding the word “play” somewhere on the image.

Two other important things to remember when creating your ad images for Facebook are:

  • The recommended image size is 1200 x 628 pixels
  • You can’t have more than 20% of your ad image covered by text (use the Facebook grid tool to check if your image meets the requirements)


Creating your game

Once you’ve decided what game to use, you need to go out and build it. If you have the budget or the internal resources, you can always hire a game studio or code the game from scratch. If that isn’t an option for you, you can use a self-service game development tool.

With these types of tools, there’s usually a tradeoff between flexibility and usability. On one end of the spectrum, you have developer tools like Unity. They provide you with the freedom to create almost any type of game you can imagine, but you need to know quite a bit about game design and coding to produce something that looks good and works well.

Towards the other end of the spectrum you have template-based solutions like Gamewheel. With these tools, you can change certain visual elements of the games, but you’re more or less locked in to the game mechanics. The advantage is that, without knowing anything about coding or game design, you can get a customized game up and running in a short amount of time and still enjoy the benefits of ad games.


Building an ad game is similar to building a regular game, but there are a few special issues to remember:

  • Just like regular games, ad games have a start screen and an end screen. You should use this space to emphasize the connection between your game, your campaign and your brand
  • Ad games are a means to an end – you want people to take a specific action after they finish playing. To make this possible, it’s important to include a call-to-action button on your game’s end screen and link it to your campaign’s landing page


Creating your landing page


There are a lot of great resources on the web about how to design a good landing page, and we don’t have too much to add to the discussion. Basically, the idea is to grab viewers’ attention and convince them to complete a conversion. Some of the standard features you can use to do that are a catchy headline, a relevant image, a simple form and a strong call-to-action.

When setting up your initial landing page, do your best to follow these guidelines. But in the end, you’re going to have to test and optimize every feature to see what gets you the most conversions. Luckily, there are a lot oftools out there that make it easy to create and A/B test different versions of your landing page.

Launching your campaign

Once you’ve designed your ads, built your game and set up your landing page, all you need to do is pull them together in the Facebook ads manager. There are also tons of detailed resources on how to setup a Facebook campaign, so we’re going to keep it high level here and focus on the elements that are specific to working with ad games.

The first thing to know is that all Facebook campaigns have three levels – campaign, ad set and ad.



This is the level where you set the objective for your campaign. The options include website clicks, page likes, app installs and others. Facebook doesn’t currently allow ad games to run in the newsfeed, which means that you’ll need to direct players to a webpage outside the newsfeed. So you need to choose “send people to your website” or “increase conversions to website” as your campaign objective.


To track conversions, you need to install the Facebook tracking pixel on your website. For conversions to be tracked properly, the pixel should be placed on the confirmation page that comes directly after a user takes the target action for your campaign (e.g. submitted email capture form, clicked sign up, etc.). Facebook makes it super simple to do this by pasting the pixel code between the <head> tags on the page.

Ad set

This is the level where you configure the setting for your campaign, including the budget, timing, targeting and placement (e.g. desktop vs. mobile). Audience targeting with Facebook is extremely flexible and should be decided by the analysis you did when you planned your campaign (e.g. who do I want to reach with my ad game).


An alternative to building up your audience from scratch using filters is to create a custom audience. To do this, you can upload existing contacts from your customer list, newsletter or other contacts and Facebook will match them up with user IDs in its own database. If the resulting audience is still relatively small, you can also use the lookalike audience function. This allows you to create a bigger pool of target customers with similar characteristics to your custom audience

You have the option to run your ads on desktop or mobile newsfeed, but mobile is generally the way to go with a game campaign. As we wrote previously, games are particularly effective at engaging consumers on mobile



This is where you link your game to your campaign. To do it, the game needs to be running on a standalone html page. Grab the link to the page, go in to the Facebook ad creator (or Power Editor, whichever you’re using) and paste the link into the “website url” field. Besides that, you just need to assemble the text and images you already picked for your ads in the ad creator

Once you’ve finished setting up your campaign, Facebook will automatically review and (hopefully) approve it. Once the campaign has been approved, it’ll start running on the date and time you selected.

Monitoring your campaign’s results

Once your campaign is up and running, you can see information on how it’s performing in the Facebook Ad manager. This provides information like how many people saw your ad, how many people clicked on it and how many of them completed the target action (if you set up conversion tracking).

If you want to see details on what players did inside the game, you need to install a tracking solution likeMixpanel or Kissmetrics. This will allow you to see things like how many people loaded the game, what percentage of them actually played and what percentage of them clicked the call-to-action button. If the game development tool you used to create your game doesn’t include analytics by default, you’ll need to implement the event tracking manually with the help of a developer.

Your Turn

Now that you understand the basics of putting together an ad campaign, it’s time for you to go out and try it. If you have any questions about the process or are stuck in the planning phase, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help out. And if you need a fast and easy way to create your game, you can always sign up for a free Gamewheel account and try doing it yourself, without having to write any code.

Press release: 1 Million Euro seed round and Gamewheel platform launch

We’re thrilled to make some exciting announcements today: we’ve raised 1 Million Euro seed round to launch and expand our platform and partnered up with the leading publisher of html5 games – Famobi.


Contact sales@gamewheel.com if you’re interested in covering the story or have any further questions about Gamewheel. Here is the full version of the press release:

Gamewheel announces a 1 Million Euro seed round to launch and expand its new online platform for creating native interactive advertising – Pick, Brand, Share! ℠

Berlin, 23 November 2015 – Gamewheel, a Berlin-based Seedcamp portfolio company, has launched its new cloud-based platform which is the simplest way for brands, agencies and publishers to add games and other interactive content to their mobile marketing campaigns. In order to launch and expand the platform into different markets, the company raised a 1 Million Euro seed round led by Crown Ocean Capital and partnered up with the leading publisher of html5 games – Famobi.

After joining Seedcamp in the beginning of the year, the founders of Gamewheel, who previously founded the augmented reality game studio Toywheel, officially launched a new cloud-based tool for creating interactive marketing content. As a first step, the company is offering customizable advertising mini-games and a digital advent calendar to help brands engage with their customers on mobile this holiday season.

Users can select from a library of ready-to-go content templates, add their own branding and integrate the customized content into their marketing campaign to the mobile or social media channel of their choice. Afterwards, they can easily review and analyse their campaign’s performance, all without doing any coding. The games and other interactive content are mobile ready and use browser-based technology that allows them to run on any platform.

Gamewheel has a typical SaaS business model, currently with two plans. The free plan is great for early stage startups and SMEs who need a simple way to make individual marketing campaigns more interactive. With a free account the user receives 1.000 launches for free and can buy additional packages on demand starting with 9.90€ for 1.000 campaign launches. The enterprise plan is more appropriate for agencies and brands that need to create interactive marketing content on a regular basis. Gamewheel also offers custom art production and game design services to complement the self-service online tool.

According to Evgeni Kouris, the Co-Founder and CEO of Gamewheel, “When advertisers can provide consumers with fun, interactive and highly targeted content, everybody wins – consumers have a better ad experience, the advertiser gets higher marketing effectiveness and publishers make more money off their traffic. However, the existing solutions for creating interactive marketing content are not suited for the age of RTB – they’re expensive, require long production cycles and struggle to support dynamic content optimization. Gamewheel addresses this problem in an efficient and affordable way – what real-time-bidding (RTB) did for ad serving, we’re going to do for creative ad creation.”

He proceeds – “We’re also not just focused on marketing – in the long-term, our goal is to build an adaptive content platform, like digital LEGOs™ for interactive content – that empowers creators to leverage the technology in the most effective way and deliver interactive content tailored to brands’ individual goals without a need to code or take care of technology.”

The initial response to Gamewheel has been very positive. Customers like Oracle, Urban Sports and Stagelink Club who ran Facebook mobile campaigns using games created with the tool saw a large increase in ad engagement, leading to a decrease in customer acquisition costs of up to 30%.

The company’s approach has also received strong support from both advertisers and game industry insiders. Today’s partnership announcement with Famobi is highlighted by the founder Ilker Aydin: “Gamewheel is simple, modern and innovative. I love it!”. Famobi and Gamewheel partnered up to bring the simplicity of online ad games creation to a vast network including Famobi’s customers such as SpielAffe.de, Disney and Deutsche Bahn.

To accelerate the Gamewheel’s growth, Gamewheel added two veterans from the SaaS, AdTech and mobile industries to its team. A. Pierre Yurow, who has an extensive track record in the AdTech and mobile industries (co-founded Spectrum Mobile, worked at Omnicom and Cellfire) is heading Gamewheel’s business development and sales. Ian Hannigan, who previously co-founded fluidui.com (SaaS innovator in the mobile app prototyping space), is heading Product and UX Design. Through a partnership with Telekom, Gamewheel has a new sales presence in Berlin Mitte at the Telekom 4010 Shop in Mitte. Stop by if you’d like to learn more about Gamewheel.

About Gamewheel
Gamewheel is the simplest way for brands, agencies and publishers to quickly add games and other interactive content to mobile marketing campaigns. Gamewheel was founded in 2014 by Evgeni Kouris (CEO) and Christian Bittler (CTO), who previously built the augmented reality games studio Toywheel. The founding team has an extensive track record in game development and launching innovative media & tech ventures. Gamewheel is financed by various leading investors, including Seedcamp and Crown Ocean Capital, and has raised seven-digit seed capital to date. The company also has several advisors from the vast Seedcamp network. Gamewheel – Pick, Brand, Share! ℠

Why Facebook is the Perfect Channel for your Ad Game Campaign

This post is part of a series about how startups can use games to engage their target customers on mobile. We publish a new post in the series every Wednesday, so stay tuned.


We’ve already written a few posts about why you should use ad games in your mobile strategy, which types of games you should use and where to use them. Today, we’re going to go into a bit more detail on the last question. Because if you want to engage your target customers on mobile, it’s not enough to just build a game – you need to get the game in front of them.

The simplest, cheapest way to put your ad game out into the world is by adding a link to your business’ website or newsletter. Of course, this will limit your game’s reach to people who’re already connected to you. If you want to extend beyond that, you’ll need to run a paid marketing campaign that links to your game. When a user sees your ad and clicks on it, they’ll be forwarded to the game.

Once you decide to go down this route, the first step is deciding which channel to use. There are countless options, but they can generally be broken down into two categories – mobile web and in-app.

Mobile web ads are effectively banners on web pages that consumers view inside a mobile web browser. These types of ads are also often referred to as “mobile display”. There are a lot of concerns in the marketing industry about the future of mobile display ads, particularly given the rise of ad blocking and Apple’s decision to enable ad blocking in iOS9. This, coupled with the fact that they’re slightly more complex to implement, means we generally don’t recommend mobile display ads for inexperienced marketers who’re just starting out. If you’re interested in learning more, though, Google’s DoubleClick is one of the most popular options for running mobile display campaigns.

In-app ads are exactly what they sound like – ads that run inside apps. Because in-app ads are under less threat from ad blocking than mobile web ads, the marketing industry is more optimistic about their future.

Facebook ads are a special type of in-app ad. At the moment, they’re one of the popular forms of mobile advertising, accounting for nearly 20% of total mobile ad spending. And unlike the market leader, Google, Facebook’s mobile advertising market share is expected to grow steadily over the next three years. The fact that your target customers spend much of their time on mobile within the Facebook app, combined with the company’s robust targeting options and smooth ad experience, means that Facebook is the perfect channel to run your ad game campaign.


However, it’s important to note that other channels, such as Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, are also viable options. In the end, it depends on your target audience and campaign goals. For example, if you’re selling a productivity tool designed for business customers, LinkedIn might make more sense than Facebook.

Next week, we’ll go into the details of how to design and launch your ad game campaign on Facebook.

Why every startup should use games in their mobile marketing

This post is part of a series about how startups can use games to engage their target customers on mobile. We publish a new post in the series every Wednesday, so stay tuned.


If you’ve spent any time thinking about your business’ marketing strategy over the past few months, you’ve probably seen this chart before. It comes from the 2019 version of Internet Trends, an influential presentation released annually by Mary Meeker, a partner at the Venture Capital firm KPCB. The chart compares the amount of time consumers spend on different media (print, TV, internet, etc.) with the percent of overall ad spending allocated to each medium.

The message of the chart is clear – advertisers were dramatically underspending on mobile in 2010. Consumers in the US have spent nearly 8% of their media time on mobile devices in 2010, but advertisers were still allocating only 0.5% of their total budgets to mobile advertising. In 2015, the figures were even more dramatic: nearly 25% media time on mobile vs. 8% ad spend. This represented a huge missed opportunity and there reason why Gamewheel was founded. By the end of 2018 the situation moved to an almost perfect equilibrium as expected.

There are a few reasons why this situation exists, one of which is inertia. Lots of large brands and ad agencies grew up in a world of print and television, developing sophisticated marketing operations designed to take advantage of these channels. It’s only in the past few years that they’ve fully embraced online, so it’s no surprise that the shift to mobile is taking time.

For a young startup launching in today’s mobile-first world, though, this isn’t really an excuse. If you’re trying to reach your target customers, you should be doing it where they spend their time. And that means you should be advertising on mobile.

Another major obstacle holding back the growth of mobile advertising is one that does affect startups. And that’s the fact that, as Steve Jobs once famously said, “most mobile advertising sucks.” When marketers first started advertising on mobile, they took formats that had been developed for the desktop world and shrunk them down to mobile-size proportions. As a result, most mobile ads are small, difficult to read and struggle to engage users’ attention. And with the rise of adblocking, many of those ads aren’t even being seen in the first place. Because of poor performance and concerns around viewability, advertisers are hesitant to invest money in mobile marketing, particularly their premium branding budgets.

As a startup with a limited marketing budget, this is an important issue to be aware of. You can’t afford to waste money on ineffective “wallpaper” advertising like mobile banners. So the question is, what sort of mobile marketing should you do?

A lot of work has been done in the past years to make mobile advertising better. One clear trend has been to make ads more interactive – by adding video, audio, transitions and other elements. These types of ads, which are called rich media, do a much better job of engaging viewers than static ads. Adform, for example, found that consumers are three times more likely to click on a rich media ad than a traditional banner ad.

So if you want to engage your target consumers on mobile in the most effective way possible, it’s clear that you should be running interactive ads. These days, the advertising industry is mainly focused on doing that via video. But why stop there? If you’re looking for something that’s highly interactive and has a proven ability to engage people’s attention on mobile, there’s no better medium than games. Emarketer estimates that 64% of smartphone users in the US already play mobile games, with NPD Group finding that mobile gamers spend an average of two hours per day playing games. From this perspective, there’s a perfect fit between what marketers need and what games can deliver.

That being said, having a game alone isn’t enough. You still need to deliver the game to your target users and make sure they convert after they finish playing. This is where good campaign design comes into play. We’ll go into the details of that next week and break down for you step-by-step how to get your ad game campaign up and running.

How Ad Games Can Help Your Startup Find Product/Market Fit

This post is part of a series about how startups can use games to engage their target customers on mobile. We publish a new post in the series every Wednesday, so stay tuned.


As a new startup, your primary goal is to find product-market fit. Marc Andreesen, who’s often credited with inventing the term, defined product-market fit as “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” In other words, you’ve built a product and found a group of people for whom that product solves a problem.

It sounds simple, but finding product-market fit involves a lot of moving pieces. Carlos Espinal, partner atSeedcamp, provides a useful framework for the process in this blog post. Basically, you start out by making a hypothesis about what your product will do and what value it will deliver to your customers. Then, you build that product as quickly as possible and get it in front of your customers, to test whether your assumptions were correct. If they weren’t, you need to start making changes – either to your product, your customer segment or your strategy for bringing your product to your customers (“go-to-market strategy”).

It’s this last piece of the equation, the go-to-market strategy, where games can really help. In order to start testing your product hypothesis, you need feedback from your target customers. And as we wrote in our lastpost, games are a great way to engage people’s attention. If you set up an ad game and deliver it to your target customers, it’s easy to draw them in and get them to try using your product.

In order for this to work, though, you need to pick the right type of game. This is where a lot of founders get stuck. However, when you combine the concept of the minimum viable segment (MVS) with the fact that different types of consumers tend to prefer different types of games, it becomes an easy decision.

MVS, which was first described by Michael Skok, is about choosing a narrowly-defined set of customers who have similar needs and then building a product that addresses those needs. If you’ve defined your MVS appropriately, your customers will most likely have certain demographic characteristics in common (e.g. if you’re building an exercise app for moms, your target customer base will be composed of older women).

Once you have a clear understanding of which demographic you want to engage, you just need to pick a game type that appeals to them. There’s lots of research on this topic, but we think this analysis from Flurry is particularly useful. The company conducted a study of the top free-to-play iOS games and found a clear mapping of game genres to player demographics. Here’s a graph summarizing their results:


The graph plots game types by age and gender. The x-axis represents the percentage of females who make up the game type’s audience, while the x-axis represents the average age of the game type’s user base. This means that games in the upper right corner are preferred by older females, games in the lower right are preferred by younger females, and so on.

So how does this relate to ad games? If you’re a company with a product aimed at younger males, it suggests you should pick one of the game types in the lower left corner – racing, shooter, card battle, etc. But if you’re trying to reach a younger female audience, a quiz or bubble shooter game would probably be more effective.

Of course, there’s always going to be variation in game type preference from person to person, and not every MVS will map neatly to one of these demographic quadrants. But if you’re a founder looking to quickly leverage the power of games to build up your user base and start testing product-market fit, this method is a great way to get started.

Creating a Mobile Marketing Strategy for your Business? Try Using Games

This is the first article in a series about how startups can use games to engage their target customers on mobile. We’ll post one new article every Wednesday, so stay tuned.


Before we go into the details of how you should use games in your mobile marketing strategy, I want to step back and talk about why you should use games in your mobile marketing strategy.

The answer is pretty straightforward – adding a game to a marketing campaign can increase click-through-rates by 7x (see this infographic from Celtra for more stats) and decrease customer acquisition costs by 30%. In non-marketing speak, this means you end up getting a higher return on your advertising budget.

Normally, if a company wanted to enjoy these benefits, they’d need to hire a game studio or an ad agency to build them a custom game. Most startups and small businesses just don’t have the time, budget or expertise to do that.

Gamewheel was designed with these smaller advertisers in mind. It’s a self-service tool that allows you to create custom ad games and use them in your marketing campaigns, all without knowing anything about game design or coding.

So games are a great tool for marketers, and Gamewheel makes them much more accessible. But like any tool, games are only effective when you know how to use them. That’s why we started this blog series – to help you get as much value as possible out of Gamewheel.

Next week, we’ll kick things off with a post about product-market fit, minimum viable customer segments and how it all relates to ad games. Until then, have a great week!

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