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Maximizing the 2020 holidays for mobile user acquisition

Facebook unwraps opportunity for gaming advertisers this holiday season

The holiday period is one of the most important times of the year for gaming companies. This year could look like no other holiday season we've seen. It's been an unprecedented year for gaming and that will be reflected in the next few weeks. Here's why.

There are more new gamers online than ever before
According to data from market research firm Global Web Index, 76% of global consumers say they're spending more time on their smartphones since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. People across all generations are spending more time with gaming, apps and esports during COVID-19. On top of this, the big new generation console launches during this period are likely to lead to an influx of players.

There will be a steadier ramp up to ecommerce demand
While there are more ecommerce advertisers online, companies are encouraging earlier purchases to manage shipping deadlines. Predictions point to consumers planning their gifting purchases earlier. This could lead to a less pronounced spike in prices and an even steeper price drop after the last shipping date than in the years before.

More people are likely to be online during this season
With global restrictions and a return to lockdown in large parts of Europe and the world, people are likely to travel less and spend more time at home.

Mapping the holiday opportunity for gaming advertisers
All this suggests a large holiday opportunity for gaming advertisers. Analyses of mobile game downloads and in-game revenue from Sensor Tower and Facebook's 2020 Gaming Holiday Playbook point to the following trends:

Downloads and in-game revenues peak during the holiday season

For the past four years we've observed that the highest number of mobile game downloads happened in each year's holiday season. This effect is similar on Google Play and on the App Store. Interestingly, Google Play downloads have stabilized at a higher level post the COVID-19 peak in Q2, while App Store downloads seem to have stabilized back at their pre-pandemic levels.

Like downloads, in-game revenues have also peaked during each year's holiday season. It's worth noting that the App Store revenue is much more pronounced in its spikes than Google Play. Therefore, it's worth accelerating your iOS campaigns a few days before Christmas day to start monetizing players during the festive peaks.

Holiday opportunities extend until the end of January
There's a lot more to the Holiday season opportunity on Facebook than Black Friday, Christmas and New Year's day. From an internal analysis, we observed the following trends:

- Data from 2019 showed that CPMs come down steadily after Black Friday in key western markets like the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. These opportunities extended at least into the end of January.
- When comparing CPMs on Google Play and on the App Store in the US, Google Play is less volatile and sees lower CPMs than the App Store. CPMs on Google Play also climb back more slowly after New Year's and opportunities last longer into January.

It's worth expanding in geography and OS
Cost fluctuations are less pronounced due to focus on other, region-specific holidays in Asian markets like Taiwan, Korea and Japan. This offers gaming developers a great opportunity to diversify spend internationally for user acquisition.

Japan in particular, offers an interesting opportunity. In this market, in-game revenues typically peak dramatically on the 1st day of each month where a lot of in-game events are set to happen. This effect is even stronger on January 1, with the start of Shogatsu (Japanese New Year) where in-game revenues typically almost triple due to holidays, special in-game events, businesses being closed, and monetary gifts being made.

Our internal data shows that markets like Brazil and Russia also see efficient opportunities arise after Christmas.

Key strategies to help you succeed on Facebook this holiday season

Stay active and adopt strategies to maximize profitable user acquisition, including:

- Automated App Ads
While costs may rise during some periods of the holiday season, take advantage of the increased conversion rates and stay active. Leverage Automated App Ads to reach more people in more places and maximize auction liquidity.

- Diversification
Expand internationally, focus on Android, and diversify your optimization to a combination of mobile app installs, app event optimization and value optimization to get the best outcomes

- Relevance
Maximize relevance to your audience through holiday-themed creatives and in-game events and promotions

Scale up with lower cost inventory after the last shipping date from mid-December with:

- Advance campaign planning
Set up campaigns several weeks in advance to turn on as soon as prices drop. This helps to avoid unforeseen ad creation bugs,and avoid campaign management in-between holiday meals.

- Prioritize holiday-themed creatives
Adjust your creative pipeline for higher output. Consider partnering with Facebook marketing partners to develop relevant creatives given the benefits last at least into the end of January.

- Explore seasonal in-game events and partnerships
In-game events and promotions help to improve player retention and drive in-app purchases.

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