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The 2016 Casual Connect was lit: global thought leaders, developers, publishers, and gamers gathered together to discuss the latest tools and trends in casual gaming (e.g. Pokémon GO, Tetris, Candy Crush, Pac-Man). Over 300 speakers from companies such as Glu Mobile, Zynga, Google, Facebook, and Sony spoke to thousands of audience members about social casinos, market navigation, design, and development.

And we were there for all of it.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a distilled version of what we learned over the course of the jam-packed three-day conference:

1. Incentivized Video Advertising is Key To Monetization

Mobile gaming experts believe that incentivized video advertising will surpass other monetization models in the years to come. Users are incentivized to watch advertisement videos through reward systems such as in-app currency, tips, and level skips. Video advertising has thus far proven to be incredibly successful at driving revenue, engaging users, and improving the user experience.

2. Long-term Engagement And Loyalty Is Crucial To Success

The key to long-term engagement and loyalty is constantly communicating with your players. This means having events, sending notifications, giving rewards, having “hooks” to re-engage your players, and using video advertising to increase engagement and to make the game cheaper to the user.

3. Most Mobile Games Will Fail

One of the main reasons that games fail, according to Chris Olson of Sega Networks and Ethan Einhorn of Sidekick VR, is that they don’t listen to their players. Games must solicit direct and indirect feedback through analytics, while still treating their players as more than just data points. Similarly, another primary reason that games fail is because they don’t do a soft launch (where they should garner tons of user feedback).

4. Video Advertising Actually Increases Engagement

This was one of the hottest topics of the conference. Speakers outlined how incentivized ads can improve the user experience. For instance, if a player runs out of gas but didn’t crash, they can opt to watch an ad in exchange for a free new tank of gas. Not only does this keep the player in the app longer, but it also successfully monetizes the game. Video ads can also re-engage users: say that you have a player who has been stuck on a certain level and has stopped entering the game. You can send a push offering a cheat to the next level in exchange for the player watching the video. It’s a win-win.

5. Segmentation is Key

One of the most important factors to both monetization, engagement, and retention is correctly segmenting your users. Speakers recommended identifying drop-off points to proactively re-engage users, as well as to inform product iterations. Segmentation is also key to video advertising: in a panel on “How to Monetize Efficiently with Advertising”, experts discussed how games should be segmenting their users based on how receptive they are to video advertising. Identify which players are likely to respond well to video advertising, and push that as your monetization model for them, while pushing IAP to others.

Interested in learning more about what you can learn from Mobile Gaming? Check out our latest post on the subject here.

Published July 22, 2016
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