6 Steps to Scale Your CPE Ad Campaigns – A Guide for Mobile Game Advertisers

By Cristina Slattery Lopez and Jota Ferreira

Cost Per Engagement ads are one of the most effective ways to acquire high-quality mobile users. Centralized in a hub that emulates an in-app store, these ads reward users with virtual currency in exchange for engagement. Users are more than happy to receive rewards for watching a video or test-driving a new game, while advertisers can scale profitably thanks to performance pricing.

In this post, we’ll go over a number of tried-and-true techniques to scaling your Cost Per Engagement* (CPE) campaigns. These are the same techniques that helped our partner, FunPlus Games beat its ROAS target by 58% (check out the full case study here!). Keep reading for tips and tricks to scale conversions while keeping ROAS high.

*Note: CPE campaigns are only available on Android apps, in accordance with Apple guidelines.

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Step #1: Choose the right KPIs
Step #2: Test different CPE events
Step #3: Target different countries strategically
Step #4: Make rewards more enticing with stronger bids
Step #5: A/B test creative formats
Step #6: Capitalize on currency sales

 

Step #1: Choose the right KPIs

The majority of games can be segmented into one of three categories: casual, mid/hardcore, and casino. The majority of our partners consider return on ad spend (ROAS) and retention as their KPIs to measure the success of a CPE campaign. 

These are the benchmarks we commonly see by genre: 

    • Casual: Casual game developers often look at D7 (day seven) ROAS and/or retention. This benchmark works well with CPE events that take up to three days for a user to complete.
    • Mid/Hardcore & Casino: Since these games target events that require more time to complete (sometimes up to two weeks), we typically recommend looking at D30 ROAS and retention.

 

Regardless of genre, pay attention to scale

In addition to these industry-standard benchmarks, advertisers should also pay attention to their campaign’s scalability. While keeping costs down is important, your campaign will not be scalable if it has a low conversion rate. A high CVR will boost your eCPM, and thus improve your Offerwall rank. A high offerwall rank (1st being the highest) is a crucial factor in campaign performance because it determines the order in which offers are displayed, the higher the rank, the higher the install numbers.

 

Step #2: Test different CPE events

There are two different ways to set up your CPE campaign — single event CPE or Multi-Reward CPE. Multi-Reward CPE campaigns allow users to collect multiple rewards within one offer, keeping them more engaged. This offer type tends to work well for the advertisers that know what events work well for their games and for the events that take a while to complete. Whereas single event CPE offers can be used to help identify the best performing event for your game or for events that are quite quick to complete.

Single event CPE offers

We recommend testing two to three different events at launch to determine which is most appealing to offerwall users. Start by identifying a point in your game where users are most likely to complete a purchase, and target an event after that. For example, if most users make a purchase seven days after installing, it’s best to run an event that would take eight days to complete. 

Also, consider your genre here:

  • Casual: For casual games, we typically see success in events that take between 30 minutes and one day to complete. These events perform better in terms of CVR and therefore require smaller bids to have competitive eCPM, which might be a key to hitting your ROAS goal. 
  • Mid/hardcore & Casino: Longer-term events tend to be more common with mid-hardcore and casino games. These events can range anywhere between three days and two weeks to complete. If your chosen event takes longer than two weeks, opt for Multi-Reward CPE to boost engagement.

 

Multi-Reward CPE offers

For Multi-Reward, you must choose a minimum of two events for setup, but three is recommended as a best practice. There is no maximum on the number of events you can set up. We recommend setting the deepest event available as the final checkpoint and using this as the main incentive for users. Then you can set up smaller events along the way to encourage them to keep playing. See how Huuuge Games exceed their ROAS goals by 2X when switching to Multi-Reward CPE.

 

Step #3: Target different countries strategically

We recommend getting started in the US or the country with the biggest reach depending on your partner. For Tapjoy, this is the United States. Other tier 1 and tier 2 countries that perform well include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Russia, Korea, and Japan. 

When running campaigns in any non-English speaking countries we always recommend localizing creative as it will help conversion rates.

Mechanist Games, one of China’s fastest-growing mobile game publishers, used Tapjoy’s CPE to break into new global markets. It had already seen success in Russia and Turkey and had set its sights on the US. Not only did Mechanist exceed its ROAS goals, but it also achieved a minimum of 10% D7 retention among new US users. Check out the case study for more.

 

Step #4: Make rewards more enticing with stronger bids

The minimum bid for single event CPE is $0.20. However, bid recommendations vary in accordance with game genre, and the time chosen event’s time to completion.

  • Casual: Casual games typically target events that take between 2-10 hours to complete. The average bid for casual games is $3-8.
  • Mid/hardcore: For events that take between 10-72 hours to complete, we recommend bidding between $20-75.
  • Hardcore: Longer events that require between 4-14 days to complete need the highest bids to entice users. We recommend bidding $75-200 to start.
  • Casino: Because casino games tend to have lower conversion rates, they tend to need higher bids to compensate. These advertisers typically bid between $30-200 depending on the target level of completion.

Keep in mind that the above are general recommendations. We have some casual partners that set ambitious week-long events, with great success. The same is true among mid and hardcore publishers — for example, some strategy games see ROAS from low-friction events, such as asking users to reach level 3.

For Multi Reward CPE, biddings strategies grow more complex but extremely effective — we see a 27% increase in completion rates compared to single event CPE offers. We typically recommend choosing min three events that span the above timeframes — five if the final event is expected to take two weeks to complete. Below is a rough sketch of a bid strategy. Keep in mind that bids are set for individual events, rather than cumulatively.

  1. The casual event: Start with a quick-hitter. This first event should be easy to achieve shortly after install and involve a lower bid. If it requires three hours of playtime, you could start with a bid of just $3.
  2. The casual+ event: The second event should occur a bit deeper in the funnel, usually a few levels past the initial tutorial phase. If it takes around 12 hours of playtime, a $15 bid might be sufficient.
  3. The first deep event: The third event should take around three days to complete. We typically see more drop off at this point, so a larger bid will be necessary to compensate. A $30-75 bid could be appropriate, but spend per event will likely be relatively stable given that fewer users will pass this checkpoint.
  4. The deepest events: Your fourth or fifth events should target the deepest engagement checkpoints. It could take a few days or up to two weeks to complete. Because these events require the most investment, they will need more competitive bids. Try to maintain the same ratio of rewards to hours played. Also, be sure to increase the time required gradually between events so that users have clear expectations of pacing and rewards. 

 

Step #5: A/B test creative formats

On the Tapjoy Offerwall, you have the option to A/B test a number of engaging instruction formats. We offer three options, including:

  • Image gallery: You can run a CPE offer with a gallery of up to four images. We recommend highlighting event checkpoints and showing the steps to completion.

 

  • Video: Gameplay videos tend to perform best, but make sure that the creative is relevant to the events you’re targeting.

 

  • Text: This is the default, but sometimes it’s best to keep things simple — especially if the event checkpoints require complex explanations.

Beyond custom instructions, we also offer the option to replace your offer icon with an animated gif. This will make your offer more likely to catch the eye as users scroll the offerwall. We recommend a minimalist approach since complex designs could look chaotic in the small space.

If you’re not sure which creative format is best for your campaign, start with a test. In the last campaign example we shared, Mechanist Games tested gallery and video instructions. It found that gallery yielded a 4% conversion rate, while video saw 3.6%.

 

Step #6: Capitalize on currency sales

To really take your campaign to the next level, you should take advantage of special network-wide promotions. During these promotions, called currency sales, Tapjoy publishers multiply rewards to increase revenue and engagement during high-traffic weekends. Most publishers also make in-game announcements to alert users of currency sales increasing traffic to our offerwall network and likelihood for you to find new users. 

Typically, publishers promote these sales with in-app messaging, such as “Earn 2X coins over Black Friday weekend.” As a result, they typically see a 20-80% increase in offerwall revenue over the sale period. For advertisers, that correlates to an influx of conversions. These limited-time sales happen seasonally, and they’re the perfect moment to raise your bid and increase your offerwall rank.

Scaling mobile UA campaigns is definitely a challenge — after all, new apps flood the market daily and engaging quality users is more costly than ever. But as you can see, the Tapjoy Offerwall gives you a wide range of tools to optimize performance. Beyond these tools, we also have a dedicated team of mobile strategists to help you scale while addressing your unique goals. Reach out today to get started.

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