Google Cloud

Looker for Gaming: A Magic Match

In-app advertising is rapidly gaining popularity. Between 2016 and 2020, forecasted global mobile in-app advertising revenues skyrocketed from $52.1 billion to $117.2 billion. However, advertising in mobile games remains a tricky business - when interrupted by overly frequent or irrelevant ads, gamers might quit playing a game.  

As this is the fear of every game developer, makers struggle with the following question: how to provide great gaming experiences, optimize ad spend, and earn revenue at the same time? Enter Looker, a comprehensive platform that combines business intelligence, data applications, and embedded analytics. By simplifying the development of a data exploration platform, Looker enables game development companies to access data in a meaningful and intuitive way. Enabling them, for example, to predict the entire lifetime revenue of a player from the first time they come in. How? Read on to find out. 

Futureplay: choosing ad strategies wisely
Futureplay is a mobile games studio with five unique games that have been played by over 100 million people. Futureplay’s popularity is partially due to their use of positive reinforcement-based ads. Rather than forcing ads on players, Futureplay lets them choose if and when they watch ads to gain in-game progression rewards. The results are fruitful: engagement with the ads is higher, and the likelihood of players stopping their game has dropped.  

This ad strategy requires making data-informed decisions. But with data scattered over various tools for marketing metrics and product analytics, understanding how players interact with ads was a huge challenge. Camilo Fitzgerald, analyst and first hire at Futureplay: “It became very hard to manually manage and validate the data stored within all data sources. As a result, most employees couldn’t fully access and understand the data to reach their goals.”  

Looker: joining data for highly informed decisions
Aiming to improve the data analysis process, Futureplay turned to Looker. LookML, Looker’s modeling layer, ensures consistent data definitions across users and platforms. Thanks to LookML, Futureplay gained a better understanding of their users and ads across platforms. It enables everyone at Futureplay, from business teams to the most experienced data analysts, to access self-serve analytics. Also, LookML enables data analysis and visualization experiences that go further than reports and dashboards.  

Using BigQuery, Google Cloud’s data warehouse, Futureplay brought together data from multiple platforms. Then, they loaded Looker on top of BigQuery. The team was able to determine the ads, regions, and channels generating the highest-value players. Next, they combined these novel insights with internal ad spend data, lifetime value benchmark, and installation numbers. Within Looker, Futureplay built a predictive lifetime value model. Fitzgerald: “From the first time a user comes in, we can predict how much revenue they're expected to generate in their lifetime.”  

The team even took this a step further by building an AdBot to help optimize and automate user acquisition from within Looker. It automates the process of reading data from Looker each night and updates bids accordingly through an API to, for example, Google and Facebook. This bot monitors impressions and revenue by ad stream to track the performance of each ad. Based on this information, AdBot decides which ad to show to which player to maximize yield.

Leveraging Looker and BigQuery has allowed Futureplay to monitor KPIs, track marketing performance, and enhance their decision-making process. This has upgraded their gaming experience, marketing efficiency, and revenue. However, there are many more Google Cloud services that can seamlessly be integrated into Looker – imagine the possibilities. Curious? Click here to learn more.