Facebook Ad campaigns are proven to help increase brand recognition of your indie game, but also can help you increase sales for your indie game.
What are Facebook Ads?
Here is where we begin. For many of you indie game developers, studios and even publishers who aren’t aware of Facebook advertising, and what it actually is. This is a quick briefing on what Facebook ads are, how they are served to gamers who want to play your game.
- Ads can appear in News Feed on desktop, News Feed on mobile, and in the right column of Facebook on desktop, as well as Instagram now.
- The ads are designed with an objective such as video views, website clicks, leads and to acquire reach or engagement for posts.
- Facebook ads will allow you to track these objectives in your ads manager, so you can understand what works, and what doesn’t work.
- Ads help your indie game in the following ways: increase reach, recognition, branding, sales, and can help to improve your community.
What Does a Video Game Facebook Ad Look Like?
Facebook ads are quite easy to pick out once you know what you are looking for. They use include a disclaimer at the very top of the post that says “sponsored”. The powerful thing about Facebook ads in the desktop news feed, is that they do such a great job of blending in, and also do a great job of serving to an audience that has an actual interest in the game being advertised.
Here is a great sample of a Facebook ad, and to be specific, a Video Views objective ad for Vindictus:
At first glance this just looks like a regular post, the engagement suggests maybe Vindictus had just posted this on their fan page, but in fact they created this ad and have been paying to serve it to an audience of gamers who they feel would be interested in purchasing their game.
How Can I Use Facebook Ads to Help Sell My Indie Game?
Now we get into the true purpose of this article, and that is to help you indie game developers and publishers out there, not just why you should be using Facebook Ads, but what Facebook ads work best for indie games, as well as how they work.
There are really only a few campaign objectives that you should worry about when you are trying to use Facebook ads to help increase your indie game’s sales. There are ads that help you directly and indirectly reach your goal.
Increase Facebook Page Engagement
By boosting posts that you make to your indie game or developer Facebook page you are helping your online community grow. This is arguably one of the most important ads you can utilize, reason being for any successful indie game, it begins and ends with your community and dedicated following. Unlike AAA titles, an indie game really needs a vocal community who is willing to actively promote the game on their behalf, almost acting as advocates.
Boost your posts ads will help your posts reach thousands of gamers, but also helps increase your community size. This has an indirect effect in terms of improving game sales, as it directly helps to increase your community, the community advocacy and promotion of your game directly helps increase your sales.
Have an Awesome Indie Game Trailer? Show it Off!
From our experience, when working with indie game developers, and managing a number of Facebook ad campaigns for their indie games, the Get video views ad is quite possibly the most impactful for the long-term success of any game, not just independent.
This ad type has proven time and again to be an incredible tool to help with branding, but also to help increase recognition of your indie games sales specials, or even for acquiring interest for pledges on your Kickstarter campaign.
What kind of results can you expect from Video View ads for your Indie Game campaigns?
- Thousands of people viewing your gameplay or Kickstarter trailer
- Very low cost per result (per video view)
- Ability to target specific audiences such as; city, state, country, video games they like, and age groups to name a few options
- Increase in organic, direct, and even referral traffic to your Steam store, Kickstarter campaign page, or your game website
- As a result from increased visibility and traffic, you will receive more pledges on Kickstarter and more game sales online
It should be noted the last two points in regards to traffic, sales and pledges, are actually an indirect cause and effect of the actual ad. When your ad is served, either on someone’s desktop or mobile newsfeed, and even on Instagram, your game is front and center for them to look at. The most common user behavior we have experienced is that users will watch a part of the video, then they will either search for the game on their Steam account, search for it on Kickstarter, or do a Google search for it.
For any branding campaigns, like video view ads on Facebook for any indie game, the initial goal is simply to create some entry-level interest. So those who are intrigued by the trailer feel inclined to research your game.
Here is an example of how effective video views can be in terms of helping increase indirect traffic growth to an indie games Steam store. Organic, direct and referral traffic to the Steam store increased dramatically as soon as the video view ads went live.
Drive Traffic Directly to Your Indie Game Site with Website Clicks Ads on Facebook
If you are looking to track direct results, meaning you want to see exactly how your advertising dollars are being spent on Facebook, then you will want to spend money on website click ads on Facebook to help your indie game receive referral traffic from Facebook users.
This type of ad campaign is best suited if you are doing a % off sale, say on Steam, and you are hoping to sell as much as you can in the short period in which the game is on sale. This will send traffic to your Steam store, or wherever your game may be sold online.
What kind of results can you expect with website click ads on Facebook?
- Receive referral traffic directly from interested Facebook users for as low as $0.25 to $0.60 per website click, depending on how you’re targeting your audience for the ad
- With a dedicated budget for the life of the ad, you can expect hundreds, if not thousands of unique clicks to your website
- Track the behavior of the user with Google Analytics by creating a UTM parameters URL
- With Facebook Ads Manager you can track the performance and demographics of your ads, so you can make adjustments on the fly
- Using the right ad copy and call to action you can see a conversion rate (from click to buy) as high as 10 percent
To get an idea of how Facebook web clicks performs, here is a snippet from a recent website clicks advert we managed for an indie game developer during their most recent sales event. As you can see the traffic just from this ad grew and grew as we continued to adjust the daily budget, and peaked at the end of the campaign. In this given campaign we saw roughly a 15% conversion rate, meaning if 1000 users clicked the ad, roughly 150 of those users then bought the game from the Steam store.
What most indie game developers need to understand with this style of Facebook ad campaign is that you need to recognize that the artwork (photo) and the actual copy included with the post for the web click ad, need to be on point. It really needs to hit the impulsive nerve of the gamer, to encourage them to buy the game.
How do you choose the right audience to target for your ads?
Well there are a few things to consider when building a target audience on Facebook. Here they are in no specific order:
- Location, this could be city, state or even entire countries
- Language, if you plan to serve your ads in a different language other than English
- Interests such as; video games, music, movies, tv shows, etc.
For the most part many of these are very self-explanatory. As the developer of the game you should really understand your games identity, and I am not talking about what type of game it is, but more along the line of who it represents, what type of game does it represents.
This identity is important as you look into how to target your indie game ad audience based on interests and behavior. You want to really understand what games are similar to your game, by comparison only. Would people that play your indie game also enjoy retro games? Does your game’s target market prefer Xbox over PS4, or even PC? If your game was a movie or book, which would it be most like? Comparisons are very important; misrepresenting yourself with poor comparisons can really hurt your games performance not just in ad campaigns, but elsewhere, such as; your community, and how indie game bloggers may misinterpret your game.
For behavior purposes, this category for targeting is best used when you understand your objective. If you are launching a Kickstarter campaign and need pledges, you can choose people who have a known behavior for donating, or giving to charities, etc.
Ultimately, Facebook ads are quickly becoming a necessary piece of an indie game developer and publisher’s marketing repertoire. This is a tool that you can’t ignore and should consider if you are looking to increase your branding efforts, as well as help in improving your indie game sales. The challenge begins with recognizing who your audience is, who do you think would like your game, and why? Then you need to really understand the true identity of your indie game: what games does it compare to, regardless of release date and platform?
If you have an issue with comparing your game to another, because you feel your game is just that unique, chances are you are living in denial and an alternate reality. Recognize what influenced you to make this game, and what elements helped build your game, and from there you will have a much easier time building successful Facebook ads.