How to use special dates for engaging gameplays, and ads!

Learn more about how mobile games are leveraging themed gameplays and mobile ads to boost app performance on special dates and events.

Florencia Vago

August 30, 2021

What can gaming apps learn from non-gaming apps? 

Typically shopping apps will use every special date and their mother to run promos or simply hyper-relevant messages. Mother’s Day? Halloween? Start of summer? End of Summer? Back to school?... you get the idea. But other verticals can benefit from this too. 

Some of the most ambitious mobile games have been leveraging special dates for custom gameplays with great results. Below, we highlight some examples across different game categories before we dive into our own use case. 

Cooking Diary is a cooking time management game with dynamic gameplay, where the player owns a restaurant chain. Within the game, Mytona runs Easter, Christmas, and Halloween tournaments on their popular Cooking Diary game (as well as special events like a Stranger Things themed tournament).

Ruzzle is a word game that also runs limited tournaments for special dates like Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s day, as well as at the start of summer. As part of these events, Ruzzle slightly alters the interface to include themed elements and making it so keywords related to the holiday are worth more points.

House of fun Slots Machine is a slots game that uses in-game coins and item collections only. For a bit more of a challenge, they also offer slot machines with added features such as missions and side games. Along with their missions, they often include seasonal discounts and sets.

Use case: Chinese New Year-themed gameplay and mobile ads!

Some dates may be more relevant than others, but it’s definitely worth testing! A couple of years ago, we tested this out with one of our customers who was planning an in-app event around Chinese New Year. Our customer wanted to run App Retargeting throughout the event to bring users back to the app and engage them with the tournament and themed prizes.

In this particular case, we worked with an app that changed the actual gameplay of the app. That is to say, it wasn’t just an ad strategy or a promoted discount. They created special elements, prizes, and weapons that were available only during a certain time period and only if the player advanced through the tournament. 

The Challenge

Gaming users tend to have short lifespans, if they are not kept constantly entertained, they can go dormant quite easily. Since this gaming app frequently runs in-app events with a tournament-type structure, we worked together to leverage special dates in order to re-engage users with something new.

Organic Installs | Daily Retention rate

Non-Organic Installs | Daily Retention rate

The Strategy

Using Jampp’s Dynamic Ads Builder, we quickly created different sets of themed creatives that advertised the Chinese New Year event and Jampp ran these ads using the same segments as the evergreen campaign.

Our algorithms identify the right moment to target users to maximize their willingness to move forward in the game and activate monetization events.

The Results

By using App Retargeting to advertise the themed gameplay and special purchases during the event, the app was able to keep players highly engaged. The limited-time offer and original prizes were a compelling reason for users to return. In other words, it helped to keep users actively engaged by switching things up and keeping the game fresh and new. 

Comparing the special event campaign with the evergreen campaign, we can see an improvement in every KPI. Most importantly, the overall ROAS increased 313% over the evergreen campaign, showing the impact on the bottom line.

Key elements of a successful themed gameplay

While our customer had to invest in the actual gameplay changes, Jampp took care of the end-to-end creation of high-quality, themed ads across every size and format. Together we ran a successful test that convinced us of the value of leveraging key dates for gaming campaigns.

  • Limited time: The gameplay/ quest/ discount should run around the key date to remain relevant. Additionally, limited offers help generate a sense of urgency, so even if it’s centered around a season like summer, it might be better to run multiple limited-time events than a three-month one.
  • Themed elements: It can be as simple as adding a holiday avatar or decorations, and this may be a good place to start, though slightly more elaborate elements like a specific set of prizes might be more engaging. 
  • Dynamic Ad Strategy: Since these offers run for a limited period of time and you want to show as many ads as possible to make sure users see and interact with them, you’ll need a) a quick turnaround of assets, and b) multiple ad variations. An engaging ad strategy will allow you to successfully communicate the value and urgency of going back to the game. 

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Are you planning an end-of-summer promo or a Halloween-themed gameplay? We’d love to help! Get in touch to see our platform and creative suite in action!

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