Better User Feedback Makes Better Mobile Games by Chas Castell for TechnologyAdvice

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Chas Castell, Senior Manager of Ad Operations at Scopely, took part in the panel onVideo: The Next Frontier at the 2014 Millennial Media Development Summit in Baltimore. For the last four years, Castell has been working with Millennial Media as part of the Scopely team as well as in his previous role at Warner Bros.

Founded in 2011, Scopely is an in-house game studio and mobile game publisher that seeks to build the next generation of consumer mobile experiences. Utilizing a new publisher model, Scopely has scaled up from four to 81 employees over just three years.

During our conversation, Castell talked about challenges facing the industry, running successful A/B testing, user data and feedback, the future of the industry, and Scopely’s current projects.

Current Challenges in Gaming Development

Castell sees the industry facing particular difficulties in:

  • The one-size-fits-all mentality about releasing content: Castell pointed out that many advertisers still have a mindset of producing and publishing as much video content as they can, inadvertently hoping that consumers will automatically engage with any (non-targeted) video.
  • Shifting from a reactive to a proactive frame of mind: Ultimately, the challenge is to create and maintain a positive customer user experience from the get-go instead of in response to a user issue.

Simply put, the biggest issue is how to monetize ads without bombarding users with content so that a positive user experience is ultimately achieved.

 

Turning Challenges into Solutions

Castell further explained that the ultimate goal is to create better user experiences by:

  • A/B Testing: Ensure that current ads aren’t negatively affecting the end user experience. Castell explained that a lot of A/B testing is done to make sure they’re running more video and yet are still maintaining the same level of engagement and retention throughout the game or app.
  • Utilizing user feedback: Getting feedback from users is key. Castell and his team then pass that information to their networks, which then provide that information to their advertisers. This is essentially segmenting a user base. As a result, advertisers aren’t wasting their money.

Moreover, I asked Castell as to how much incentive they normally provide to users giving valuable feedback. He said that although they haven’t started doing it (since they don’t have an existing framework for it yet), it is definitely something that he sees coming in the future.

User Data Implications from a Publisher’s Perspective

Castell cited that as a publisher, they want to know what user data means in terms of how it affects CPMs, as this translates to revenue. But they don’t have full visibility on that metric. So if they didn’t pass that information on, they wouldn’t have received a number of those campaigns. Hence, zero user data = zero data points = zero money.

User Feedback Implications from an Advertiser’s Perspective

Advertisers can ask for user feedback on the front end, but advertisers today are becoming more sophisticated about issues like install rate, clickthrough rates, and completion rates, in the same manner that brands are also now more sophisticated about completion rates. However, such sophistication wears off when talking about whether users actually like the videos they see in mobile-based advertising.

As far as what the future holds for the industry, Castell mentioned creating a technology to ensure that user feedback can lead to a user’s positive experience and that eventually advertising itself could even offer a positive user experience.

Finally, Castell talked about the projects Scopely is passionate about, given the very active slate of games they have coming soon into the marketplace. Presently, their biggest game, Dice with Buddies, has been in app stores for three years now and still generates large revenue. They also launched Mini Golf Match Up the previous year, which is showing phenomenal results.

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