Advertising – is it a waste of money?

26 08 2008

Last two months has been really busy and I haven’t put much attention to advertising. Actually, I haven’t done it at all. Until yesterday.

I hate advertising because I always feel like the only one that earns money is the Ad Server.  Even if clicks or impressions are not soo expensive it is hard to turn them into profits. Why? Games are either too cheap or too expensive.

But I read a book about AdWords and it gave me some inspiration. I also noticed that Pony World has quite good visitor to download ratio – over 40% of visitors download the game. With that ratio maybe it will not to that hard to turn AdWords into profits?

I created two ad variations for selected keywords and set up a daily budget of a little over $10. And today I got the results (that’s what I love about AdWords – almost instant results).

My ads received 90 clicks total: 51 for ad variation #1and 39 for ad variation #2. CTR for those ads: 1.55% for #1 and 1.22% for #2. Not so bad,  especially one you show it by keywords: the best CTR is 10.38% and the lowest one is 0.77%. The lowest one represents most of impressions and clicks.

Because that’s just 90 clicks I don’t know if it’s profitable yet or not, but we can do some estimations. Let’s go to Google Analytics and check if those clickers download the game. This is where we face first disappointment. Only 19.48% of clickers downloads the game. It’s still much better than what I had for Runes of Avalon campaign where only 11% of visitors downloaded the game.

If Pony World Deluxe has 1% CR (download to sale) then I need 100 downloads to sell one game. And I need 513 clicks to get 100 downloads. 513 clicks will cost me over $68. And I get only $17 out of each sale, so each sale makes me a loss of $51.

Judging just by those numbers you can for sure say that advertising is a waste of money. And it is if you do it wrong. It is if you aim short term. It is if you don’t tweak your ads, your game and your game description web page. It is if you don’t increase your visitor value.

It takes time to turn advertising into profits. Most people are not patient enough.

I made some tweaks to my ads and will do for at least few more days. If I can see improvements then I’ll keep advertising until I make a profit or run out of money :D

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Do you develop games that sell or…

14 08 2008
One million dollars
Photo by: Simon Davison

Or do you develop games that you want to play? I know a lot of indies takes the latter aproach. I do (or actually did). We hope that games that we want to play and develop are also the games that sell. And once those games are done and hit the market we end up disappointed that they dind’t reach the top 10 charts.

Do you want an example? Here’s one: Runes of Avalon 2. This is one of my games that is highly rated by reviewers and developers. It’s chellenging, forces you to use your brain, has a lot of particles… all the stuff that developers love. But what masses think? It was just a #32 on the top 100 chart at Big Fish Games. (but there are still customers that love my game though I don’t know how to reach them without losing money).

So if you want to sell more games, then make games that sell. Russell Carroll made a great post on Indie Gamer Forums and here’s a quote for you:

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