Google Adwords – what a joke it is!

20 04 2011

I am shocked. Really. Seriously. Few weeks ago I created an ad in AdWords for our newest game – Avalon Legends Solitaire. Of course it had to be approved, which already ruined whole thing. It takes weeks to approve adds and makes the whole thing of tweaking your ad impossible, unless you wish to spend ages on it.

Today I received email from Google that my ads are disapproved. The reason:

Gabling Certificate Required

What? What the hell? Do I look like casino? Here’s my ad:

Avalon Legends Solitaire
Restore the Deck of Nature and save
Avalon. 200 hands. Free trial.

I guess that’s the last time I use Adwords, unless until they seriously improve their service. Too bad, as working with adwords was a good way of improving your ad copy before going “world wide”.

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Interview with Cliff Harris (cliffski) from Positech Games

4 02 2009

Cliff Harris is a lone wolf indie developer for over 10 years. Yes, he’s been here before the whole casual gaming thing has started. I interviewed Cliff to find out what makes his site and games so special that he is able to earn over $200k a year in direct sales. If you want to know how to become portal-proof start reading.

You made almost $200k in 2008. That’s pretty impressive for indie developer. My sales are 10 times worse. What have you done to achieve such great sales?

Cliff HarrisAhahaha. I didn’t make $200k in 2008. That’s the revenue from direct sales through my main payment provider. I earn other amounts from other deals. And then to find out how much I actually *make* you’d have to subtract all the expenses, and they can be surprisingly high when you actually pay for advertising, and a dedicated server. I guess the way I achieve it is to make games that are not easily copied and cloned, and I put quite a lot of work into promoting them. I also get very into the business side of selling games. if you sell games, and you don’t know which pages on your website have the lowest bounce rates, if you don’t know what the average CPC is for your ads and do A/B testing to increase the CTR…. and much more importantly, if you have no idea WTF I’m talking about, then you are quite simply losing sales to people like me, who study this stuff :D.

Imagine that I know what CTR, A/B testing and all that stuff is… but still my ads are not efficient. Maybe I am just not patient enough? How long do you test them before you pick a winner ad?

Read the rest of this entry »

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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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3 Tips For Improving Your Google Adwords Campaigns

11 01 2008

Google Adwords is an extremely popular place to advertise. It’s also extremely hard to do it right. When you’re indie, you don’t want to lose a single penny from your advertising budget. Here are 3 tips that can help you get more from Adwords.

1. Create different campaigns for content network and search ads or turn off content network. You’ll get a lot less clicks if you do so, but you may get much better conversion rates.

2. Use negative keywords. As a game developer you don’t want your ads to show up when someone is searching for serials, cracks or warez. You may also want to add free or freeware to your negative keywords. You want paying customers, not lurkers.

3. Test, test and once again test your ads. Use Google Analytics and ad variations to get the most out of your money.

And one more tip… use those 3 above. Act! reading only won’t get you far.

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