Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Advertising costs

I spend a lot of time fiddling with advertising budgets. Much more so than most indie game devs (who do not advertise much, if at all). The trick to advertising effectively is to tweak it, to pick the right ads, in the right places, for the right products.

Some stuff I’ve learned about selling games through advertising online:

  1. Some advertising publishers charge silly rates. Literally 10 times as much as others, for no good reason. Not all advertising locations are worth the same, I pay maybe half per click for a text ad on someones blog or forums as I do for the same ad in google search results, but some websites are charging a ridiculous amount, and it’s not worthwhile.
  2. You need to track conversions when you can. Getting someone to visit the site is great, but worthless if they don’t later buy anything, Some ads provide lots of clicks, some provide lots of sales. Ideally I don’t want any clicks that are not eventually sales. It’s easy to forget this
  3. If other people sell your product, they will advertise it, and they may be prepared to spend a lot of money on doing so. They didn’t develop the product, so their only costs are marketing and maybe some web hosting. If a partner gets 40% of the sale price of a $20 game, they earn $8. If they can get a sale for every $7 of ads, they are  in profit. And they may value the sale at > $8 anyway because they might get repeat business.  That means I need to be prepared to pay > $8 if I want to  be top dog on ads for my own stuff. That”s scary
  4. Some ad campaigns just don’t work. They are a waste of money. You learn that, and move on.
  5. Advertising providers want your business. Some will offer you free initial impressions to get you hooked. The important thing is not to be too polite and feel you owe them anything. Free trails are welcome, but eventually I spend my ad budget where it returns optimum results.

Hopefully this is of interest to any other devs. Advertising DOES work. Of course it does, if it didn’t, the Coca Cola company are wasting billions. Plus it does work on a small scale. You can’t spend five minutes knocking it together and hoping for the best though. I spend maybe 2 hours a week on tweaking ad campaigns, maybe more. I also spend a lot of my revenue on advertising, it’s by far my biggest expense each month (ignoring the costs of my time coding and designing games).

One thought on

  1. I am considering putting advertising on my blog, when I finish my site redesign. Still not decided on whether I am going to have advertising or not, I think it depends on who would like to advertise with me (and I will consult my readerbase first)

    I am basically thinking something along a “game of the month”, where the whole site has a backdrop themed to a certain game, and I would write a review of the game too.

    My Alexa ranking in the UK is 35,412, everyone reading my blog is a gamer, I will charge less than market rate in exchange for being able to pick and choose who I work with, and I am not evil.

    If you are at all interested, let me know.


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