If you are a lone-wolf indie game dev, you probably don’t spend ANY time thinking about grand strategy when it comes to advertising. Don’t worry, I think about it enough for both of us :D
Which strategy works best for you, really does depend on your game and your overall business model (paid-app, DLC, micro-trans, subscriptions…). However, there might be some benefit to brainstorming different approaches…
You advertise EVERYWHERE, on different ad networks, with different ad types (text / image / video…) you try print ads and newsletter-mentions, sponsored blog posts, etc etc. Then, you look at the data and pick the one which converts the best. Problem is, with 20 different advertising approaches, you need to spend at least $20,000 to get anything vaguely usable in terms of stats.
#2 CHERRY PICKING
You set up your ad campaign to exclude almost everyone. Nobody above a certain age, nobody from countries that aren’t buyers, nobody on a platform that isn’t your target, nobody at the end of the month (broke) or when they are at work (9-5), nobody that isn’t on one of the hand picked websites that you think best represent the people who will buy your game. You then bid some silly amount like $1 a click, to make sure you get those high-converting visitors.
#3 PRODUCT PROFILE
You don’t care about clicks. You engineer things to get the lowest CPM (impression cost) you can. You definitely let google show the same ad to the same visitor ajn infinite number of times. Your ads don’t even really say much, they just have your logo as big and as bold as possible. Nobody will click them, and you don’t care. You just want name recognition for when your game is in a list on steam, or mentioned on kotaku, that makes people pay attention.
#4 THE SUBSTITUTE_REVIEW
You realise that nobody has a clue what sort fo game your’s is, or what you do, or how much it is, or that it’s on sale, so you concentrate on fitting all this information into BIG ads and plaster them all over the place. It doesn’t matter if sites won’t cover your game, because you can force your name onto their front page using your ad dollars. For added effect, you set up streaming ads to play video of your game.
#5 BARREL SCRAPAGE
You bid hilariously low on a huge number of ads, knowing that now and them, you are the only bidder. Your ads run for some laughable price like $0.01, and the traffic isn’t targeted at all, but given the amount of visits they generate. you figure that you are playing the law of big numbers and all will work out. When you are selling a cheap game, this may work for you, because you can’t pay $1 for a visit when your game is $2.99.
#6 COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
You don’t advertise your game, but your site, with all 10 games you have made. For added impact, you affiliate some other indie devs games and suddenly your website looks like steam. An ad may well bring a disinterested clicker, but now he has ten opportunities to be interested, and you might suddenly be able to afford a higher cost per click. (This is the basic principle behind when I’ve run ad campaigns for www.showmethegames.com).
amusing ad break…
I don’t know which of these strategies is overall the best, but they are all worth considering, if not necessarily gambling $20k on :D