This is a translation of an article published on the LINE for Business website. The original Japanese article can be found here.
The company behind many popular game titles such as “Gyakuten Othellonia” (逆転オセロニア) is DeNA (pronounced “dee-en-ei”), a Japanese mobile portal platform and Ecommerce website provider. They utilise LINE Ads (formerly LINE Ads Platform) to quickly adopt its latest features while developing unique strategies. Through a repeating experimental process, they have been able to acquire new app-install customers, as well as returning dormant customers.
In this interview, LINE spoke with Takeshi Saito (hereinafter, “Mr. Saito”), who is in charge of marketing strategies using LINE Ads at DeNA, on how they operate LINE Ads.
LINE is Japan’s no.1 social media platform and messaging app with 84 million MAU1. It is considered the best channel for reaching Japanese consumers – specifically mobile users – as their smartphone reach is 90%. The platform offers services for businesses including LINE Official Account and LINE Ads, and foreign companies must not forget the inclusion of LINE as part of their online advertising channels in Japan.
In the mobile gaming industry, where customer acquisition is quite competitive, more and more companies are focusing on measures to not only acquire new customers but also revive dormant customers (customers who have not run the app for a certain period of time). DeNA are actively using online advertising. Although the results vary depending on the titles of the online ads and the time of year, in some cases 90% of the results achieved through online ads are from performance-based ads, and a particularly high priority had been placed on programmatic advertising among online ads. Mr. Saito explains the reason for starting LINE Ads among the many types of PPC advertising.
“It’s not every day that you see a new advertising platform. This would be seen as a rare occasion and can easily catch the attention of internet users – hence I tend to jump on those occasions immediately. In particular, LINE has an overwhelming number of users, so we started with the expectation that we could reach many new customers.”
“As for PPC advertising share, the most recent results for a certain game title showed LINE Ads having the largest share of all media in terms of both new acquisitions and returning customers. In addition, we were able to get a large volume of CPI at a low cost. In particular, when it comes to acquiring returning customers, it is important to properly reach out to our dormant customer list while keeping our costs low. This is why we appreciate the low CPMs of LINE Ads which we find very useful.”
They also made some new discoveries for acquiring returning customers.
“By targeting dormant customers with LINE Ads, we felt that we were seeing an increase in organic app downloads. Based on the hypothesis that view-through conversions (those that do not take place when the ad is viewed but instead take place via other channels) were effective, we tested the hypothesis that organic conversions would increase in conjunction with the ad delivery. We realized that because of the ad delivery volume on LINE, we were getting a lot of view-through conversions, which proved to be more valuable than the conversions we were able to measure.”
Mr. Saito revealed that in order to further increase the effectiveness of LINE Ads, there are some innovations in the operation of similar audience targeting.
“We registered a group of users as a data source, and then expanded the audience by distributing the ad to look-alike audiences. In addition to general installation and in-app purchase behaviours, we tested various patterns based on our hypotheses about the core user profile. These patterns include in-app purchases on the first day and heavy in-app spenders, and we have tested more than 20 data sources so far. If we continue to use the same data source in succession, the frequency of ad contact increases and acquisition efficiency decreases, so we change the data source slightly each time to prevent a stagnant audience base. In fact, some of the areas where we had lost effectiveness have been revived, and this has enabled us to maintain a high share of LINE Ads.”
Instead of finding a data source with a winning pattern and using it up, it seems to be more operationally efficient to shift data sources. In addition, the company has established criteria to determine whether one data source can be used for continuous distribution.
“We use the CPI of the initial speed as the first criterion to determine whether we should continue to deliver from a single data source. However, in practice we look at the data source in more detail, and if it looks good after looking at post-installation LTVs, we will continue with it even if the CPI doesn’t match the CPI of the initial release. Although it depends on the data source, when we are able to create a data source that successfully captures the characteristics of core users, we are able to acquire high LTV users, and we have realized how accurate similar distribution is. In order to verify the accuracy of the data source volume, we compared the accuracy of similar distribution for small and large population lists and found no significant difference in CTR, CVR, CPI or LTV metrics. Since we found that we could deliver with high accuracy even for new titles, for example, where we do not have a large population of lists, we believe it is easy to test the hypothesis of various patterns in the data source.”
Furthermore, the DeNA team have also made sure to keep the data sources in mind in terms of creative.
“We think about what kind of creative is most effective for the target audience and combine it with data sources. For example, paying users in a competitive high-score game want to feel a sense of accomplishment when they get a high score. With that in mind, we saw good results when we delivered creative that showed the high-score game screen to a similar audience of in-app purchase users. We believe that by hypothesising what our target audience wants and delivering creative focused on that, we can deliver ads more effectively.”
In order to increase the number of acquisitions, the company is constantly improving its creative process through the PDCA cycle. One of the most remarkable improvements was a campaign for the game app “Gyakuten Othellonia” (逆転オセロニア) that appealed to players looking to achieve “touka kaihou” (闘化解放) for the character, according to Mr. Saito.
“In the first creative, we had about 15 characters of copy on three famous character images. However, when we realized that the limited space of the card-type ads on LINE NEWS made the ad not very visible, we reduced the copy to one and the copy reduced to four characters. As a result, CTR improved by over 200% and CVR improved by over 110%. In fact, the CPI improved as well, and we realised once again the importance of keeping the ad appearance in mind when designing the creative.”
According to Mr. Saito, what he considers most important when making ad creative is to be aware of the user characteristics of each medium, in addition to the appeal and copy across mediums. He wishes to continue experimenting with different types of creatives from different angles in the future. Through this he can deepen his understanding of LINE users and make creatives specialised for LINE ads.
Finally, we asked DeNA what they would like to explore further on LINE. “At the moment our speed at setting up LINE ads is excellent, and therefore I believe the logic behind this is changing significantly, but we would like to strategise based on hypothesis. We’d also like to try marketing that utilises LINE products in an integrated way. Perhaps we can link our LINE Official Account with LINE Ads, so we have high hopes for LINE business services and new developments that are planned for the future. In order to ensure that people are satisfied with the game after install, I would like to use ads to communicate with people both before and after app installation. I look forward to continuing to make more use of LINE’s large number of users and diverse services.”
At DMFA, we help businesses from all sectors to advertise on LINE, Japan’s most popular social media network and messaging app. Contact us for further information about LINE promotions.
1Source: Line Corp. (April 2020)
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