Advertising mobile games on television doesn’t sound intuitive at this point in time, given the immaturity of the mobile gaming industry, the now less important position of TV as a marketing channel, high production costs for ads, inability to track effectiveness, problems in attributing user acquisition, and of course the costs of running ads on TV in the first place.
In Japan, however, mobile content has been advertised on national television for years.
For Japanese mobile game makers in particular, TV ads usually mark the end of the spectrum of available marketing tools – after methods like burst campaigns, display ad buys, cross-promotion, collaborations, traditional PR and others.
Some companies use TV to launch games as well, meaning they risk investing marketing yen into campaigns before really knowing if a game actually works or not.
GungHo Online Entertainment (3765) waited eight months before deciding Puzzle & Dragons has so much potential in it that TV advertising to rapidly expand the user base makes sense. Quiz RPG was marketed in a very similar way by Colopl (3668) and quadrupled the number of players in a matter of weeks. (Needless to say, not all TV campaigns work out this way.)
Now it turns out that King is the first foreign mobile game maker in Japan that is launching a TV advertising campaign, with spots created in Japan, aired nation-wide, in heavy rotation and specifically aimed at Japanese players. (The company did launch a limited TV campaign with a much simpler spot in Japan before).
The first two commercials, featuring actress Mikako Tabe, were aired on the weekend in Japan:
Candy Crush was launched (and marketed very, very aggressively) in Japan for a long time before that and did quite OK – but was so far hindered by bad localization, lack of local King staff, and a competitive environment with hundreds of other mobile puzzle games (especially on the LINE platform).
It seems that for now, the new TV ad campaign has largely worked well (charts below are from App Annie).
The game is now currently the top free game on the iPhone in Japan:
On the iPhone grossing chart, the result is not that spectacular (Candy Crush is No. 15), but that was clear, given how inflexible that ranking is and that is takes a while until new users convert to paying ones:
In the free download ranking on Android, Candy Crush jumped from 83 on November 30 to 23 on December 4:
In the grossing chart on Android in Japan, Candy Crush has actually declined over the last few days for some reason:
What’s interesting now is not only to see how the curve in this last chart will move going forward but how sustainable this campaign is for Candy Crush and if King will actually continue to mass-advertise the game: Puzzle & Dragons TV spots were aired nation-wide for months, for example.