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Events & Increased Engagement Lessons From Pokémon Go

Posted Nov 9, 2016

Short-term events have been a tactic game publishers use to create an uptick in engagement for some time. While “double XP weekends” and holiday-themed updates have long been a staple in the console world, mobile is still catching up.

Since its launch in July, Pokémon Go has had its share of ups and downs. October, though, saw the first short-term event with bonus rewards, increased activity, and special changes just for Halloween.

Spooky Statistics 
From October 26th to November 1st, users who logged in to Pokemon Go during the event were greeted by a spooky new loading screen, more spooky spawns (mostly ghost pokémon), and naturally, increased candy (power-ups) from all game activities.

pokemon-go-halloween-event-revenueThis short term change pulled Pokémon Go from the doldrums of both engagement and revenue. Analytics firm Sensor Tower reported a 133% increase in revenue from the event, tracked over the first five days.

According to Sensor Tower, the game earned approximately $23.3 million worldwide between October 25 and 29, up from approximately $10 million between October 18 and 22.

Limited time events clearly do work, but Niantic’s method still leaves room for some improvement.

Obstacles to Increasing Engagement
Pokémon Go’s Halloween event was preceded by an update on the App Store and Google play, and a blog post and video. This presents an obstacle to many users who may have automatic downloads turned off, or who weren’t plugged into direct updates about Pokémon Go. There was no in-app messaging about the changes.

Planning limited-time events ahead of time is an obvious start to a successful one. Requiring users to update an app first, or requiring them to seek out news outside of an app misses legions of lapsed users who may be brought back by a limited time event.

Niantic is lucky, as the strong community (powered chiefly through their massive subreddit and other social media) helped word of the event spread, but other publishers and developers may not be so lucky.

A number of services allow developers to implement limited time events without the need to submit a new update to Apple and Google. Furthermore, messaging services allow push notifications to target lapsed users with invitations to return, or show the most active users unique messaging.

Notifications like push should be combined with detailed and robust in-app notifications to further explain an event, making sure users don’t feel lost when they return to ensure the event increases engagement.

During a special event, one AdColony publishing partner saw that 65% of users had a higher per-round value for the metric that the special event was focused on than during control periods. This sort of result could be interesting for developers that want to refocus gameplay behavior around certain mechanics that encourage mobile engagement and monetization.

Putting it all Together
Special events do work. No new content is required, just some tweaks to how an app functions, or even a special goal and reward. A key part of a successful event is messaging though, and that aspect shouldn’t be allowed to fall through the cracks.

The ability to run and track customizable limited-time events is a powerful tool in the publisher toolkit, and odds are it meshes naturally with and augments solutions that are already implemented.

Join the Conversation
Have you tried running a limited time event in your app? What do you have planned for Thanksgiving? Did you catch any great IV ghost pokémon last week? Tweet it to . For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow  on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on Linkedin.


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