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Cross-Promotion Opportunities for Mobile Game Developers in China

Getting a foothold in the China mobile app market gets easier as developers exchange ads and space

China will have an estimated 100 million smartphone users by the end of the year, and it's a market that is keenly interested in high quality games. The iOS and Android mobile gaming market in China is likely to generate $100 million in revenue this year through in-app advertising, in-app purchases and more. Chinese as well as international developers looking to gain a foothold in the China mobile game market may find that all it takes is a friendly online introduction.

One company in this fast-growing industry has launched a new platform to help developers do business with other app developers. Some call it Craigslist for mobile game developers: Guohe MIX is China's new online marketplace where mobile game developers can click choices to indicate their desire to promote their own apps, cross-promote with other apps, entertain promotions for other apps or simply earn advertising revenue. Guohe AD, China's leading mobile advertising platform created the cross-platform marketplace complete with tools for developers to create attractive and appealing promotions and a simple SDK that makes inserting the ads into a target game easy.

Guohe MIX provides customizable ad widget to cross-promote within mobile games

Figure 1. Guohe MIX provides customizable ad widget to cross-promote within mobile games

What makes Guohe MIX different is their flexible ad size. While ads can be as small as buttons, Guohe MIX recommends full-screen billboards. But wait, isn't that annoying, you ask? Small banner ads can actually interfere with games and invite inadvertent clicks, they say, so Guohe MIX provides tools to insert full-size ads where they are least offensive to the user, such as when a user pauses a game or makes it to the next level. Think of it as the moments when the avid game player naturally takes a breath.

Small banner ads placed like this within games are more likely to be clicked by mistake.

Figure 2. Guohe MIX says small banner ads placed like this within games are more likely to be clicked by mistake. A full screen ad that actually looks like the game it is promoting provides ten times the click-throughs and a better user experience.

"When we came up with the Guohe MIX idea, we wanted to provide an alternative to traditional banner ads that are somehow ineffective and annoying, which makes the cost of new user acquisition very high," said Neo Zhang, co-founder of Guohe AD. "We considered three aspects for mobile app promotion, which we call "ACE": Audience, Context and Experience. Our audience is made up specifically of developers of gamer apps; Context becomes clear when a gamer can view a full-size billboard app at a game interval that feels natural; and the full-size ads reflect the game that is being advertised and is true to what the Experience of the game will be. This is as important for cross-promotion between developers as it is for app developers who want to promote and step users up internally within their own games. The lifecycles of games are quite short so a preview of another game can strengthen gamers' loyalty to the brand."

The promotional cycle benefits everything within the game business, particularly first timers as Guohe MIX encourages developers to cross-promote with other games to accumulate a user base. Once a game's user base peaks, then other revenue and promotion opportunities open up including continued external cross-promotion with other games, selling promotion resources within one's own game, and simply accepting ads. And when the active user base begins to decline and a second game is almost ready, the developer can promote the new game in the first game, thus converting users and ensuring continuity.

Guohe's MIX mobile game cross-promotion marketplace and ad mitigation platforms are helping game developers inside China as well s international developers market and monetize their apps. Guohe's infographic earlier this year of iOS vs. Android gamers in China offers a glimpse into some of the purchase patterns based on a survey of 600 users of mobile phones in China. While it is unclear whether there is a distinct leader in one platform or another, it is important that game developers study what makes China mobile gamers unique and choose the appropriate avenues to reach them.

There can be no doubt that the game business is huge in China with many Chinese mobile users buying more than one mobile phone. Adoption of 3G and sales of smartphones from a wide assortment of vendors means game companies in China are operating at breakneck speed to try to fill the demand for games on multiple platforms and that spells good news for developers.

More Stories By Pat Meier-Johnson

Pat Meier-Johnson is a long-time contributor to the digital industry with a specialty in mobile technology. Pat produces the Connected Traveler Technology Showcase and is president of Pat Meier Associates, a PR and media production company specializing in technology and travel.

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