Q&A with Margarita
Margarita Vasilevskaya grew up playing video games with her cousins. She forged her career path by combining her gaming background with a passion for marketing. Margarita first started as a Marketing Manager at Room 8, an art production and game development studio. After discovering her knack for user acquisition, she made her way to Gamehouse (later rebranded to Blatworks) where she led UA and ad monetization. From 2017 through 2018 Margarita drove mobile user acquisition at DoubleDown Interactive. With years of experience under her belt, Margarita is currently Senior Director of User Acquisition at Scopely.
Read Margarita’s blog: “How to Successfully Launch New Mobile Games in a Highly Competitive Market”
In your own words, tell us about the apps that you managed?
In a few words, world class social casino games!
During my time at DoubleDown, I was lucky enough to lead UA and paid retention efforts for the famous DoubleDown Casino. It’s such an amazing beast—the game is 8 years old with hundreds of millions of players, real Vegas authentic slot machines, 5-star customer support and a very loyal user base. With such a mature title, you would think there isn’t much you can do to drive additional growth, but you would be surprised. Despite the obvious challenges, as it turns out, there is still plenty fish in the sea. It just required me to be creative, dig deeper, and look for pockets of new users.
In 2017 DoubleDown expanded their portfolio of games, launched several new titles— Double Down Classic Slots, Ellen’s Road to Riches Slots (based on the amazing Ellen Degeneres IP), and the recently released DoubleDown Fort Knox. All the games are very niche and super fun to grow.
How did you get started in mobile marketing?
It was a relatively long journey. I grew up with five cousins, all boys. As the only girl I had no choice but to play a lot of video games. And I mean A LOT.
As I was starting out in my career, even though I studied International Economics and worked at a bank for a couple of years, as I mentioned, I discovered early on that I had a passion for marketing. I even got a job at Russian LiveJournal at the age of 20, which was a pretty big deal for me back then.
Eventually I joined a small but very ambitious indie games studio as a one-woman show in marketing. Having no prior experience in mobile games (but luckily with a very rich gaming background), I absolutely fell in love with the industry and products. Working for an indie startup was the best training for a young and hungry marketing professional. I tasted all aspects of mobile game growth marketing, which shaped my vision and career.
What do you like most about mobile marketing?
First, I love the fast pace. It’s evolving rapidly, changing, improving, and getting bigger and more impactful within the overall technological ecosystem. Just 6 to 7 years ago I had to use crazy analogies trying to explain to my older relatives what I did for a living like, “No, Uncle Bill, I don’t work ‘for’ the Internet. I make games you can play on your phone, like Tetris, but cooler.” Now they play Candy Crush and use Viber, Uber and other well known apps. Mobile presence has become huge and more accessible and intuitive for the older generation, not just the youth. I’m glad I play a part in that.
Secondly, I love the reach. In mobile we can reach users pretty much anytime and anywhere. And targeting options are insanely advanced—demo, geo, interests, behavior, etc.
And last but not least, the app marketing and development community. I’ve met so many amazing smart people over the years. It’s such a pleasure to watch them evolve, shaping mobile marketing best practices and learning from them and with them. I’m proud to be a part of the community.
What does it take to succeed in mobile marketing?
Rule Number #1: Never stop learning. We work in one of the most fast paced and evolving industries. Keeping up with trends and being open minded to new ideas and insights is what makes a good mobile marketer. As soon as we stop learning, we lose. A good friend of mine says, “Stay humble and keep learning no matter what your title says.”
What does a quality mobile user look like to you?
It depends on the product you advertise for.
For a social casino game it is someone with a high long-term linear LTV progression. For a casual game with a weaker in-app purchase LTV, a quality user is someone with a strong retention rate that we can monetize with ads.
Ideally you want a user who fits your target profile, enjoys the product, comes back often, leaves good reviews in the app store, creates vitality through peer pressure, and of course monetizes.
What strategies work best to convert installs into engaged users?
Create a healthy user funnel from the point where the user sees the ad: what they see in the ad, what they see in the app store after the click, and what their experience is like after the install. It’s a 4 step journey. Our goal is to create a smooth intuitive and attractive journey for the user.
In the past year, what is one tip you can share which made the biggest performance improvement?
Google UAC was quite a breakthrough, especially on Android. Quality and volume were impressive. The product still requires a lot of enhancements of course, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it can perform.
How do you stay ahead of changes in technology?
I’m subscribed to 10, if not more, newsletters from various websites. I’m trying to stay active on community channels, talking to my advertisement partners as often as my schedule allows, and attending at least a few core conferences every year.
To be honest, despite all the efforts I still feel like I’m behind.
What do you see as the next big thing in mobile marketing?
Changing the app store experience for gaming users. Google just recently launched Google Instant App. I’m sure it won’t take Apple long as well.
What advice can you offer to help marketers combat mobile ad fraud?
Be merciless and speak up. The more advertisers stay silent and manage their fraud cases and fraud offenders in-house, the longer bad actors will continue benefiting from scamming advertisers.