February 16, 2017
Singular Empowers Backflip Studios To Automate Data Engineering and Build Its “Monstrous” BI

Backflip Studios develops and publishes absurdly fun mobile games for iOS and Android including company portfolio hits like DragonVale and Paper Toss Friends. Backflip Studios’ initial four releases on iOS all ranked top 5 in Apple’s overall paid or free app store lists.

Marketing Challenges

  • Test two new mobile ad networks each month for their games
  • Continuously run ad campaigns in 20+ mobile ad networks
  • Build & maintain a world-class Internal BI for their iOS and Android mobile games portfolio

The Backflip Studios game marketing team uses various parts of Singular’s mobile intelligence platform to streamline tasks like Budgeting, Spend Aggregation and Creative Optimization.

Budgeting and Spend Aggregation

Backflip Studios received a $112 million cash infusion in 2013 from entertainment company Hasbro and has since built one of the industry’s most robust Business Intelligence systems to manage its game marketing operations.

The company’s BI takes all its gaming apps’ acquisition data and internalizes it into a single source. Backflip then visualizes that data using Tableau. Collectively, UA, Data, Brand, Management teams and others use the internal system on a daily or hourly basis to make real-time, actionable decisions based off data from multiple endpoints.

Singular is a crucial resource for Backflip Studios in terms of Budgeting and Spend Aggregation for its games marketing, says Jason Conger, Director of User Acquisition and Monetization at Backflip.

We test two new ad networks each month. Without Singular, the team would have to build scraping systems at least twice a month — not to mention the efforts to build and maintain API connections with our existing ad networks.

Conger estimates this work would occupy at least one Backflip Studios data engineer’s full-time job plus regular help from at least two senior engineers to build systems that extract acquisition data from ad networks, easily plug into new ad networks and handle frequent changes to ad network APIs.

Singular automates game data extraction from over 600 ad networks into the Backflip Studios internal BI. Spend data is standardized by Singular with zero configuration and mapped to Backflip Studios conversion data to produce granular UA insights circulated across the company.

Trying to build what Singular is already doing would be taking a step back for us,” Conger says. “To reallocate resources to building an ad network scraping tool would probably never deliver a solution as robust as Singular and would divert our team’s attention away from furthering our internal BI.

KPIs

Backflip Studios’ analytics leverage vast amounts of historical spending data collected from the company’s highly successful game titles launched over the years.

In terms of Monetization, we look at eROI, ARPU, Payer Percentage, LTVs, among other proprietary metrics,” Conger says. Backflip added Revenue in Singular for one of its most popular apps, DragonVale, and uses Singular to analyze monetization performance including CPI and ARPU.

Our ROI model is based off 5+ years of spending history in our apps,” Conger adds. “When a user installs a Backflip app and purchases on day one, we use predictive logic to extrapolate the amount that user will spend over the next 365 days.

Tracking this was difficult prior to Singular because we had to go one by one through all the networks to gather cost and campaign information from every ad network. It was a major pain point that Singular helped us solve.

Other Key Game Marketing Metrics

The UA team also keeps a close eye on on a host of other key metrics when evaluating campaigns and creatives.

We look at CTR and CVR, because when combined and multiplied by bid tells us our eCPM which helps us figure out where we are generally placed in the waterfall of many ad networks.

Backflip Studios leverages Singular Alerts to keep track of CTR, CVR and CPI, receiving notifications that trigger actions when metrics go above or below certain thresholds.

When CTRs and CVRs are too low or CPIs are too high we have actionable decisions to change creatives, blacklist poor performing publishers, reallocate budgets of campaigns and more.

Goals

Singular Goals lets us set up goals to keep our team on track with Finance in terms of monthly budgeting across various Apps, Ad Networks, Platforms and more as well as helping our team complete monthly accruals,” says Conger.

I have specific budgets so I have to see how we are pacing on a monthly basis to stay in line with our overall projections on spend. Before [Singular] Goals, we had a harder time staying under budget as a group. Once we implemented Goals, we were able to save money by keeping track of our pace more consistently.

Game Creative Optimization

Singular’s creative analytics has been a helpful tool in analyzing creative performance. Prior to Singular we were going through each of the ad networks piecing together as much of this information as we possibly could to figure out creative performance.

Singular is now the quickest way for Backflip to analyze creative-level CTR and CVR.

Each ad network is different, but we prefer to run multiple creatives within single campaigns if we can. We have weekly meetings with our creative team to share UA insights on creative. They then take that information to create new ads, modify existing ones, or test new theories.

Retention can be affected by a type of ad because it’s important to sell what your game actually is. You can increase click through rate with desirable content, but if it doesn’t relate to your game, you will lower your conversion rate, and all down funnel metrics thereafter.

Looking Ahead

We have built out a really robust system, so the smarter our system gets the further we move away from dealing with ad networks and partner tools,” Conger says.

2.0 of Backflip’s BI is called “Monstrosity” and Singular will continue to serve as a crucial data source and intelligence platform.

I would say every day at least one person on our 25-person marketing team is using Singular. We relay all of this information to different teams: Data, Finance, Product, and Creative all benefit from the insight the User Acquisition team gathers from Singular.

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