As we spoke about in our recent edition of SCALEup, online gaming is one of the verticals to have shown growth during COVID-19. Wooga – the Berlin-based developer of story-driven casual games – has been at the forefront of scaling business during COVID-19, making their first advance into the US and Canada (a step that was originally planned for later in the year).

We spoke with Valentine Ledour, Marketing Lead at Wooga, to find out more about the scale, the specific challenges they’ve faced and what’s next for the gaming company behind June’s Journey and Pearl’s Peril.

We’re all about being a partner for our clients providing them with the DCMN experience. But what is that exactly? It’s all about helping digital companies achieve new levels of growth. During COVID-19 there have been success stories for us and our clients. Here is one of them.

Tell us a bit about Wooga. How would you describe Wooga’s games and philosophy in a nutshell?

Wooga develops story-driven casual games with a gripping narrative at their core. We are proud to have mastered providing our players with new story content every week over years of playing. Our most successful games currently are June’s Journey and Pearl’s Peril

Wooga is an international company, what markets are you currently active in? 

Very international indeed! We have employees from all around the world, and we are publishing our games in 20 languages. Currently, the majority of our players can be found in North America, but Europe and Japan are also important markets for us.

What challenges were you facing with your marketing strategy when you approached DCMN?

We approached DCMN to test new growth channels for June’s Journey. June’s Journey had already seen great success, mainly powered by performance user acquisition initiatives. We had a feeling, however, that the game could be taken much, much further, and had the potential to become a big player. 

We also had identified that a sizable part of our target audience – which is mostly women above the age of 45 years old – was not going to be easy to reach through performance marketing. Therefore, we thought TV could be a suitable solution to reach the entirety of our potential audiences.

The main challenge was in being able to prove the potential of what was seen as a less trackable marketing channel, within a company culture heavily focused on initiatives with an accurately measurable ROI.

June’s Journey by Wooga

What qualities do you look for in the right marketing partner for your team?

First, we pay particular attention to seriousness and reliability in performance tracking, for the aforementioned reasons. Secondly, we want to make sure our partners have our success in mind and are working towards our best interest, that they are favouring long-term collaboration, and are not just in for a quick win. Once this kind of trust relationship is established, it becomes way easier to work together.

Given the number of markets that you are in, were there any unique factors you needed to consider when choosing a partner or deciding how you would market the brands?

We first considered the market conditions (CPMs, average IRs…) in perspective of our own product KPIs, territory per territory. Then we looked for proven expertise and established local professionals in these key markets (for TV, that was North America first, with an eye towards DACH in the future). 

What has surprised you most about as you expanded your marketing efforts?

I think the most fun and surprising thing was to witness the reaction of the June’s Journey player community when spotting our TV spots on air. It became a game for our players on Facebook groups to capture the June’s Journey ads and share them on socials. They got a sense of pride from seeing their game making it to their favourite TV channels, which is a really nice bonus 🙂 

What were your biggest marketing success stories from your collaboration with DCMN?

We had already seen good success on our smaller test campaigns with DCMN on the North American TV market earlier last year, but we were still anxious to see if this medium would still work for us when scaling the budget. Our latest TV campaign in North America has allowed us to multiply our budget by three, while keeping a stable ROI around 160%. 

We were rather expecting to see the returns slowing down already with that level of spend.

Pearl's Peril by Wooga

Pearl’s Peril by Wooga

What’s one piece of startup or marketing advice you wish you’d had when you started?

Follow your intuition and follow up on projects that make sense, even if they do not have the most easily measurable returns. I think it’s easy to play it too safe, and that’s definitely a mistake we could have made with June’s Journey. I believe a good marketing strategy requires a share of calculated risk invested in projects that have a solid rationale and foundation, rooted in factual and personal knowledge of your audience. For us, audience knowledge comes from a strong focus on being close to our players (one of our company values). This translates into initiatives such as motivational surveying, or competitions like June’s Journey Hidden Talent, which saw five June’s Journey fans win a trip to meet the team in Berlin. This approach has been allowing us to gain a both deeply personal and data-driven perspective on our players.

What’s next for Wooga?

There is a busy and exciting future ahead for Wooga, I believe. June’s Journey is still growing, and there is so much more we can do to make it reach the heights it deserves. I also can’t wait for the public to experience the stories that our New Games teams have been working on!

Do you need a growth partner for your performance and brand marketing activities? (We call it Brandformance™ – and yes, we trademarked it.) Let’s chat!