Veronica Menchitskaya is Business Development Manager at KamaGames, a European social mobile poker operator with 150 million players worldwide. At KamaGames, Veronica searched for new partners for user acquisition and explored alternative ways of business development. More than thirty new ad partners have been signed and added to the KamaGames portfolio with Veronica’s help, four DSPs, TikTok and Spotify among them.
KamaGames is one of the key players in the Social Casino vertical, owing to its flagship titles Pokerist and BlackJackist. Lump sums from store revenue make social casinos look especially attractive. But there are also challenges.
We operate in a competitive niche market where new apps appear each year. Recently, the volume of poker app downloads has slowed. This declining growth makes our user base very limited and picky. To scale your app, it is no longer enough to acquire new users. You have to poach users from your competitors while safeguarding your loyal base.
At KamaGames, everyone works on new approaches to help grow our share of the mature casino market. We have seen success from close collaborations between the product and UA teams on new product functionalities. The product team helps the UA team analyze new features in many different dimensions. Conversely, the UA team helps improve engagement and retention and provides insights on how different features can help an app succeed.
We also regularly introduce features for different audience segments, and we update our ads to reflect new updates. Highlighting new features is crucial because poker is a core game with specific audiences divided by types of interest. Most users install our apps to play and communicate—but others are keen to play at cash tables. The hardcore audience is interested in playing short Sit & Go tournaments or long Multi-Table Tournaments. Some audiences are enticed by the opportunity to play Texas Poker and the Omaha variation.
Audience segmentation enables us to develop individual approaches depending on the audience we’re looking to target. We create unique features and personalize ad approaches. This is where product features and UA strategy meet. We find opportunities to scale without inflating bids in UA campaigns. In the next section, I include a few examples of how this works.
The Atmosphere of a Real Casino
Poker games and casinos are all about the thrill and the excitement. We recreate the atmosphere of a casino through cinematic 3D videos. These feature different game situations and mimic the players’ emotions at the tables. They are some of the most compelling videos for a mass audience.
Our goal is to completely immerse the user in the casino world. By installing Pokerist, they can play Poker, Roulette, BlackJack and spin a slot machine all in one app. With 3-in-1 creatives, we can reach a broader audience that loves casinos—not just playing Poker. Plus we attract social casino players who want to try their hand at Poker.
Tournaments for Dedicated Poker Players
Tournaments are a great example of how a new feature can drive higher performance. Poker players strive for something new, and Pokerist was the first social casino to introduce Multi-Table Tournament (MTT)—an online poker tournament with thousands of simultaneous players aiming to reach the final table and win a huge pot. MTT is the most famous and popular event in a real-money casino. KamaGames MTT creative attracts a limited cohort of poker players ready to switch from other poker apps. However, MTT creatives do not convert a broader audience since not many average users are familiar with MTT.
Social Network within Poker App
At KamaGames, we often call Pokerist a poker social network. The vast majority of Pokerist players also love to connect with others. We introduced a variety of social mechanics like voice and text chat at tables, customized animated avatars showing emotions, gifts, friends list and messenger. By running creatives that reflect these features, we acquire users interested in our apps’ social and personalized elements. Social creatives can also attract a new audience who may be looking for a social experience not found in other poker apps.
In a niche example, our UA Team insisted on the accelerated release of voice chat during the pandemic. As restrictions and local lockdowns continued around the world, voice chat helped satisfy the desire for live human communication and interaction. We value the small but mighty audience who use the voice chat feature, and we continue to improve it to meet our audience’s desire for human connection.
Customized Thematic Metagame and Content
Halloween and Christmas are traditionally the busiest seasons. They are fully packed with amazing creatives. During this festive period, we offer perks and digital presents, and our apps are seasonally customized to include specialized content. Our creatives show off an abundance of Halloween content: Battle Pass, Special Events, Customized Actions, Thematic Animated Avatars, Thematic Gifts at game tables, Thematic Tournaments, and more. The holidays are about creating that joyful atmosphere, and we want our games to reflect this. The casino world receives a boost from the festive mood—and this can drive performance.
In 2021, we introduced Battle Pass to our apps. It’s already become one of the most successful features for driving retention and boosting ROAS (it also didn’t hurt that we were the first poker app to do this!)
At KamaGames, we call it Casino Pass. The essence of the Casino Pass is that the player completes tasks, gains experience points, and earns rewards. It's free, but to unlock additional content, users must pay for the Elite Pass. The Elite Pass includes exclusive rewards, side quests & experience points and a unique gift pack. Before the Casino Pass was released, we leveraged teaser creatives for UA campaigns to drum up excitement.
To get ahead of the market and meet the needs of different audiences, we’re always testing and experimenting. Apart from Cаsino Pass, Pokerist was the first app to introduce fun & casual poker modes like a special set of rules, several types of poker tournaments, and access to other casino games through one app. We pushed all these features within the UA campaigns, highlighting them to help onboard newcomers and showcase the uniqueness of our app to experienced players.
Highlight Unique Features in Your Creative
I have described how KamaGames offers a personalized approach to different audiences by highlighting product updates and special features in our creatives. This approach has helped us stand out from other apps in our genre.
The social casino app industry is constantly growing, but the threshold for entering the global market has become very high. Launching a new product can be challenging, as you are always playing catch up with competitors. But having unique features can make a difference. Products with developed functionalities in this mature market can gain recognition and a large audience.
Large marketing budgets are vital, but they are not the only key to entering the market. High budgets for user acquisition campaigns will boost downloads. However, it is impossible to maintain a positive LTV in a freshly-baked game with underdeveloped mechanics. It is imperative to develop unique approaches, strategies, creatives and make good product decisions.
To be a leader, focus on standing out. Copying competitor approaches won’t be enough. Apps and ad creatives churn at a rapid pace. Having a holistic approach helps a company anticipate trends, make updates, and highlight them in the right way to make an app shine in a crowded market.