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Casual Connect Singapore: Tips from DeNA – How to create a bestselling mobile game

Tokyo-based DeNA Co Ltd, which owns the mobage games platform has had a winner with it’s Blood Brother’s mobile RPG , which has ranked #1 on Google Play in 33 countries.

So it was great to get an insight into how the company put together its strategy to come up with a winning game.

DeNA Singapore managing director Tetsuya Mori presented a session “How a Japanese mobile RPG made it big outside Japan” at Casual Connect Singapore today.

Mr Mori said that previously a game’s success had been often linked to a gaming platform, like Super Mario being linked to the Nintendo video game system and the Final Fantasy series and the Sony Playstation.

However, the trend has been towards (more…)

Game development conference in Singapore: Casual Connect Asia


Despite fallout after Facebook started steadily imposing their 30% “tax” on in-game purchases last year, the Internet’s largest social network has seen a steady exodus of game publishers from the platform. On a rough basis, it feels like anywhere from 30-50% of hardcore players have chosen to move their game playing to dedicated game platforms like Zynga, Kongregate or MochiGames, or are playing on standalone game sites like Ninjakiwi or Armorgames.

Recent coverage in the Wall Street Journal has talked about the trend of major game launches fuelled by major ad budgets.

For example, mobile app developer ZeptoLab UK whose “Cut the rope” which was launched in 2010 on the back of mostly word-of-mouth viral marketing is now spending as much as $1 million on launching the latest version of their game, “Cut the Rope: Time Travel” boosted by tie-ins with Burger King which bundled the green Nom Om monster plush toy with their kids meals.

It’s not all for nothing either, as NPD group said mobile game sales topped $2 billion in 2012.

Another mobile app developer, Tokyo-based GungHo Online Entertainment, launched Puzzles & Dragons in Japan boosed by TV ads, an unusual marketing tactic for a smaller (in relation to major developers like Electrionic Arts and Blizzard) game developer.

So it’s probably an opportune time that Casual Connect is conducting another game development conference in Singapore. The event takes place later this month (May 21-23) at the ShangriLa Hotel.

A number of app developers are based in Singapore and in Southeast Asia, so there’ll be some good sessions during the event.

There’ll be reps from Facebook’s game publishing arm, PopCap Games (which publishes Plants vs Zombies) as well as local developers talking about their experience.

If you’re interested in game/app development, you should take a look at the Casual Connect Asia event website.


A crazy 2012 and probably a crazier 2013

Last year (2012) was a busy year. Between recruiting and managing some of the top affiliates while I was an affiliate manager with Neverblue and organising training events in Singapore as well as a very successful one in Thailand, I did not get much sleep.

It was a great experience working with Sam Brachat, then Michelle Reid from Neverblue, as well as a great time of account managers (who’ve a great understanding of how advertisers structure their offers and the best ways to provide great lead quality and get onto accelerated payments).

Tips for aspiring affiliates: Work hard and probably more importantly, learn from your mistakes.

Almost every campaign will start off as a loss-making one. Being able to pare away losing keywords and high volume keywords with don’t have a chance of recouping what you’re paying in ad costs will only bring down your campaign.

Having a Vegas mentality that after spending $100-200 on a single keyword or url target or demographic, seeing zero to a handful of conversions is treating your business like a lottery and won’t help anyone (except maybe the ad network).

Get a book on statistics, read up on statistical significance, split testing. Learning the business, rather than learning how to use spy tools will give you a better competitive edge in the long term.

Is everyone gradually moving from promoting casual dating offers via adult traffic to mobile offers? Should you blindly follow them?

Are you a sheep? Can you think for yourself?

There’re still relatively new affiliates (3 years or less experience) who’re doing 3- to 4-figure profit days consistently working relatively unsexy verticals, stuff that isn’t widely discussed on affiliate blogs or forums.

I had a conversation the other day with a newer affiliate who asked “Should I be considering these offers? It’s not mentioned on the forums or blogs.”

Here’s a tip.

If you’re making a killing with a particular method or offer, should you:

1) Tweet about it, brag about how much you’re making and how you’re going to spend your earnings?

2) Post pictures about what you’ve just bought, go to the network’s facebook page and say “Thanks ABC affiliate manager, I’m making a killing with XYZ offer.”

3) Shut up about it and bank in silence.

You go figure it out.

Success has a lot to do with:

1) Figuring what works for you with the type of traffic you’re using and the offer you’re promoting

2) Coming up with a system to follow, so you’re going through a series of steps that make sense and maximise your chances of success and ability of scaling what you’re doing.

3) Repeating what you’re doing, being able to scale the traffic (at about the same quality level) that you’re sending to the offer.

The steps are easy, aren’t they? Being able to follow them is not.

Back to 2013: The past couple of months have been a little busy for me, with my older daughter starting primary school (grade school to you yanks) and working a couple of consulting gigs that had been backlogged.

In the next couple of weeks I’m working on:
1) Launching a resource site that will be useful for affiliates and product owners

2) Developing/revamping and launching/relaunching existing and new products/services.

3) Publishing some stuff for Amazon’s Kindle platform

4) Publishing new blog posts (hopefully more frequently than once a year).


So what’s on your plate for 2013?

PS: This is a new blog template, not everything is fixed yet. It should be…any day now.

Understanding a Niche vs a Vertical and the $ making difference

I see affiliates using “niche” and “vertical” interchangeably, but I think sorting your thinking straight on the key difference is going to be one of the things that helps you scale your online earnings.

At first glance both words refer to a category or topic (like gardening, or finance, or games) that you hope to theme an online marketing campaign around…so it seems similar, but it’s not.

A niche in time…

Let’s look at some examples: A niche (variously pronounced as “nitch” or “neesh” depending on which side of the pond you’re on, or maybe how many beers you’ve had) is something specialized. So the stuff on Clickbank tends to serve a niche. For example “low calorie recipes to promote hair re-growth for vegans” would be a niche. “Dog training for hearing impaired pet owners” might be another niche. These tend to be specialist products with interest from a smaller subset of the Internet audience. The key driver of why this product does well is because the user can’t easily get this info or service elsewhere. After all, how easy is it going to be to find a book on “501 woodworking project for someone with zero technical skill”? So the $27 or $47 e-book on clickbank tends to find a ready audience.

In most cases these niche products tend to top out at a couple thousand in revenue per month. So to bank with these products, you’d usually have to market several of these types of products. If the products are related or complimentary, there exists opportunity to cross-sell and cross-promote, so you can, to borrow a phrase, “stack that money”. You might do this be cross-selling a range of photography books (outdoor photography, fashion photography, shooting kids (taking their photos, not going at them with an AWP…)). If you upsold stuff, you might sell camera paraphernalia, like camera equipment, online photo services, photo events, confences, workshops.

The times I’ve promoted niched products, I’ve felt like a sniper, shooting at demand for long tail demands for which people are willing to pay to make the pain go away, or bring themselves pleasure, or a combination of both.

Generally, you’d need to promote maybe 3 to 5 of these types of products to generate a decent income.

Going Vertical

When promoting offers such as CPA offers, you’d realize that these tend to address big markets – dating, finance, gaming, downloads, travel, fashion – some of Neverblue’s top verticals. With verticals you’re dealing with entire sections of a market – within the finance vertical, you’d have credit cards, insurance, credit scores, financial profiles, stocks, mutual funds, forex, etc.

So when you promote a vertical, you’re addressing a potential market of millions (instead of just thousands in the case of most niche markets). The promo style is different too, which is why most CPA affiliates favor paid traffic.

You’d probably hear the familiar refrain that CPA marketing is a volume game. The more traffic you buy, the more leads you generate, the more you get paid.

In contrast to more specialized stuff, the key is to become a dominant player with each offer you promote. While niche marketers might be content with generating $5,000 per month with a niche product, the CPA marketer might aim at $5,000 per day or more in revenue to make their business model viable.

The CPA marketer is often arbitraging traffic. If your commissions exceed your traffic costs, you’re in the money. In most situations, you’d want to go for the offers with the highest potential in terms of traffic (ie: demand), scalability (how big you can grow the offer) and importantly for affiliates who think of themselves as business owners – your bottomline (how much it will put in your pocket at the end of the day).

My advice for newer affiliates is to find an offer that has potential to scale to something big and aim and work towards at least $1,000 or more a day in revenue. It’s only when you make this a goal in your overall business strategy that you will experience bump in your business and your profits.

Wealth building in 15 minutes

One of the major challenges facing newer affiliates is finding time to work on their business.

The reality is that everyone is subject to the same 24 hours a day, whether you’re Richard Branson or Joe Blow starting out.

Sure, you might say that an experienced affiliate might have multiple campaigns making a couple thousand a day and mainly running, except for an hour or two of tweaking and optimization each day, so he or she has time to do ‘lifestyle blog posts’ or tweet about the massive filet mignon that they’ve chowing down at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or Craftsteak for lunch.

In my book, all this self-justifying, non-productive structured procrastination is what leads many affiliates to knock themselves out of the game. Imagined “high competition” and reasons that the industry/offer/traffic source is dying/saturated/overpriced/sees little or no demand, is all a bunch of BS.

Let’s look at this for a moment. I think you need to make up your mind. Is the offer “saturated” or is the industry “dying”?

If it’s dying, then it’s dying. But if so, how could traffic be “overpriced” and the offer be “saturated” at the same time?

Sounds like a paradox, and not one of those fun ones either.

I’ve been speaking a number of affiliate training workshops recently, some as part of my role in recruiting and developing Neverblue affliates, as well as for local Internet marketing groups.

The major challenge that most marketers face is a mental one. Not so much that you’re going crazy at the stuff you have to deal with in figuring out how to get started, but more a lack of self-belief.

Talk to a top affiliate and you’ll realize that confidence is one of the keys that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.

Even if you haven’t mastered something yet, it should not keep you from jumping headlong to figure it out.

But back to wealth building in 15 minutes…

If you’ve sat waiting for the subway, or have time between meetings, or maybe 15 minutes before going out for dinner, what do you do with that deadtime?

Are you spending it checking your email? Or watching youtube? Checking for Facebook updates?

If instead of doing all that, you spend that time looking at ads running on high traffic websites, running keyword searches, doing competitive research, reading up on promoting techniques, that would help you more than just blowing that time doing something that you’d probably forget two days from now.

Yes, I like watching/listening to motivational stuff about “how you can do it” as much as the next guy, but I try to limit that to listen to that while I’m in the toilet or taking a shower. Because it doesn’t require your full focus.

So try this out for a couple of weeks, make a commitment to spending your time more productively. Stuff CAN be accomplished if you have a pocket of 10 minutes or more.

And now I have to complete this 15 minute blog post. Ping it, then head to my next meeting.

Ivan Ong’s Profitable Affiliate Marketing workshop, Saturday, Mar 10, in Singapore

Top affiliate Ivan Ong gave a great presentation on promoting international CPA offers at Neverblue’s Interact Singapore event in December last year and some of the attendees inquired about getting additional training or even being personally coached/mentored by Ivan after listening to him speak.

While I doubt Ivan will have much time to do personal mentoring, I’ve arranged the next best thing – he’s agreed to a workshop that builds on and goes into greater detail on his strategy in promoting international offers.

You might be wondering why this might be a useful area for affiliates to pick up on. For one, North American offers, which comprise the bulk of offers in each network’s database still represents the lion’s share of revenue at most networks. If you’re a newer affiliate, this means you’re competing against established affiliates, whether they specialize in paid search, SEO, media buys or PPV. Being outbid or just being unable to run your campaign with major ad networks can be a major stumbling block.

With Neverblue’s focus on establishing a European and Asian presence, I’ve compared the offer database against other networks and am confident from seeing the offers and seeing how well some of my experienced affiliates are doing with the offers that I feel new and experienced affiliates stand to gain from either starting out promoting these kinds of offers or adding these classes of offers to their portfolio of campaigns.

For the upcoming workshop, Ivan will be presenting his system as well as showing campaign data from Europe and Asia campaigns, it’s my intention that attendees will be able to create a blueprint to similarly promote offers, which generally seem to have a higher conversion rate, and usually lower traffic costs across the board.

If you’re not earning the level of affiliate marketing income that you are aiming for, you should attend this workshop.

As it’s additional training by Ivan, it falls outside of Neverblue’s training.

Although there’s a charge for the 1-day workshop, Ivan’s offering a special rate to Neverblue affiliates.

If you aren’t already a Neverblue affiliate and would like me to be your affiliate manager, you apply to be an affiliate via my signup link. (Update: I’m no longer an affiliate manager with Neverblue, but if you apply with my signup link, drop me an email via my “contact” link and I’ll see how I can help you get approved).

Note: You should be familiar with how affiliate marketing works. If you have run CPA campaigns previously, it will also help you get more out of the workshop.

Note: The workshop has been postponed due to Ivan’s commitments. You can still sign up for Neverblue here.