David Westerman: “My most important learning on TikTok is how quickly creatives get saturated”

Written by Tappx
Created Jun 19, 2023 - Updated Jul 28, 2023

More and more gaming companies are eyeing TikTok as a promising user acquisition channel. It could be a great opportunity to reach new target audiences, interact more powerfully with them, and push further in marketing strategies. 

At Tappx, we could talk to an expert on hardcore strategy games on TikTok. He is David Westerman, Senior Online Marketing Manager of the strategy games studio Bytro, and here’s what he has to say.

How are you doing, David? Thanks for making time for us, we know you are very busy between events, webinars, and the day-to-day…

Doing great. And always a pleasure to take some time to talk about marketing and gaming. 🙂

There seems to be a lot of interest in the industry to master TikTok, right?

Indeed, and rightfully so. We are talking about a global platform with over 1 billion monthly active users. And with other channels like Meta becoming more challenging, it’s logical to look for performance elsewhere.

Can you give us a teaser of the case study that you are going to present at GamesForum Hamburg?

I can say there will be something for everyone, whether you are just starting or if you consider yourself a TikTok Ads expert. My goal is that people can leave the conference with an idea they want to try the next time they open TikTok Ads.

For those who are just starting out with TikTok, what typical errors would you highlight that should be avoided?

Treating TikTok like any ad network, without taking into account the nature of the organic content of this platform. When we first started, we used our best performing creatives from other channels and the campaigns and they would not even spend their assigned budget. In our experience, we need to adapt the creatives so they blend as seamlessly as possible with organic content. But please take this suggestion with a grain of salt, what did not work for us might work for someone else. So it’s not necessarily an error, but something to take into account.


How creative ads can boost your app revenues

What has struck you the most about your learnings during these two years working in this social network?

How fast do creatives saturate. It’s still so challenging and frustrating how short of a lifespan a good creative has. You can sometimes ride the wave of a hero creative for months on other platforms, but on TikTok you can consider yourself lucky if you can use it for more than 2 weeks.

They say that brands should not make ads on TikTok, but TikToks. Do you agree?

It’s a cliche, but it is true. As I said before, creatives from other channels had such disappointing performance when we first started TikTok. So we had to completely change our approach and produce creatives that felt like organic posts. The good thing is that these creatives ended up performing incredibly well in other channels as well, so it ended up benefiting the entire marketing mix.

In addition to paid media, you are also responsible for the app store optimization (ASO) efforts for the Bytro games. How important is the channel mix in user acquisition?

I can definitely recommend diversifying when it comes to the channel mix. Having more than one channel spreads the risk of one partner having some performance issues. But I also think you should only diversify if you have enough resources to do so. If you try to stretch beyond your capabilities and don’t give enough attention to every channel, you might struggle in all of them and end up in an even worse position.

You say you are always looking for the next big thing. What do you think it will be after TikTok? Generative AI, maybe?

Generative AI is already the next big thing! It’s quite astonishing how many AI tools have been released in the last couple of months, and I’m excited to see how these impact the industry in the next few ones. We are already using certain ones to localize our best performing clips!

How is Bytro preparing for everything that lies ahead in the future of mobile marketing?

A little bit of everything. We try to consistently be ahead of the curve and test new and promising features or networks. We also work closely together with our partners to ensure we are making the most out of these platforms. And finally, we focus on developing fundamentally good games. The marketing will not work if the foundation is not solid.

Are you concerned about privacy? Will future advertising campaigns lose relevance and personalization?

Who isn’t? And with Google seems to be following Apple’s steps on this matter, things are definitely not getting easier. We have to accept that the hyper personalization days are gone, and make the most of what we have right now.

Due to privacy concerns and policies, we have to accept that the hyper personalization days are gone.

If I ask about innovation in terms of formats and creativity in the video game industry, what would you say?

Incredibly important, and actually more than ever, given what we just spoke about privacy. If we are now forced to give up on targeting relevancy, the only way we can counter it is by crafting the best creative possible. And the only way to do that is being innovative and creative with your advertising.

This is one of the fastest-growing, dynamic, and ever-changing industries of the moment. I imagine that’s the reason for your passion, but shouldn’t it be stressful? 😅

I would rather have it dynamic and creative with a pinch of stress than incredibly predictable, boring, and stale. I will gladly take that trade-off and be excited about work all year round.

By the way, your Videogame Marketing podcast (Marketing Rockers) will be back one day?

Oh, are you a fan of the show? Well, you never know! We certainly had a lot of fun during our run, and we still have these types of discussions without recording them. I’ll let you know if we decide to give it a second try!

Thanks, David for your time. See you on TikTok (probably)!

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