Josh Vowles [GamesForum]: “AI, the surgency in hybrid-casual, and growth in the MEA are gaming top trends”.

Written by Tappx
Created May 18, 2023 - Updated Aug 01, 2023

GamesForum Hamburg is one of the unmissable events for mobile games and growth professionals. It takes place next June 14-15 in Hamburg and, for those of you who can’t attend, we’re going to do a broad content coverage. Starting with this interview with Josh Vowles, Head of Content at GamesForum, about all the news of this edition.

How are you, Josh? Thank you very much for taking a few minutes of your time, we know is short these days before GamesForum Hamburg. By the way, how is the preparation going, is there a lot of hustle and bustle?

Hi! I am good thanks, busy and excited about Gamesforum Hamburg. We are a team of four so it is all go here!
The preparation is going well. For me, one of my highlights is coming up, preparing our panelists. This is the chance to bring our panels together, discuss proposed questions, conversation topics, and how ensure we make the best of the time (as well as cheesy introductions!)

GamesForum is already a classic in the agenda of mobile gaming and mobile marketing events. I guess that’s why trying to surprise and add value is a bigger challenge every year. How have you approached it in this edition? What are the most important innovations or changes?

We can’t wait to head to Hamburg, it’s a new location for GamesForum. The mobile industry is alive and thriving in this beautiful city, and it has been great to use local experts for our agenda!
While the two-day format is the same for Hamburg with UA on June 14th and Ad Mon on June 15th, we keep our content as fresh as possible through research calls and surveys with UA and Ad Mon managers. In fact, we just released our latest report into challenges for mobile games UA managers.
Hamburg brings together the very best in the mobile game ecosystems from Germany and across Europe with fresh content and speakers to share best practices, case studies and invite the audience to join in on the discussion.

As well as this, for Hamburg we will be running workshops and roundtables in dedicated meeting rooms alongside the main event content. This will provide the chance to dive deeper into certain key issues like automation, creative strategy, advertising regulation, monetization, influencer marketing, and more.

We’ll drive into key issues like automation, creative strategy, advertising regulation, monetization, influencer marketing, and more

For those who still haven’t made up their minds, how would you encourage them to attend? Why GamesForum is still an essential event for the industry?

GamesForum’s unique attribute is its focus. We run hyper-focused conferences, our content looks exclusively to mobile games ad monetization (Ad Mon) and user acquisition (UA). For our attendees it’s the chance to connect with fellow mobile games marketers and ad monetization experts, knowing that everyone else in that room is there to learn about and discuss mobile game UA and Ad Mon.
This is why we divide our content across the two days; so you can enjoy the great content and quality networking without having to compromise.
So why should you attend? To learn, connect and discuss the greatest challenges facing mobile games UA and Ad Mon teams…. And of course the premium GamesForum experience, great food, quality coffee, and drinks in a super-relaxed, fun setting!

Do you already have attendance forecasts? Will this be a record edition?

We are looking at 250+ joining us at GamesForum Hamburg! Doubling the number we had in Berlin last year. So don’t miss out!

The agenda of speakers and panels looks very interesting. Can you tell us something about the criteria you have taken into account to select the contents?

The content is driven completely by the industry. We conduct research calls with UA and Ad Mon Managers to find out their biggest challenges, what they want to see addressed, and how. From there we put together our agenda based on these challenges, highlighting the most important in panels and feeding back topics to our presenters.
You can find more information about the challenges experts are facing in our UA and Ad Mon reports. These contain the findings from one-hundred UA Managers and one-hundred Ad Mon managers.

With more than 50 speakers, what advice would you give to somebody who plans to attend GamesForum and doesn’t want to miss any important one, but doesn’t want to give up networking time either?

Great question! Each day we have two networking coffee breaks, as well as an hour lunch and networking drinks in the evening, so there is plenty of time to network around the content.

My top advice would be to attend both days and keep your calendar open for the other conference day if possible. In Barcelona, we had a lot of Ad Mon experts arranging meetings and networking on the UA day and not missing out on any Ad Mon content!

My top advice: attend both days and keep open to network during the coffee breaks, lunch and evening drinks.

As you said, GamesForum is one day focus on user acquisition and the other on ad monetization, do you think valuable insights and actionable strategies will come out of it?

Definitely! We work closely with the industry and our speakers. As mentioned we conduct research calls with UA and Ad Mon managers to understand what they want to see discussed and then form our panels and feedback to our presenters based on this information. This allows us to produce content on the agenda that is relevant and shows what the industry wants to hear in the form of discussions, case studies, and best practices!


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You have just published a report on the “Top Challenges For Mobile Games UA Managers 2023”. Is there anything particularly striking that you can reveal to us?

The report was a great learning experience for me, getting to see in raw data what challenges the industry faces and how we can help facilitate discussions and insights on this is very valuable.
When it comes to the UA report, I think the most striking takeaway is how our respondents ranked Understanding Privacy. Privacy received a ranking as the greatest challenge by 20% of UA managers. However, the significance of privacy drops dramatically with only 7% of respondents ranking it number two and 5% number three.
This suggests that while privacy is a significant challenge for a fifth of respondents, as time has moved on the remaining 80% of UA managers have become more familiar and less concerned with privacy. Particularly when compared to Creatives.

Top 3 trends in the mobile gaming industry in 2023: AI, surgency in hybrid-casual, and growth in the Middle East and Africa

Personally, what do you hope to learn from this edition?

It is hard to choose! I am excited about all of our sessions. To pick one highlight from each day, for UA I am excited to hear from David Westerman of Bytro and the work they have been doing with Hardcore strategy on TikTok.
And for Ad Monetization, our UA and Ad Mon panel looking at the relationship between growth and monetization as well as Ad Quality and the effects on User Experience and retention will be incredibly interesting.

By the way, a somewhat controversial question. Now that everything is increasingly digital, why do you think it is still necessary to meet in person and share spaces at events like this one?

I think it is realness. Being in person allows interaction with the audience and the ability to catch speakers after sessions to follow up. Webinars and online content are great for keeping up to date with trends and challenges, but they don’t allow for audience engagement and interaction.
Also from a networking perspective, messages and emails get lost in inboxes, we are a busy industry. It is a lot easier to meet someone at an event and sit down and have a chat, and talk about best practices and collaborations face-to-face.

And last but not least, what would be the best feedback you would like to receive from the GamesForum Hamburg?

Ultimately that people learned and enjoyed themselves! That they have new ideas and innovations they can take back to their company and bring to the table.
But also content ideas and speaking inquiries, the biggest compliment is someone asking me how they can get involved with speaking and sharing their work next time.

Thanks for your time once again Josh and good luck for GamesForum!

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