14.11.2023

What is the difference between advertising and marketing — an interview with Kirill Oreshkin

On the topic "What are the tasks of advertising?" and "Do games need advertising at all?" — the editors of App2Top talked with Kirill Oreshkin, former co-head of the Wargaming advertising agency and author of the course "How to make advertising for games that will work?".

Alexander Semenov, App2Top: I'll start from the base: is it worth separating advertising and marketing? And what's the difference?

Kirill Oreshkin

Kirill Oreshkin: I'll just say it. Marketing is the whole activity of a company to attract customers. This includes, for example, determining the market and audience, conducting research, setting up all marketing analytics, and so on.

In short, everything about attracting, returning, and even partially retaining customers is marketing.

Advertising is a marketing tool. Advertising is focused on communicating with the customer so that they pay attention to the product.

We do a lot of things in marketing, but when we need to communicate something to potential customers, it's advertising.

That is, the job of an advertising specialist is to inform?

Kirill: Not really. Advertising is a communication that should change human behavior. Which one? The one that will be more profitable for the company.

For example, we create a video that shows the product in such a way that you want to try it. Or we come up with integration from a blogger, which leads to clicks and purchases.

To achieve this, advertising professionals must understand:

  • how is the choice made (based on what, where is the place for beliefs and where are emotions);
  • how communication happens (what attracts people's attention, what holds them back).

It's not easy.

At the same time, not everyone believes that advertising is necessary at all. A top manager of a large Polish company once told me that good games don't need advertising.

KIRILL: I would say otherwise. Only good games need advertising.

If you have a title that is played and paid for, then in the case of audience scaling, which advertising allows, revenue will grow (in the event, of course, if the economy converges).

As for the bad game, it's better to engage in the game, not advertising.

By "bad game" I mean "a game with poor performance." For mobile phones, poor performance means low retention and LTV, and for PCs and consoles — low ratings and poor sales.

The problem with bad games is that they have a small check, it's hard for them to buy advertising plus. Therefore, until they fix retention and monetization, there will be difficulties.

You see, you're saying that only good games need advertising. Is it not enough to make a good product? Can't the game succeed without ads?

KIRILL: Let's talk about how people buy or download a new game.

So Vasya lives for himself, does business. What does it take for him to start playing a new game?

He should find out about her first.

How does he find out about the game?

Either his friends and acquaintances will tell him, or he will find out from the media and bloggers, or he will see it in the store. These are the main reasons

And when someone says that "good games don't need advertising," he believes that people will tell about a good game themselves, bloggers will write themselves, and stores will effectively promote.

And this really happens. I haven't seen any ads for Baldur's Gate 3, but I've heard about it 100 times.

But there are two problems here:

  • There are more and more games. There are also more and more good games. While you were playing Baldur's Gate 3, I'm sure you missed out on a few other good games. Friends and acquaintances also can't play everything, bloggers can't show all the games, and the platform can bring everyone to the top and keep a month.
  • Developers don't always get a great game. In the first year, it seemed that the project would be a hit (and how great everything was on paper). Two years later, it turned out that there were questions about many aspects of the product. At the release a year later, it turned out that the team had a "strong average". So what now, if it didn't sell itself, to the trash?

Advertising is an opportunity to get a place in an oversaturated information space for money. This is a story when a person learned about the game not from a blogger who loved the project with all his heart, but from someone who told about your game for $ 1000.

And if that $1,000 brought you $3,000 in sales, then what's the problem?

Don't worry, of those who will play and like it, some will bring friends. It will be crystal clear organic matter. Let her support you.

If you have the strength for a good product, it's not a fact that you mentioned a thousand dollars for promotion. Those indies, for example, have a bad time with it.

Kirill: Remember, I said that advertising is communication.

A small indie developer can (and should) start by creating a community, involve people more in the creation of their game, and so on. Let him make content and engage in community management.

This will give him the first sales in the future, the first people who will tell others about his game. In short, this could be a good start.

It turns out that they should be engaged in self-promotion. And some teams really manage to rock their own project on their own. This creates the illusion that advertising is not a Newton binomial. You cut the video of the game, insert the music and you're done. What do you think about this position?

Kirill: If you cut the video of the game, insert the music and release it, then you get interesting numbers. They are usually quite low.

Just "show gameplay" is not the most working scenario. To find an advertisement that will lead to results and pay off, you need solid experience and a systematic approach.

Large advertising agencies that have been working for decades have long since split advertising into atoms and figured out how the process of its creation works. They have an understanding of what result needs to be achieved and how to do it. Therefore, for them, promotion is a simple transparent process.

For the rest, it's a dark forest of hundreds of unanswered questions: how to show the game so that the advertisement is clicked; what you need to tell the blogger to buy the game; what elements are required in the advertisement; where and when it is better to place it, and so on.

I'm not even talking about the fact that finding a suitable advertising solution involves researching the target audience, creating hundreds of relevant hypotheses and testing each of them on different platforms.

Audience research will help identify their interests. But in the end, what should the advertising "come from", from the expectations of the audience or from the product?

Kirill: The most important thing in advertising is the audience.

It is on her that we act, it is from her that we want to get a reaction to the actions we have committed.

And the biggest problem for everyone who works with advertising is avoiding the audience, its interests, and desires.

I would say that a common problem for many advertisers today is the unwillingness to conduct research interviews and communicate deeply with people. They believe that this is the right thing to do, and this cuts the performance of the products they promote.

In other words, you should still go from the audience. Then the next question is: do you have experience working on the promotion of both mobile and PC projects. Are there any fundamental differences in the approaches to advertising on different platforms?

KIRILL: Promotion differs more depending on the genre and audience than directly from the platform. Moreover, today more and more games are becoming multiplatform.

Although, of course, each platform has its own nuances. And even sometimes significant ones. But in order to understand how and where to advertise, you need to understand your audience, understand where they learn about new games, disassemble the genre, disassemble the platform.

And so, based on all the data, it will already be clear how to move forward, where and so on.

Are the channels and methods of promotion related to these differences? After all, perhaps someone will say that there is no point in promoting a mobile game on Twitch. They say, you can't arrange drops.

Kirill: Yes, they may differ. But usually, at first, the company checks almost all channels in one way or another to see if there is a "pull" there.

There are more and more games, auctions are getting more expensive and everyone is looking for some other opportunities to promote. And they try to do even things that are usually not suitable for the platform.

Is it possible to say that it is easier to advertise games for some platform, but more difficult for some other?

KIRILL: For someone who is used to, for example, working with mobile games, it will be difficult at first with PC games. The opposite is also true.

It seems to me that it is impossible to say that somewhere is simpler or more complicated. There are nuances everywhere.

At the same time, mobile is still considered a more transparent platform. You can track the effectiveness of any campaign and calculate the ROAS. But is this transparency a factor that simplifies the work?

Kirill: Yes, it's more convenient with mobile advertising: you see more and it's easier for you to analyze. And testing hypotheses is much more convenient.

But promoting some niche game for Steam is also interesting. Perhaps it is less convenient in some ways, but I will not say what is more difficult.

In turn, when promoting a PC game, it will be much more important to work with the community and influencers. For some, it will be much easier than "spinning" mobile advertising creatives.

And regardless of the gaming platform, the main advertising format today is video, right?

Kirill: Yes, video is the most important format right now.

Video usually works better because it makes it easier to attract and hold attention and convey a message. The video allows you to tell and show something in 30-60 seconds. This helps to have a stronger impact and, as a result, get a higher conversion rate.

Therefore, advertisers should all sit down today and study the principles of video advertising. There will be no such understanding, there will be no effectiveness.

Let's say that after this interview, many people will run to look for and study these principles. It is clear that it is hardly possible to convey them within the framework of our small conversation. However, let's at least try to formulate what is the main difficulty when working with video ads?

KIRILL: When you make video ads, the first thing you should do is make interesting content that you should want to watch, and not turn off or squander.

To do this, it is not enough to understand the target audience, know the marketing messages and understand the market. To do this, you need to be able to make content. Interesting content.

This is the main difficulty.

There are plenty of boring dumb ads. Boring dumb content, too. People are drowning in it anyway. And they don't need another stupid boring advertisement.

To make it interesting, you need to study a lot how to make it interesting.

Who can do interesting things?

It is interesting for writers to write, it is interesting for directors to shoot.

The former write novels of 500-900 pages, the latter make films lasting several hours. We spend dozens of hours reading books, hours watching movies in cinemas. In both cases, no one forces us to do this. We're just curious.

Advertising is at the intersection of marketing and visual art. To achieve results here, you need to know marketing, literature, cinema, and painting well, and understand how it all works. Otherwise, you will not be able to control the user's attention, you will not be able to interest him.

Over the past five to six years, many new advertising formats have appeared (videos, short videos in the feed). Has the approach to traditional video advertising (trailers, teasers) changed? Can you tell us about it, and at the same time share how important they are for promotion?

KIRILL: Game trailers, according to modern terminology, are already, it turns out, a CG mislide. I'm kidding.

Of course, everything is changing. Previously, a trailer could be a key asset in promotion. And a lot of the promotion came down to making sure that this trailer was shown by as many publications as possible.

For PC titles, this format continues to be relevant. IGN still takes them, people send them to each other. The trailer is placed on the Steam page.

But there is no point in talking a lot about trailers. When a marketing strategy is devised, channels and the type of content are determined. The trailer may be useful for some channels. For example, for the press.

But if we are going to run ads on Facebook and Twitter, buy integrations from bloggers on YouTube, and so on, then one trailer will definitely not be enough for everything. We can use the trailer in the purchase, we can take its elements. But we will need different ads.

Therefore, you need to start by understanding your strategy, and then build asset development from there.

We touched on the topic of time a little bit. That's what I'm going to have the last question about. As Heraclitus said, you can't step into the same river twice. Until recently, something worked with a bang, now it seems to be losing relevance. So let's talk about trends. How has advertising changed in the last two or three years?

KIRILL: The interesting thing is that, on the one hand, everything is changing rapidly and dramatically. On the other hand, fundamentally everything remains unchanged.

But if you highlight something, then:

  • the triumph of mislid advertising (and today it is no longer clear where the mislid is and where it is not);
  • the growth in purchases from bloggers on YouTube and Instagram.

Influencer marketing for games is still a minor channel, but its share is growing.

Previously, for example, it was very rare to pay off a blogger from YouTube, but now, if your project has a good LTV or a high average check, then there are chances and they can even be called good. This is especially true when promoting midcore and hardcore games, including mobile ones. I personally know companies that spend millions of dollars a month on influencer marketing. And it pays off.

But the people themselves remained the same. They still have the same gaming needs and they are still happy to click on the ads that show them what they want.

Therefore, it is most useful and always to study psychology at a fundamental level. This knowledge does not become outdated when working with advertising.

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