Successfully marketing a game in the mobile space is never easy, but it’s especially difficult when you’re dealing with children. For starters, they don’t have access to the same suite of websites other groups do, and are thus insusceptible to a lot of ad campaigns. Ziosk CMO John Regal hosted a talk on the subject, and provided developers in the audience with some much-needed advice on how to get their games in front of kids.

One of the first things Regal discussed was the importance of relevance. He pointed to the mass amount of 4-8 year old girls Mattel is able to reach in their BarbieGirl virtual world. It’s a lucrative place to advertise, but only if you’re selling the right product. GI Joe ads, for example, probably wouldn’t go over well. Location is everything, especially if you want the right parties to become aware of your game. “That’s why you see ads for Coca-Cola in the movie theater.”

Immersion and “dwell time” were also discussed – two points I consider to be largely related. “If people don’t spend a lot of time in the environment where your ad is, they’re not going to necessarily have a very interactive or engaging experience.” To put it another way, an interesting trailer in a tech or game store is far more likely to sink its hooks into someone than a static image in a subway station.

The where factor is a crucial part of advertising no matter who you’re trying to court, but it can have an especially potent effect on kids. According to Regal, if you reach out to them in a medium or location they’re invested in, they’re more likely to pay attention. He gave the example of “virtual worlds” here – or, more specifically, the customizable nature of those worlds. The experience can be tailored, as can the ads that reach the users.


With Ziosk, Regal and co. are hoping to provide companies with a new way to reach kids and families.

Another point that translates to all advertising efforts is the need to know how well your methods are working. “If you can’t calculate ROI (return on investment), how do you know the time and money you’re spending to reach these kids is paying off?” This is especially crucial in modern times, as many developers are forced to operate on a shoestring advertising budget, and it’s important that their money ends up in the most effective places possible. Fortunately, it’s been made easier in recent years with the rise of metrics and digital advertising.

But, of course, kids aren’t the ones cutting the checks at the end of the day. It’s the parents; a group you’ll want to keep in mind when coming up with your advertising plan. Making them aware isn’t the only thing that matters, though: reaching them in a way that cuts the amount of work they have to do to purchase your game is, in Regal’s opinion, crucial. If they have to go through a bunch of hoops, chances are you’ll suffer from it.

Regal wrapped things up by talking a bit about how he and his coworkers plan to “revolutionize discovery of games” with Ziosk. They’ll be partnering with restaurant chains like Applebees and Chevys, placing 7″ Android tablets at tables for children and their parents to play with. If they find a game they like, they can purchase it on the spot. It will also allow people to take photos of QR codes associated with the games so they can download later. Regal is confident that they’ll reach 100 million people in the next 12 months.

Like any good panel at an industry event, I walked away pondering something I’d never really thought about before. Kids are a very important demographic in the mobile space, and reaching them is no easy feat. Judging by the amount of people jotting or typing notes throughout the talk, I’m pretty sure a lot of attendees walked away with a better understanding of how best to pull it off.