Improving User Acquisition Through Automation: 3 Things to Automate Right Now

By Scott Palmer | September 14, 2020

Scott Palmer is Director of Marketing for Jam City’s user acquisition team. As a 10-year veteran of the gaming industry, Scott has led growth efforts on games such as Cookie Jam, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, and Panda Pop, helping turn them into the mega-hits they are today. 

Learn more about Mobile Hero Scott Palmer.

Five years ago, I logged all the hours I was putting into Facebook campaign management. The reason behind this awesome task was simple: I was spending way too much time reviewing campaigns, adjusting bids/budgets, and refreshing creative. I wanted to see how that time scaled, both on a five-app portfolio, and for my team. Based on consistent late nights, I knew the answer was too many hours spent. But a second discovery surprised me. Outside of campaign management, we were also losing time to unnecessary inefficiencies. A clunky UI slowed us down from getting access to the data we needed, and we had to rebuild excel reports because of VLOOKUP errors. There was a hidden cost to the problem—the inefficiencies kept us from working on initiatives that moved the business forward.

We needed a solution. One path was to hire more junior buyers to deal with our bloated campaign management. However, we opted to invest in engineering resources instead. For many companies, this isn’t an easy task. How can you justify an engineer’s time for marketing? 

We decided to cautiously approach the problem by giving ourselves bite-sized milestones to ensure we weren’t spending months creating vaporware. Our initial goal was to access Facebook ads reporting and build a useful dashboard that fits our needs. Step by step, we made one that organized data in the way we needed it. Over time, we worked our way towards the end goal: a single platform to create, manage, and report on our Facebook ad campaigns that joined campaign metrics with down funnel metrics from Facebook installs. When we got there, we finally freed ourselves from performing campaign analysis on one platform and taking action on another.

For most teams, replicating Facebook’s ads manager isn’t a realistic (or necessary) goal.  

But, there are plenty of friction points teams face that are solvable with automation. Here are few examples of problems you could be facing, along with possible solutions and benefits from addressing these with bespoke applications.

  1. Create a standardized script for naming creative assets.
    Problem: Asset filenames can be a mess, leading to chaos when evaluating an asset’s performance. The file uploaded to Facebook or elsewhere might not match what you have internally.

    Solution: Build a script to crawl your asset repository and add a unique ID to each file. Matching down funnel metrics back to the actual file becomes much less daunting.

  2. Automate uploading assets to Facebook or YouTube.
    Problem: Media buyers spend just as much time compiling the components of a campaign as they do managing them. Many buyers will know the frustration of setting up an AdWords campaign only to realize that they haven’t uploaded the video to YouTube.

    Solution: Take advantage of each platform’s API to upload your assets ahead of time. Build a process to filter by asset size, allowing for uploads of each platform’s assets.

  3. Manage the creation of tracking links outside of your MMP.
    Problem: Creating multiple tracking links for an ad partner can be slow and sometimes tedious. It becomes even slower if steps have to be taken to modify the link (swapping out macros, adding different parameters, etc).

    Solution: Many MMPs offer API access that can allow you to generate tracking links for partners. Building an interface can allow buyers to streamline link creation, append custom parameters and have all tracking links available on a single page.

Your initial response to this might be, ‘Why not just pay for a SaaS solution to handle these problems?’.

There are significant benefits to building software that is an exact fit for your needs.

  1. There is no extra fat to the product—no unnecessary bells and whistles.
  2. You can build the workflow exactly as you want it.
  3. It allows you to create a marketing stack that suits your needs.

Media buyers invest hours every week into repetitive tasks that can and should be automated. The time savings and efficiency gains can easily justify the engineering resources required for such a job. Building these kinds of solutions in-house can give you the tools needed to scale operations without scaling headcount. If there’s one thing to take away, take notice of your work process and consider how to improve through internally built solutions.