Data-Driven Decision-Making at Bandai Namco Mobile 

Harnessing the Power of Data

At Bandai Namco Mobile, we understand the massive role that data plays in our success. It influences our decision-making on everything from marketing to product development.

Data gives us early signals to guide future investments and marketing campaigns.

It keeps us up to date on current trends in the mobile gaming industry, gives us feedback on our games, and lets us know how our advertising efforts are going. Having a good understanding of our campaign performance allows us to keep optimizing our campaigns for specific audiences or markets.

Thanks to data on things like player segmentation and community reactions to our games, we can get to know our audience better while constantly improving our products. This helps us understand our players better so we can keep offering them a top-notch gaming experience, which is important to us.

The thing is... data is complex.

In the mobile games industry, there’s a dizzying amount of data always flooding in from different channels.

There’s the first-party data we collect from direct interactions with our players. We also have second-party data coming in, which is first-party data from other companies we have partnerships with. Finally, there’s a slew of third-party data that flows in from external providers.

We deal with an endless flow of user acquisition (UA) data, app store keyword rankings, user reviews, conversion rates, retention rates, and churn rates, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

On top of that, there’s a constantly changing ruleset regarding data collection.

Changes in privacy rules, app store features, and advertising networks can get in the way of collecting reliable information.

There’s a lot to keep up with just to gather the data, but that’s not all.

Once the data is collected, it still must be stored, transformed, organized, and analyzed before we can use it. To turn that data into action, we rely on a broad range of expertise. The marketing team here at BNM has around 15 members, and they come from various disciplines including Data, UA, Community and Social Media, App Store Optimization (ASO), Creatives, and Product Marketing.

To help us turn these dataflows into actionable insights, BNM’s interdisciplinary marketing team has combined its business experience and data proficiency to put together a self-built marketing data pipeline.

Creating a centralized system for processing and transforming data isn’t easy. But we put together the best people and tools for the job, rolled up our sleeves, and got to work.

To start, we integrated one Data Analyst and two Marketing Data Scientists directly into our marketing team. These data experts have a wide range of skills, including pipeline development, analytics engineering, machine learning, and dashboard creation, though we found it a good idea to put them in more specialized roles. This way, they build up the niche expertise for each discipline’s unique challenges.

Our Data Analyst focuses on internal reporting for our UA activities. This analyst also builds and maintains dashboards that provide us with actionable insights and create blazing-fast UA pivot tables for drilling up and down on data. The smartphone-compatible dashboards are particularly useful, allowing our Performance Advertising Managers to stay on top of things, even on the go!

Next, we’ve got our UA and creative Data Scientist to provide insights about our return on ad spend (ROAS), SKAN revenue attribution (for iOS campaigns), and creative KPIs.

This person works closely with our Performance Advertising Managers to optimize budgets for the fiscal year, monitor campaign performance, and assess the effectiveness of our creatives.

Finally, our Data Scientist specializing in upper funnel analytics looks at top-of-funnel data to see how we measure up on things like brand awareness, social media, and organic traffic. Their insights help with uplift modeling for non-UA activities such as TV campaigns as well as ASO data collection and reporting. Our upper funnel Data Scientist also helps our Community Managers stay in touch with our players. Using social media listening tools, they work together to match certain KPIs like “sentiment” to game performance metrics such as Daily Active Users or Installs. This generates helpful insights, not just for our Marketing team, but for our Game Development teams as well, allowing us to keep making our games better.

But our marketing data experts do a whole lot more than crunch numbers.

We don’t believe in having a centralized data team that’s isolated from the day-to-day activities of our studio. Our data experts are fully integrated members of the marketing team. They actively participate in its day-to-day operations and regularly contribute ideas at meetings and brainstorming sessions. They also collaborate closely with team members working in UA, ASO, Community and Social Media, and Creative.

After all, we take teamwork seriously here at Bandai Namco Mobile!

With our dream team of data experts assembled, we got to work on building the marketing pipeline.

Our studio’s philosophy revolves around having small, efficient teams that focus on delivering maximum value to the business. Moving to the 4-day workweek incentivized us to work smarter to get the most out of each day.

That means our pipeline needs to be sleek, scalable, and reliable. Our focus must be on helping our team members produce tangible results. So, we avoided obsessing over having the latest and greatest tech stack. Instead, we doubled down on providing maximum value to the marketing team.

We turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and dbt to create the setup we were aiming for.

We went with AWS because it allows us to go serverless, which is very cost-effective. Going serverless also means that we do not need to build and maintain the infrastructure for a data warehouse, saving us a lot of time and effort.

On the other hand, dbt supports our serverless setup and saves us a lot of time and effort on data transformation tasks. Using dbt, our data experts can build, test, validate, and deploy data models more efficiently.

Our data experts also actively participate in knowledge sharing sessions when they present at public events such as dbt meetups and AdKDD. In 2022, they even presented an early version of our pipeline at a dbt meetup; and in 2023, they gave an update showing how flexible and cost-effective our setup is!

At AdKDD 2022, they presented a paper on using Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Framework to gauge marketing performance in F2P games.

If you’re interested in learning more about dbt, why not join us at the next meetup in Barcelona?

Our data marketing pipeline is a huge success so far, not just for our marketing team, but the entire studio.

It empowers our data experts to do what they do best: help us turn data into decisions that help us grow our games profitably, comply with reporting, and be as productive as we can be!

We can collect and transform high-quality data with less time and effort. Having a single point of truth for our KPIs is also super helpful.

It gives our decision-making capabilities a nice boost and lets us make easy use of historical data to see how past campaigns worked out.

It has been great for our sense of teamwork as well. With the data experts directly involved in the marketing team, our marketers have picked up much new knowledge. And the serverless setup means that our data experts spend less on maintenance and more time working with our team members. Whether it is generating ideas, creating new projects, or reviewing completed ones, we are always working together.

In the mobile gaming industry, there are always new challenges and opportunities on the horizon. How will machine learning optimization help us gather and analyze data more effectively? Will the upcoming privacy changes in Android’s Privacy Sandbox and Apple’s SKAN make our marketers’ jobs easier or harder?

We are excited about tackling these problems with teamwork and data-driven decision-making.

Are you interested in being part of the team? Come join us at Bandai Namco Mobile.

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Bandai Namco Mobile

Published: 10 October, 2023

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