How not to spend your UA budget 


Matej Lancaric is a well-known, no-nonsense user acquisition consultant who has helped launch games made by developers like Boombit, Fingersoft, Genera, Pixel Federation and Rovio. 

We enjoyed his talk at Google and Deconstructor of Fun’s Istanbul event so much that we asked if he’d like to write a regular column for us. So here’s his first:

How not to spend your UA budget 

After all the iOS shenanigans that happened last year, being a UA manager is pretty challenging right now. Despite the “IDFA apocalypse”, though, I am actually having the best time of my life.

Why? We are not living in a world with stable UA performance. It’s a roller coaster: one day, lookalikes are performing well, the next day it’s AAA campaigns, then the next week the whole of Facebook is down, but Google UAC skyrockets. You need to be on top of everything all the time to keep track, and everyday brings a different challenge. I love it!

So here’s what not to do, in the current climate:

Don’t: let someone else do everything

If you are a small gaming studio or a startup, i’ve always believed that founders have to go through some UA activities and set up the campaigns for themselves. It’s important to get the thrill of that first campaign and when you refresh the page a million times to get the first installs. You also need to learn how it works and what is needed to set up that first campaign.

Setting up a campaign is easy, but everything that comes after that is hard. If you feel like you need help, ask yourself what you want to achieve, what stage you are at and if you understand that UA is a vital part of the game’s growth before you reach out.

Don’t: make decisions based on emotions and opinions

When the game is still just an idea, UA can help with a lot of stuff. UA teams can help you with market research, audience definition, keyword research or marketability tests. Rely on what the data is telling you, and nothing else.

Don’t: put all your eggs in one UA basket

Having Facebook as your one and only UA channel is dangerous, and the times when you could use Facebook up until you reach $1m monthly spend are gone. If you put all your eggs in one UA basket, you are playing a very risky game: what if your only UA channel stops working?

Start thinking about diversifying the UA portfolio after hitting around $20k/month on one channel. This will depend heavily on the game genre and monetisation strategy.

By diversification of optimisation strategy, I mean running all types of optimisations on campaign level: MAI, MAI + Purchase, AEO (tCPA), VO (tROAS), AdROAS.

Once you have used these to optimise the spend in one channel, move slowly to other channels, step-by-step.

To conclude, here’s what you *should* do:

  • Start learning UA basics by yourself
  • Define the help you need clearly when growing
  • Diversify your UA portfolio after hitting $20k/month
  • Make decisions based on data, not your emotions
  • Profit!


You can subscribe to Matej’s ‘Brutally honest’ newsletter and his Two and a Half gamers podcast on Spotify through the links.

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