Looking for a Merge Mansion advertising analysis?
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To uncover how this merge game got so successful, I’ve examined its user acquisition strategy, including ad examples and tips.
But first, let’s learn what Merge Mansion is all about.
About Merge Mansion
Merge Mansion by Helsinki-based Metacore Games is a popular puzzle game that belongs to the trending merge subgenre.
Merge games are known for their simple game mechanics. The goal of such games is to combine similar objects (e.g., wood, plants, gold, dragons, candy, etc.) on a board to acquire more advanced items.
As Merge Mansion’s Google Play Store listing states, “Even grandmas can learn a game this simple!”
When players merge the items, that creates an upgraded item. For example, merging wood benches unlocks a wooden stool and combining wooden stools creates a wooden chair, and so on.
Merge Mechanics + Meta Layers
In Merge Mansion’s case, the goal is to decorate a mansion. Thus, all items are related to the exterior and interior design. It’s also important to note that design & décor is one of the game’s meta layers.
However, players don’t get to choose how anything looks, unlike in Gardenscapes, for example.
Along with simple merge mechanics and designing, Merge Mansion also has a narrative meta-layer.
There’s a mystery adventure storyline that’s interwoven into puzzle gameplay. We meet Maddie, a young woman, and her grandmother, who has something to tell. As players advance through the game, they discover shocking family secrets.
According to Metacore’s website, “Starring Maddie and her grandma, the story engages players with wicked twists and gossipy turns. Love, heritage, and betrayal are put together in one messy puzzle, and shh… Maddie’s grandmother has a secret to tell!”
The main purpose of adding meta-layers to simple puzzle games is to increase engagement, as well as reach a broader audience.
“We believe that both core mechanics and meta are important when it comes to game development. But we really prioritize ideas or like strong meta structures for games,” Metacore founder Mika Tammenkoski said. “What really is of interest to us is to keep players playing the games for years to come. And that’s where the strong meta comes from.”
How Successful Is Merge Mansion?
According to SensorTower, Merge Mansion had the highest market share in Q2 2021 out of all merge games (30%). Merge Dragons, the game that had popularized this genre, was second on this list (13%). EverMerge was third with a 12% market share.
I’ve also included downloads and revenue data for Merge Mansion.
All-Time Merge Mansion Downloads by Country
Released globally in September 2020, Merge Mansion is currently at more than 4 million all-time downloads on iOS. (GameRefinery)
The downloads had been steadily rising since the release and reached their peak in July 2021 (700k downloads).
The majority of downloads on iOS came from the United States (42%). Other markets with a high download share were the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Canada. (GameRefinery)
On Android, Merge Mansion got to more than 5 million downloads so far, making its overall download count on both platforms reach more than 9 million.
All-Time Merge Mansion Revenue by Country
According to GameRefinery’s iOS data, Merge Mansion has earned more than $14 million since its release. Just like the downloads, the revenue also peaked in July 2021.
The most lucrative markets for Merge Mansion on iOS are the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Canada.
If you’re wondering how this game became one of the top-grossing merge games, check out our Merge Mansion monetization analysis.
Who Is Playing Merge Mansion?
In a very broad sense, most Merge Mansion players are considered to be casual players, as is the case with most puzzle games. Casual gamers are attracted to simple game mechanics, and their main motivation for playing is to pass the time.
Moreover, as most games in this genre, Merge Mansion tends to have an older female audience, typically between the ages of 40 and 50. (AppLovin)
That, of course, shaped Merge Mansion’s advertising strategy, as most of its ads cater to a female audience.
But more about that in the following section.
Merge Mansion Advertising Analysis
You’re probably wondering, how did Merge Mansion become the most successful merge game?
The answer lies in its user acquisition strategy. More specifically, in its out-of-the-box video ad creatives.
I’ve analyzed them in the following section.
Merge Mansion Advertising: Top-Performing Creatives
Ad Creative #1
A creative trend that works well for merge games is story-based creatives. Merge Mansion took this trend to another level.
The elaborate narrative ads for this game look more like a mini-movie rather than a mobile game creative.
There are so many unexpected plot twists that happen in this 50-second video, it leaves your head spinning.
Here’s the gist of it.
We see a young woman, Maddie, getting out of the cab in a wedding dress – she looks distraught. Was she left at the altar? Did something happen to her partner?
The ad leaves us questioning what happened.
But that’s just the beginning.
She then finds out her house burned down and calls her grandma, who invites Maddie to her mansion.
Maddie starts renovating the mansion, which is the goal of this merge game. There’s a short scene of the merge gameplay footage.
Everything seems to be going well.
But then her grandmother gets arrested.
They touch hands over the glass window of the police car in a moving scene. But as the cops drive her away, she sends a message to her granddaughter.
“He is alive” is written on her hand.
So much has happened in this short video ad. Yet, we still don’t know what’s going on, as it ends with a huge cliffhanger.
Who’s alive? Perhaps Maddie’s partner? What’s going on?
We don’t know.
The only way to find out is to install the game.
If you’re wondering how to make people keep watching and get them interested in a game, this is how you do it.
It’s also important to note that story-based ads with a female main character overcoming hardships such as this one are geared towards female gamers. And as we know, most merge game players are women between the ages of 40 and 50.
Ad Creative #2
This is another example of Merge Mansion’s stellar narrative ads. However, it’s much shorter than the previous one – it’s only 15 seconds.
In this one, Maddie wakes up and finds her grandmother leaving in the middle of the night.
The grandma points to a piece of paper on the table that says, “The story of our family… I’m sorry – Grandma.”
At the end of the video, we hear a police siren – it’s implied the grandma has been arrested.
Once again, we’re left with a cliffhanger.
Why is grandma leaving? Has she been arrested? What are these family secrets all about?
As the final caption/CTA states, the only way to find out is to play the game – “Unfold family secrets. Play now.”
Even though the narrative meta-layer is not that prominent in the game, it has been put in the forefront when it comes to Merge Mansion creatives.
As it was mentioned before, that’s because this type of ad drives interest, appeals to a female audience, and attracts players who love story-based games.
Ad Creative #3
The creative above features two different Merge Mansion meta-layers – design & décor and narrative meta.
The former is very prominent among all different types of puzzle games, but mainly match-3 games (e.g., Homescapes, Matchington Mansion, Lily’s Garden).
It appeals to a group of players who are into customizing and designing and like to show their creative side.
So it’s no wonder many Merge Mansion ads feature this meta-layer – it’s an attempt to reach a broader audience that goes beyond players interested in puzzle games.
On the other hand, the addition of the storyline adds intrigue and attracts players who love games with captivating storylines.
The ad copy says, “Secrets and renovations?! All this and much more!”, which is very fitting.
Just like most Merge Mansion ads, this one is also very cinematic and features high-end animated scenes.
We see Maddie and her grandmother doing some home renovation and cleaning. But then, they discover a secret door.
As you might expect, we don’t find out what secrets lie behind that door. Cliffhangers are a staple of most Merge Mansion ads.
Then the creative moves on, and we see some gameplay footage. These scenes demonstrate how merging items leads to mansion renovation and decoration.
Ad Creative #4
I’ve decided to include this Merge Mansion creative in my analysis because it’s quite different from other ads.
In this creative, there are no dramatic storylines that leave viewers wondering what the hell is going on.
Instead, there’s simple gameplay footage that demonstrates the basic merge mechanics. In the video, we’re shown that merging two orange flower seeds creates an orange flower bud. The buds are then merged to create an orange flower.
The second part of the video is about renovating the mansion, which is the game’s primary goal. This makes it clear that merging has a purpose.
In terms of player motivations, this ad creative targets people who want to relax while playing games.
Both the editing and the background music are slow-paced. There are no quick transitions, loud sound effects, or adrenaline-inducing gameplay scenes.
All this is to show viewers how calming and soothing it is to play this merge game.
This is another great lesson in running different ad creatives for audiences with different motivations for playing.
BONUS: Retargeting Ad
I’ve also included one of Merge Mansion’s retargeting ads.
Sometimes it’s not about acquiring new users but keeping existing ones engaged.
The grandma is knitting on the porch as tears run down her face. The caption says, “I’ve had no visitors for a long time…”
It plays on the viewer’s emotions and makes them feel guilty for not playing. Nobody wants to see grandma sad.
Suddenly, she gets really happy and says, “Oh, there you are! Remember the Merge Mansion?”
She’s speaking directly to the viewer, which is quite powerful. Once again, it’s all about emotions – grandma is happy you came back.
We’re then shown some merge gameplay, along with a message that informs viewers there are new items and events available. This is another reason for lapsed players to come back.
Merge Mansion ASO Analysis
A good user acquisition strategy should unify paid and organic UA. When it comes to organic user acquisition, app store optimization is one of the most important elements.
A well-optimized app store listing can improve the game’s visibility, as well as drive conversions, which is the ultimate goal.
If you observe the names of the most popular merge games, they all have the keyword “merge” in their titles. For example, Merge Dragons, Merge Villa, Merge Manor, Merge Magic, Merge Fables, EverMerge.
Merge Mansion is no exception.
The reasoning behind it is quite simple – it lets users know that this is a merge game.
Furthermore, it’s an important keyword that can help improve the game’s discoverability on the app stores. In terms of keywords, the game title carries the most weight.
The second word in the title, “mansion”, refers to the game’s meta-layer, as the goal is to redecorate a mansion.
Here you can see how a simple game title like Merge Mansion tells users everything they need to know about the game.
Game icons on Google Play and App Store change from time to time. That’s because the developers want to keep things fresh as well as stay current with seasonal icons.
We see a similar strategy with Merge Mansion.
Their past icons usually featured the two main game characters – Maddie and her grandmother.
The current one is no different. However, it’s Halloween-themed, which is appropriate for this time of the year.
Seasonal icons are common practice among mobile games. They tell users there has been a recent update. Plus, a holiday-themed mobile game might stand out more in the app stores.
App Promo Video
A game’s app promo video is one of the most important ASO elements, as this format tends to drive more organic conversions.
Its main purpose is to demonstrate the different features a game offers and instruct people to download it.
It may sound simple, but creating a compelling app promo video is not easy.
Here’s how Merge Mansion did it.
The 30-second promo video includes a short glimpse of the gameplay. We’re shown how to merge items and create more advanced tools, which is the core gameplay.
Additionally, the video features decoration and renovation (adding flowers, fixing the bridge). If we go back to the aforementioned player motivations, this part of the video will appeal to players who are into customizing and design.
Notice that the overall atmosphere of the video is exceedingly calming and relaxing. That’s achieved by a slow-paced video edit and tranquil background music. The message to the viewers is quite simple – this game is relaxing.
Naturally, that appeals to players who want to wind down while playing mobile games.
What Merge Mansion’s promo video lacks is a call-to-action. Remember, the goal is to make people convert. To achieve that, you need to tell viewers what you want them to do.
Also, the promo video could benefit from additional gameplay footage that shows range. For example, making the narrative aspect of this game more prominent.
Besides the app promo video, game screenshots/graphics are another way to visually represent a game on the app stores.
Merge Mansion was quite successful with this.
The graphics highlight each feature – renovation, storylines, hidden areas, and of course, merging and discovering new items.
They make it clear what the game is about and have the potential of reaching a broad audience, as different users are interested in different aspects of the gameplay.
Merge Mansion Advertising Analysis: 3 Things You Can Learn from This Game
Finally, I’ve included some user acquisition tips based on our Merge Mansion advertising analysis.
Work on Reaching a Broader Audience
The main user acquisition challenge for merge games is reaching a broader audience.
A couple of things are happening here.
There’s a group of players who have been playing Merge Dragons, the first successful game in this subgenre. Many of them are looking for something new. So there’s a great opportunity to attract them with a different type of merge game.
Furthermore, for the most part, merge games are competing for the same audience as match-3 games.
Thus, games like Merge Mansion not only have a lot of competition among other games in this subgenre but also have to stand out among match-3 games and “steal” their audience.
Because of that, genre differentiation is very important. You need to give a compelling reason to match-3 players switch over to merge games.
Also, the merge subgenre is relatively new, which means some players don’t even know what these games are about. For this group of players, it’s crucial to demonstrate how merge mechanics work.
Furthermore, merge game publishers need to enrich their games with different meta-layers to attract a wider audience.
Meta-layers are usually tied in with different player motivations. For example, featuring a design & décor meta-layer in ads can help you reach players who are into customizing and decorating.
Finally, merge publishers who reach a male audience have the opportunity to come out on top. We already see games with a primarily male audience incorporate merge mechanics (Top War).
This is another interesting area to explore.
Take Advantage of the Story-Based Creative Trend
What our Merge Mansion advertising analysis has shown is that narrative ads work wonders for merge game user acquisition.
Even if your merge game doesn’t have a narrative meta-layer, you can still take advantage of this creative trend. Simply come up with a storyline based on the game characters and/or theme.
Perhaps your merge game features a mysterious enchanted forest. What kind of creatures live in this forest? What happens if you set foot there? Numerous storylines can be created just based on that setting.
Or for example, the game’s main character is a woman who’s trying to redecorate her restaurant. The ads can feature stories based on her overcoming different obstacles and trying to establish her restaurant business.
Whatever the case may be, make sure that the story is dramatic and unexpected. End with a cliffhanger, make people wonder what happens next.
Stand Out from Competition
According to SensorTower, the number of merge titles has tripled in the last 2.5 years!
That means there’s a lot of competition out there, and your main job is to stand out.
A great thing about merge games is that they’re very versatile. You can incorporate merge mechanics in basically any type of game. Or you can start with core merge mechanics and add various meta-layers on top of that.
Creating a unique game makes user acquisition a bit easier, as you already have features that make you stand out.
But that doesn’t mean more traditional merge games don’t stand a chance. You can accomplish a lot with attention-grabbing ad creatives. Any game can be made to look infinitely cool if you get your messaging right.
While it’s beneficial to utilize various creative trends, it’s also important to show players something unique. That’s how your ads will stand out.
Final Thoughts on Merge Mansion Advertising Analysis
What do you think about Merge Mansion and its user acquisition strategy? Let me know in the comments below.
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