Sissie Hsiao is the Director of Product Management, Mobile Apps at Google. An avid gamer her whole life, Sissie is proud to be a part of the games industry’s evolution into mainstream entertainment today. At Google, she leads the product vision and strategy for app advertising.  She’s giving a keynote at Casual Connect in San Francisco and joined us for a Q&A to share how Google is helping game developers and their player communities to thrive.

The mobile gaming industry has evolved a lot over the past decade. What excites you the most about where we are today?  

The sheer size and diversity of the community. Games are now played by everyone. We’ve come a long way since Tetris on a feature phone.  Mobile devices have created a space for games to be integrated anywhere and at anytime – just look at Pokemon Go! The audience playing games today is more diverse and literate in gameplay than ever.  The average gamer today — including those we consider casual — has 13 years of gaming experience and expertise.*  This means more people today are seeking and finding more enjoyment and meaning from games than ever before.

It’s exciting to see the industry meet this opportunity. From “Words with Friends” to “Game of War”, to “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood”, and now to “Pokemon Go”, there’s truly a game for everyone. And, there’s more and more reasons to get in the game everyday!

What does this mean for game developers and for Google?

This is an exciting and rewarding time. Today’s gamers come in all different shapes and sizes and game developers have the challenge of keeping this diversity of players happy and holding this generation’s attention in a saturated environment. This means going beyond basic demographic segments and understanding who players are and how to reach them.  

We want games creators – and the communities they build – to thrive and to keep pulling in this diverse, insatiable audience. This means that at Google, we need to harness our unique insights and reach and build tools to help developers to bring in not only players who pay, but players who share, players who chat, players who help others.

Google has evolved its App Ads products a lot in the last year. How does the Google platform change what game developers and marketers do everyday?  

We’re giving time back to developers and marketers to spend on strategy, with less on campaign setup, optimization and analysis by making app growth easier. With the size and diversity of the audience today there are literally millions of campaign types and tests developers could do to reach gamers and we’re automating as much of that as we can.

We recently launched Firebase Analytics to help with this challenge. It’s a free and robust app analytics solution to help you analyze up to 500 game events and get to the heart of what makes players come back to play, then easily turn those insights into marketing actions. It’s the glue of the entire Firebase platform that powers all your push models (notifications, acquisition and re-engagement paid ad campaigns) and other essential features like remote config so you can test and make changes on the fly.

Next, we’re designing tools that automate smart acquisition campaigns so you can find your best users, leaving more time for your team to do what it does best, make fun! Last year, we launched Universal App Campaigns.  UAC reaches across all of Google’s inventory– Search, Play, AdMob, the Google Display Network and YouTube in one campaign.  Setup takes just 4 pieces of data– text, target, bid and budget– and 2 minutes.  We’re seeing tons of success; thousands of developers have easily found high value players in all corners of the world with UAC.  We’re seeing many game developers switch their UA budgets to Google, and then increase spend even more.

Now, what’s next? Where is Google App Ads taking its partnership with game developers and marketers?

The strength of your game brand and community comes from your ability to harness a diversity of motivations, rewards and calls to action for billions of human beings. Just as you rely on us today to find the players most likely to pay, the future will include finding billions of users who love your game in thousands of different ways.

The next generation of Universal App Campaigns will be able to find high quality players based on our unique understanding of context, intent and player actions – not assumptions based on age and gender. If you only want to promote your app to people who are more likely to get to level 3 or those more likely to invite friends, for example, our smart targeting technology finds users who have a high likelihood to do that. We announced this at Google I/O and have a bunch of game developers playing with this right now, so expect it pretty soon.

Google’s machine learning algorithms constantly learn and find prospective players likely to be loyal community members, high scorers or spectators. Rather than just maximizing the number of installs, we’re going to enable you to optimize for different player types that are valuable for your game.

Sissie will be speaking at 11:30 Monday, July 18, at Casual Connect.  Please catch her talk at the event or follow us on social media. We’ll be live tweeting and sharing the event via our Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ channels using the hashtags #Google #CC16.
* Source: “Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry”, Entertainment Software Association, 2016.  

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