Educational Games for Kids: The ABCs of Pricing Models and Marketing Strategies

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When it comes to educational kids games, there are too many nuances with pricing models and promotional methods that make it hard to define the marketing strategy for an app. What monetization model will be considered safe for a kids app? Should the marketing campaign concentrate on parents or kids as the target audience? Mobile ad platform GOWIDE shares trends, facts and expertise to help get your educational game to the top charts.

Some industry facts:

  • Kids ages 6-12 in the US generated more than $2 billion of gaming revenue in 2014.
  • The average parent of a US gamer aged 6 to 12 spends $29.40 a month on games for their kids 6 to12, including $2.60 a month on mobile game apps or mobile in-game items.
  • Percentage of monthly active users who make at least one in-app purchase: 2-3%

Educational games for kids is a niche within its specific ecosystem. Many game developers add some educational bias to a game, like “learning to read”, because it helps to sell it. As well as adding educational keywords to an app’s title, like “ABC”, “math”, “preschool”. Therefore, some apps in the category don’t have a real educational component and appear to be an entertainment product.

Choosing between in-app purchases and paid model

Let’s take a look at Top-10 grossing apps for iPad in the Educational Games category in the US and their total revenue from October 2015.

Top-10 grossing educational apps for iPad

PRO PRIORI DATA - Educational top games

Source: Priori Data

Three of the top ten games are paid and all free games have in-app purchases. Six games are targeted to children, with three of them using strictly educational-themed keywords in the titles. Blocksworld HD By Linden Research, Inc. is a free game that sells game currency (from $0.99) and premium accounts (up to $24.99). Animal Jam-Play Wild! app requires parental consent for kids to use the game and social features. It sells in-app items (from $0.99 to $4.99).

Bible Quiz Game provides only two in-app purchases: “Remove Ads” for $0.99 and “More Questions” for $1.99, yet it was placed third in the list. Paid SimplePlanes game costs $4.99 and got almost 4,000 downloads in the US in October 2015.

Freemium with in-app purchases is the prevailing model for all age games. The main difference between kids educational games and general games is that they don’t have to be free in order to be successful. Educational focus allows for paid models and premium pricing.

Many educational games’ in-app purchases are based on selling additional content and expansions of apps. IAP inside kids games can raise parental concern about children spending vast amounts of money on virtual currency or additional items. Thus many apps tend to use paid model as the safest for educational games. Paid apps provide parents with full control over the install and payment process.

Educational app promotion: focus on parents

Parents prefer to review and approve apps and games their children use. The promotional strategy for kids educational games need to be aimed at parents. This makes the choice of marketing channels complicated since kids prefer to play games on the iPad (1 in 10 toddlers has a tablet as well as 71% of 5-15 year olds – source), and parents mostly use their smartphones for purchase decisions.

  • iPad apps for kids need to have a smartphone version for parents to review.
  • Marketing campaigns should be adapted to two options including when a family has one common iPad and when the iPad belongs to kids.

To reach the targeted audience on different devices, app developers need to utilize several media buying approaches.

  1. CPI model for reaching “Parents and kids share one iPad” segment. It allows direct attribution of the budget spent to the number of downloads.
  2. CPC model for reaching “Parents with smartphones and Mac, kids with iPad” segment. CPC campaign gives access to wider media inventory and acquisition sources (including Google Adwords, Facebook App Install Ads, DSP`s). But it could be hard to estimate conversion ratios due to the complexity of conversion funnel. For example, parent may see an ad on their smartphone and then install an app on their kid’s iPad.

PR activity and social media strategy may help reach the desired audience segment and create buzz around an educational game. Many parents are concerned about the real value of the educational component in apps and they turn to industry blogs and opinion leaders for information. Getting your app featured in a list of best educational apps for kids (like this one) would be a great impulse towards app discovery.

Holiday time, especially late December and January, is a perfect time for kids educational game promotion campaigns. Children are receiving devices as gifts and parents are installing and purchasing beneficial apps for them.

GOWIDE will help get educational apps noticed on the saturated app stores with the help of a well thought out user acquisition strategy.