In the fast-paced world of mobile gaming, capturing users’ attention and driving user acquisition (UA) can be a challenging task. However, Merge Mansion, a popular mobile game, has found a unique and successful approach through its viral ad campaigns.

These campaigns, featuring famous actors and embracing absurd and often confusing premises, have demonstrated the power of the bizarre and unexpected to captivate audiences, resulting in significant growth in downloads. In this article, we delve into Merge Mansion’s ad strategies and explore what they reveal about mobile marketing in a post-ATT (App Tracking Transparency) world.

The Success of Viral Ad Campaigns

According to, Merge Mansion initially gained traction with a series of animated ads featuring a sinister grandma character. These ads developed a cult following online and laid the foundation for the game’s subsequent success.

Taking advantage of this popularity, Merge Mansion embarked on a big-budget live-action campaign. They enlisted the renowned actress Kathy Bates to star in commercials that aired during prime broadcasting hours.

These ads went viral on social media due to their weird narrative, high-quality production, and unexpected celebrity star.

The impact of the Kathy Bates campaign was remarkable. Merge Mansion experienced a substantial increase in iOS US downloads, reaching approximately 100,000 per month. This growth was sustained for about eight months.


The success of these ads highlighted the effectiveness of embracing an absurd premise that resonated with fans, leading to a significant boost in user acquisition. The absurdity of the ads also lead to popular comedy YouTubers such as Danny Gonzales to make fun of the ads, driving millions of essentially free views.

The Importance of Virality and Target Audience

The Kathy Bates campaign garnered immense attention and achieved impressive download growth. However, a subsequent campaign featuring Pedro Pascal did not yield the same level of success. This contrast suggests that virality may be a more effective strategy for new apps or audiences.

Understanding the dynamics of virality is crucial. Merge Mansion’s ability to generate viral content stemmed from its pre-existing popularity online and its ability to make surprising, strange ads. This popularity was primarily driven by the animated ads featuring the jokingly sinister grandma character.

The familiarity and connection that fans had with this character played a significant role in the campaign’s success. In contrast, the Pedro Pascal campaign introduced a new character that may not have resonated as strongly with the Merge Mansion universe or player base. It also may have just not been strange enough to drive enough shares and views.

This emphasizes the importance of considering the target audience and their existing connection to the brand or characters when planning ad campaigns. Building upon pre-established popularity and leveraging characters or plotlines that already have a following can significantly enhance the chances of achieving viral success.

By understanding the dynamics of virality and the preferences of their target audience, mobile marketers can better tailor their campaigns to generate maximum impact and engagement. The Merge Mansion case study demonstrates the significance of audience connection and the role it plays in driving the success of mobile marketing campaigns.

Elements Influencing the Impact of Viral Ad Campaigns

Several factors may have contributed to the lower impact of the Pascal campaign. Unlike the Kathy Bates campaign, the Pascal campaign did not include TV ads, potentially limiting its reach.

Additionally, Pascal’s popularity among a younger audience, compared to Bates, may have presented challenges in converting that specific demographic.

Moreover, Merge Mansion may have already captured a substantial portion of its target audience during the Kathy Bates campaign. This could result in fewer new users to attract through viral advertising.

Replicating viral success can be challenging since fans quickly come to expect new and surprising elements. Merely recreating a successful approach may not yield the same level of excitement and engagement.

However, developing ad campaigns around pre-existing characters and plotlines that already have a dedicated following can foster a sense of inclusivity and engagement among fans. This, in turn, can contribute to heightened virality.

Ad Creatives and User Acquisition in a Post-ATT World

With the introduction of App Tracking Transparency (ATT), accessing personalized user data for targeted advertising becomes limited for mobile apps. This poses a challenge for developers in establishing connections with users.

To overcome this, developers need to explore alternative strategies to engage users and ensure that their ad creatives align with the fundamental appeal of their gameplay.

Ads that reflect the main selling points and experience offered by the app, rather than showcasing unrelated content, are essential for effective top-of-the-funnel marketing.

Merge Mansion’s ads have a tangential connection to the game. However, they effectively appeal to audiences who are interested in character-driven stories. This alignment with Merge Mansion’s key gameplay component contributes to their success.

By leveraging this approach, apps can attract users who are genuinely interested in the experience the game provides, leading to higher-quality user acquisition.

Merge Mansion’s Mysterious Ads and Gameplay Discrepancy

Merge Mansion’s ads, with their intriguing and enigmatic narratives, may create expectations of a thrilling murder adventure. However, the actual gameplay revolves around solving puzzles and cleaning a mansion.

This discrepancy between the ads and the gameplay raises questions about the game’s advertising strategy and budget allocation.

Merge Mansion’s journey through viral ad campaigns highlights the significance of creativity, viral content, and understanding the target audience in mobile marketing. The success of their ads, especially the Kathy Bates campaign, showcases the power of embracing absurdity and capturing users’ attention.

Replicating viral success is an ongoing challenge. Aligning ad creatives with gameplay appeal is another challenge. These challenges persist in the evolving landscape of mobile marketing. This is especially true in a post-ATT world.

However, by leveraging the insights gained from Merge Mansion’s experiences, mobile game developers can navigate these challenges. They can also drive sustained user acquisition growth.

Merge Mansion’s story demonstrates the transformative impact of innovative mobile advertising. Unconventional strategies can be highly effective.

In a world where capturing users’ attention is difficult, thinking outside the box is crucial. Embracing the bizarre can make a significant difference in mobile marketing success.

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