There are many companies who are adding in-game advertising these days. Apps that have built in-game currencies are now adding rewarded videos and offer walls and more casual games are relaying more on native ads, banners, static interstitials and video interstitials. If your company is considering ad based monetization here is the ultimate checklist of things to do:
1 – Identify potential hooks for ad-integration
The first step in this process is to figure out what are good places to put ads in the game. For rewarded video you are looking for virtual goods that the user might want so you can give them in return for a video view. You would need 2 or 3 virtual goods like that. For example in a match 3 game it could be both lives and boosters. You also need to figure out in what times would you prompt the user to let him know about the option. Integrating interstitials, static or video, is more straight forward and just requires you to figure out some break points. Banners are a bit trickier. You want to make sure they are not confusing the users into false clicks.
2 – Integrate a few ad networks
You should plan on using multiple networks. At least 3 for video ads and probably 2 more for banners and interstitials if you are doing both. By adding more than one network you are making sure that if one network doesn’t have an ad to serve the other ad-network can serve an ad instead. This is often referred to as the waterfall. Ad-networks will often have strengths and weaknesses in different countries and ad-formats so combining a few allows you to pick the best one for each situation. You can build a basic waterfall system in-house but if you are serious about monetizing with ads you should use a mediation platform.
3 – Use a mediation platform
A mediation platform goes beyond the basic waterfall in 3 ways:
- It dynamically configures the waterfall based on historic results of the ad-networks
- It allows to plugin in real time time bids that might yield higher eCPMs
- Managing providers becomes much more plug and play
For a comparison between different mediation platforms – use this link.
4 – A/B test the impact on other KPIs
Once you go live, you should check the impact the ads have on KPIs such as retention and conversion to paying users. You want to make sure you manage these and minimize the negative impact of these. It’s highly recommended to track the impact individually for each ad-network, ad-format and campaign type. This requires specialized analytics platform.
5 – Set up analytics for advertising revenues
By nature, ad-networks keep their cards close to the vest. Getting data out of them is not easy and requires specialized analytics platforms such as SOOMLA TRACEBACK. Some of the things you would want to track:
- Aggregated revenue numbers per country and segment as well as ARPDAU and ARPU
- Impact on other KPIs at different exposure levels and by different ad-networks
- Compare revenue in different configurations of the waterfall
- Ad LTV of specific cohorts and user segments
6 – Check reviews and forums
Advertising can negatively impact reviews and might lead to retaliation by user base. In games that rely on balancing of the economy it’s also good to check the forums and monitor for indications of balance problems.
7 – Periodically call the ad-networks to improve terms
The default deal you would get from the ad-networks is far from optimal. Publishers that do well with ad revenue are known to call on ad-networks to ask for better terms. You will discover that getting 10% or 20% more by simply asking is not uncommon. Once you get a decent volume of impressions it’s also possible to apply leverage like telling your rep at the ad-network know that you are switching them to the bottom of the waterfall or adding other sources that promised you better terms.