App Monetization, Research

SOOMLA Webinar # 1 – Lotum Case Study

SOOMLA Webinar # 1 Lotum Case Study on ads and churn

This week we ran our very first webinar at SOOMLA, in an effort to give a bit more visibility and break down to our recent data report on Lotum. The report’s main focus was on the effects of advertising direct competitors on churn and eCPM. Thanks to our very own Yaniv Nizan who took some time to break down the report.

Here is the recording of the webinar! You can find the data report here as well as the full transcript of the webinar below the video.


Start Webinar Transcript

Ben – Hey everyone and welcome to SOOMLA first Webinar, I am Ben Lerner the Director of Marketing and I am joined by our very own CEO, Yaniv Nizan.

Yaniv – Hey, happy to be here, super excited and welcome everyone.

Ben – I’m going to give everyone a very quick intro, these webinars are something we plant o do a monthly basis. There is a lot of great content on our blog including previous reports, but we’re hoping this will help make things a bit more accessible. Today we’re going to be discussing our case study on LOTUM. LOTUM is one of our customers who used Traceback to help gain some really interesting insights. One of which was that specific advertisers resulted in a 3x churn rate, but I think more importantly in all that, it wasn’t quite who they expected.

Before we get into that, Yaniv why don’t explain a bit about SOOMLA and what the Traceback platform is.

Yaniv – Sure, so SOOMLA is an ad measurement platform, and more specifically, we help app publishers measure their monetization. To give you an example, today app publishers don’t know who is advertising in their app, it could a competitor, it could be another app that is taking their users.

Ben – Ahh yes, the infamous black box of advertising that everybody talks about. I’m sure we’ll get more into that, but for now let’s jump straight into the study itself. To give a quick brief on LOTUM, they have a casual word puzzle game called “4 Pics 1 Word” which is available in 8 languages and considered to be one of the top word games in the industry. Yaniv, want to take it from here?

Yaniv – Sounds good, so the context of this report is that we realized that many app developers who used ads, faced the same issue of whether or not to advertise direct competitors.

Ben – Oh yeah absolutely. I personally follow a lot of Indie developer forums being a big gamer myself, and I consistently see issue being raised whenever ad monetization discussion begins.

Yaniv – Yea so the problem is that most app publishers follow their gut feelings when it comes to this. They don’t have any real data to back it up.

Ben – Yea I have seen time and time again – the big warning sign the the skull and crossbones saying – “Don’t allow direct competitors to advertise, they will steal all your users and disappear.”

Yaniv – This sow here Traceback comes in to help Lotus break things down. We can jump into page 3 of the report, and what you can see here is the top 8 advertisers that LOTUM had in the US in the period we measured this. For the purpose of this report we defined Churn as users who clicked on an ad inside the game, but didn’t come back to the game within a 7 day window after clicking on the ad. So if the user did not come back, they are considered to be a churned users. So what you can see here, some of the games like Game of War for example, has 3x more churn. So when Game of War is being advertised in LOTUM app, users that clicked on that are 3x more likely to not come back.

Ben – Really? Okay so seems kind of crazy the nobody has analyzed this until today. Just a question though, what are the actual numbers we are talking about here? Are we talking about churning in the thousands of users, hundreds of users? All I am seeing here are graphical displays.

Yaniv – Yea so this report doesn’t show the exact numbers. Obviously this is confidential information that LOTUM preferred to keep to themselves and we totally respect that for our customers. To give you a range where this could be, typically if we look across all of our customers the churn rate caused by advertisers comes between 3% up to 25% caused by specific advertisers.

Ben – So to fully grasp what you’re talking about, your saying that the potential range is not 3x but closer to 8x. Whats the biggest range you’ve ever seen in a single game?

Yaniv – Yea so 8x is across all the games that we are seeing and I’m saying games, but its also broader than that, as we also have non gaming apps as well. But in a single app or game, we’ve seen a difference of up to 4.5x churn rate between the lowest and highest churning advertiser.

Ben – Wow, but correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t Game of War not a direct competitor to 4 Pics 1 Word?

Yaniv – Yea and this is the part that also surprised us a bit and also Lotum. So Game of War isn’t even a word game and Lotum’s app is. These games are very difference in nature and still this is the advertiser that was taking away the most churn. So when we say this, we wanted to look specifically about whats happening with direct competitors vs non and take the opportunity to dig a little deeper.

Ben – So its literally going completely opposite to whats the industry standard right now.

Yaniv – So as I mentioned before we had a drill down about this specifically. If you look at pages 6 and 7, this is the area where we focused on that. So we looked at all the advertisers and classified them into groups. We didn’t just look at the top eight, but many more. The groups were: Non Games, Other Games and Direct Competitors. For each one of these advertisers we measured two parameters: The churn rate of advertisers in this group and eCPM.

Ben – So thats very interesting and I imagine this means that there is no negative implications for advertising direct competitors. Is it safe to assume that competitors will be paying more to advertise in the app?

Yaniv – Yea so great question, so if you look at page 7, this is what I was saying before. We also measured the eCPM of each one of these groups and what we have seen quite consistently is that direct competitors do pay more to be placed in the app. But as you mentioned before a lot of time there is no negative impact.

Ben – Great so I think these case studies are great but I think a lot of our users would love to see how this has all been possible. Do you think we can spare a few minutes and jump into the Traceback platform itself?

Yaniv – Absolutely, so let’s jump into Traceback. For the sake of this section, we’ll use our demo app called Muffin Rush, which contains a bunch of sample data. So the data is based on one of our live apps, but we masked everything to protect the confidential data of course.

Ben – Yea of course, makes sense. Sow act does it look like once I login, what am I going to start seeing, what data am I going to start seeing? Go for it.

Yaniv – Cool so now that I clicked on the app, I’m int he overview screen once I logged in. This shows you aggregated data and allows you to follow the trends for the app.

Ben – Okay but I see there are some deeper drill down screens. Which one should we be focusing on? I’m thinking the section most most relevant is one that we are looking at advertisers themselves. Can you breakdown what we are looking at?

Yaniv – Yea so on the top menu you can see all the different breakdown screens. One for segmenting and AB testing, another to analyze how ads impact your marketing activity, another how to optimize your waterfall. But as you me toned, the most interesting one for this discussion is the advertiser screen.

Ben – I see you already have the US country filter selected and the interstitial ad types.

Yaniv – Yea so obviously it makes sense to compare advertisers using the same ad format and country, otherwise you’ll be comparing apples to oranges and you don’t want to do that. I can also select different date ranges and change the filters as well.

Ben – Great os it looks pretty intuitive. Each row represents a specific advertiser. Under each one you’re seeing whats the eCPM, whats the total revenue, how many ads were shown etc.

Yaniv – Yea so you can slo control the columns via the three dots on the right to control which columns are being displayed.

Ben – Are there any further drill downs we can go from here?

Yaniv – Yea so if I click on word crossy for example, I get a more specific drill down to them. So this advertiser is coming to my app both through Facebook Ad Network as well as AdMob and actually I can see here that both are paying different eCPMs for this advertiser.

Ben – Well this looks great and I’m sure it has some incredible applications for anybody that knows how to break through all of this data. Tying back to the report itself, LOTUM had asked you guys to produce this report for them, but is this something you do for all of your customers.

Yaniv – Right so we obviously understand that the amount of data can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to really analyze everything and this is why we assign a dedicated customer success manager who’s job it is to help the customer identify areas where they can improve. This was the case with LOTUM. We gave them this report and allowed them identify different areas to improve.

Ben – Great Yaniv, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to break down the report and more importantly, showing us the the results of Lotus are indeed possible for others given the insights.

Yaniv – Yea was my pleasure and hopefully we’ll run more of these soon with other key features,

Ben – Absolutely. Shout out to everyone for attending. We’ll be posting the recording of the webinar and some of the questions we’ve received throughout. See you all next time for another SOOMLA session. Thanks guys!

End Webinar Transcript

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App Monetization, Research

The Q4 – 2017 Ads and Churn Case Study Is Out

Header image - the SOOMLA ads and churn case study is out for Q4 2017, full of insights

We are excited to announce our new “Ads and Churn Case Study with Lotum” report today. This is one of the many industry data reports that we will continue to publish providing important insights related to monetization through ad revenue. Our new reports focuses on the effects of advertising director competitors and their effects on eCPM, churn and seeks to identify which advertisers may be stealing your traffic.

You are welcome to download the report through this link or via the banner to the right.

Would also be great if you can help us spread the word by sharing my post on Linkedin.

Linkedin post about mobile monetization report - q2 2017

 

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Analytics, App Monetization, Tips and Advice

3 reasons to track 1st Impression eCPM and not Average eCPM

3 reasons to track 1st Impression eCPM and not average eCPM

App Publishers who monetize with ads often face the need to compare between ad-networks. Which one offers stronger monetization? Is the network declining in strength? Who should i put first in the waterfall? The common practice today is to look at the average eCPM but actually looking at the 1st impression eCPM is a much better approach. Here are 3 reasons for that.

Networks put their best campaign first

Each ad network has internal optimizations mechanisms in place. Some have algorithmic approach that try to predict the eCPM of each potential ad given who is the user and all the data they have about him. Others have more simplistic priority lists. Either way, when the network sees the user for the 1st time in a given day, it will try to put the best ad for that user. In later impressions, they have to circulate in other ads, their 2nd best, 3rd best and so on.

Average eCPM is a self fullfilling prophesy

Average eCPM on the other hand is influenced by many parameters other then the network’s stregth. In situations where the average eCPM is used to determine the priority between the networks it acts as a self fullfilling prophesy. To understand this, let’s look at the two ends of the priority list:
The Network with First Priority – This network gets more 1st impressions than any other network as long as it has fill for them. This drives the average up. At the same time, the network also wants to stay at the top and knowing that the publisher is looking at the average eCPM it is likely to set a price floor that will eliminate the low eCPM campaigns. This will also drive the average eCPM up.
The Network with the Low Priority – This network is getting less 1st impressions so their average will be lower. Even if the network landed a major campaign it will not get a lot of exposure and will not be able to drive the eCPM up. At the same time, the low priority network can’t shut down the low eCPM campaigns as that will completely choke the delivery for their advertisers and will cause a new bag of issues for the network.

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

Changes in 1st impression eCPMs are clear triggers for action

Tracking different parameters is a good practice but tracking becomes much more powerful when it’s connected to actions. When you track the average eCPM and you see a drop in that paremeter for one of the ad-networks there could be a few potential explanations. For example, if that network is getting a high percentage of later impressions it would bring down the average. The 1st impression eCPM is less influenced by how you are using the demand source and is a better indicator of the quality of the demand. A drop in the 1st impression eCPM can be caused by the ad-network losing an important advertiser or by them changing the rev-share on their end. Either way, it’s a good reason to look for new partners to take the lead.

Tracking 1st impression eCPM – Easier than ever

The reason why more company focus on average eCPM rather than 1st impression eCPM is that this is the information the ad-networks are making available on their dashboards. Publishers that use SOOMLA, however, have easy access to reports about the 1st impression eCPM over time and the 1st impression eCPM of every single campaign by each ad-network in addition to the average eCPM.

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Analytics, App Monetization, Tips and Advice

In-App Events That Give You Insights for Your Game’s Performance

Easy In-App Events That Can Give You Insight on Your App's Performance

No matter what you are looking to achieve, in-app events are a great way to go about getting performance indicators on some of the central issues faced by your app’s growth. While it might sound great to track every swipe, click, open or close event within your app, it can become a bit overwhelming to make use of all the data.

There is already an established list of benchmarks that should be closely monitored to give you some insights about your app’s performance, however the focus here is to dive into specific in-app events and how they should be approached.

Here is the short list (we could have made it much larger):

Registrations and the dreaded drop-off

Registration drop-offs are the bane of every app. We work so hard to get the quality traffic and the installation, but when it comes to registering – poof they are gone. The golden rule is reduce the amount of steps required for the user to complete the registration. With each additional step, the drop off chance is higher.

Solution – Keep a close eye on your registration drop offs. Identify key steps that are causing it and work to reduce. A/B testing is key here.

Tutorials

Some apps have them, some don’t, but it all depends on how much of an onboarding experience you want to provide the new user. Whether or not they are effective or not, I’ll let you be the judge, however if you do have them, a user’s completion of the tutorial can give you some insight as to how engaged your users are.

Solution – Overall on-boarding completion is a good metric to keep an eye on, however if the number is significantly low, it would be worthwhile to set up multiple in-app events for various stages to check out where the drop-offs are occurring.

User Progression

How quickly your user’s progress through your beginning game content is a great identifier on how your app is performing, but also can give you great insights on which users to segment and target specifically. Conversely, those users who move through the content slow should also be identified.

Solution – Logging several events throughout (beginning, middle, end), should be examined to monitor drop-offs and provide some insights on how engaged your users are.

Video Ads Completion

There are a multitude of parameters to look at and analyze when considering how effective your video ads are. Several studies have been put out, but the macro trends show that there has been a big shift towards video ads and its respective portion of ad revenue.

Where you place your ads within your app and how frequently can influence your revenue, uninstall rate, player experience and many other key KPIs.

Solution – Monitor and A/B test the placement and frequency of your video ads. They can have a big effect, but also have the potential to damage your app’s overall performance. Also be sure to check out our post on optimizing your opt-in rate for video ads which can help boost your ad revenue significantly.

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

In-App Purchases

If your app has in-app purchases, an obvious tell-tale how your app is performing is how many of your users are making purchases. It is a great indicator of how engaging your app is, be it either via content or level of addiciton. A user’s purchasing behaviour can then be leveraged for future purchases. Knowing what your users have purchased and how much they have spent in the past are key for segmenting promotions and sales for specific users.

Solution – If the frequency of in-app purchases are very low, try to lower the costs / increase the offer to entice users. The ultimate goal is finding that sweet spot between making the in-app purchases valuable but not too much so that they make it too easy for the user.

Conclusion

Very likely each app has it’s own category specific in-app event that is closely monitored, however we tried to focus on the basics that touch on many different types of apps. We hope that this list helps you gain some insights on how your app is performing.

If you can think of any other critical in-app events that should be added to this list, let us know!

 
 

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Analytics, App Monetization, Guest Post, Tips and Advice

Comparing the Best Ways to Increase Ad LTV

Call App's Jonathan Raveh - Best Ways to Increase Ad LTV

Jonathan Raveh is a mobile monetization expert and the Director of Monetization at CallApp, a world leader in Caller ID & Call Recorder services.

One of the interesting abnormalities in the world of app monetization is the relatively low number of people assigned to it. UA acquisition departments usually take up much more personnel, while the main focal point for generating revenues in an app development company, is usually understaffed or assigned to the product team.

While this may not be the best policy, this is definitely the reality. Monetization is a shared responsibility across many departments in the company, including UA, Product & Marketing. This leaves any dedicated monetization employees in a serious dilemma – with low resources, where should they invest their time and effort the most? With ad monetization getting bigger even for IAP focused apps, this is a true challenge.

CallApp, a caller ID & call recorder app is one of those apps. With over 35M installs worldwide, our app is totally free to use, and while there are some IAP offers in place, most revenue is ad-related. Joining a very small team and being solely responsible for the app monetization efforts, I faced this challenge from the very first day – FOCUS. Granted, there is no limit to what you can focus on when you’re in charge of monetization. However, there is a definite time limit to (1) hours in the day and (2) Being able to concentrate without making too many mistakes analyzing data. The other major constraints are limited development resources and UX.

These limitations ultimately shaped up our 4 major, strategic responsibilities for mobile ad monetization that rise over and influence the day-to-day actions and task. We’ve put them to that to the test, and came up with some findings that helped figure out exactly what task our time will be best spent on.

Ad Frequency & Location

Right off, this is that one is the very basic element. Forget ad partners, forget business – determining ad frequency has a huge effect on the entire app eco-system. In the short run, ad location, and more importantly ad frequency influence development, usage, data, UX, user satisfaction. In the long run – ratings, reviews, PR, ASO and much more. We found that these types of changes may amount to 50% change in revenue. In term of development time, this is not an easy task, but as these changes aren’t usually done on a daily or weekly basis, it’s definitely barrable.

Focus on GEO’s

Ad monetization wise, app developers tend to give attention to 1 of the following:

  • High eCPM yielding counties
  • High impression yielding countries
  • Countries that possess 1+2

In more cased than not, attention means full attention, and that means that countries that do not generate high impression volume or high eCPM are simply neglected. In most cases, neglected GEO amount to more than 25% of traffic. In order to optimize those loose ends, there is usually a need to work with more localized ad networks, expand and complicate your ad waterfall and sometimes work with additional ad formats. Not only does this burden your development team, it also creates tons of work for the person in charge of monetization. So, a tough decision. However, this clear subjective decision that varies from one app to another, usually influences over 20% of revenues, in average.

Adding More Ad Networks

The actual deciding factor on how many ad networks an app needs, depends heavily on the level of monetization you want to achieve. The actual number of monetization networks an app needs relies on 4 parameters, known as the FORM model which we developed in CallApp: Formats, OS, Regions, Maximization. The entire model has been widely explained (here), yet it embodies another critical decision in the maximization element: how much work are you will to make to get those extra 10 percent of revenue. These 10 remaining percent of revenue require some work from the IT side (adding more ad networks), and a lot of Monetization hard-labor analytics.

FREE AD NETWORK COMPARISON SPREADSHEET

Setting Floor Price

If you monetize your app using Facebook and Google (and a few others), this is a must. There are automated mechanisms in place, by both ad giants, to make sure you generate a minimal amount of revenue, but true optimization cannot be reached without designated price floors.

When it comes to price floors, there’s a major difference between Google & Facebook: While Google’s price floor (via Admob’s & AdX) tend to merely set a floor from which your eCPM cannot go under, FAN’s floor prices are actually ‘target eCPM’, a level that sets the goal for its performance to reach, regardless of any other elements – CTR, impression and mainly fill rate. However different, both price floor mechanisms are a pretty powerful tool. They require no effort from the development team, yet a lot of attention from the monetization team. Price floors are affected by anything from ad frequency, GEO’s and seasonality, so they need to be monitored on a daily basis. A hell of a lot of work, with a 30% revenue bounce potential.

After experiencing the effects of these 4 pillars of strategic monetization decisions on all sides – revenue, product, development time, monetization time, etc – we were able to visualize these strategies, to better understand the role of the monetization team.

Effects Compared To Development Team Work:

Development Resources for AD LTV

Effect Compared to Monetization Team Work:

Day-To-Day Resources

The last 7 months at CallApp taught me, first and foremost, that in ad monetization, focus & prioritization are strategic decisions. Time equals money, but it’s a lot more than your money – it’s the money you could have been generating doing something else to improve results. Not all apps will follow the same path in this time/effect/results equation, many simply just into the pool of the day-to-day duties without taking a single moment to breath and think about what they want to gain. The CallApp experience has definitely taught me that everyone should give it some serious thought. That will ultimately lead to better result in the long run.

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App Monetization, Tips and Advice

Hiring a Monetization Manager – ROI Formula and Explanation

Hiring a ROI Monetization Manage, a full ROI formula and explanation

Many companies ask themselves these days if they should be hiring a Monetization Manager now or wait until it’s volume is larger. In this post we will try to provide a simple framework for thinking about this question.

Ads first games vs. IAP first games

There are two types of companies to consider for this question. Before you continue, you should ask yourself which type of company are you. The framework for evaluating the merits of hiring a monetization manager differs a bit between the two types of companies. Here is the profile for each one:

Ad first games – These are typically smaller companies. If you are an ad supported company and still debating the monetization manager question it’s unlikely that you have more than 15 employees. These companies tend to have a mix of at least 3 ad formats from this list: banners, native, interstitials, video and rewarded video.

IAP first games – These are typically more established companies who already do well with IAP and treat ads as a secondary channel. The ad formats in use here are mostly rewarded videos and sometimes offer walls.

The basic formula

There are 2 conditions to be met before you hire a monetization manager:

  • The ROI condition
  • The focus condition

The ROI condition

[monthly ad revenue] x [improvement opportunity ratio] x [risk factor] > [monetization manager full cost]

Where:

  • Monthly ad revenue – how much your app is making every month from advertising
  • Improvement opportunity ratio – Estimation of how much you can improve
  • Risk factor – the chance of that improvement actually happening
  • Monetization manager full cost – Salary + social benefits + taxes + direct overhead increase + cost of tech tools + cost of projects he will drive

The focus condition

The focus condition is looking at the same formula but instead of justifying the direct cost, you are estimating the opporunity cost. The focus condition is more relevant if you are projecting that the monetization manager will be driving many requirements to R&D and BI departments. We will see how to evaluate how much effort the monetization manager will require in the paragraphs below.
The way to think of opportunity cost is usually top down. Let’s say that the goal of the company is to double in revenue within 12 months. This means that each quarter you are looking to get 20% growth. Most companies can’t contain more than 2 focuses each quarter and some say 1 is enough. This means that if the monetization manager and all the tasks associated with him will not generate 10% increase it’s not meeting the focus condition. The formula will look as follows:

[improvement opportunity ratio] x [risk factor] > [Required quarterly improvement] / [Quarterly initiatives count allowed]

Estimating the improvement ratio

For IAP first games

  • Improving opt-in ratio for rewarded videos – high product and R&D effort – can double or triple ad revenue when combined with A/B testing.
  • Adding more demand partners – medium product and R&D effort – the improvement in ad revenue can be up to 50% depending on current status (see full explanation below)
  • Applying CPM price floors and cutting fixed CPM deals – no R&D effort – up to 15% improvement
  • Blocking low eCPM advertisers and optimizing volume for high eCPM ones – no R&D effort – up to 15% improvement
  • Setting different ad strategies for different segments – low R&D effort – up to 30% improvement
  • Acquiring users who respond better to ads – no R&D effort – up to 50% improvement

For Ads first games

  • Optimizing the frequency and mix of ad-formats – medium R&D effort – can improve ad revenue up to 50%
  • Adding more demand partners – medium R&D effort unless done as S2S – the improvement in ad revenue can be up to 50% depending on current status (see full explanation below)
  • Applying CPM price floors and cutting fixed CPM deals – no R&D effort – up to 25% improvement
  • Blocking low eCPM advertisers and optimizing volume for high eCPM ones – no R&D effort – up to 15% improvement
  • Setting different ad strategies for different segments – mid R&D effort – up to 30% improvement
  • Acquiring users who respond better to ads – no R&D effort – up to 50% improvement
FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

How much your ad revenue can improve by adding demand partners

The improvement ratio per ad-format is driven by how strong your demand and fill rates are currently. We included a basic formula that we found helpful but you should do a better job assessing this by looking at specific countries and diversified demand. We also recommend Jonathan Raveh’s post on this subject. Here is a simple formula to start with:

(2x[number of ad-networks serving banners]+1)x[banners revenue ratio from total]/2x[number of ad-networks serving banners]-1

Estimating the cost of the monetization manager

$8K/month or $96K per year is a nice salary for a monetization manager in US. The taxes and benefits in US can come to 25% to 40% on top of the salary. Office space and immediate overhead per employee can be around $500 based on WeWork rates. In addition, we should add the average license cost of SOOMLA ($3,000) since having a monetization manager and not giving him the right tools to optimize would be moot. The total comes to $13,500 – $15,000.

Estimating the risk

The risk ratio is slightly harder to estimate. You should think of all the things that can go wrong and try to assign probabilities. Here are some items to consider:

  • Bad hiring can set you back
  • If you can’t afford a SOOMLA license your risk will be higher
    • The monetization manager will not be able to a/b test the ad revenue so optimizations might have a negative impact
    • His ability to set the right price floors will be limited
    • He will not be able to analyze and optimize on a campaign level
    • Segmentation will not be possible for him
    • The users that are being acquired by the UA team will not be a good fit for ads
  • IAP first apps monetize mostly with rewarded video where negotiating eCPM price floors with ad-networks is only possible for high volume apps.

Example – finding the ad revenue threshold for hiring

Let’s look at one example of using the formula. We can estimate that the total opportunity to improve is 60%, the risk factor is 50% and the total cost of the monetization manager will be $15,000.

[monthly ad revenue] x 60% x 50% > $15,000

To satisfy this condition we need an ad revenue of at least $50K / month or $600K annually. The numbers we choose are reasonable so if you have this level of ad revenue and you are not hiring a monetization manager you are probably leaving money on the table. Of course, if you have $1M/month from IAP and only $50K in ad revenue, you might have bigger fish to fry first. This is where the focus condition comes in to play. Make sure you evaluate both before you make the decision.

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App Monetization, Tips and Advice

7 Advertising Sins That Will Kill Your Mobile App Retention

7 ad experiences that will kill your retention: freeze, decieve, frustrate, delay, bore, annoy, trick

When integrating ads, one of the biggest concerns is that users might churn away. There is an obvious trade off between the need to give the users a great experience and the need to turn revenue. Not all ads are created equally when it comes to their impact on user retention and it’s important to measure the impact of different ad types and monitor what ad experiences your users are getting from your ad partners. Below is a list of ad experiences to watch for:

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

1. Crashes and freezes can impact mobile app retention

Ads are served by the ad networks who tend to require an SDK integration. Each SDK increases the complexity of the app and might conflict with other SDKs, in turn cause your app to crashes for your users. This happens especially in edge conditions such as old Android versions or uncommon devices. While crashes are typically reported through your crash analytics provider, there is another type of error that is trickier to track. In some cases, the SDK of the ad network will try to show an ad to the user but will end up freezing the device. This type of error is typically not detected and is harder to monitor but it could have the same negative impact. Both of these errors might cause users to churn away and reduce the overall app usage experience.

2. Close buttons that are hard to find frustrate users

In some situations a full size ad such as an interstitial, video or playable will load and the users will want to close it right away and continue using the app. The lack of an obvious way to skip the ad experience is a big turn off for users who are likely to stop using an app that consistently makes it hard for them to skip the ad experience. There are a few types of ads that have this negative experience. In some cases the X button will have a color that doesn’t pop up from the background, in other cases it will show up only after a few seconds without a clear indication of how long it will take and in other cases it might show up in a different way every time. Sometimes it’s all 3 together causing a very unpleasant experience for the user.

3. Lack of ad diversity will bore your users

It’s one thing to show a user 10 ads per day but it’s another thing to show him the same ad 10 times every day. In addition to being ineffective, repeating the same ad many times is a negative user experience. You may think that advertisers have enough incentive to make sure this doesn’t happen but in today’s mobile advertising eco system the lack of data transparency may result in the same advertiser showing their ads in your app through different channels and without them knowing about each other. In this situation, the frequency capping is not getting enforced.

4. Poorly targeted ads may get your users annoyed

Ads today can be highly targeted and users have come to expect targeted ad content. Poor targeting can range from an ad to a game you already installed and go all the way to inappropriate ad content being targeted to kids. The publishers typically don’t control ad targeting and usually leave it to the ad providers however some ad providers are better than others. While companies like Facebook are known for their hyper targeting, some ad networks have little targeting data to work with and placing the focus not on targeted ads, but rather on their revenue. If you are serious about keeping your retention high, you should monitor ad content and targeting closely.

5. Your users don’t want to wait for a slow loading ad

No one likes to wait but while waiting for something you desire can be tolerable, waiting for an ad to load is likely to be crime in your users’ book. Monitoring the loading time of every single ad can be hard to do on your own but the right monetization measurement platform can help you with it.

6. Deceiving ad creatives are hard to tell from your app buttons

Imagine a user that clicks on a “download” button only to realize it wasn’t a button but actually an ad that looked like the real button. Alternatively, picture someone trying to click on the “next” button but hitting an interstitial ad that popped up between the time his brain sent the command and the time the finger reached the button. These errors might be annoying for a savvy user but think how they impact the experience of a less savvy user who is now trying to figure out where the rabbit hole led him to and how he can get back.

7. Inconsistent ad skipping experience and long duration ads

Users are used to not being able to skip a rewarded video ad. These are opt-in ads that the user initiated and so it makes sense that he can’t skip them. However, other ad placements can have an opt-out experience or have no way to skip at all. Obviously, not having the option to skip is more annoying for users but what will really tick them off is when an ad placement will have a mix of:
  • Ads you can click skip right away
  • Ads that requires no action but just waiting
  • Ads that require a combination of waiting and than clicking to end
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Top 12 Rewarded Video Ad Networks for Mobile Apps

Top 12 rewarded video ad providers for mobile apps including: Unity Ads, Vungle, Adcolony, Receptiv, Admob, FAN, Mopub, Ironsource, Fyber, Tapjoy, Chartboost and Applovin

Video ads are becoming an increasingly important monetization format. Even the biggest app companies are utilizing video ads as part of their monetization strategy and specifically, mobile gaming companies have widely adopted the rewarded video ad format that provides a positive experience for the user and is positively correlated with engagement and retention according to a few researches.

In this post you will find a list of the top 12 rewarded video ad providers divided into 4 categories:

  • Video only networks
  • Ad networks that moved strategically into rewarded video
  • Video ad networks with a mediation platform
  • Media giants who recently moved in
FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

Video Only Networks

These ad networks are purely focused on monetization through video ads. They don’t offer any other ad format and some of them played a major role in educating the market on the benefits of rewarded video ads.

Vungle logo - a video ad networkVungle

Vungle are a key contributor in popularizing video ads among mobile app publishers. When they started out they were focusing on 15 second videos and were offering to produce the videos as part of the deal. Vungle is a private company and is backed by a long list of investors and raised $25M to date.

Name Vungle
Head Quarters San Francisco
Founded 2011
Employees (by Linkedin) 216
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 24% of top 200 Apps
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 26% of top 200 Apps
Global Reach 500M

adcolony logo - the company was the first one to offer rewarded video ads in mobile appsAdcolony

Adcolony is the first company to offer rewarded video ads for mobile apps and they are still one of the top providers in the field. They are 100% focused on video ads and are high on the list of any app publisher who wishes to monetize his app with video ads. Adcolony was acquired by Opera in 2014 for $350M but remained a seperate entity.

Name Adcolony
Head Quarters San Francisco
Founded 2011
Employees (by Linkedin) 540
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 20% of top 200 Apps
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 28% of top 200 Apps
Global Reach 1.4B

Unity ads logo - in 2014 Unity acquired Applifier to offer monetization through video ads to it's developer baseUnity Ads

Unity Ads came to life through the acquisition of Applifier by Unity. Since the acquisition, the video focused ad network experienced fast growth leveraging the dominance of the Unity game engine in the mobile space.

Name UnityAds
Head Quarters San Francisco
Founded Unity was founded in 2003 although video only came later
Employees (by Linkedin) 1,448 (Total Unity employees)
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 21% of top 200 Apps
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 27% of top 200 Apps
Global Reach 770M
 
We also wrote up an in-depth full post on the comparison between ad networks. This will help provide all the details needed for choosing the right Ad Network for your mobile app. Check out the article or download the full comparison spreadsheet below for free.

FREE AD NETWORK COMPARISON SPREADSHEET

Receptiv, formerly known as Mediabrix is 100% focused on video ads and their unique offering to advertisers is that the ads will be exposed to users in the glory moments of the gaming experience.Receptiv (formerly Mediabrix)

Receptive who are also known as Mediabrix prior to their rebrand, have a unique offering compared to the last 3 companies mentioned. The company is based only on brand advertisers and has its head quarters in NY where they can be close to the media agencies. To the advertisers, they offer the opportunity to be associated with the winning moments of the user inside the game. To the publisher they offer diversified demand with high eCPM.

Name Receptiv
Head Quarters New York
Founded 2011
Employees (by Linkedin) 84
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) N/A
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) N/A
Global Reach 150M

Ad networks who moved strategically into rewarded video

Applovin logo - the company offers video ads and rewarded videos among other formats but it's still considered a leading providerApplovin

Applovin was making waves in the ad-tech space last year by announcing it’s acquisition for $1.4B. The deal was experiencing some trouble and was not finalized as of today [July 2017]. Regardless of the acquisition, the company is operating as a seperate entity either way and is doing well financially. On the advertiser side, the company offers more control compared to other networks through their self-serve interface. On the publisher side they specialize in interstitials and video ads.

Name Applovin
Head Quarters Palo Alto
Founded 2012
Employees (by Linkedin) 135
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 22% of top 200 Apps
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 25% of top 200 Apps
Global Reach 500M (2014)

Chartboost logo - the company started by offering interstitial ads but made a strategic move to get into video adsChartboost

Chartboost started it’s way as a marketplace for direct deals and was one of the main contributors to the adoption of interstitials as a tool to promote games within other games. Chartboost came a bit late to the video ads space but were catching up quickly by leveraging the distribution of their SDK.

Name Chartboost
Head Quarters San Francisco
Founded 2011
Employees (by Linkedin) 134
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 17%
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 23%
Global Reach 1B

Tapjoy logo - one of the longest lasting independent providers who offers video ads among other monetization formatsTapjoy

Founded in 2007, Tapjoy made a significant transition from incentivized offers to video ads back in 2012. Currently they have been boasting impressive growth, grabbing larger chunks of the mobile advertising market share. From recent statistics, Tapjoy is estimated to be used in over 20,000 mobile apps.

Name TapJoy
Head Quarters San Francisco
Founded 2007
Employees (by Linkedin) 235
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 12%
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 13%
Global Reach 520M

Video ad networks who also provide mediation

Iron source logo - the video devision came through the acquisition of Supersonic who offers a mediation platform as well as an ad-network for rewarded videosSupersonic / IronSource

Supersonic became part of IronSource via the all Israeli acquisition valued at $250M. Together they are now considered the leader in mobile video mediation. In addition to the mediation service they also have their own video ad network which helps publishers top their fill rates.

Name IronSource
Head Quarters Tel-Aviv
Founded 2009
Employees (by Linkedin) 667 working at IronSource and about 265 in the mobile video division
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 9%
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 12%
Global Reach 800M (for video only)

Fyber logo - the company offers monetization through it's own demand as well as SSP and mediation platform for videoFyber

Fyber started as an offer wall provider by the name of SponsorPay but later on rebranded as Fyber and shifted more of it’s focus towards SSP and mediation with a strong emphasis on video ads. They acquired competing mediation service Heyzap to become a close second to fast growing IronSource / Supersonic platform.

Name Fyber
Head Quarters Berlin
Founded 2009
Employees (by Linkedin) 302
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 5%
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 6%
Global Reach 500M

Media giants who recently moved in to the video space

Admob by Google recently moved into the rewarded video ad spaceAdmob / Google

Google needs no introduction and their mobile ad service Admob which became part of Google through the $750M acquisition in the early days of Smartphones is today the dominant way to monetize apps on Google Play. The giant rolled out rewarded video ads in March 2017. While they are showing later for the party we are sure that their size will allow them to gain momentum quickly.

Name Admob by Google
Head Quarters Mountain View
Founded 1998
Employees (by Linkedin) 76,510
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 33%
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 70%
Global Reach 1B+

Facebook audience network also started offering rewarded video ads. As of June 2017 this offering is still in beta.Facebook Audience Network

Facebook dominates as a destination site for mobile ads but in recent years they have been evolving an ad network by the name of Facebook Audience Network and as of June 2017, FAN is also offering rewarded video ads.

Name Facebook Audience Network
Head Quarters Menlo Park
Founded 2004
Employees (by Linkedin) 19,150
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 28%
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 39%
Global Reach +1B

Mopub logo - the twitter subsidiary is now also offering rewarded video adsMopub / Twitter

Mopub was acquired by Twitter in 2013 for $350M (read more here). It kept it’s identity since and is one of the top 2 mediation platforms and and SSPs in mobile apps when it comes to banners interestitials and native ads. They showed up a bit late to the video ads space and launched video ads marketplace and mediation towards the end of 2015. Their stronger push in the video market only happened in 2017 however.

Name Mopub/Twitter
Head Quarters San Francisco
Founded 2006
Employees (by Linkedin) 3,662 (at Twitter)
iOS Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 16%
Android Market Share (by Mighty Signal) 25%
Global Reach 1B+

 

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App Monetization

The Sad Truth About Header Bidding in Mobile

Header bidding in mobile

Header bidding created a big buzz in ad-tech spaces and the mobile app eco-system could not stay indifferent to it. There are quite a few problems slowing down the adoption of header bidding in mobile apps and it’s even possible that it’s the wrong model for mobile apps.

Header bidding – what it is

Header bidding works a bit like the role of SSP in the RTB model but different. In both SSP and Header Bidding – the publisher wants to get the best price for an ad impression that will be served to the customer. He runs an auction between the potential advertisers. Each advertiser submits a bid and the winner gets to serve the impression. This process is repeated for each impression.

There are a few differences however:

  • In SSP the auction is managed on the server side and in header bidding it’s on the client side
  • In SSP the winner pays the price of the highest losing bid (2nd price auction) while in header bidding the winner pays the full price
  • Header bidding allows combining a few SSPs in the same web page or mobile app
  • Direct deals can be treated according to their actual CPM and be added to the auction

Why was header bidding created in the first place

The HB and SSP models are so similar that one might wonder why header bidding was created in the first place. This is partly related to unfair behavior by some SSPs. Specifically, Google was mentioned in a few conversations I had about the subject. The most popular SSPs including Double Click by Google has their own horse in the race – for Google that horse is Ad-x. Any SSP that is running the auction but at the same time placing a bid has motivation for to bend the rules. Real time bidding might appear to be a transparent process in which bending the rules is harder, however, when there is a will there is a why. Specifically in Google’s case it was a feature called “enhanced dynamic allocation” that allows Ad-x to cherry pick inventory from auctions being run by Double Click (their SSP) by seeing the other bids first.

Header bidding in mobile apps

As you can guess from the name. Header bidding was created for web pages and “header” refers to the part of the html code that is loaded first. As of July 2017, none of the top 200 mobile apps has implemented header bidding according to our checks and most vendors who focus on mobile apps as opposed to mobile web don’t support pre-bidding at the moment.

3rd party vendors moving in but diminishing the benefit

Of course, the opportunity for in-app advertising is huge and the players are giants such as FB, Google and Twitter among others. With billions of dollars on the table, there are strong forces who try to push the mobile app eco-system towards header bidding. This can benefit DSPs who are interested in more direct access as well as the exchange providers. However, the adaptation of header bidding to mobile apps is not trivial and some of the offered solutions are “Header bidding in a box” where the auction goes back to the server side. This of course, diminishes the benefits of header bidding as the auction is outsourced to a party that may have bias.

Mobile app advertising is CPI driven

There is a bigger problem that is clouding the future of header bidding in mobile apps. It is not even certain that header bidding can be applied successfully? One might be surprised that not many mobile app companies are pushing for header bidding despite the trend that it created in the mobile web and desktop space. The situation in mobile app advertising is a bit different than that of web advertising. Specifically, mobile app monetization relies heavily on CPI campaigns. These are campaigns that pay only if the user installed the promoted app after he watched an ad. On the other hand, header bidding requires all the parties who are interested in placing the ad to come up with a bidding price upfront. This creates an adoption problem for header bidding. As of now, not many CPI networks are willing to commit to an upfront bid before they know what their payout is going to be. At the same time, mobile app advertisers got very comfortable with the CPI based model as it minimizes the risk. On top of that, for header bidding to work it’s not enough that one CPI network will send bids upfront. You need all of them to do it. This creates a critical mass problem and no one benefits from being the first one to move.

Someone has to take the risk

Going back to the dilema of advertisers that want to pay per install and publishers that wants to earn per impression. This is one of the oldest struggles in advertising:

The publisher risk is high in the CPI model and low in the CPM model while the Advertiser risk is high in the CPM model and low in the CPI model

  • In CPI or CPA models – the publisher takes the risk and the advertiser enjoys guarnteed results
  • In the CPM model – the advertiser takes the risk and the publisher enjoys guarnteed payout

CPC used to be the middle ground but click fraud killed it and the only ones that can afford to do it is Google due to size, brand and massive investment into fraud prevention.

If header bidding gains traction while advertiser continues to pay CPI, the risk will have to be taken by the ad-networks. For example, the ad-network might be bidding $5 CPM. Let’s say they serve 1,000 impressions but these impressions don’t generate a single install. The advertiser will not be paying anything in this situation but the publisher should still be earning $5. At scale, this is a very dangerous position for the ad-network to be in. The ad-networks today have different tools on the advertiser side to monitor fraud and traffic quality and adjust the revenue retroactively. Header bidding will require a similar set of tools to be developed on the publisher side in order to minimize risks for both sides.

Monitoring of header bidding

One area that is still unsolved for header bidding is measurement. In RTB, the SSP manages the auction on the server, collects the money and pays the publisher. In header bidding, this responsibility falls on the publisher side. The auction is managed on the client side and each bidder pays the publisher seperately based on the aggregated amount in all the bids he ended up winning. This requires a system that will billions of impressions on the client side, collect all the winning bids and aggregate them to determine how much the ad-network should be paying. Without such system, the header bidding becomes useless as it will be too exposed to abuse. At the same time, the ad-networks who are now taking the risk will want more visibility into the context in which the ads are shown and to their viewability. The requirement for better measurement will come from both sides.

 

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App Monetization, Research

The Q2 – 2017 Mobile Monetization Report is Out

Header image - the SOOMLA mobile monetization report for Q2 2017 is full of insights about ad revenue in mobile apps

We are super excited to announce our insights report today. We started this practice in 2015 with reports that were more focused on in-app purchase based monetization but this one is all about insights related to monetization through ad revenues. The report explores domains that have never been explored before so lots of interesting insights on this one.

You are welcome to download the report through this link or via the banner to the right.

Would also be great if you can help us spread the word by sharing my post on Linkedin.

Linkedin post about mobile monetization report - q2 2017

 

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