Analytics, App Monetization, Game Design

Inside SOOMLA: Advertiser Breakdown

Inside SOOMLA: A sneak peak into our Advertiser Breakdown screen.  One of the many unique and invaluable features within SOOMLA

In this installation of “Inside SOOMLA”, we’re going to show off our “Advertiser Breakdown” screen. In a nutshell, the entire purpose of this feature is to provide publishers with invaluable data about who is advertising in their app. Whether you want to understand which advertisers are paying out the highest eCPM, make direct deals, or see which advertisers are causing churn – this the place to get it all.

Ultimately, the ad experience is a double edged sword. On one end, ads can provide a significant boost to revenue and counter in-app purchase cannibalization by being properly monitored. On the other end, if not controlled, ads can ruin a user’s experience in the app and send them running for the uninstall button.

There are a few related posts to this – so I recommend checking them out for some context:

  1. 10 Mistakes That Will Keep Your Ad Revenue Low
  2. Data Based Formula – Which Advertisers to Block
  3. Q4 2017 Ads and Churn Case Study

There are several use cases that we’ve seen throughout the market for this data, so let’s take a look:

Case 1 – Advertiser Blocking Compliance

Ad-networks sometimes provide the ability for publishers to block specific advertisers. There are several reasons why publishers tend to do so:

  1. Publishers suspect that their direct competitors are causing churn (despite SOOMLA’s report on advertiser churn).
  2. Certain advertisers are deemed inappropriate for the target audiences of some apps.

These are valid reasons to want to block advertisers, however how does a publisher know that the ad-network is complying with their request. This can easily be tracked by drilling down into the specific ad networks and seeing all of the advertisers it pushes through via the campaigns.

CASE STUDY ON OPT-IN RATES & SOOMLA INSIGHTS

Case 2 – Comparing Ad Networks

More often than not, multiple ad networks are running the same campaigns, however not necessarily paying out the same eCPMs the the publishers. By drilling down into each specific advertiser, publishers can see understand which ad networks are offering what terms for one advertiser allowing you to compare ad networks to each other.

Publishers can begin to maximize their revenue potential on the per impression level like never before.

Case 3 – Doing Direct Deals

You’ve set up a deal to get ads in your app. Great. But do you know how many middle men there are between you and the advertiser? It could be 1, but it also could be 10. Each consecutive step in the process, someone is taking a cut, meaning publishers are leaving money on the table.

By knowing who is advertising in your app, you can build a priority list of advertisers you should approach and attempt to close direct deals with. Even if you don’t choose to close a direct deal, knowing the eCPMs of the advertisers through the ad-networks is still useful to establish benchmarks.

Conclusion

The Advertiser Breakdown analysis is another unique feature to SOOMLA that bring value to publishers who can utilize the data. Our quarterly Monetization and Insights reports can help make sense of all the data, providing some actionable insights. Check out our recent case study with Applife where our report insights boosted their rewarded video revenue by 94%.

In case you missed the previous “Inside SOOMLA” on Waterfall Analysis – be sure to check it out!

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Analytics, App Monetization, Game Design

How Applife’s Rewarded Video Revenue Jumped By 94% In 100 Days With SOOMLA’s Insight Reports

Case Study with Applife and SOOMLA's Insight and Monetization Reports

One of the great benefits afforded to our clients, is our tailored Insight and Monetization Reports that we produce for them on a quarterly basis. Just like it sounds, we have dedicated customer success managers that use mobile industry benchmarks and powerful analysis tools to make sure our customers can convert their data into actionable insights.

Our Insight and Monetization Reports have been beneficial to our clients and for Applife it was no different. Here you can find a copy of a sample Monetization Report.

Applife, has been a customer of ours for a little over 4 months at this point. They have several apps, however the one we took a look at is “Parking Escape”. Parking Escape is a casual sliding block puzzle game. The goal of this game is to get the blue car out of a six-by-six grid full of automobiles by moving the other vehicles out of its way. The game contains 6 difficulty levels with thousands of puzzles to be solved.

Our analysis noticed a severe drop off in users’ opt in rate to rewarded videos after the first week of and immediately noticed a strong opportunity to boost Applife’s rewarded video revenue. Get the full report and case study below, seeing how Applife was able to boost their rewarded video by revenue by 94% within 100 days of using SOOMLA.

CASE STUDY ON REWARDED VIDEO REVENUE & SOOMLA INSIGHTS

Here are some related articles that can help:

  1. Measuring and Improving Opt-In Ratio with SOOMLA TRACEBACK
  2. 4 Proven Tips for Improving Opt-In Rate – Based on Data
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Analytics, App Monetization, Game Design

Japan eCPM Benchmarks Series – Top Advertisers Comparison

Japan eCPM Benchmarks Series - Top Advertisers Comparison

We’re back for another installation of Japan’s eCPM Benchmark Series! In the 3rd (and final) part, we’ll be looking to compare the performance of advertisers who serve interstitials and rewarded videos in Japan. In order to be as concise as possible, we’ll be looking into the top 10 performing advertisers in each category. In case you missed the previous parts, can find part part 1 and part 2 here.

For each ad type, we will look into advertisers who were first impression focused, as well as those who maintained a low amount of first impressions. Furthermore, we looked at the top performing advertisers, broken down by iOS and Android in terms of first impression volume and eCPM.

Why 1st Impressions

By focusing on 1st impression monetization, we are able to provide a better measure of the strength of different monetization channels. More importantly, it allows us the compare between advertisers on a more level playing field.

Ad networks will be able to see which advertisers are buying aggressively for each format and platform, while publishers can gain some insights on which advertisers are a potential fit for direct deals.

Note: As a base filter, we looked at apps with a minimum of 5,000 first impressions for the date range selected.

Interstitials – 1st Impression Lovers / Non-Lovers

The chart below shows advertisers that served a higher ratio of first impressions in the day compared to the total impressions.
SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Interstitial 1st Impression Lovers

To show the contrary, the chart below displays advertisers that have a lowest ratio of 1st impressions to the total impressions. These advertisers have not adopted a strategy focused on the importance of the 1st impression.
SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Interstitial 1st Impression Non-Lovers

While these charts might not be indicative of anything in this context, the next few charts showing the eCPMs can help give insights about advertiser specific strategy.

Top Advertisers for Interstitials – iOS

The chart below ranks the top 10 advertisers who placed ads in other apps via different channels. The comparison of these advertisers is based on 2 dimensions – 1st impression eCPM and 1st impression volume.
SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Interstitial Top Advertisers iOS

We can see that Kurashiru, Homescape and Wooden Block Puzzle are the only 3 advertisers that are performing above average (green line) for both 1st impression volume and eCPM. Another interesting note is that Fill has a very high eCPM payout in comparison to the other advertisers despite having a fairly lower volume of impressions.

SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Interstitial Top Advertisers Android

For Android, we can see that only Hidden City – Mystery of Shadows maintains an above average 1st impressions volume and eCPM in comparison to other advertisers.

Q1 2018 MONETIZATION BENCHMARKS

Rewarded Videos – 1st Impression Lovers / Non-Lovers

The chart below shows advertisers that served a higher ratio of first impressions in the day compared to the total impressions.
SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Rewarded Videos 1st Impression Lovers

Yes, 96% and 91%. I saw it as well and was positive there was an error in my data, however after triple checking, the data was in fact accurate. Both of those apps are ENTIRELY focused on 1st impressions.

To show the contrary, the chart below displays advertisers that have a lowest ratio of 1st impressions to the total impressions. These advertisers have not adopted a strategy focused on the importance of the 1st impression.
SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Rewarded Videos 1st Impression Non-Lovers

Top Advertisers for Rewarded Videos – iOS

The chart below ranks the top 10 advertisers who placed ads in other apps via different channels. The comparison of these advertisers is based on 2 dimensions – 1st impression eCPM and 1st impression volume.
SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Rewarded Videos Top Advertisers iOS

For this case, we can see that no apps are performing above average for both 1st impression volume and eCPMs. However we do see that Hidden City is dominating the 1st impression volume, while Matchington Mansion and Seeker’s Notes maintains very high 1st impression eCPM payouts.

SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Rewarded Videos Top Advertisers Android

For Android, we can see an almost mirroring of iOS. There are no apps that are performing above average for both 1st impression volume and eCPMs. Hidden City however has appeared on the high end of 1st impression volume for both iOS and Android.

Conclusion

This concludes our first eCPM Benchmark Series who’s sole focus has been on Japan. In our next series, we will be looking at India and how the growing gaming market is now one-tenth of all global gamers.

In the spirit of being big in Japan, enjoy the closing song!

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Analytics, App Monetization, Game Design

Japan eCPM Benchmarks Series – Ad Network Performance

Japan eCPM Benchmarks Series - Ad Network Performance

In the first part of our Japan eCPM Benchmark series, we kept a fairly broad approach to getting an understanding of how the Japanese mobile gaming market is performing. Before diving in to deeper breakdowns, it was important to look at the overall differences between iOS and Android.

There were some differences, but the most significant was how Rewarded Videos and Interstitials performed at near polar opposites. For Android, Rewarded Videos were far outperforming Interstitials in terms of eCPM payouts for 1st and overall impressions. On the other hand, we saw iOS dominating Interstitials with significantly higher eCPMs. Yes this is important, but at such a high level of analysis, it’s hard to gain actionable insights. This leads us to part two!

For the second part of our Japan eCPM Benchmarks series, we’re going to take a deeper look into the how the various ad networks are performing in Japan. Because we saw such a significant difference between iOS and Android in the ad types (Rewarded Videos and Interstitials), it only makes sense to keep the breakdown going in the same direction. It’s important to keep in the back of your mind that the majority of the mobile operating system market share in Japan is held by iOS, contrary to the rest of the world where Android maintains the larger share of mobile users. There are several reason for this, as one Tech blogger from Japan mentioned – if it interests you.

The Data

The data used for this series is based upon the data used in our recent Q1 Monetization Benchmarks Report collected through the SOOMLA platform. We analyzed the activity of over 30 million users in 8 countries over the span of 3 months (October 2017 – December 2017). Together these users viewed 600M impressions showing 2,500 advertisers in close to 100 apps. The app sample consists a higher ratio of games compared to the ratio of non-games in the app stores. However, we’ve seen the same patterns regardless of app category. The ad-formats analyzed through the study are: Interstitials, video interstitials and rewarded videos.

Interstitials – Premium Paid for First Impressions

This section looks at the premium paid in eCPM rates for 1st impressions compared to the overall average for ad networks prevalent in Japan’s interstitial domain. We compared this premium across all ad-networks who serve a high volume of interstitials. We’ve indexed the average eCPM as 100% and then presented the 1st in comparison.

SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Interstitial iOS - 1st Impression Lift*Only ad networks with over 1,000,000 total impressions during the data period were considered.

Japan eCPM Benchmark Series - Interstitials Android 1st Impression Lift*Only ad networks with over 100,000 total impressions during the data period were considered.

First and foremost, it’s important to note the vast difference in minimum impressions for Android and iOS. The majority of interstitial ad impressions recorded are from iOS, confirming the majority of Japan’s iOS adoptance. Furthermore, after a deeper look, the data sample has a slight bias due to a large portion of the impression counts originating from a few highly successful mobile apps. Regardless of this, we can still see that iOS does maintain significantly higher payouts for 1st impressions than the average eCPMs.

Q1 2018 MONETIZATION BENCHMARKS

Interstitials – Share of Voice

Share of voice refers to the percentage of impressions each ad network displays of the total. We broke this down into 1st impressions and total impressions for ad networks displaying interstitials in Japan.

Japan eCPM Benchmark Series - Interstitials Share of Voice
See original Android – Share of VoiceSee original iOS – Share of Voice

For iOS – we can see that AdMob take a large share of both 1st impressions and total impressions. Mopub for instance has a strategy more focused on 1st impressions compared to their total impressions. For Android – taking into consideration the previous comments, we see that AdMob maintains the lion’s share.

Rewarded Videos – Premium Paid for First Impressions

This section looks at the premium paid in eCPM rates for 1st impressions compared to the overall average for ad networks prevalent in Japan’s rewarded videos domain. We compared this premium across all ad-networks who serve a high volume of rewarded videos. We’ve indexed the average eCPM as 100% and then presented the 1st in comparison.

Japan eCPM Benchmark Series - RewardedVideos iOS 1st Impression Lift*Only ad networks with over 300,000 total impressions during the data period were considered.

Japan eCPM Benchmark Series - RewardedVideos Android 1st Impression Lift*Only ad networks with over 300,000 total impressions during the data period were considered.

For iOS – we see, as expected, the majority of the ad networks have a higher first impression eCPMs compared to the total, however AdColony is the only ad network which the first impression eCPM is lower than the average. For Android – we see TapJoy with a significantly higher first impression eCPM ratio compared to the other ad networks.

Rewarded Videos – Share of Voice

Share of voice refers to the percentage of impressions each ad network displays of the total. We broke this down into 1st impressions and total impressions for ad networks displaying rewarded videos in Japan.

Japan eCPM Benchmark Series - Rewarded Videos Share of Voice
See original Android – Share of VoiceSee original iOS – Share of Voice

Across both iOS and Android, we see that Ironsource servers large portions of the 1st and total impressions that are served, only to be surpassed by Applovin in Android. It seems like Ironsource’s dominance as a mediation for rewarded videos allows it to obtain a high number of impressions without paying a premium for it. For Applovin, it’s possible that their self-serve interface for advertiser is able to generate higher demand diversity which translates into better results in later impressions.

Conclusion

This concludes part two of the Japan eCPM Benchmarks Series where we took a deeper look into the performance of ad networks for interstitials and rewarded videos. In the next part of the series, we will be looking into specific advertisers : which love being first (impression), which don’t, which have high volumes and which have high eCPMs. See you then!

In case you missed part one, you can find it here.

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Analytics, App Monetization, Game Design

Japan eCPM Benchmarks Series – iOS vs Android Breakdown

Japan eCPM Benchmarks Series

We’ve received a lot of great feedback based on our recent data report, so we’ve decided to conduct further drill-downs on a country basis.

Japan is well known for its expansive gaming market that has been growing rapidly over the past few years, and according to a recent study by AppAnnie, mobile gaming revenue increased by 35% in 2017 year over year.

For the first part of our Japan eCPM Benchmarks Series, we will look breakdown on how iOS and Android are performing.

The Data

The data used for this series is based upon the data used in our recent Q1 Monetization Benchmarks Report collected through the SOOMLA platform. We analyzed the activity of over 30 million users in 8 countries over the span of 3 months (October 2017 – December 2017). Together these users viewed 600M impressions showing 2,500 advertisers in close to 100 apps. The app sample consists a higher ratio of games compared to the ratio of non-games in the app stores. However, we’ve seen the same patterns regardless of app category. The ad-formats analyzed through the study are: Interstitials, video interstitials and rewarded videos.

Q1 2018 MONETIZATION BENCHMARKS

Overall Android vs iOS

In this section we’ll keep it fairly broad and as we progress, we’ll get more in depth. For now, we will look at the high level eCPM benchmarks for Japan – how Android is performing in comparison to iOS. Similar to the main report, the aim is to show the vast differences between the eCPMs being paid out for the first impressions.

SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - by OS

To no surprise, we do see a similar trend in Japan as we do for overall Android and iOS. iOS does tend to overall have higher payouts for eCPMs, while both maintain first impression eCPMs that are up to 1.43x higher than the average impression eCPM.

Ad Type Breakdown

The next drill down will be looking at the overall performance (in terms of eCPM payouts) of ad types in Japan. For the purpose of this section, we’ll be looking at Rewarded Videos and Interstitials (includes video ads and playable ads).

SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - Android

SOOMLA's Japan Breakdown - iOS

Generally speaking, the comparison between Interstitials and Rewarded Videos is nearly identical at this level of breakdown, however as we can see above there is a significant difference between Android and iOS. While it’s difficult to say exactly what the reason behind this is, it’s worthwhile to understand the unique features of the Japanese mobile gaming market which can provide some insights.

Interstitials iOS have significantly higher eCPMs payouts as well as a ratio of 1st to average impression eCPM.

This is the first part in the series, so the breakdown is kept to be very high level. In the next part, we will be looking into the performance of the individual ad networks. Stay tuned!

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Analytics, App Monetization, Game Design

Playable Ads 101, Best Practices and Top Providers

Playable Ads 101 - Best Practices and Top Providers

One of the hot trends in the last 6 months in mobile game marketing has been playable ads. MZ, also known as Machine Zone, was an early adopter with Game of War and Mobile Strike but many ad-networks are offering them now, more advertisers have discovered their effectiveness and players are getting used to them.

Playables of different kinds

The first playable ads started as HTML5 ads served through MRAID protocol. However, following their success, more formats have evolved. The video ad networks started moving in and have evolved two formats.

  • Interactive video end cards – This format starts as a regular video that plays for 15 or 30 seconds and once the video is over it is replaced with an HTML5 playable experience.
  • Interactive videos – These videos are broken down into 3 or 4 parts and the user has to take a simple action like clicking a button in order to continue.

Serving playables in the publisher game

While the experience from the advertiser is quite similar, on the publisher side there are two main ways to get playables in the app. There are playable ads that get served through standard containers such as interstitial. Today, if the publisher implements Admob or Mopub SDK he is likely to get some playable ads unless he blocks them. With some providers and specifically with Admob, there is no way to block them. The same thing goes for the rewarded video container – most of the video ad networks are now serving the playable ads described in the previous section when the publisher calls a rewarded video ad. On top of these there are also companies who serve playable experiences through a dedicated SDK.

The dedicated SDK approach has some pros and cons. On one side it leads to an improved ad experience for the advertiser. From the publisher’s perspective it means better control and can lead to a more expectable user experience. However, it does requires the publisher to integrate another SDK which is always fun :).

Designing playable experiences inside the game

In terms of game design, publishers have 2 main choices. The first one is to integrate playable ads in standard containers such as interstitials and rewarded videos. This is the default option and unless blocked by the publisher most ad networks will hijack standard containers and serve playables in them.

The main problem with this experience is that it’s not expected by the user. A user might sign up for watching a rewarded video in return for some in-game incentive but than get a playable ad instead. Even worse, an interstitial container might contain a playable ad at the end of a regular play session where user expects a much shorter interruption if any. Based on the data SOOMLA collects, this hijacking has a high toll on user churn. Finally, the practice of injecting a playable ad experience into a regular container creates an unfair competition in your waterfall.

As explained by this analysis made by Kongregate the playable ads generate higher eCPM for the publisher so networks that serves high amount of playable ads are more likely to produce higher eCPM rates and win the first impression. The alternative is to introduce a specific inventory for playable. A publisher can design a special button with a game controller icon and offer increased rewards for users who are willing to try a new game. This creates an opt-in experience for the playable ad rather than an hijacked one.

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

Who makes the playable ads

Ads are traditionally made on the advertiser side of things but with playable ads the advertising company take a very active role. This is a typical step in the evolution of an ad-formats where newer formats are produced by the ad-network or ad agency and as the market get used to the format the advertising companies take on the production task. Today most of the playable ads are produced by the provider rather than by the advertiser with only a handful of advertisers producing their own playables.

How playable ads might evolve in the future

Today, there are 2 main challenges with playable ads. One is that they don’t accurately reflect the game play of the advertised app – this can lead to lower conversion rates. On the publisher side – users find them to be repetitive – one might have to play the same 2 moves over and over again every time the ad pops up. This might be some of the reason why playable ads tend to churn more users. One evolution that we might see in the market are ads that remember the state of the user and offer progression from one ad view to another. This can be a much better user experience on the publisher side and potentially more qualified installs for the advertiser.

Winning Playable Ad Experiences

  • Applovin – Word Cookies
  • Chartboost – Bubble Island
  • Ironsource – Lords Mobile
  • CrossInstall – Solitaire

Top providers offering Playable Ads

Today most of the top rewarded video providers are offering playables:

  • Ironsource 
  • Applovin
  • Chartboost 
  • Vungle  
  • Inmobi / Aerserv
  • Adcolony
  • Apponboard
  • Cossinstall
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Analytics, App Monetization, Game Design, Tips and Advice

4 Proven Tips for Improving Opt-In Rate – Based on Data

4 Proven Tips for Improving Opt-In Rate - Based on Data

If you have been following the SOOMLA blog, attending mobile game conferences or keeping up with the latest mobile monetization trends in some other ways you should already know the following important fact. Improving Opt-in to rewarded videos usually results in an increase of the same proportion in your total ad revenue. This is why many companies that use rewarded videos have been focusing on the opt-in parameter and have been trying to optimize it.

While getting the basic opt-in ratio is easy, there are a few advanced methods for finding hidden opportunities around opt-in rates.

1 – Look at daily opt-in vs. monthly opt-in

Typically, app companies focus on the monthly opt-in – this is the ratio that is normally available by platforms such as Ironsource mediation and what most will allow you to analyze if you send them the impression events. The monthly opt-in, however, only tells part of the story and in many cases we have seen that the daily opt-in can be significantly lower. What that means is that there are users who opt-in to the videos some of the days while not watching videos on other days. Fixing this can usually yield 20-25% more in ad revenue and the way to do it is by taking a close look at your incentives. Will the users need the incentive on a daily basis? If not, try to figure out an incentive that the users will need more regularly.

Definitions
Monthly opt-in – the number of unique users who watched at least one video in a given month out of your total MAU.
Daily opt-in – the number of unique users who watched at least one video in a given day out of your total DAU. The daily opt-in has to be averaged across multiple days to smooth out the fluctuations.

2 – Analyze opt-in for cohorts

Cohort analysis is hardly a new trick for marketers but when it comes to monetization managers it actually is. Comparing the opt-in rate for new users vs. existing users can lead to some pretty interesting insights based on our experience. This might requires some help from your BI team (or simply using SOOMLA’s dashboard) but the hidden opportunity should justify the effort as we have seen up to 2x differences between the two segments. If opt-in is high for new users and declining for long-term users it could be a sign that your incentives are not meaningful enough for your users. In other words users are willing to watch videos but they soon realize that what they are getting in return doesn’t get them very far so they stop. In other situations, the opt-in for new users is low. This could indicate an awareness and training problem. Making your users aware of the option to watch videos early on can fix the problem.

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

3 – Differentiate users from different traffic sources

One of the interesting patterns we have seen is that users from different traffic sources behave differently when it comes to opt-in ratio. Users who came from paid channels and specifically from video ads often present a higher opt-in ratio compared to organic users. To improve the opt-in ratio for organic users, consider adding some more guidance to highlight the opportunity of watching videos for in-game rewards.

4 – Treat your ad whales to nice Incentives

In recent research we showed that the top 20% of the users contribute 80% of the ad revenue. These so called Ad Whales are the most important segment from an ad revenue perspective. You should focus a lot of your attention to make sure the opt-in rate for this group is as high as it can be. These users typically contribute more than $0.99 and sometimes up to $100. This means that they are as good as payers and you can offer them in-game items that are normally reserved for an actual purchase. However, since you want users of this group to watch a video daily it’s better not to offer them a perpetual item. Some examples of incentives you can give for ad whales:

  • A tank that is normally worth $100 – watch a video to use for a single day
  • Shortening a waiting time that normally costs up to $1
  • 10x coin boost for a short period instead of 2x

Identifying the ad whales is possible by attributing the ad revenue accurately to the user level. The only way to do this accurately today is with SOOMLA Traceback.

We’ve put out a series of posts on the wide topic of Opt-In rates and the importance of them. Feel free to check them out:

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Game Design, Tips and Advice

Tutorials in Match 3 Games – Time to Kill Them?

Is it time to end Match 3 Game tutorials?

If you downloaded a match 3 game recently you might have noticed that the first few levels are guiding you how to play the game. I would make a guess that if you are reading this blog you have already played several match 3 games already and the tutorial is not really relevant for you. The question is how frequent is this situation and if there is a better why.

Match 3 – a popular genre

Match 3 games are a popular genre on mobile – no doubt about that. A Google site search on the play store returns over 1M results for the search “Site:play.google.com “match-3”.

image-5

It’s probably the genre with the most number of apps out of the narrow genres (as opposed to a wide genre such as “Strategy”).

If we look at the number of players: Candy crush alone has over 2.7 billion downloads – this is close to the number of app capable devices out there and there are many more apps who are not that far behind.

It’s not a new genre either. Match 3 games has been around for at least 15 years. They have been with us through web games, Facebook games and mobile games.

image-6

A new user in a match 3 games is not new to the genre

What all these stats mean is that if your company publishes a match 3 game it’s likely that the majority of the new users you are getting is already familiar with the genre. Your UA teams are targeting users who liked other match 3 games on Facebook, Google is targeting your ads to users who searched match 3 in the past and other networks are trying to achieve the same result to send you relevant users. Users who know how to play match 3.

The tutorial is redundant for experienced users

image-4

Showing a tutorial to a user who never played match 3 could be the difference between him staying or leaving. However, the same tutorial for an experienced user is not effective. In fact, it might have the opposite effect – causing the user to leave as he is not challenged enough. Consider the tutorial in the image shown on the right side – it basically says “match 3 items” and might evoke the reaction “Well Duh!! It’s a match 3 game”.

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

Detecting experienced users automatically

Game publishers who want to offer an adaptive tutorial experience face a new challenge – how to detect which users are experienced match 3 players vs. not. Here are a few ideas how to detect this:

  • Acquisition channel – normally your UA efforts will be targeted at match 3 fans so you can just treat all paid traffic as experienced players. Alternatively, separate campaigns that are directly targeted to match 3 fans vs. broader campaigns. Using deeplinking you can invoke different flows inside the app. 
  • For the android version of your app, you can potentially check what other apps are installed on the device to determine if the user is already familiar with the genre. While Google will not allow you to send the app list to your server, checking locally and adapting the game experience is in the benefit of the app publisher as well as the user.
  • Prompting the user and asking him if he knows the genre is another way to go. If you think asking the user questions is annoying you should think again. Going through 7 levels of learning the game is far more annoying.
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Game Design, Marketing

Pokemons and Walking Deads – Leveraging IP in a Mobile Game

Mixing existing gameplay ip with new narrative IP is what Pokemon Go a hit but there are other ways to leverage IP

Pokemon Go was a huge success partly because it was using very strong IP. They were not the first and certainly not the last. One of the interesting trends in the mobile gaming space is that if you look at the top charts, most successful games are using External IP. Here is the 101 on leveraging existing IP in your game.

Gameplay IP saves you time and money

One form of IP that is being used by many developers is public gameplay IP. Here are some examples:

  • Casino / Slots – leverage gameplay from land based casinos and real money online casinos
  • Card / Board / Dice games – most of these games are digital simulations of a real world game
  • Drag racing and Real racing – have been around since the early days of console games
  • Match 3 – obviously there are hundreds if not thousands of games using this format

The thing about gameplay is that most people want a familiar format. They know what they like and actively look for it. Innovating on gameplay is very expansive – it requires trial and error over a long period of time and the success rate is not high. All these iterations translates to effort, time, money but most importantly risk. This is why most of the top grossing games in the last few years are relaying on existing IP when it comes to gameplay. Fortunately enough, most gameplay IP is unprotected or in other words – free.

The challenge with leveraging existing gameplay IP is that you are competing in existing categories where other companies already play.

Narrative IP can help you stand out

To get user attention in crowded categories, successful companies often leverage narrative IP in their games. This means that the story, characters and the world of the game are all based on IP that is already familiar to the user. The IP can come from a movie, tv show, celebrity, sports league, land based slot machines or PC games. Some games from the Top 100 grossing that leverage narrative IP: Pokemon go, Clash Royale, Marvel COC, Madden NFL, Star Wars – Galaxy of Heroes, The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, WSOP and the list goes on and on. If you are a small studio, you might not be able to afford IP from TV or movies. However, there is free IP that can be leveraged.

Pokemon Go example – leveraging existing Gameplay IP with new Narrative IP

One of the things that worked well for Niantic is that they already developed compelling gameplay IP with their game Ingress. The leveraged this IP and dressed it with the Pokemon narrative and visuals to create a new mix.

Successful games often innovate by creating new mixes. You can leverage Football IP in a runner game, Frozen Movie IP in a match-3 game and numerous games were created by mixing sports IP with flicking gameplay. Pokemon go is the most known example but it’s not the first time and not the last time a new mix is created.

Leveraging narrative IP from a successful game you created

If you already have one successful game, you will be able to leverage it’s gameplay but you can also leverage it’s narrative and visuals. Unlike what Niantic did with Pokemon Go, you can mix IPs the other way around – bringing in new gameplay. Narrative IP is less likely to get copied so that’s your real asset. Some examples:

  • Rovio brought racing gameplay to angry birds IP
  • Supercell brought fantasy cards game play to Clash of Clans world
  • Outfit 7 brought bubble shooter gameplay to Talking Tom IP
  • Color switch brought dozens of new game play types into the colorful world they created

 

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App Monetization, Game Design

Optimizing for Day 365 Retention – 3 Tips

Getting your users to day 365 retention is the equivalent of LTV heaven illustrated as a tropical island in calm waters.

I recently attended Pocket Gamer Connects event in Helsinki. It was super productive for us so first of all I should think the Pocket Gamer guys who set this up and the amazing gaming industry in Helsinki. Big shoot out to you all.

One of the panels I enjoyed on the conference introduced Saara from Next Games, Eric from Dodreams and Jari from Traplight. It was called LEARN HOW TO DRIVE PLAYER ENGAGEMENT FROM THE BEST IN FINNISH MOBILE GAMING. One of points raised by Eric was that it’s a great feeling to see players come back after 6 months or 1 year. In fact, it’s not just a great feeling, it also means great LTV. If you followed our 5 things you didn’t know about LTV post you already know that two thirds of the LTV is after day 30. However, games that can keep users coming back at day 365 often find that it’s much more. Losing some users between day 0 and day 30 is natural but if you can keep most of d30 users coming back month over month you will see that most of your LTV comes from those long retained users.

Specific Example:

One of the games I analyzed had 52.9%, 29%, 18% for d1,d7,d30 retention. These numbers are very good to say the least but he still lost 82% of his users. The interesting stuff is what happens after, users keeps coming back and the D365 LTV is almost 2x the D180 LTV. You can run the numbers yourself here.

Here are a few tips on how to get users to Day365:

Tip 1 – show the users something fresh every time

Updates are super important if you want to retain your long term users. Games gets boring fast but if you keep pushing update you can keep users engaged. If your updates follow a consistent schedule you are likely to have users that expect the updates and even complain when updates are delayed. A good example for that is Color Switch – this popular game has very high retention rates. One of the reasons for that is that every time you open color switch there is some new game mode waiting for you. The experience never gets old.

Tip 2 – give your users influence

Some games have ways for the users to create levels and challenge others. This is a great way to retain users and make them passionate about your game. Others don’t have native ways to do it but can still give the most loyal users ways to influence by creating special forums for them and making sure they know their opinions matter.

Tip 3 – make your game endless or close to it

Think about how many levels candy crush has – 2,620. You can play this game forever and yet they are adding new levels. The reason is that if a user ever reaches the last level he will leave for sure. Random games may not need to make new levels all the time but they need to make sure the experience doesn’t become repatitive and that there is enough content to create new variations.

 

If your company has good retention and is monetizing through ads it’s important to know the Advertising revenue per user. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

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