App Monetization, Tips and Advice, Video

Top 7 Incentives for Video Ads in Mobile Games

Top 7 incentives using video ads in your app!

Rewarded videos have been proving to be a highly effective format that balances retention with monetization and typically turn eCPMs of over $20 in the US. However, unlike other ad formats, they require the game designer to build incentives that can be handed to the users when he watches videos. Check out our previous post that talks about mastering the Opt-In ratio to boost rewarded video ad revenue. The general rules of thumb on where to implement rewarded videos are:

  • Designing the incentives from the beginning is easier than adding them after
  • The more evolved the meta game is, the more opportunities for videos there are

Here you can find the most popular incentives to entice users to watch videos:

1. Lives or “save me” option

This is a familiar incentive that allows the player to cheat death. It it widely used in Match-3 games where the meta game typically dictates that a player may only fail 5 times before he runs out of lives at which point he typically has to wait for his lives to replenish. Another version of this incentives appears in action/arcade games where a violent death of the character typically ends the player’s session and an option to keep the session going makes a strong incentive for the user to watch videos.

2. Time related incentives

Warping the game time can be a compelling incentive for the player. In some games, the player is only given a limited time to complete a mission or a screen and is offered to watch a video to gain more time. In other situations, the player wishes to avoid a long wait and is willing to trade that wait for watching a video. A perfect example is upgrading a piece of equipment which takes 2 hours, but if you watch a video ad, it upgrades immediately.

3. In game currency

This one is simple and quite obvious. A bag of gold in exchange for watching a video is one of the oldest offers out there. It’s not the most effective incentive but it’s widely applicable and typically doesn’t require any special hooks to be put in the game for it.


4. Earnings doubler

The coin doubler is known as a paid item that players can buy. However, a limited time doubler may be offered as an incentive to players who are willing to spend 30 seconds watching a video ad. This type of incentive is popular in idle clicker games and runner games among other genres. There are 2 variations of this incentive:

  • Pre-session – allowing the user to start a session knowing his earnings will be doubled
  • Post-session – popping the question to the user in the session summary screen

5. Re-dealing of a randomly assigned element

In many cases a player get dealt a hand of cards, in other games he opens a pack of collectables and sometimes it’s quests, missions or even songs that the game randomly selects for the player. If a player doesn’t like his options, he can change them in exchange for watching a video.

6. Renting items

Some items in the game can be priced very high and not many users can afford them. Giving them away for a video watch can reduced the perceived value of such items. The compromise is to rent such items for a limited period of time. If an item costs $50 and you expect the users to use it for 30 days renting it for 15 minutes for a video view is maintaining the balance and unlikely to hurt your conversion to payers.

7. The daily spin

Many games offer a daily spin or surprise box as part of their meta game. It’s a great way to make players feel welcomed and keep them in the game. This daily spin often ends with a near miss experience and users are likely to watch a video ad if one is offered in return for an extra spin.

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App Monetization, Video

Top 9 Moments from “What’s Inside the Advertising Black Box” Panel

Blog header image - what's inside the advertising black box - video snaps from casual connect panel
Last Casual Connect in Tel-Aviv introduced many interesting lectures and panels. However, this is the one when ad-networks secrets got revealed. These are the top 9 moments of the panel presented in an easy video navigation tool.


Panel Participants

Lior Shiff – Co-founder and ex-CEO, Product Madness

Guy Tomer – Co-founder and CMO, TabTale

Niko Vouri – Co-founder and COO, Rocket Games

Yaniv Nizan – Co-founder and CEO, SOOMLA

Noam Neuman – VP Mobile Strategy at Matomy

Fernando Pernica – Mobile Monetization at Ad-Colony

Minute 5:29 – The Secret Guage

Lior asks Fernando whether there is a way for ad-networks to dynamically manipulate rev-share rates for publishers and create periods where they are more competative. Can you gues the answer?

Minute 12:06 – What Surprised Yaniv

Lior asks Yaniv what surprised him the most when lifting the hood of the black box. Not all app users are made equal apparently.

Minute 14:30 – When Ad Networks get Naughty

Guy tells the story about an ad-network that didn’t play by the rules and showed inappropriate ads to kids user audience.

Minute 32:11 – Brands – Friend or Foe

When a big change comes along you can either get defensive or find the opportunities that change creates. While the entrance of brands to mobile ads makes buying users harder it creates new monetization opportunities that translates back into the ability to place more competitive CPI bids.

Minute 33:09 – Is there an Unbiased Mediation?

Why is the ownership of mediaiton by ad-networks a problem? Bias and lack of transparency come into play here.

Minute 35:54 – Ad Networks’ Transparency

Guy explains that regardless of their various attempts to get more data from the ad-networks they still couldn’t get granular data and even aggregated data is sometimes tough.

Minute 37:07 – Lack of Transparency is a Double Edged Sword

Fernando explains how mediation is a black box for the ad-networks and how the lack of transparency goes both ways.

Minute 39:53 – Are There Ad Whales?

Lior is asking Yaniv and Guy whether or not Ad Whales exist. Guy explains that he can’t track it today but Yaniv is answering with precision: “We have seen $124 generated by a single user”.

Minute 45:43 – How Would You Leverage Ad LTV Data

Yaniv is asking Niko what would he do differently if he had the power to know. Niko explains how granular ad revenue data can impact their user acquisition decisions.

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Video Lecture: China Out vs. China In by Iron Source


In this video from the recent Casual Connect in Tel-Aviv, Omer Kaplan from Iron Source is giving some highly valuable lessons about the China market. If you are part of the mobile gaming industry, you must have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this market. It’s already the biggest and it’s also the fastest growing. There are still lots of opportunities there and lots of money coming in and out of it.

China In vs. China Out

One of the interesting distinctions made in the presentation is that there are two ways to work with the China Market:

  • China In – trying to bring western products and apps into China
  • China Out – helping successful Chinese companies gain distribution in other companies (mostly referred to as Overseas by Chinese).

The path that Iron Source took is to start with the China Out and only then try to go China In. The presentation also includes some useful tips about what’s required in order to be interesting for Chinese companies in the China Out model. One of the interesting observations is that the companies who are looking to spread out of China are the ones that already dominated that market. It means that they are massive companies with hundreds of millions of users and they are looking for opportunities that move the needle. If you don’t have that level of scale (hundreds of millions of users) you will probably not be able to be a good partner for these giants.

For the full lecture – see the video below.

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App Monetization, Video

5 Monetization Tips From Ketchapp CRO – Christian Calderon

5 in app advertising tips based on the session that Christian Calderon, CRO of Ketchapp gave at Postback

In a recent talk at Postback event, Christian Calderon gave a very interesting presentation about Ketchapp’s approach to in app advertising. Christian recently joined the Ketchapp team after leading Dots monetization for about 2 years. There is a lot to be learned from him so if you have 15 minutes – I highly recommend viewing this video.


Mobile ad spend per user is growing

Companies who are condiering in app advertising as a source of monetization should study this chart closely. If you felt like CPMs were high in the last 12 months. This chart says it will increase by almost 2x in the next 3 years.

the mobile ads market forecasts says that average ad spend per mobile users will increase almost 2x in the next 3 years

Mediation is a “must have” not a “nice to have”

In his talk, Calderon explains that mediation is the way to aggregate demand and create a competitive situation between the ad networks. This is important in order to maximize your yield. To learn about the pros and cons of the top mediation platform refer to this comparison.

Advertisers pay more for the 1st impression and eCPM decays after

This is an important point to understand. Since eCPM levels are driven by performance and conversion rates, the first impression is usually paying a lot more than the 10th impression. Smart buyers like Machine Zone are focusing on the first impression and are willing to pay premium CPMs for that one. To analyze eCPM decay for your app you need a specialized tracking tool like SOOMLA TRACEBACK.

CPM decay means that the first impression a user sees in the day is the one that will yield the most revenue and the revenue for subsequent impressions drops

Adoption rate (aka Opt-in rate) is linear with revenue

Adoption rate or Opt-in rate is how many users out of your daily active users get to see ads. In other words, how many 1st impressions you have. Calderon hints that in both Dots and Ketchapp focusing on the opt-in rate is part of the secret sauce to high yield from your in app advertising.

Focusing on adoption rate or opt-in rate means that you are getting more 1st impressions and optimizing your in app advertising
Improving the adoption rate requires 2 things:
  • Good ways to measure it in different segments so you can identify opportunities and track progress
  • Iterating and testing new ideas that are focused on increasing the adoption rate

Understanding the business side of of in app advertising is critical

The last tip that we can learn is that ad-based monetization requires more than just plugging the ads SDK and waiting for the revenue to come. There is much to be achieved by developing a relationship with the ad providers, tweaking the deals you are getting and negotiating with them. In his slides, he explains that there are 3 pieces that makes a good ad-partner and one of them is their ability to work with you and get you the deals you need.
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App Monetization, Video

Increase Rewarded Video Revenue by Mastering Opt-In Ratio

Increase your video revenue by matering opt in ratio and getting more users to convert to rewarded video advertising

Rewarded Video is a big trend these days in mobile games. For many games the video revenue has become the main source of income. The opt-in ratio is a factor that is mostly overlooked and could help you maximize this opportunity.

What is opt-in ratio?

This important factor is one of the best kept secrets of the studios who have spent a great deal of effort optimizing their rewarded video revenue. Opt-in ratio means the number of users who opted to see rewarded videos out of the total number of users that day. Another way to look at it – what are the chances a single user will click on the button to watch videos. It is a form of conversion rate.

How much it can increase my video revenue?

In most game this ranges between 20% and 40%. Focusing on this parameter alone can double your revenue from the rewarded video channel simply because more users will be generating revenue for you. For example, if you have 100,000 DAU today and 20% opt-in ratio it means you are monetizing 20% of your users. Increasing that to 40% will result in twice as many users who are contributing revenue to your game.


Measuring your opt-in ratio

There are a few ways to measure opt-in ratio. If you have an analytics platform, you can set-up events to be sent every time a user clicks to see a video ad. You then need to set up a custom funnel in your analytics platform to track how many users had that event fired. Alternatively, you can use SOOMLA Traceback to measure this for you with no need to add any code or set up any funnels in your analytics dashboard.

Improving the opt-in ratio

Once you start measuring this ratio, you want to create an iterative improvement process where you try different things and constantly track the improvements until the goal is reached. Depending on your game design, here are a few things you may want to try:

  • Introducing rewarded video as part of the tutorial or to get the initial starting bonus
  • Placing prompts in key moments where the user needs an extra boost to receive this boost in return for watching a video
  • Targeting users who didn’t opt-in by showing them prompts

These are just ideas to try. You should come up with more and test them until you reach the goal of 40% opt-in.

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App Monetization, Video

Rewarded Video Ads – The Publisher Payout Fallacy

Rewarded video ads means that the user gets in-game currency but the publisher only gets paid on install
Video advertising is hot in the mobile app ecosystem today. Everyone is talking about it and many app developers are doing it. Even more so in mobile games. The rewarded video format especially is becoming popular by the hour and even Facebook and Google are moving into the space according to latest rumors.

What is rewarded video advertising

Video ads can be shown to users in different places inside the app. If the app has video content, the video ads can appear as a pre-roll. In other situations, the ads can appear in a natural breakpoint. A very popular option these days is to allow users to opt-in to the ad by offering something in return – a reward. This practice of giving a something in return for watching an ad is sometimes referred to as value exchange. The user gets some benefit in the app that is normally a premium feature in exchange for the value created for the advertiser by the user watching the ad. In games, the premium feature is mostly in-game currency.

Developers give the reward when video ad is shown

From the developer standpoint, they are giving the reward to the user instead of selling it for money. For example, a game might credit the user 5 precious gems in return for watching a video ad. The ad-network SDK is usually providing a call back function that lets the developer know that the video view is completed and the developer writes a code to give the reward.


Developers don’t get paid when a reward is given

Here is the loophole – the developer might expect to get paid in return for the precious gems he is giving away. However, that’s not happening. Most of the video ad-networks are not paying for video views at all. They are paying a share of the revenue they are making which means the developer is getting paid mostly for installs that the video might be driving. If the video is interesting, if the user likes the app, downloads, installs and opens it. Only then the developers get paid. Not for his users watching the videos and not for giving away his premium features for free.

Transparency and clarity are a big deal

Some app developers might be ok with this loophole since some of the views generate clicks and some of the clicks generate installs and eventually the developers do earn money. However, the fact that many developers are not aware of this is alarming and shows that ad-networks are not being transparent enough about their practices.

Impact on optimization and paid marketing

The most important impact on the game developers is that they lose sight of what revenue is generated by what users. This is critical for in-game optimization, for mediation decisions and for marketing ROI analysis.

If you’re monetizing with rewarded videos it’s important to know the Ad revenue per user. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

Learn More

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App Monetization, Video

Re-inventing the Remove Ads Button with a Video Ad


There is nothing more boring in mobile apps than the Remove Ads button. At least that was the case until recently. The least expected place for innovation just re-invented itself. I have seen the option to watch a single video ad to remove ads in one app and then in another. When I saw it the 3rd time I realized there is a trend here and I’m sure others will quickly adopt this new standard.

Watching 1 Video Ad Equals an Ad Free Session

You can see an examples of what it looks like in the games Blocky Football and Tiltagon:

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The prompt gives the user choice between paying $1.99 to remove ads permanently or watching a video to remove them temporarily.

Similar approach has been implemented by Spotify that offers a 30 minute ad free session in return for watching 1 video ad.












It’s all about user choice

These ads are likely to become more and more popular since they give users choices. Some users don’t mind the ad interruptions while others might prefer to focus their ad experience in a short time and be done with it. It also signifies a more open and transparent approach to ads. Publishers are telling their users “look we need to get paid to continue making games, it’s your choice how to help us”.


If you are interested in accurately measuring the impact of innovative placemtns it’s important to know the Advertising revenue per user. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

Learn More


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App Monetization, Unity, Video

71 Percent of Players Prefer Video Ads According to Unity

Video ads report from unity. Image showing a player with a phone and an offer to show a video.

We all know that Video is one of the biggest trends of the last years in mobile gaming. Now there is a study that confirms it. Unity recently put together a report based mainly on surveys of users and game makers. The report shows how dominant Video ads are today and the trend seems to get stronger even.

Key points from the in-game advertising report:

  • 71% of the users said they prefer Video Ads as the way to ‘pay’ for the game
  • After adding rewarded video – 86% of developers saw increase or no change in IAP, 68% saw increase or no change in retention and only 14% saw any negative impact at all
  • When surveying studios of 5 to 20 people – 90% said they are adding rewarded video ads in their next title

You can download the full report here (after filling out a signup form).

Interpretation of the video ads report

This report demonstrates a trend we are all aware of and was covered in a recent article in this blog – More ads in mobile games. Unity is making an effort to highlight the trend as their advertising business is becoming a substential part of their business and they are positioned as one of the key players in the video space. This is the reason behind them investing in such a report.

For developers, I believe most of them know already about the availability of rewarded video so there is no big news here.

Related – video ad LTV attribution

With the trend of advertising becoming a significant part of mobile app revenues it is important to start measuring ad LTV more precisely. Today most game publishers divide the daily ad revenue by the daily active users to reach ARPDAU number. However this method assumes all users are the same and each user is contributing the average amount of revenue. In reality, some users are interacting more with the ads, clicking and installing the advertised apps. Since mobile campaigns today are mostly paying on CPI basis, there is a big difference in ad revenues between different users in the app. Accurately calculating the LTV per user, cohort and segment is becoming a key skill for game developers these days.

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App Monetization, Video

More Ads in Mobile Games – Trends from Casual Connect Amsterdam

In game advertising is on the rise

Last February I had the pleasure to MC one of the most interesting tracks at Casual Connect Amsterdam. The lectures in the track clearly demonstrated a trend that I’m not sure all of you are aware of – the trend of high profile games that are adding in game advertising.

If you download the financial reports of public companies like Zynga you would realize that they are relying more on ad revenue compared to IAP. King also announced that they are making technology investments in bringing ads back into their games.

I’m including 3 videos from the track I was hosting. All 3 lectures reflect the trend from different angles.

Successful In-Game Advertising: The Secret Sauce for Monetization | Tammy Levy

In this video, Tammy discusses 3 case studies by Kontagent where the company was able to significantly increase the game revenue by introducing ads. The games studied are: Adventure Capitalist, Epic Skater and Bullet Boy. The lecture also gives tips for smart integration of in game advertising inside the game and highlights the key elements to focus on.

Why Mobile Video is a Game Changer | Tal Shoham

Tal is heading the video adverting business at Supersonic. In his talk, he shares insights learned from integrating videos into the game “Hopeless” by uPopa. One of the interesting things to learn is that the rewarded video ads actually increased IAP revenue according to the study they did.

Developing Your Game with Monetization in Mind | Panel

Last is the panel with Anton @ Huuuge, Jami @ Futureplay and Philipp @ Wooga. All 3 described the trend of growing their ad revenue. Anton mentioned that even though social casino games don’t normally put ads, Huuuge games are now driving 50% of their revenue from in game advertising. Jami mentioned that Futureplay sees about 75% of the revenue from ads in their Idle games. In response to the question about ARPDAU, Anton mentioned that they have been seeing numbers as high as $0.4 in US during Q4.


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Tips and Advice, Video

6 Tips for Your First Panel Participation


I recently had the opportunity to be a panelist in an industry conference. I have attended panels before and I have given many talks at conferences, but participating in a panel was a new thing, until October this year when the organizers of Casual Connect asked me to join a panel about data and analytics.

Here are 6 things I learned while preparing, participating and reviewing the video in retrospect.

#1 – Know the Questions in Advance

Very few people can wing their first panel appearance. Imagine getting the question only during the session while the audience is waiting for your response and the spotlights pointed on you. This is a lot of unnecessary pressure. Most likely the panel moderator will be happy to share the questions in advance and even iterate on them with you if you have feedback.

#2 – Disagree at least once

Panels can get really boring if everyone agrees on everything and says the same things. You can see Daniel disagreeing with me and Garrett on minute 7:30 and then in the last 10 minutes Ilja and myself arguing against re-engagement in gaming while Daniel takes the other side.

#3 – Prepare Examples that are Easy to Visualizethis-disturbing-image-of-a-chinese-worker-with-close-to-100-iphones-reveals-how-app-store-rankings-can-be-manipulated

A lot of times expert discussions can become too complicated for an audience to follow. Having an example that is easy for the audience to visualize helps you keep the audience engaged and is much more memorable. In minute 20:48 I’m leveraging the fact that most of the audience has already seen the image of an Asian person sitting in front of hundreds of mobile devices and installing apps on them to make an example of how SOOMLA can detect fraud better than anyone else.

#4 – Use Sound Bytes

Get a few sentences prepared that people can immediately agree with and easily memorize. For SOOMLA the best ones would have been:

  • It’s smarter to look at data from hundreds of games than to look at data from only a single game.
  • If 50% of the revenue is driven by whales, you should spend half your time analyzing that audience specifically.

I actually failed to deliver these sound bytes during the session although at minute 10:40 I had a pretty good opportunity to deliver the first one.

#5 – Use Acronyms to Encapsulate Systems or Processes

Audiences really like it when you give them an easy way to remember a new system, process or method. Using an acronym and explaining what the letters stand for, will get people writing your words down. An example that is relevant to SOOMLA would be: “The segments that game publishers should focus on: S – social whales that can bring you viral distribution, W – whales – these are the people who pay in your game, F – freeloaders which should be monetized with ads. The acronym to remember is SWF.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the opportunity to use this acronym in the discussion. I promise to do better on my next panel.

#6 – You Don’t Have to Answer the Question You were Asked

Sometimes it’s better to answer the question you wanted to be asked. At the end of the day most people would not remember the question anyway. Especially if your answer was good. At minute 2:45, I was asked “tell us something not many people know about your company.” I replied with a shameless pitch – given that we are a startup it’s likely to assume that not many people have heard about what we do so it was sort of answering the question, but not really what the moderator expected.

Measuring Success

The success of a panel is not easy to measure, but one way to gauge it is by how many people queued up for questions after. In this case, I can say that I did pretty well based on that queue, but I still know there are quite a few things I’ll do better in my next panel.

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