There is a lot to be learned from the success of others and this is why case studies can be really effective if they are done well. However, it’s not always easy to find good case studies that don’t have a strong bias and are not too sales oriented. Here are 3 case studies I think any game publisher should read especially as ads are becoming a critical component in the app monetization mix.
Adding rewarded video in IAP heavy games – Next games
Unity did a very good case study with Next Games. The games themselves are high production quality games and one of them is also based on strong IP – The Walking Dead is an award winning TV series by AMC. With this kind of investment you can imagine that the games monetize mainly with IAP. However, Next games made a strategic decision to have rewarded video designed carefully into the game. In Compass Point West – they would have a wagon coming into the screen and offering players an incentive to watch a video. The players loved the wagon and the result is that Next game are seeing an ARPDAU of $0.06 from ads alone without any negative impact on IAP revenue. From an LTV perspective this translates to a full $1 of Ad LTV. So if their IAP LTV is $3, The combined LTV would be $4. This is critical for companies who do paid marketing and trying to constantly get the CPI below the LTV.
Take away points:
- Video ads that are thoughtfully designed into the game work better.
- Ads can yield $0.06 ARPDAU and $1 Ad LTV without hurting IAP revenue.
- For companies who relay on paid marketing an extra $1 in LTV is critical for being ROI positive
Ad supported clicker games can do effective user acquisition
The next case study is also from Unity but it covers a very different type of game. FuturePlay creates clicker games that are relaying mostly on ads. 70%-75% according to Jami’s statement in a Panel from Casual Connect Amsterdam. Here the challenge was different – creating enough monetization to rise above the neccessary bar for paid marketing. Futureplay integrated video ads into the core loop of the game and was able to get as much as 80% opt-in ratio. More over, the combined ARPDAU they reached was $0.15. So roughly 10 cents from ads and 5 cents from IAP on a daily basis. With good retention KPIs such as 40%, 20% and 10% for d1/d7/d30, these $0.15 translates into $2.23 in LTV according to this calculator. This LTV is high enough to allow FuturePlay to do paid user acquisition. So they are an advertiser and a publisher at the same time.
Take away points:
- Clicker games are a good platform for high paying rewarded videos
- By integrating rewarded videos well you can reach 80% opt-in ratio
- Even if ads make the majority of your revenue you can still have LTV as high as $2 and acquire users through paid channels
To read the full case study – click here
Even games with almost no IAP can have ROI positive UA campaigns
The last case study is about Gram Games. The company had phanomenal success with their game 1010 and are pioneers in the new trend of companies who are both a publisher and an advertiser. The case study points out that Gram was able to acquire users at scale with a reported CPI of $1 in US and grow to 20M users world wide. The relatively low CPI is possible for casual titles with wide appeal and a familiar gameplay. To reach an LTV higher than $1 in US, Gram games are relaying mostly on ads as a monetization strategy. The gameplay they created retains users for a very long time and 14% of their users stay after the first month. In other words, their retention is 40% better than 40/20/10 which is considered a very good retention. This means that even with a $0.05 ARPDAU they can get to $1 LTV. While having LTV = CPI is not profitable on it’s own, games like 1010! typically get an organic boost when acquiring users through paid channels.
Take away points:
- Games with excellent retention can get over $1 LTV from ads only.
- If your game has wide appeal and super casual gameplay you can buy users at $1 CPI
- Super casual games with mass appeal often get an organic boost on their media spend
If your company has over 15% ad revenue and is marketing the game through paid channels you need powerful ad traceback tools like SOOMLA TRACEBACK.