It's incredible to think how far mobile gaming has gone from the Snake game most of us played on a Nokia phone.
Now, there are mobile games for every genre and taste, making mobile entertainment very popular. In fact, in 2021, mobile gaming revenues surpassed the combined PC and console gaming revenues with 52% of the market share, according to the latest Newzoo report.
Developing mobile games can be expensive, so mobile game developers are often on the lookout for the best game monetization strategy. But what might work for one game, may be disastrous for another. Therefore, it's very important to understand the ad monetization ecosystem and how it works.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the universally best game monetization strategies and share a few tips on how you can turn your mobile game into a golden goose.
Mobile game developers often rely on mobile in-app purchases to monetize their mobile games. However, mobile ads have also become a very popular alternative for mobile game devs looking to earn extra revenue. Some even build an entire game economy around ads. This process is called ad monetization.
Mobile ads can be placed at strategic locations within mobile games.
Developers can use different mobile ads in games to encourage players to interact with the advertisement, such as incentivized video ads that reward players for watching them.
Other mobile ad formats, like banner and interstitial ads, are also available. You can find more of them in our article about different mobile ad formats.
At the most basic level, placing advertisements within mobile games allows mobile game devs to earn mobile ad revenue.
But mobile ads also have some important benefits that mobile game developers should consider:
In order to determine which mobile ads are most effective for their mobile games, mobile game developers should work with a scalable mobile ad platform that provides granular reporting and campaign management.
With the benefits of mobile advertising in mind, let's take a look at some common types of mobile in-game advertisements.
Here's a brief overview of the most common mobile ad formats.
This is the ad format that has been around for a long time. Banners are system-initiated ads, meaning developers determine where and when they will appear. A banner typically shows up as a rectangular image or text that takes up a portion of the screen, usually at the bottom or at the top of the screen.
Interstitials are also system-initiated. Unlike banner ads, interstitial ads are full-screen, meaning that the user cannot play the game while the ad is being shown. They can be both static images or, nowadays more commonly, video ads. They usually last around 30 seconds but can be skipped after 5 seconds.
This type of mobile ad allows players to earn in-game rewards by watching a video ad. The rewards may include in-game currency, additional lives, power-ups, and other incentives. Rewarded video ads are user-initiated, meaning the user chooses when and if to view them.
This type of mobile ad lets players earn in-game currency or other incentives by completing various tasks. These tasks may include downloading another app, watching a video, or completing a survey. They are also user-initiated and designed to resemble an in-game shop. They can be accessed through the menu or shown at particular points in the game (such as when the player is out of currency).
Apart from these traditional ad formats commonly used in the industry, there are also various innovative mobile ad formats. Some common examples include rewarded interstitials, native ads, rewarded surveys, app open ads, audio ads, and others.
One of the challenges of advertising within mobile games is that there are a lot of different ad formats. As a result, many players tend to get annoyed by having their gameplay interrupted for ads.
For this reason, it's best if mobile game devs can rotate through multiple ad formats. This way they can avoid driving away players who might otherwise make an in-app purchase.
Ads are a great source of revenue for almost any free-to-play mobile game. However, depending on what kind of game you have (genre, audience) you will want to use different game monetization strategies. Let's take two extreme examples - different ends of the spectrum: hyper-casual games and hardcore games.
Hyper casual games are very light on user experience and simple in design. Casual games are very player-friendly, easy to play, and don't require much if any, instruction. Casual players are less likely to spend money on in-app purchases. That's why you likely want to use as many ads as possible for hyper-casual games. Casual players' tolerance for ads, especially rewarded ones, is significantly higher.
On the other hand, the bulk of the revenue from a hardcore game will come from in-app purchases. Hardcore gamers are less tolerant of interruptions from ads. If you still plan to use ads make sure they are scarce, rewarded, and user-initiated. If you must use interstitials, be sure that they are not too frequent and not show shown to all of your players.
Coordinating ads with the gameplay experience is essential to successfully earning mobile ad revenue from players.
When deciding which type of ads will work best for your game, think about some of these questions:
Many players still perceive in-app ads as an annoyance. The main reason is that too many developers use outdated and intrusive practices when implementing mobile game ads. We’ll share some of the best practices when implementing ads in mobile games to avoid this.
One of the best ways to ruin a game is to implement ads that distract players from their game experience. The industry standard is to show ads between levels or during a forced break after a certain amount of time spent in the game.
Don’t make ads the star of the show and focus on using them as a feature of the game, rather than a distraction. For example, give the players an option of picking up where they died instead of restarting the level by watching an ad.
Players will appreciate your dedication to their experience and will be more willing to tolerate ads if they feel that you respect their time and they stand to gain something from them too.
Don’t make the users watch ads too frequently. It is not a good user experience to force them into watching ads after every single level or worse, in the middle of their game.
Make sure to use the right number of ads based on the type of experience you are offering.
Many developers make the mistake of not setting goals for their games. Without determining your goals, you cannot measure the ads' performance.
Before implementing any ads, make sure you know your main goal and set KPIs for your ad performance.
Some of the KPIs to keep an eye on are ad ARPDAU (average revenue per daily active user), eCPM (effective cost per mile - showing how much money you are making on average from every thousand ads shown), and fill rate (are you able to respond to an every ad request with an ad available).
The most important step is to analyze the implementation of your game ads after you launch them. Check out what ad networks perform best for your game’s demographics. Test different ad formats, locations, and frequency of ads for a more optimized solution.
Nearly 70% of developers combine multiple ad formats in their games, according to Delta DNA. Combining formats such as interstitials and rewarded video ads can maximize your revenue.
Ad placement will play a significant role in their success. Use interstitials during breaks after a difficult level and rewarded ads when you believe players could use a boost.
To avoid ad fatigue and maximize revenue, you can set up user-initiated ads. You can offer players a reward if they watch an ad. They will appreciate the reward and this type of ad will make them willing to opt-in for more offers later on.
Don’t implement game ads after the game is released. It is best to plan them in the early development stages, as with any other game feature.
This will help you to integrate ads more meaningfully with the rest of the game, and you’ll avoid any unexpected issues with its development.
There are many different ways to monetize your game. You can go the paid app route, offer in-game purchases, use ads, or combine a few options.
Using game ads to target non-paying players and offering a subscription to remove the ads for those willing to pay for the convenience can be a winning model.
Mobile games are becoming increasingly popular, and advertisers are taking advantage of this by integrating ads organically into games. Developers can capitalize on this trend by leveraging the popularity of their mobile games.
Implementing ads into your game is a win-win solution if you do it right. You can make money while making your players happy with an improved game experience.
Before adding ads, plan your strategy in the early stages of development and consider the video game monetization model that will work best for your game. Also, don’t forget to A/B test your implementation to find out what works best for you.
In order to make the most money from mobile games, you need to use ads that are relevant to the users and placed in strategic locations. You also need to use different ad formats for the best results.
Do you want to monetize your mobile game with ads but don’t know how or where to start? We can help. GameBiz Consulting offers a wide range of services, including:
✔ Game Monetization Strategy Planning and Consultation
✔ A/B testing
✔ Optimization of ad network mediation
✔ Optimizing existing ad strategies
✔ Exploring new revenue opportunities
✔ And more…
Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we can boost your mobile game revenue.