How the Top Mobile Football Games Apply Ad Monetization
Along with IAP revenue, monetizing user’s attention by showing them in-game ads is a significant way of increasing revenue.
Božo Janković

Along with IAP revenue, monetizing user’s attention by showing them in-game ads is a significant way of increasing revenue for a host of mobile game categories. The tricky part of in-game advertising is its implementation, as this demands a solid understanding of

  • how ad providers work,
  • how a user will react when they come across an in-game advertisement,
  • and what impact this can have on the IAP economy.

A part of our latest report on the mobile football category deals with how games from this category use ads to monetize their users while avoiding the always lurking pitfalls of IAP cannibalization. While there are best practices a developer should follow, the use and optimization of in-game ads ultimately require careful customization for each game.

Rewarded Video Ads

By far the most prevalent method of ad monetization in football games is rewarded video ads—almost all of the top-grossing games incentivize users to watch an ad and receive a reward in return.

Accessibility of Ads

The two top simulation games either do not provide any kind of ads to their users (eFootball PES), or they position ads on the second or a deeper level of the game interface (FIFA Soccer).

FIFA Soccer users will find ads sprinkled throughout the game, including special events, the game’s store, or as part of daily events.

It should be noted that most of the top-grossing games do not count on making big bucks from advertisements. They limit the number of rewards a user can collect or reduce their availability across a period of time, using ads as a minor revenue stream and focusing on getting their users to monetize through in-app purchases.

Score! Hero and Top Eleven are exceptions, with these games providing their users with the possibility of watching a large volume of ads one after another (>10).

Unlike FIFA Soccer, other top-grossing games such as Captain Tsubasa: Dream Team show the “watch ad” option at the home screen, while First Touch Games’ Dream League Soccer places it in the career section of the game.

Of the ten top-grossing games, Online Soccer Manager seems to rely on ad monetization the most. For the developers, this likely pays off in high engagement rates (the percentage of daily active users who watch ads).

The game goes a step further than its competitors and makes the rewarded video ad option available at all times in the interface header, throughout the game.

Online Soccer Manager is also the only one of the top-grossing mobile football games in which a user will come across an ad banner.

And an OSM user can watch an ad and by doing so speed up in-game events such as player training.

Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads are used by only two of the top ten grossing games, with OSM usually displaying an uninvited pop-up ad after a match ends, while Score! Hero introduces interstitial ads after a user has passed level 25.

Again, OSM goes beyond what other games in the category are doing and allows for compounded rewards if a user decides to watch a series of ads.

In general, top-grossing mobile football games seem to shy away from showing system initiated ads such as banners (only one game) and interstitials (only two games). This could be caused by the fear of jeopardizing user experience (and, or, retention). However, many of the games could significantly increase their ad revenues by introducing system initiated ads, while still retaining a positive user sentiment.

Offer Wall

Another form of rewarding specific actions within the game is offered through an offer wall by two games, Top Eleven and OSM. Both games work with the same offer providers: ironSource, TapJoy, and Fyber. Making a third-party product purchase, completing quizzes (overcrowded with banner ads), and completing rewards are some of the ways in which users can earn additional in-game resources.

What is unusual is the offer wall setup: in most cases, games do not show the user who provides the offer wall. Having looked into more than two dozen other games (outside of the football category), we haven’t found a single one with this kind of implementation. The most probable answer is that these games are compromising on the UX side with the aim of increasing competitiveness among the providers, with the aim of increasing the fill rate and the number of easy tasks made available for the users.

Add-on: Reward Multipliers

With the increasing notoriety of interstitial ads, even hyper-casual games began to offer reward multipliers as a way of reducing churn by incentivizing users to intentionally watch an ad, and thus make them ads more appealing.

Top Eleven is the only of the top-grossing games that allow users to double the effect of their player’s training if they opt to watch an ad.

Best Practices From Mobile Football Games

Arguably, Online Soccer Manager does the best job of positioning and motivating users to watch ads by:

  • Making rewarded video ads always easily accessible at the top of the screen
  • Allowing users to watch ads to speed up in-game processes
  • Providing users with the possibility of earning rewards through an offer wall
  • Motivating users to watch several consecutive ads to earn progressively more valuable rewards

There’s a lot to learn from great tactics in other games:

  • Besides as a way of getting a free pack or saving energy, FIFA Soccer made watching ads a part of daily tasks, making ads more visible and a part of the daily routine
  • Top Eleven provides a multiplier by doubling the effect of training if the user watches an ad
  • Score! Hero doesn’t show interstitial ads until the user reaches level 25, giving users enough time to convert before they are labelled as non-payers and monetized via interstitial ads.


  • Avoid showing interstitial ads and banners to users that monetize through the in-game shop
  • Determining when to start showing interstitials (and how many) will determine the success of your integration:  start early, and you might harm payers-to-be, start late and too many users might leave the game
  • Consider introducing the Offer Wall if you have a complex economy within the game
  • Make rewarded videos easily accessible in order to maximize your engagement rate—even if you do not rely on ad monetization, you could benefit from a large portion of your users viewing one or two ads
  • Make ads a part of daily tasks
  • Make it possible for users to speed up parts of the game that require a waiting period—making it a part of the genuine gameplay will give you a good chance of keeping users engaged while maximizing your ad revenue

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