In one of our previous posts, we wrote about pricing models for mobile games. Selling paid games has its own ups and downs but the majority of games you can find in the mobile world are free. So we decided that in this post we’ll take a closer look at how to monetize mobile games with ads.
What is in-game advertising?
In short, it’s the most popular way of monetizing games where you show players various advertisements during gameplay. It’s widely adopted because not every player is willing to pay for a game or in-app. It boosts the game’s revenue and game developers earn money that way. Best performing ads are those which are integrated into the game loop and complement the in-game economy. A good implementation will also enhance user experience and can help improve engagement and retention rates.
Types of ads
They offer players a clear exchange value – players can choose if they want to watch or play an ad and receive a reward in return like game currency, additional lives, items, etc. Unlike other ad formats, these can increase a positive user experience. They’re a win-win-win for everyone – players enjoy receiving free content, developers are earning money & advertisers get potential clients. Rewarded ads can increase revenue for game developers by 20-40%.
It’s not a secret that interstitials are the most intrusive and annoying type of ads, especially when used too often. They are usually shown when the gameplay loop comes to an end. They can take the form of a video, static image or playable ad and they always offer the option to skip & exit (usually after a few seconds). Good practices? Stick to natural pauses and limit its frequency to not annoy the players.
Small, rectangular ads that can be placed on the screen. Banners can show up as text, image or animation and they usually don’t interrupt players’ experience. They are very easy to implement – the only thing that you need is to find some free space on a game screen. Banners can refresh automatically providing fresh and engaging ads.
Like rewarded ads – players can choose to engage with it, or not. It’s like a mini-store in a game that lists various tasks players can do in order to receive a reward. Players can get a reward for example for completing X levels, signing in to the app, upgrading tools, etc.
It’s a form of advertising that matches the look and feel of the format in which they are shown. In games they are embedded in it such that it feels like a part of the game. These ads don’t compete with traditional ad spots but provide new positions & areas that can be monetized in a clever way.
Don’t be afraid of mix and match – use a combination of ad formats to maximize revenue. Anchor banners at the bottom, show interstitials from time to time after the finished level, offer some extras in exchange for watching rewarded ads, implement custom native ads into your game UI.
Remember! When you’re showing ads you have to give the player an opportunity to get rid of them and implement proper in-app to buy to achieve that. Another important thing is to show only proper ads to your audience. You don’t want to show improper adult ads to kids.
How to improve your in-game advertising effectiveness?
- Experiment and A/B test ad placements
- Choose the right ad units for your game
- Choose the right places for ads
- In the case of higher player volumes use mediation and multiple ad networks to maximize revenue
Some interesting stats about ads (by IronSource)
- 76% of app revenue was generated through video ads, display ads, and native ads
- rewarded video ads are considered to be the most successful type of ad unit taking up 75% of ad revenue
- 74% of mobile gamers in the United States would watch a video advertisement if they got in-app content in return
- 82% of mobile gamers say they are more into free mobile games that include ads than paid games with no ads
In our three freemium games (Between The Walls, Ballz Invaderz & Whack-A-Tile) we’re using rewarded ads, interstitials and banners. From our experience the frequency of interstitials is really hard to set properly and we’ve done many tests to choose the best option for us, and our players. Rewarded ads are offered for additional items, coins, double rewards, game continuation, etc.
Choosing the best form of ads implementation is not an easy task. Remember to always implement the best ad formats for your game. And don’t be too pushy. Experiment and see what’s working and what is not.
All graphics designed by stories / Freepik