With the recent changes in the ad-tech industry, in-app ads are an increasing source of revenue for mobile apps, according to the quarterly mobile eCPM report by Appodeal. To take the ad monetization effectiveness of your mobile game to the next level, marketing and product managers can’t go without optimizing their strategies. However, tweaking ad waterfalls, A/B testing ad configurations, segmenting users, and tracking revenue metrics can be time-consuming. And what is even more critical, finding the correct balance between retention and monetization is not an easy task.

At Appodeal, we enable mobile creators like you to launch & grow their apps and games. And today, we want to share a few tips with you that we learned along the way on how to optimize your ad monetization strategy.

  1. Keep your ad fill rates high
  2. Push more ads without affecting your retention
  3. Use rewarded ads to balance your in-app purchases
  4. Segment your ads according to your users
  5. Align your ad monetization strategy with your UA campaigns

1. Keep your ad fill rates high

In the ad monetization for a game app, the fill rate tells you how many of your requested impressions were actually shown to users.

Ideally, your fill rate should be 100%. This means that every time a user had the opportunity to see an advertisement, the ad was delivered and displayed.

Unfortunately, a 100% fill rate is challenging to achieve because too many factors influence it, such as bad or lost connection, low phone battery or a failed network. And while having a less than 100% fill rate is quite the norm, it shouldn’t be too low either. If it goes down suddenly, check the app’s stability and your networks. Even if the eCPM is high, a bad fill rate can be the reason for low revenue, so you must consider them together, as demonstrated below.

Ad formats in mobile games — app monetization

The best way to optimize your fill rate is to work with high-quality ad networks. And for that, you need an ad mediation service. For example, at Appodeal, we have been providing ad mediation services for 7+ years. We know how to boost your ad revenues by automatically mediating the price of every ad impression with over 70 networks.

And since everything is automated, the time you save on not having to manage waterfalls can be reinvested into making your apps as entertaining and captivating as possible.

2. Push more ads without affecting your retention

Plenty of mobile apps and games earn most of their revenues from in-app ads, so the more ads their users see, the higher the revenues. If you fall under that category, your growth highly depends on how well optimized your mobile game monetization is. Also, retention and engagement metrics play a great deal.

When it comes to publishers’ approach to monetization, we can observe two opposite scenarios here:

  1. Extremely aggressive developers who push way too many ads from the first session, which causes their retention rates to plummet.
  2. Others are way more conservative, not pushing enough ads and losing a major opportunity to cash their games.

Ironically, the second situation is more common than we think. And that applies even to well-established apps.

Ads in mobile games — app monetization

For example, Listonic, an app with millions of active users, was overly protective. However, they were able to increase their ARPDAU (Average Revenue per Daily Active User) by more than 35% by only optimizing one parameter of their monetization strategy.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so you may have to leverage growth tools (like Appodeal) to segment your users and A/B test different ad monetization setups. This way, you will find out the tolerance of your game to support more ads (or less).

3. Use rewarded ads to balance your in-app purchases

Rewarded video ads grant users with temporary access to your premium features, encourage them to interact with the game, and truly reward them for engagement.

Apps & mobile games that implement rewarded ads:

  • Increase users’ tolerance to receiving more ad and marketing promos;
  • Encourage users to start making IAPs (in-app purchases);
  • Boost long-term retention.

Free-to-play games are the perfect environment to A/B test your advertisement placements, optimize the ad frequency of your rewarded videos, and even offer new rewarded in-app features.

Examples from mobile games — app monetization

Check how often a user has attempted to complete a level or a stage. Create triggers for these cases. If things are getting too hard for your players, give them an extra helping hand by offering them rewarded video ads.

Pro-tip: If you decide to show rewarded videos after a failure, limit them to once per session, so they retain their value.

In general, limiting the number of rewarded ads per session or day is a good practice in mobile game monetization strategy. When users encounter too many rewarded ads, the technique becomes boring and predictable. It eliminates the surprise factor and decreases the value of your reward.

4. Segment your ads according to your users

On average, only 2% of your user base completes IAPs. In-app ads, though, reach the vast majority of users.

These users come from different countries, have different interests, and may interact differently with your mobile game. You may have to take these specifics into consideration when optimizing your ad monetization.

Creating user segments to prioritize specific networks or disabling or enabling other types of ad formats may significantly impact your ad revenues.

If user segmentation is done right, in-app ads can even boost LTV and increase user engagement.

Mobile game user segmentation in Appodeal

A great example of segmentation demonstrated in the Appodeal Guide of Growth, users who engage with rewarded video ads during their FTUE (First-Time User Experience) have higher chances of spending 5 times more on IAPs.

It’s also wise to create smaller user segments when integrating new ad types that can cause a significant impact on your revenues.

Note that rewarded ads may be hard to integrate into a mobile game. When done wrong, the rewards from ads can unbalance your game economy and alter your user experience.

At Appodeal, we highly recommend to A/B test specific parameters of your advertising strategy, such as placement, frequency, and availability of your rewarded ads.

5. Align your game ad monetization strategy with your UA campaigns

All marketing & monetization specialists know that providing a customized and personalized experience to your clients marks a difference. And the sooner you start segmenting your users, the higher the chances of increasing your mobile game ad revenues.

But how can you master personalization early in the game customer journey? When players have barely played your game, any behavioral predictions with low amounts of in-game data are tricky.

This is why it’s important to consider all the data from your UA (User Acquisition) campaigns.

Mobile game user acquisition metrics in Appodeal

Use the UA data to know their interests. Analyze such elements as:

  • The key message of your ad creatives;
  • Target audiences;
  • Promoted game features’
  • The theme of your ad campaign (calendar events like Christmas or Live-Ops).

You can even use the information from your user acquisition campaign to customize your in-game offers and IAP prices!

(Extra) How to align UA & Monetization data

All the big companies in the top charts have business intelligence tools that merge their UA + monetization + analytics data.

Aligning all your data helps mobile developers to

  • Get forecasts of your user acquisition campaigns;
  • Find new opportunities to monetize your games better;
  • Understand which user segments & UA campaigns bring you more revenue;
  • Create granular reports using all your metrics & KPIs;
  • Produce hundreds of paid campaigns backed with data;
  • Grow your games & stay on the top charts.

With the Appodeal Growth Platform, you can align your UA & game monetization data automatically and in minutes. Use that “something” you already know your users like and make each segment of them happier with personalized experiences. Those are the kind of things that boost LTV in your mobile games.

Got your mobile game ad monetization figured out? Ensure you're not compromising user engagement and retention — the pillars of mobile game growth. Talk to the experienced Pushwoosh Team to develop an all-encompassing strategy to maximize your metrics with the right tools.

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