Mobile Game Developers that Are Winning with Video Ads

Rewarded video ads work.

The conversion rates of reward ads alone are proof of point: where banner ads see .1 installs per 1,000 impressions and interstitials average three installs per 1,000, rewarded video ads earn eight installs per 1,000. Developers who integrate rewarded video ads have reported outstanding results. For example, Color Switch (which was one of the biggest hits of 2016, and created with a codeless dev tool), claimed a 40 percent lift in revenue just from switching to rewarded ads from banners and interstitials.

In fact, in an interview with Gamasutra, Rovio executive vice president Wilhelm Taht recounts how players reacted to the removal of rewarded ads from its free-to-play game Angry Birds Transformers: “There was backlash from that community saying ‘give us back our reward videos.'”

Even with an overwhelmingly positive reception, devs utilizing rewarded ad campaigns must plan carefully to get the most bang for their buck—think strategically about when and where to place the ads and how to design them. Here are some of the best existing examples of innovative and successful rewarded video ad placements in mobile games.

1. Supersolid makes ads part of the game experience

One of the biggest reasons users dislike ads is because they can disrupt the game (pop-ups and auto-play videos are oft-cited as the most annoying ads for players). Great video ads are far from annoying: they are equal parts compelling and intuitive—matching pre-roll and post-roll creatives with the game’s overall design.

For example, Supersolid’s Food Street intuitively integrates video ads into the game’s UI by posting them on billboards in-game:

Supersolid Food Street mobile game rewarded ad placement
Image via Supersolid

These billboards are part of the game world; they’re eye-catching, but don’t interrupt gameplay. Users are free to opt-in when they’re ready. A click prompts a pre-roll message offering ads for rewards. Once they start, they can’t stop: almost all players who begin viewing rewarded ads watch until the end.

2. 1Button targets ads per location and behavior

Besides making sure that ads fit the look and feel of the game, devs can also think about whether the ads match the game’s theme and genre. Serving audiences with tiered campaigns by region helped developer 1Button make $20,000 on ads per day for Mr Jump, for example (though with interstitials, not rewarded, but a great example nonetheless).

Data like player location and device type help devs decide which ads to serve. One of the most common things to advertise to game players is other games—but there are thousands of games to choose from, so it can be helpful to find a platform to automatically show ads for games that have been successful for similar players.

3. NimbleBit times ads perfectly

Certain moments in games lend themselves to optimal rewarded video ad placements. For example, ads can be shown at the start of gameplay as a rescue (for instance if the player died in an endless runner) or in a storefront.

NimbleBit’s Tiny Tower features an ad at the start of gameplay. In the short span of 10 minutes, the game can serve as many as three to five rewarded ads for 20 “bux” per view in in-game currency. Early premium currency rewards and purchases increase retention by giving players a feeling of investment, and rewards earned via ads can do the same.

Nimblebit Tiny Tower mobile game rewarded ad placement
Image via NimbleBit

Other games time ads at choke points, keeping users playing longer to improve monetization: either an ad is watched, or an in-app purchase is made. The key to these placements is offering meaningful rewards that will help the player progress through the game, and not just a random amount of premium currency. Experiment with different numbers for hourly and daily caps for maximum result.

4. Rovio gives player the post-roll experience

The best ad placements display a post-roll creative confirming the view and reward. This feedback helps drive the point home for players that ads are the same as completing a task or a quest. “Players use reward videos to discover new games but also as a part of their economy loop within the game,” Taht says. Ads are no longer intrusive pop-ups and out-of-place banners; they can be a natural part of a game’s progression system.

Upopa Games Hopeless 2: Cave Escape mobile game rewarded ad placement
Image via Upopa Games

With careful optimization, rewarded ads not only monetize well, but also increase retention and engagement. And as more games adopt ads and find what works well, the possibilities are ever-growing, with some developers even raising money for ad-based business models.

To kick-start the launch of Chartboost SDK 6.5, we’re bringing the bonus revenue program back. From October to December, you can get a 20 percent bonus on video revenue flowing through SDK 6.5. Learn more here.

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