Mobile games generated 92.2 billion dollars in 2022, accounting for half of the entire global games market. That’s quite a hefty sum, and it will only grow larger in the coming years.
If you want to cash in on the mobile games phenomenon, you need to invest in a proven ad monetization strategy, which will help you earn a steady stream of income. The only way to ensure your strategy drives revenue is to track the right ad metrics for each of your games.
We have compiled the 35 ad metrics successful mobile game developers and publishers track for ad monetization.
The 35 digital advertising metrics to track
The world is full of online advertising metrics. Frankly, some are more useful than others — particularly for mobile game developers and publishers.
The following metrics provide the greatest traction in leveling up your ad monetization efforts. They always should be top of mind as you optimize the ad strategies for each of your games.
We’ve segmented these metrics into seven categories, from user engagement to ad operations. If you’re looking for information on a specific KPI, simply skip to the category it falls under.
User engagement metrics
- Daily active users (DAU): The number of unique users who play your game within a single 24-hour period. This metric tells you how “sticky” your game is. Do players play your game on a regular basis? The more engaged your user base, the easier it will be to monetize them.
- Monthly active users (MAU): The number of unique users who play your game at least once within a 30-day period. Similar to DAU, MAU tracks stickiness. How often do users play your game? Higher MAU means greater engagement.
- Session length: The amount of time a user spends playing your game at any one time. A session starts when a user opens your game and ends when that same user either closes your game or becomes inactive. To increase session length, you should look for ways to improve your games’ user experience. Users that enjoy playing your games engage with them longer, enabling you to earn more advertising revenue.
- Retention rate: The percentage of users who install your game, then return to play it at a later date. This ad metric can be viewed in one-day, seven-day, and 30-day timespans, as well as extended 60- and 90-day segments as well. Your game’s retention rate directly impacts its revenue potential, making this an extremely important metric. After all, you can’t monetize a game that doesn’t attract repeat players. To improve your game’s retention rate, analyze when users stop playing, like after a certain level, then come up with ways to improve those critical moments in your game.
- Average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU): The average amount of revenue a daily active user generates for your game. This metric shows the effectiveness of your ad monetization strategy which is tremendously valuable. For example, you can learn how much money your game makes every day, how specific promotions have affected your game’s revenue, and how to grow your game in new ways.
Ad performance metrics
- Fill rate: The amount of ad space a developer and/or publisher has rented versus the amount it has available. A higher fill rates means the developer and/or publisher is making more money from their available ad inventory.
- Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of users who see an ad and click it. For mobile game developers and publishers, CTR will tell you how effective your ad campaigns and individual placements are. Generally speaking, the higher your game’s CTR, the more lucrative your game’s ad monetization strategy will be.
- Conversion rate: The percentage of users who see an ad, click on it, and then complete a desired action. Conversion rate is an important display advertising metric because it helps mobile game developers and publishers understand how effective their ads are. The best ads have high conversion rates, which allow developers and publishers to generate better results for their ad partners. This, in turn, allows them to charge more for their available ad inventory, which increases revenue.
- Viewability rate: The number of times an ad is considered “viewable.” For a display ad to be considered “viewable,” at least 50% of its surface area must be visible for one second. For a video ad to be considered “viewable,” at least 50% of its surface area must be visible for two seconds. Viewability rate will help you optimize ad placements for your mobile games. After all, ads are only beneficial if users see them.
- Cost per mille (CPM): The price advertisers pay for 1,000 ad impressions in a mobile game. An impression occurs anytime an ad is successfully viewed by a target audience member. Higher CPMs lead to more revenue for developers and publishers.
- eCPM: Short for “effective cost per thousand impressions,” eCPM calculates the revenue your game will earn per 1,000 ad impressions. It’s an essential metric for mobile game developers and publishers because it will allow you to assess the value of your users, in terms of advertising revenue. The higher your eCPMs are, the better.
- Cost per click (CPC): A specific advertising model in which advertisers pay mobile game developers and/or publishers whenever their ads are clicked on. CPC campaigns are preferred when advertisers want to generate specific actions, such as increasing installs. As such, all developers and publishers should consider offering it.
- Cost per action (CPA): An advertising model in which advertisers pay mobile game developers and/or publishers a fixed amount whenever their ads generate a pre-determined action, such as a click, registration, or install.
- Total ad revenue: The amount of revenue your mobile game generates from ads. This makes it an important ad monetization metric for developers and publishers alike.
- Ad revenue per user: The amount of ad revenue that can be attributed to each of your mobile game’s individual players. Per usual, higher revenues are preferred.
- Ad revenue as a percentage of total revenue: The percentage of your mobile game’s revenue that can be attributed to in-game advertising. In all likelihood, this number will be above 50%, but it depends on your game and monetization strategy.
- Average revenue per user (ARPU): The amount of revenue the average user generates for your mobile game, within a specific, predetermined time period. This is an important ad metric because it helps game developers and publishers understand how effective their ad monetization strategies are (or aren’t, in some cases).
- Lifetime value (LTV): The amount of revenue a single user generates for your game over the course of their lifetime. This ad metric can help you determine how valuable your game’s users are. Once you understand it, you’ll be able to calculate the number of users your game needs to generate to hit your revenue goals.
- Cost per install (CPI): The amount of money it takes to generate a new install. The lower your game’s CPI, the more effective your advertisers’ campaigns will be. Why? Because advertisers will have to spend less money to generate installs for their apps.
Monetization strategy metrics
- Ad format performance: The way different ad formats perform inside your mobile game. Popular formats include interstitial ads, rewarded video ads, playable ads, offerwall ads, and banner ads. Different games will find different levels of success with different ad formats, so it’s important to track the effectiveness of each. That way you can optimize your ad monetization strategy and drive more revenue.
- Frequency capping: A frequency cap puts limits on the number of times users see ads inside your game. Generally speaking, frequency caps should be set between 1.8 and four views, though you should experiment to find the right number in your own games. Once you do, you’ll be able to provide a better user experience to your players while increasing your retention metrics and ad revenue potential.
- Ad placement and integration: Where your ad appears inside your mobile games, and how well they integrate into your game’s unique gameplay elements. Well-placed, integrated ads help preserve the user experience, which often results in less churn and more revenue. To optimize ad placement, commit to experimentation. To optimize integration, look for breaks in gameplay to insert ads. Better yet, plan breaks in gameplay during the development process so that you can easily insert ads later.
- Ad mediation and network optimization: The process of partnering with the right ad mediation services and ad networks. Doing so will allow you to work with multiple ad networks using a single SDK, which will increase your game’s fill rate, improve its eCPMs, and maximize its ad revenue, while giving you better control over your ad monetization strategy. To choose the right ad mediation service and ad networks for your game, look for reliable providers who specialize in the kind of ads you serve.
User experience metrics
- Ad intrusiveness rating: A way to measure the quality of your game’s ads. Intrusive advertisements lead to poor user experiences, low engagement metrics, frequent uninstalls, and negative reviews. By tracking intrusiveness, you can adjust your ad monetization strategy and maximize revenue for your game.
- App store ratings and reviews: Users can rate your game(s) in the Apple App Store and Google Play. The higher star-rating your game has, the easier it will be to attract new players. Why? Because a high star rating signals to potential players that your game offers a quality user experience and that other people enjoy playing it. Reviews can have the same effect, allowing players to expound on their personal experiences with your game. Do your best to create amazing content, then encourage your user base to rate and review your game if they feel so inclined.
- User feedback and complaints: Asking for feedback is never easy. You’re bound to receive a negative response every now and then. But the opinions of your users, even the less-than-polite ones, are invaluable. They’ll tell you what your game does right and what it does wrong. You can then try to do more of the former, while eliminating the latter. The result? A better user experience for current and future players.
- Churn: The rate at which users unsubscribe from or even uninstall your game. Irrelevant, intrusive, and overly frequent ads can increase churn. If your game loses players on a regular basis, evaluate your ad monetization strategy. You may need to reconsider the ads you show, as well as where and how often you show them.
Ad operations metrics
- Ad response time: The speed at which you display an ad inside your mobile game. Faster ads result in better user experiences and more engagement.
- Ad request volume: The number of ad requests your game solicits. Just because an ad is solicited doesn’t mean it will be displayed. The ad request turns into an ad impression when the ad your game calls for is actually displayed to a user.
- Ad inventory management: The process of managing your game’s ad inventory. To implement an effective ad monetization strategy, you need to fill your game’s available ad space with an assortment of interstitial ads, video ads, display ads, etc. Ad inventory management can help you do this more effectively, especially if you invest in software that automates the entire process, so you can focus on other tasks.
- Ad network performance: The way an ad network performs. To monetize your mobile game, you can partner with ad networks, which will help sell your game’s available ad space. The best ad networks will serve your users relevant ads at top rates, which, in turn, will create better user experiences and allow your game to maximize revenue.
Data analysis and optimization
- A/B testing and experimentation: A/B testing is a randomized experimentation process in which multiple versions of a mobile game are tested against each other. The first version, known as the control, is an unaltered version of your game. The second version, known as the variation, is a slightly modified version of your game. Testing will determine which version performs better. The winner becomes the new control and can then be tested against a new variation. It’s important to realize that only one element of your game should be altered and tested at one time. For example, do not try to test different ad formats and frequencies at the same time. Instead, test one ad format against another. Then, in a separate experiment, test ad placements.
- Cohort analysis: A type of behavioral analytics that segments a mobile game’s user base into different groups to better track actions. Doing so allows for more targeted insights that will help you improve your game, reduce churn, and increase revenue.
- Segmentation analysis: A marketing technique that splits mobile game users into different groups based on common characteristics. When this happens, it’s much easier for game developers and publishers to serve relevant ads to users. More relevant ads almost always lead to higher user engagement and revenue numbers.
- Performance benchmarks and industry standards: How do other games in your genre handle ads? Performance benchmarks and industry standards can help you answer this question by telling you what the “average” is in your respective niche. When implementing your game’s ad monetization strategy, track your results against accepted industry standards. Then, if possible, try to exceed these benchmarks.
Know your ad metrics
If you want your game’s ad monetization strategy to succeed, you need to track the digital advertising metrics mentioned above. Fortunately, doing so isn’t rocket science.
With a transparent reporting dashboard, such as the one offered by Chartboost, you’ll have no problem.
Just remember, you must track ad metrics on an ongoing basis. This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Keep your eyes on your numbers to improve your games’ user experience, grow ad revenue, and achieve the kind of success you strive for.