The mobile game publisher’s guide to maximizing revenue and engagement with video ads, playables, and other creative strategies

November 1 · Nick Schultz · 10 Min read
Delve into the intricacies of maximizing revenue and engagement in mobile gaming by exploring the effectiveness of video ads and playable ads. Bolster your in-game monetization strategies to enhance player experiences and drive user engagement by implementing and optimizing these ad formats.

Find the answers you need

Mobile gamers don’t just want to see ads in your game, they expect them. 

Video and playable ads are two ad types that integrate seamlessly in a game, keeping players immersed while providing an overall great experience

Rewarded video ads offer users a specific incentive for watching. That’s one of the reasons why videos account for over half of major advertising networks’ game ads. The level of video ad quality will make or break your user engagement; a carefully crafted video can increase conversions by 35% whereas a subpar video can harm them by 20%

How, when, and why you present them within gameplay will determine how quickly you can scale, engage players, and increase your revenue from your video ads. 

Then there’s the ad format considered to be the most effective: playable. Playable ads are interactive, giving users a chance to play a mini-version of a game before downloading it. Playables can last from 15 seconds to one minute and entice users to try before committing to a download. 

Both video and playable ads need standout creatives and design to stand out. 

How do you implement the right creatives for these ad types to grow your game? 

Let’s enhance your monetization strategy by starting with a closer look at how video ads work. 

What are video ads? 

Video ads are such a popular ad format for ad monetization because they provide incentives for both players and developers. The preference to use video ads in games has long been popular, and no wonder when you consider in-game rewarded video ads generate 40% of revenue mobile ad revenue. 

Video ads can offer rewards, such as an extra life or currency, for watching. Instead of being shown a random, static ad, a small prize for watching a dynamic video often motivates players to keep going and stay engaged with the game. Fifty percent of players prefer video ads because they get rewarded for staying engaged and progressing in the game. Higher engagement translates to user retention and higher revenue. 

Advertisers love video ads because players must watch all the way through to reap the reward. Rewarded video ads can increase player retention, as it may entice them to visit the game more often. 

How do rewarded video ads work?

Rewarded video ads can be served directly or through Chartboost, Google Ad Manager, the Google Mobile Ads SDK, or your mediation network of choice. 

It works like this:

  1. The user is presented with an option to watch a video ad. 
  2. If the user chooses to watch, he or she sees a 15- to 30-second video. 
  3. After the ad has finished, the user receives their reward. 

Rewarded video ads are typically used at points in the game when players are struggling or need a boost. For example, an ad might be offered after the user loses a life or reaches a difficult level. 

Here are more ways you can implement an in-game video ad to make a meaningful impact in your game: 

  • Daily rewards: Offer more rewards if users watch several videos daily. This incentive may help increase retention. 
  • Extra lives to continue playing: This can be a frustrating experience, but through a timely respawn, players don’t have to start their game over. They can continue playing exactly where they left off, which can help them feel like their game time wasn’t wasted. 
  • Currency: In any form, such as coins, weapons, or new powers, in-game currency can provide a more achievable way to complete your game. Place them at critical moments when needed the most. 
  • Level-up or power-up quickly: Players can skip ahead or jump between levels for quick advancement. 
  • Better experience: Give them more lives, a stronger character, and additional “secret” items. 

Video ads for higher profits 

A strong video ad strategy starts with focusing on your target audience. Ad placement and timing also play critical roles. Core to your target audience’s experience is ensuring video ads are incorporated into gameplay to enhance their experience, not disrupt it.

Rewarded ads usually up the ante with higher click-through and customer retention rates, and therefore, higher ad revenue than other formats. 

There are a variety of metrics and factors you can track to figure out your best strategy toward maximum profits. The types of videos you show and how much you earn depend on: 

  • The type of game you have. 
  • Size of your user base. 
  • The country or countries your game is played. 
  • Device type. 
  • Software. 
  • User behavior and interests.

eCPMs and metrics to track rewarded video ads

Improving ad revenue starts with knowing what to track — then measuring, testing, and refining. Metrics can tell you where you need to make adjustments and the areas where you have the most potential for growth. 

An essential metric for rewarded video ads is eCPMs, or effective cost per mille. eCPMs measure the revenue you earn for every 1,000 impressions, which is invaluable for understanding how well your game is monetizing. 

A high eCPM means that you are earning a lot of revenue. It’s a good indicator of how immersed your users are and engaging with your ads. 

Beyond eCPMs, the following these metrics also help measure video ad performance: 

  • Fill rate: These are ad impressions that are served. The higher your fill rate, the more revenue you are earning. 
  • Viewability: The percentage of ad impressions that are seen by users. A high viewability rate means that users actually see your ads, which can help improve your eCPM. 
  • Click-through rate (CTR): Users who click on an ad after seeing it. A high CTR means that users are engaged. This metric also helps improve your eCPM. 
  • Conversion rate: The number of users who take a specific action after seeing an ad, such as making a purchase
  • Ad engagement: How users interact with your ads, including the average time spent watching an ad or amount of times an ad is skipped. Use this to understand how users are responding to your ads and how you can improve. 

Rewarded videos can complement in-app purchases 

One way to take advantage of the higher eCPMs rewarded videos bring is to use them to enhance your in-app purchase (IAP) strategy. A simple way to do this is by offering a discount on your IAP as a reward for watching your video. 

Using rewarded video ads doesn’t negatively affect IAPs in 70% of cases. More mobile games are incorporating rewarded video ads with their IAPs to encourage players to continue interacting with the game. 

Playable ads

In addition to rewarded video ads, you may already implement playable ads. They’re slightly different from video ads in that they allow players to interact even more with the ad beyond watching and clicking. 

Playables, which are usually shown full screen, similar to interstitial ads, can hold users’ attention longer. The interactive nature of playables also helps boost conversions. Playables can be used to test drive a game before you’re finished creating it. Think of it as a sort of “beta test.” Some mobile game studios rely heavily on playable ads to determine whether a new game will succeed. 

Playable ads are known to have the most affordable cost-per-install and maintain higher conversion rates than traditional video ads. 

The engaging nature of playables extends into other industries too. Burger King, a non-gaming brand, reaped those benefits from its Angriest Whopper game that generated 336,700 plays with an average CTR of 40% in just two weeks. The reward was a Burger King coupon. 

Ways to implement playable ads for better monetization 

On the user acquisition (UA) side, playables should require low skill, giving players a simple task to complete that provides instant gratification. The key is to make your playables easy to understand to reduce the friction between users and getting them to hit “play.” 

If you’re already using playable ads but don’t see as much engagement as you’d like, consider simplifying it. Less is more. Players want to pass the time and relax. 

Use your understanding of player behavior to encourage them to engage in the ad. For example, you might show a character on the screen that is in dire need of help. This may spark curiosity, causing users to tap on the character to learn more. 

You could also create a simple tutorial at the beginning of the playable ad explaining the core game mechanics and how players can win. 

Here are more ways to make your playable ads better: 

  • Build excitement in the ad with a countdown, creating a sense of urgency to play and beat the clock. 
  • Give users the option to restart easily. 
  • Add an easy-to-see “start” button without any extra steps. 

Track the performance of your playable ads and iterate where you see opportunities. 

Optimize your creatives

While monetizing through video and playable ads, assess your creatives at the same time. For example, if your ad sparks interest for initial download on Google Play or the App Store, but users quickly uninstall, it could be due to a misalignment with your creatives. Perhaps users expected something different or ended up feeling misled. This could signal an opportunity to reassess your creatives and make sure they clearly express what your game is about. 

Ways to make your creatives player-centric

A player-centric strategy has the highest potential for profit because you’re connecting directly with your player base. 

You could create push notifications with simple questions and surveys to establish open feedback channels to gather qualitative data. To go more in-depth, ask willing players about what they like, what they don’t like, and why. 

This information can allow you to cater your creatives to feedback while continuously testing and collecting insights into player behaviors and motivations. You’ll see patterns and trends emerge, which can help drive decisions and make intelligent connections. 

Not everything needs to be complicated; a simple change of messaging can help improve engagement. 

How to come up with attention-grabbing creatives

Be clear about your goal for every creative. When optimizing for target audiences and bidding for particular campaigns, such as installs or in-app purchases, user acquisition requires a different approach to retention. 

Building creatives that feel authentic and tailored to the behaviors of a specific user base is systematic. It’s trial and error, forming questions that lead to hypotheses and testing them to gather data. 

To do this effectively, your teams, including UA, design, and media, must come together to align goals and share ideas. 

When building creatives that stand out, consider all the elements that go into it, such as music, sound effects, character design, or what makes your gameplay truly unique. 

You need to answer the question: “What’s in it for users?” Impactful creatives capture attention in a matter of seconds. In that time, it’s your job to showcase gameplay in a digestible way and make it relevant for the user. 


Rewarded video ads and playables are popular ad formats for mobile games because they’re a tool for improving engagement. They provide rewards to help players progress and continue playing, and playables can also be a great way to test the waters for upcoming games in your portfolio.

To continue driving more engagement, be vigilant about how your users receive your rewarded videos, playable ads, and creatives. Adjustments involve a continuous cycle of questioning, experimentation, and data collection to ensure clarity about what the ad is about while reducing confusion and complexity.  

If you want help understanding what works best for your mobile game in the quest for boosting revenue and engagement, Chartboost can help. Contact us to access our platform so you can maximize your earning potential.