Mediation in gaming is slightly different to
Gaming is complex. It’s not as straightforward as other apps or brands buying and selling their ad inventory. You have different player types, in different locations, with different behaviour patterns and preferences. Most importantly, there’s potential to seamlessly integrate ads right into your gameplay.
You also have different ad types to choose from, too. So it only makes sense to have custom strategies in place. Here’s what we recommend.
1. Use Header Bidding for maximum revenue
Before we explain why, we’ll go over the difference between header bidding and waterfall very quickly
(or head to this blog to get the full description):
- Waterfall: You have more control here. You choose which networks to work with (specifically what priority you want to assign to each) and set an amount you’ll accept (the floor price). It’s great if you only want to work with specific networks. Not so great, as you can miss a higher bid lower down in the list.
- In-App Header Bidding: Every network gets a chance. So you’ll get the highest bid, every single time. You can still set some rules in place, too.
Using header bidding is a much more efficient way to make the most money when selling your ad inventory. When using the waterfall model, you need to manually set your priorities and manage your networks for each placement. And what’s worse, you can only really give educated guesses.
Header bidding gives you the highest bid for your ad placement. Every single time. Unless you really want to set your preferences, or you’re picky with what platforms you work with (and when), we recommend sticking to header bidding. It’s easier, quicker, and gives you a much better chance of earning the most from your ad campaigns.
You can mix both header bidding and waterfalling with hybrid auctions. This gives you the best of both worlds: header bidding makes sure that you get the highest bid, while the waterfall model makes sure that your ad space never goes empty.
2. Segment your players
Depending on the player, you might want to show them more (or fewer) ads. For example, if the player has been around for a while, they’re likely to sit through more ads.
That’s where segmentation comes in. You can segment your players and customize what ad sources a segment sees and how often. This helps make sure you get the best life-time value from those players. And you can use both their product engagement data (average session length, retention, session count), as well as their ad engagement data (how many ads they watch, for example), as a basis for your rules and processes.
You’ll probably need to experiment and try out some different things before you find the best flows that work for you, but we recommend that you:
- Charge more for your higher LTV players: Or higher-level players. These players are the ones that are already loyal to your game, or are happy to spend money on your title. And they’re the players your competitors want. So you can segment these guys off, and charge more for advertising to these guys. And as you know this segment likes your game so much, you can rest easy that they’ll come back to your game.
- Show more ads to higher LTV players. Right now, you can assign ad sources for users in certain geographies, set floor prices for different devices or operating systems, and change your strategy depending on the time of day. Or even by their IDFA status (whether they’ll share their data). All this makes it much easier to target those high-value players.
- Show ads based on how often they play (coming soon): You’ll see trends among your players. Some may play your game for two days straight, but then never come back. Some may play for half an hour a day, but come back every day. Define what segments you want to create, based on their engagement, and then create different ad rules and experiment with each segment. Review your experiments, and keep refining. All this is in our pipeline and will be in HyperBid as soon as it’s ready.
3. Set up high-yield ad placements
We mentioned earlier that you should treat gaming differently to the
usual brands looking to buy your ad space. Gaming tends to have a
much higher form of engagement for their ad formats.
When we look at the types of ads we have for mobile games,
we typically see:
- Rewarded video ads: The player watches a video ad to a prize,
like in-game currency or an extra life.
- Video Interstitials: Video ads that take over the entire screen,
usually shown between levels in your game.
- Playable interstitial ads: These are those interactive ads that
are like a demo. Players try out the game, typically a level that’ll get
- Banner ads: Shown at the top or bottom of the screen, usually
while the player is playing. They’re usually unobtrusive, but get
- Splash screen: This is an ad that takes over the whole app when
someone first opens it up.
Rewarded video ads tend to yield much higher eCPMs, compared to the plain banner ads. But whichever ad format you use (we’d recommend mixing them up), make sure your ads don't get in the way of the game itself. Otherwise, you'll scare players off.
4. Balance ads and user experience
When you segment your players, you won’t just be doing this to decide what type of ads they see. But also how often they see these ads, and when.
You want to make sure that your ads don’t disrupt gameplay. They should fit neatly into your flow. And you’ll need to test different ad types and how often you show them to all your different segments. Some audiences might not mind seeing more ads, and it won’t affect their retention or session length. Whereas others can get frustrated with the amount they see.
You can use frequency capping to cap the number of times a player views an ad. This is a feature in our mediation platform. It’s to avoid spamming and driving them away for good.
For your less engaged players, you’ll probably want to show less ads. Your user experience is much more important here to keep them engaged with your game (and so they don’t rage quit). You can make more money from your higher-engaged users by showing these guys more ads.
5. Experiment, experiment, experiment
We mentioned this above, but experimenting is a crucial step if you want to make the most revenue possible. You want to test out every part of your strategy. Then, you can pick and choose which methods to use which’ll get you the most revenue possible.
And you want to test everything. Including:
- Which bidding partners you use
- Your waterfall process (if you use this)
- Which bidding partners work best with which segments
- And what ad frequency works for your segments, too
There’s a lot to cover about mediation strategies you can adopt, so we’ll talk about it in more depth in another blog later. If you want us to give you a heads up when it’s ready, subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send it right to you.
But remember, even if something is working well, there’s always room for improvement. There’s no endgame for your testing. Just remember to test on smaller segments of your audience in a controlled environment, and keep them as consistent as possible. Otherwise you could do more damage than good.
6. Product and monetization go hand-in-hand
Everything we’ve chatted about above means you’re going to need data from each side of the coin. It’s a two way street. You’re going to need player data to tailor your mediation platform and make it smarter. And you’re going to need your monetization data in your product development.
Unlike other apps or brands, in gaming, you need to build product loops to incorporate your ads into your user flow. Where do they see the ads in their user journey? How many rewarded videos can they watch to earn a reward? Which users engage more with ads? You’ll need monetization analytics here so you can customize your user flows, depending on your players’ LTV band.
And we’ve chatted about this a bit already earlier on: The starting point for all this is Impression Level Revenue Data, where you can understand what each ad impression is getting you. We’re integrated with GameAnalytics, and we’re making sure that you can see this when viewing your Product analytics, so your revenue and product data doesn’t sit in siloes. Read more about that here.
Use a mediation partner that understands gaming
Obviously we’ll recommend ourselves here. It’s what we do. We’re experts in mediation and gaming. And everything we mentioned above, all of these features and techniques, are all ready to go in our tool.
What’s better is we have an integration at the ready with GameAnalytics. So you can easily merge your product analytics and mediation strategies from the very beginning.
But whether you decide to pick us or go down another route, we still recommend doing all of the above. It’ll help you optimize your monetize strategy, keep your players happy, and give you what you need to grow your business.
And if you do fancy learning more about us, then feel free to get in touch here. We’d love to chat and learn more about what you need, and go over how we can help you.