When embarking on the journey of developing a mobile game, the topic that every app developer has on their mind is monetization. How will this game make money?! Creating games isn’t cheap and with the majority of mobile games on the market being free, developers are having to turn to alternative mobile game monetization strategies outside of just selling access to their product.
In-game advertising is one of the most straightforward ways to quickly begin generating revenue from your mobile game. With a variety of ad formats and sizes, it is easy to build a custom in-app advertising strategy that fits both to your game and your business goals. To get you started, here are our top tips for creating an effective mobile game monetization strategy.
1. Prioritize User Experience
If it wasn’t for your engaged and loyal users, you wouldn’t even have the opportunity to earn revenue from your app. Keep this in mind as you develop your monetization strategy, always considering the effects that any particular method could have on user experience.
Achieving effective mobile game monetization strategies and top-notch user experience is a balancing act. Remember that you should never hide or camouflage your ads, but you also don’t want to overwhelm your users. Being clear with your advertising builds trust not only with your users but also with advertisers, helping you to attract high-quality ads and high eCPMs.
2. Choose the Right Ad Formats
Users welcome ads when they are relevant, interesting, and non-disruptive to their gaming experience. It’s even better if the advertising adds value by connecting users with rewards. Here are the top ad formats for effective mobile game monetization:
Retain Users With Rewarded Video
Rewarded video ads are not only an effective tool for mobile game monetization strategies — they also help gaming apps retain their users. When players get stuck in the game, help them progress by offering a hint or bonus item for watching a rewarded video ad. Since this ad format is opt-in, it also gives users the freedom of choice in regards to whether they want to see an ad. It’s no wonder why rewarded video is preferred 4:1 by users over other types of ads.1
Maximize Reach With Banners
Although they are the oldest mobile ad format, banner ads are still an effective monetization tool for mobile games. Due to their small size, banners are often the easiest ad format for gaming app developers to implement. And since these ads can often fit on-screen alongside the main gameplay, they are also able to reach a high number of the app's users. So, despite relatively low eCPMs, banner ads still have the potential to be an effective driver of ad revenue.
Go Natural With Native
The most seamless way to place ads within your gaming app is to implement native ads. These ads integrate into the existing content of the app, allowing for users to receive relevant advertising in a way that feels natural and does not at all disrupt the in-game user experience.
3. Know Your Users
Many advertisers are scared to invest their ad budgets in gaming apps due to the stereotype that only teenage boys play digital games. The truth is that billions of people worldwide play mobile games. In fact, 140 million mobile games in the US alone — that’s 43% of the country’s population!2 Knowing the demographics of your users and being able to share this first-party data with advertisers is vital for attracting the ad budgets of top brands.
For more insights into the mind of an advertiser, download the Mobile Games Playbook, a guide to advertising in gaming apps.
4. Use Multiple Monetization Strategies
While in-app advertising is a great strategy for earning revenue from your mobile game, it is certainly not the only one — and the most successful apps use a variety of monetization strategies to balance user happiness with the need to earn some money.
Offering in-app purchases is a great way to complement in-app advertising. In-app purchases are designed to speed up or enhance gameplay, but this creates an experience that is gated off to users that cannot or will not shell out the cash. Rewarded video ads can therefore serve as a complementary monetization option — users that do not make in-app purchases can earn the items or currency required to keep playing by watching these video ads.
Monetizing your mobile game has the potential to be very lucrative — if done right. With the right in-app advertising strategy, it is possible to maximize both user happiness and advertising revenue. And as the gaming app landscape continues to evolve, remain open to trying out new mobile game monetization strategies and regularly measure, adjust, and repeat.
1Tapjoy, June 2017 | 2eMarketer, Jan 2018