Interview

IronSource's Sandra Schneider on using ads to improve retention and monetisation

IronSource's Sandra Schneider on using ads to improve retention and monetisation

The games industry plays host to a colourful cast of diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.

The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing, with each position requiring mastery in its field.

To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz is reaching out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.

This week we spoke with IronSource director of publisher relations Sandra Schneider.

PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role?

Sandra Schneider: First thing’s first - I play a lot of games. I lead IronSource’s publisher operations team for IAP -based clients, the majority of whom are using our mediation, and our goal is to help them integrate ad monetisation to maximum effect.

To do that, we need to deeply understand each game, which means playing them all extensively.

My team works with these game developers who are experts in their IAP funnel and are looking to discover how to best incorporate ads into their gameplay to increase revenue and improve retention.

My team and I leverage the fact that we work with many different games across a range of genres, to create benchmarks for our clients. These benchmarks then help us to see how their ads are performing in each aspect of their game to make sure that they’re maximising their revenue potential.

My team and I leverage the fact that we work with many different games across a range of genres, to create benchmarks for our clients.
Sandra Schneider

This means I must know my clients' games inside-out, understand the mechanics behind them and utilise the data to recommend what ads to place where and for which user group.

For example, I may suggest adding an additional rewarded video placement or an offerwall placement for highly engaged, non-paying users at a particular spot in a game, as it can massively help with retention as well as generating meaningful revenue.

Decision-making should always be based on data, so I encourage our clients to A/B test their ad-related changes in a game, to keep the control group stable and see if a change is driving KPIs up or down before implementing it.

How did you first get into games?

I joined IronSource four years ago as an account manager and before that I worked in the cybersecurity industry.

It was an exciting change, moving from an industry that scares people about potential attacks, to working in games where the end result of your role brings entertainment and fun to millions of people around the world.

I always enjoyed the fact that we got to play a lot of games - it was part of the job.

Whenever I recruit someone today, the first thing I do is give them a long list of top games to play. My favourite part is to bet which game they’ll get addicted to. My hunch is normally right.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

Not at all but that’s the exciting part. In fact, for a long time I was unable to explain to my parents what I do.

Until very recently, when my mom discovered Bubble Shooter by Ilyon. She’s now a big fan and can’t stop playing.

What did you study? What would you advise for aspiring professionals?

I have an MA in Political Science and Economics, but I don’t think that it matters what you studied. The main takeaway from my degree was the ability to understand how systems function and how to take ownership of my work.

What I now look for in potential candidates is the intelligence to understand the market and interact well with others. It’s about being sharp, smart, passionate and inquisitive, and not what courses are written down on a piece of paper.

What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?

When I’m working with clients it’s like putting together pieces of a puzzle… while on a rollercoaster, because that’s the gaming industry in a nutshell. I absolutely love working with clients, delving into their games, understanding what their needs are and discovering ways to create a tailored and optimised ad monetisation strategy.

There’s nothing like fixing a leak in the funnel and seeing a game’s KPIs rocket as a result.
Sandra Schneider

There’s nothing like fixing a leak in the funnel and seeing a game’s KPIs rocket as a result. For example, two months ago we suggested that a client add another rewarded video placement in a super critical place in the game.

This subsequently increased their ARPDAU by 17 per cent and also helped retention. I love seeing these successes.

I also enjoy making sure that the people in my team become the best version of themselves that they can be. The atmosphere in IronSource is really comfortable and the hierarchy is pretty flat.

If someone has a good product idea, there are open channels for them to make suggestions. In fact, a recent product launch that we announced came about due to an idea from one of the account managers on my team.

This is what’s fulfilling - watching them grow, develop and have an impact on the company as a whole.

Are there any misconceptions surrounding this sort of monetisation?

The controversy around ads is obviously a huge topic in and of itself. But put simply: a game developer can’t work for free, so a player must either pay for a subscription, pay for an IAP or watch ads. What’s beautiful is how rewarded video in games is an ad unit that players have grown not only to like but to request.

We had clients who removed rewarded video from their games, only for their players to then complain and ask for them to be returned since they enjoy using them to help progress in a game.

This really turns the concept of ads on its head. Gaming is a unique environment and so ads in gaming can’t be judged by the same standards as in other industries.

Is there anything about the industry you wish you'd known before joining?

Probably that mobile games can be so much fun. Let’s just say that I don’t restrict playing time to the office only.

On a serious note, the complexity of the games world and the game-tech industry that supports it is incredibly fascinating and complex. Though I succeeded in wrapping my head around it relatively quickly, having previous experience in it would have helped.

What advice do you have for someone looking for a job?

Be curious. It’s important to take a genuine interest in the work of others, i.e. your clients, and to think creatively with a business mind, of how to help improve and grow their game. A knack for working with others is also key.

IronSource places a lot of emphasis on being service-oriented and agile and this requires the ability to build strong relationships with clients. And a love for games is necessary.

As a team, we will often sign up to the same client’s game that has a leaderboard function and have fun competing with each other. We combine a love for games with a drive to collectively improve monetisation and generate new ideas to improve ad placements.

IronSource recently released a mobile app so developers can immediately see what’s happening to their games and apps.

You can check out open positions at IronSource via its career's website. 


Staff Writer

Matthew Forde is the staff writer for PocketGamer.biz and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @Forde999 talking about Smash Bros. and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.

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