Some developers might not want to admit it, but aspects such as business and free-to-play monetisation aren’t always a key skill of games makers.
Having a good idea and executing on it is only half the battle, particularly in the mobile games space. It’s a tough market for small studios to compete in and so those with little to no monetisation experience or knowledge will face an uphill battle.
Premium is not dead, but it’s a difficult place to achieve success. While free-to-play is no cake walk and can require capital for a user acquisition push, with the right business plan and astute monetisation there’s an opportunity for small studios to achieve some scale and make money.
Emergence of advertising
In-app purchases have long been the go-to method of making money, but over the last couple of years the app store download charts have increasingly been dominated by hyper-casual games, with a focus on in-game advertising as the key monetisation driver. It’s become one of the hottest industry trends around.
It’s a sector dominated by giants like Ketchapp, Voodoo and Playgendary, who as well as releasing their own games have worked with small developers to publish these ad-focused games.
Over the last couple of years the app store download charts have increasingly been dominated by hyper-casual games.
Even IAP-driven titles are increasingly using various ad formats - whether interstitial, rewarded video or playables - as a way to drive revenue upwards by monetising the majority of players who will never spend a penny on IAPs. It’s clear there’s money to be made in the space.
From a design perspective, in-game advertising is not as simple as just tacking it on at the end without consideration during development.
And once it is in, the challenge then is how to maximise revenue from it and how do you choose the right advertising partners?
One of the biggest issues small studios face is working with multiple ad networks and managing the bills for each separately. This process requires devs to identify the networks they want to use, install the various SDKs from the different partners.
After that, payments from each network need to be tracked and monitored continuously, and there also needs to be communication with account managers from each network. It’s important to monitor these networks to make sure you are maximising your returns.
It’s not quite as easy and clear-cut as just implementing ads in your game. There’s an entire process to be aware of. For small developers with little experience of generating revenue from ads, effectively managing these networks can prove time-consuming and confusing.
Simplifying the process
A number of solutions to these issues have been presented by advertising firms. These include single point billing services to help reduce the workload of managing partners.
Another new trend emerging to maximise revenue meanwhile is that of unified auction. The idea behind the latter is to help ensure all ad networks compete together to bid for a developer’s inventory, thus increasing eCPMS and yield compared to the traditional waterfall model.
Ad mediation can help make a small developer’s life easier when it comes to monetisation.
One company, Chocolate, offers solutions for both of these.
Chocolate Ad Mediation supports formats such as pre-roll, full-screen interstitial, rewarded video and native video. Its supported ad networks include AdMob, Facebook Audience Network, Chartboost, Vungle, Tapjoy, Applovin, Ogury and more.
Through its tech, developers only need to integrate one SDK, and then numerous ad networks can be bundled into that, all of which will be managed by Chocolate’s team. All developers need to do is select which partners they want to work with.
There’s still transparency to the process of course. Developers can track their KPIs and gain insight into their ad monetisation strategy through the platform’s reports.
As this article goes into more depth on, Chocolate’s ad mediation also uses unified auction to surface the best ads for the developer.
Chocolate claims that through this, eCPMs can increase by as much as 30 to 40 per cent.
Ad mediation, then, can help makes a small developer’s life easier when it comes to monetisation, leaving room to spend more time on development while providing an efficient solution for generating revenue.
For more details on Chocolate Ad Mediation and how it could help you, check out the official website.
Tanu Kak is director, marketing at Chocolate, a global mobile video marketplace and app monetisation platform. He is responsible for all marketing strategy and activations including brand, PR, sales support, content and product marketing to B2B clients. Kak is a seasoned marketing professional with 10-plus years of experience in leading ad tech, SaaS and digital media organisations.