In the wake of Google's recent ad policy changes, hyper-casual developers are worried about how this could affect their earning potential.
In this guest post Amit Monheit - CEO of in-game audio advertising specialists Odeeo - discusses the app changes and what developers can do to mitigate the fallout.
In late July, Google announced it would change the Play Store rules on September 30th, restricting how developers can display ads in their games. As we wrote at the time, these policy changes crack down on how and when developers can show interstitial ads. And they disproportionately impact hyper-casual games that rely heavily on full-screen video and display.
Once again, a platform puts itself at odds with the content that supports its ecosystem in the name of customer experience. Yes, some developers have gone to the extreme – loading as many ads into their games as possible. But these policy changes could send developers scrambling, potentially destroying their primary source of revenue.
So what can developers and publishers do?
1. Focus on quality over quantity
This is a moment of truth for many, especially in the hyper-casual space. It’s time to take an honest look at the game experience and see whether fewer interruptive ads might result in longer play sessions. With longer play sessions, you could have more opportunities for quality impressions and better eCPMs overall.
In the long run, developers and publishers will have to rethink their gameplay and core loop. We’ve already seen studios introducing more features to keep players engaged for longer. But rolling out these new features takes time, planning, and testing. Something developers don’t have, considering how quickly Google is rolling out this update.
Hyper-casual games don’t necessarily need to rely on advertising.Amit Monheit
2. Experiment with new ad monetization alternatives
It’s a great time to start looking for additional ways to generate revenue. One option is complementing your existing ad monetization with audio ads, which can run without interrupting the user experience. And, thanks to programmatic advertising, there’s already a marketplace of advertisers looking to reach audiences through audio. Developers can already tap into this demand without overhauling their game design.
Audio ads are non-disruptive and have been proven to increase retention and playtime in mobile games. So while you focus on the core gameplay and features, audio ads can help increase your retention in the background, and keep your games thriving.
3. Reward your players for engaging
You can also evaluate how to make your ad experiences more worthwhile for users. How can they benefit from sitting through an ad, beyond not having to pay? You could offer to hold off on showing ads if the player engages with a specific ad (or series of ads) at certain time-specific intervals. Creating a value exchange around advertising is a good way to make sure your player engages with an advert.
4. Consider the donation model
Hyper-casual games don’t necessarily need to rely on advertising. Streamers have proven that communities are more than willing to donate to the content they enjoy. So you might want to explore more direct-to-consumer approaches, like tipping. That way, you can build more of a direct relationship with your players – one that can go beyond individual titles. There are already plenty of tools and partners who offer ways to take direct payments, and a revenue stream like this can help balance out the ups and downs that you might experience if you rely solely on ads.
Stay Prepared for Change
The last few years have taught us that change is inevitable. App stores will continue to change their rules. But, while no one likes these surprises, they present an opportunity for developers to innovate and evolve their games and monetization strategies. You can explore new ways to engage your players and build a community. And the more that developers diversify, the more we can improve the health and robustness of our ecosystem.