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How Heyzap's ad mediation boosted Crossy Road's ad revenue by 94%

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How Heyzap's ad mediation boosted Crossy Road's ad revenue by 94%

Samantha Weber is marketing manager at US monetisation provider Heyzap

Have you ever wondered why the chicken crossed the road?

Indie game developers Andy Sum and Matt Hall (aka Hipster Whale) have finally answered this age-old question with their smash hit, Crossy Road.

In the game, players help their chickens, ghosts, ducks, and other characters dodge obstacles to get to the other side.

While the idea may be a simple twist on one of the world's oldest jokes, Crossy Road made over $10 million in its first ninety days on the market.

At first, Andy and Matt integrated rewarded video into gameplay, which proved to be critical to the success of the title. Wanting to increase its ad revenue even more, the Crossy Road team started working with Heyzap to take the game to the next level.

The Challenge

Initially, Andy and Matt manually split Crossy Road's traffic 50/50 between two networks, subsequently limiting their growth.

They quickly saw the value of increasing the number of ad networks competing for impressions, but they didn't want the hassle of building an internal system to manage these networks.

Crossy Road made over $10 million in its first ninety days on the market.

To simplify its ad management and save internal resources, Crossy Road began searching for a mobile advertising tool that would improve its advertising strategy and set monetization to autopilot.

Introducing Heyzap

Even after soaring to the top of the gaming charts, Crossy Road was still manually switching between ad networks. Wanting to help, Heyzap reached out to introduce Crossy Road to its suite of mediation tools.

Andy and Matt were already familiar with the Heyzap brand, so they were very excited to get started.

The Solution

The Heyzap team carefully listened to Crossy Road's goals, and helped Andy and Matt come up with the best monetization strategy for their game. The solution?

  • Mediation: Heyzap allowed Crossy Road to continue to use its existing networks, and added three new networks (including Heyzap's own network). Heyzap's algorithms maximized revenue by intelligently prioritizing the lineup based on performance.
  • Single Integration: Crossy Road seamlessly integrated Heyzap's all-in-one SDK. The company leveraged multiple networks on one dashboard, without wasting time on multiple platforms and constantly changing code.
  • Geo Data: Previously, Crossy Road manually evaluated ad performance and made minor changes without taking into account per-geo eCPM or fill. With Heyzap, it was able to automatically prioritize on a country-by-country basis to make sure its monetization was maximized globally. This extra dimension facilitated a major revenue increase in non-English speaking countries while properly prioritizing English speaking countries overall.
  • The Best Networks: Heyzap saved Crossy Road time and energy by delivering only high quality ad networks, eliminating the need for Andy and Matt to individually vet the plethora of networks vying to work with them.
  • Transparency: Crossy Road wanted to know exactly how and why certain networks would be utilized. Heyzap's dashboards enabled them to understand performance on a per country and per network basis, providing them with a wealth of knowledge and new insights.
  • Outstanding Technical Support: Heyzap promptly answered questions both big and small, technical and non-technical, and the Crossy Road team had round-the-clock access to Heyzap support via Skype.
  • File Size Analysis: Heyzap simulated Crossy Road's integration and helped determine the best file size for Heyzap Mediation, since large file sizes often deter users from downloading apps.
  • Data Usage Analysis: Since Crossy Road wanted to be cognizant of its users' data limits, Heyzap investigated how much data each network would use per initialization. Thus it could limit data usage on 3G and Edge for users without affecting their bandwidth or data plans.

The Implementation

Crossy Road implemented Heyzap's tools painlessly. Andy and Matt took a methodical approach to integrating, and thoroughly tested everything to make sure it worked perfectly.

They began by adding Amazon at the beginning of March 2015 and extended to iOS in April.

Crossy Road found Heyzap's resources to be incredibly useful, including the Test Suite and Documentation available on the Heyzap website.

A typical scene from <em>Crossy Road</em>
A typical scene from Crossy Road

The Test Suite allowed Andy and Matt to check activities, permissions, SDK integration, credentials, and more on a network-by-network basis before going live. The documentation resources included Heyzap's FAQ, publisher guide, and iOS SDK information, among others.

Once Crossy Road was live, it exposed a few minor API issues in the market, which gave Heyzap an opportunity to push networks to build more robust and granular API performance overall.

For any other questions, Crossy Road was directly connected with Heyzap's engineers via Skype for on-demand troubleshooting.

The Results

Crossy Road's iOS app went live with Heyzap Mediation on April 1, 2015. Within the first week of using Heyzap Mediation, Crossy Road saw a 12% revenue boost in the UK alone, making the game's first week with Heyzap very successful:

In the first week, <em>Crossy Road</em> experienced a 12% boost of UK ad revenue
In the first week, Crossy Road experienced a 12% boost of UK ad revenue

Heyzap made a significant impact on Crossy Road's global reach by helping them access more demand in non-English speaking countries.

Fillrate was significantly boosted in countries like Russia (11%), Mexico (24%), and South Africa (56%) as seen in the graph below:

The increase in fillrate in 5 countries
The increase in fillrate in 5 countries

Heyzap boosted fillrate for several reasons.

Most importantly, Crossy Road introduced competition into their monetization strategy by leveraging more ad networks.

Heyzap Mediation made it easy for the team to tap into a larger number of advertisers worldwide.

In addition, Heyzap Mediation made it easy for the team to tap into a larger number of advertisers worldwide, which all had different global sources of demand.

Heyzap also improved the speed in which video ads were downloaded by initializing and pre-caching video ads automatically, which led to faster video availability for users. Additionally, by predicting instances in which ad networks would fail to fill an impression, Heyzap was able to intelligently slot fallback networks into place while minimizing bandwidth usage.

Besides helping fill more impressions worldwide, Heyzap Mediation also helped Crossy Road maximize the value of each impression shown.

Globally, eCPMs were boosted by 67% between April 1 and May 1, and Crossy Road's five highest revenue-generating countries were impacted considerably:

The increase in eCPM in <em>Crossy Road's</em> top 5 territories
The increase in eCPM in Crossy Road's top 5 territories

One major reason for this was that Heyzap Mediation helped increase competition between networks, which positively impacted eCPM.

Not wanting to lose out on revenue, Crossy Road's networks immediately looked into any drops in performance and continually routed their best advertisers towards Crossy Road.

Additionally, Heyzap used machine learning to continuously calculate the best mix of networks to show on a per country basis. For example, in the United States, the majority of impressions were taken up by a combination of two networks, with the remaining three networks showing when the first two had no fill or experienced falloff in performance.

How mediation split <em>Crossy Road's</em> inventory between different networks
How mediation split Crossy Road's inventory between different networks

In contrast, Russia saw more variety in how impressions were split between Crossy Road's five ad networks.

The graph below shows how Heyzap Mediation fostered more competition between the networks and each changed places on several occasions between April and May.

\The split between <em>Crossy Road's</em> five ad networks in Russia
\The split between Crossy Road's five ad networks in Russia

The Conclusion

Heyzap Mediation allowed Hipster Whale to focus on game development by freeing up resources that would otherwise have been spent on the management of ad networks and manual eCPM and fill rate optimization.

Not only was the Crossy Road team able to increase the number of networks competing for impressions, it was also able to easily understand why its revenue increased by interacting with Heyzap's transparent dashboards.

Plus, when Andy and Matt needed support, they were directly connected to the Heyzap team so they could find solutions fast.

The numbers don't lie, Heyzap and Crossy Road are thriving with ad mediation, and both teams are committed to the game's continued success.

You can find out more about Heyzap's products on its website.