Speaker Spotlight: Verge Group's Stafaniya Radzivonik talks improving the ad experience for players

"When it comes to gaming apps, the most user-engaging formats are interstitial and rewarded video, particularly if they are playable"

Speaker Spotlight: Verge Group's Stafaniya Radzivonik talks improving the ad experience for players

Verve Group director of supply partnerships for EMEA, Stafaniya Radzivonik, is a programmatic, operations and yield management leader with more than seven years of adtech experience and a proven track record of executing effective strategies to deliver ad revenue results across the EMEA and US markets.

Radzivonik has expertise in the programmatic and ad tech ecosystem, deep knowledge of global data privacy regulation frameworks such as CCPA, LGPD, GDPR, and TCF v.2, as well as wide cross-functional experience across both supply and demand.

Radzivonik is one of more than 250+ expert speakers delivering 29 conference tracks at Pocket Gamer Connects London on January 22nd to 23rd. We asked Radzivonik to tell us more about their upcoming talk, entitled 'How to Improve the ad Experience for Users?', as well as get their opinions on the latest industry trends. Please give us a summary of what you’re speaking about and why it’s important.

Stafaniya Radzivoni: I’ll be addressing how key ad formats impact the user experience in gaming apps.

When exploring the user experience across the in-app channel, it's critical to approach gaming and non-gaming apps separately. Not surprisingly, when it comes to gaming apps, the most user-engaging formats are interstitial and rewarded video, particularly if they are playable.

However, this type of format can be considered to be intrusive by some users, so optimising frequency capping is key. In the case of non-gaming apps, native ad formats (N2D and D2N) are dominant as they are non-intrusive and engaging at the same time.

Moreover, taking into account the type of game adds another dimension to in-app advertising. Considering the unique characteristics of casual, hypercasual, hardcore and midcore games will determine the right ad format to increase engagement while maintaining a positive user experience.

Display ads are still the dominant ad format for casual and hypercasual games since sidebar banners or bottom sticky banners don’t harm user experience. Also, frequency capping is less of a challenge when it comes to casual and hypercasual games.

Even hardcore and midcore gaming publishers have started adding branded ad networks to their waterfalls in addition to display ads. These are mainly in the form of either static or dynamic in-game ads, resulting in in-game ads that are still display.

It’s interesting to note, then, the tendency for publishers across all game types to reconsider display ads and, therefore, add more display ad placements in an effort to increase their overall ad revenue without disrupting the user experience.

In-game ads - one of the most non-disruptive ad formats to users - greatly improve user experience and high-level brand awareness. While publisher revenues and user retention tend to be high for this format, the demand is inconsistent.

This is largely driven by the lack of clickability for these ads considering click through rate is a key prioritised KPI for marketers.

Where are the next big opportunities in the mobile games market?

Big opportunities lay ahead for ad monetisation activities, including exploring PMPs, publishing games across Smart TV devices and exploring solutions for building audiences on the brink of an ID-less world.

Preferred deals could bring higher eCPMs and better fill as well as secure ad quality. As games begin to have bigger screen sizes such as smart TVs, preferred deals could have a significant impact on facilitating this transition. ATT and prohibition of fingerprinting challenge user identification and advertising/monetisation in general.

Exploring Contextual solutions and UIs, as well as education about more effective use of 1P data, will likely be inevitable in the years to come.

What’s the most important key performance indicator (KPI) for you - and why?

From monetisation perspective, CTR (for display) and VCR (for video) are the most important key performance indicators, and standard for any demand partner evaluating the performance of a publisher/developer.

Approaching it from an in-app perspective, ARPDAU (ad supported apps) and ARPPU (subscription-based apps) play a key role as they demonstrate app health and indicate the level of organic growth and/ or any UA activities that influence user engagement and user retention.

What is the single biggest challenge facing the mobile games industry today?

The current economic climate has not only made acquiring paying users challenging. Retention, when it comes to non-paying users, is dropping dramatically due to increased competition and the necessity for employing sophisticated ad monetisation strategies that require outsourcing or hiring in-house ad ops experts.

Finding the right balance between maximising revenue and ensuring the user experience while maintaining engagement is the biggest challenge the mobile games industry is facing today.

What is the most overhyped trend from the last 12 months - and why?

Without a doubt, adoption of TCF v.2.2, full compliance with GDPR regulations as well as implementation of GPP are already hot topics for in-app publishers.

Boolean/binary consent is no longer accepted and users are getting more and more control over the data shared with developers and ad networks.

Is hypercasual gaming here to stay?

According to eMarketer, the global hypercasual games market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.67% by 2028, suggesting hypercasual gaming is here to stay.

Despite the fact that 97% to 99% of revenue comes from advertising when it comes to these games, user retention and engagement remain high as hypercasual users tend to be more open to the freemium model.

What do you enjoy most about working in the mobile games industry?

The Mobile games industry is dynamic and multifunctional! I get to embrace continual self-education and learn something new every day about the industry, product and games. I also understand people’s motivation and behavioral patterns better.

What topics do you want to hear more about at industry events?

It would be great to connect with ad monetisation experts and learn more about their best practices for yield optimisation and ad stack management.

It's crucial for us to better understand developers/publishers' pain points so we can take action to adjust our product accordingly.

Can people get in touch with you at the event? What sort of people would you like to connect with?

I'll be more than happy to connect with developers/publishers and discuss how Verve Group can add value to their ad monetisation stack.

I’d also like to meet with game development studios exploring the idea of self-publishing as well as planning ad monetisation activities.

Meet Stafaniya Radzivonik at PG Connects London

Not only will you have the chance to see Radzivonik take part as a speaker at the show, but you can also arrange to meet them at PG Connects London. Our online organiser MeetToMatch is free to all event attendees, connecting you directly with more than 2,500 decision makers from the global games industry.

As well as the 29-track conference schedule, the two-day event also features a series of side-events like The Very Big Indie Pitch, Publisher SpeedMatch, Investor Connector and a host of other networking opportunities all aimed at helping you level up your skills and business.

Book your tickets now!