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Unity's Runtime Fee debacle caused 15% of its US advertisers to jump ship

The introduction of the proposed fee triggered a sharp downturn in advertisers, but revisions and departures appear to have fixed the problem
Unity's Runtime Fee debacle caused 15% of its US advertisers to jump ship
Date Type Companies Involved Key Datapoint
Oct 27, 2023 chart Unity Unity loses 15% of advertisers
  • Unity saw several significant drops in advertisers following the announcement of the Unity Runtime Fee
  • But by the troublesome month's end advertisers were up 9% August to September

The number of US advertisers on Unity’s ad network fell by 15% in the week following its announcement of the controversial Runtime Fee, according to Sensor Tower data exclusively obtained by

Revealed on September 12, the now revised scheme would have seen developers charged as much as $0.20 for every install of titles developed using the Unity Engine.

The move sparked condemnation across the industry. Within days, a collective letter was signed by 1,074 developers, including Voodoo, CrazyLabs, Homa and Playgendary, all of which disabled ironSource and Unity Ads monetisation within their apps until the new terms were reviewed and a “fair and equitable resolution” was found.

Following the backlash, Unity since revised its terms - but not completely removed the Runtime Fee - and CEO John Riccitiello has departed the company, replaced by interim boss James Whitehurst.

Advertiser exodus

According to Sensor Tower data, the initial backlash contributed to an exodus of 15% of US advertisers on Unity’s ads network week-on-week during the week of September 11, with a further 8% decline the week after.

For seasonal context, during the same period in the previous year the number of US advertisers on Unity’s ad network increased by 13% week-on-week. It's likely therefore that the Runtime Fee announcement was a contributing factor to the network exodus during the week commencing September 11, 2023.

Week commencing September 18 the number of US advertisers was down again, this time by 8%, a reduction on the 15% drop the week before.

Righting the ship

It's worth noting that on September 22 Unity apologised and revised its terms, and the week of September 25 actually saw a 5% increase week-on-week in US advertisers.

While the week commencing October 2 saw another slight dip, the week commencing October 9 saw a 15% increase - coinciding with Riccitiello's exit from the company on the same day.

It should be noted that Halloween is likely also a contributing factor in advertiser growth during this period.

Interestingly, despite the week to week upheavals, Unity were able to finish the month with a 9% month-on-month increase in total US advertisers for September compared to August.

We listed Unity as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2023.