The Free to Play Game Design Bible: Making Money with Ads

Advertising is a great way of making money from users who are not willing to directly pay out in play. It’s a fallacy to believe that ad integrations ruin your game or remove money from IAP revenues – all the evidence show that they support greater revenues by providing a secondary and distinct revenue stream. However, effective integration of video ads is important to maximise your eCPM (Effective Cost Per 1000 video views). This measure is the amount you as a developer are being paid by the advertisers who show your ads.

Making Money with Ads 1

To make money through ads you not only need to show as many views as possible, but you want to show those views at a time when a player is likely to click and possibly install the advertised game – that’s because most networks now only pay on the Installs you drive, not the views you create.

As a game developer, you want to create experiences inside of your game that are unique and powerful. These can then be exchanged for 30 seconds of your players time which results in your earning money. The best form of exchange is something that empowers the other systems of your game, but make sure you don’t create shortcuts or backdoors to avoid those systems.  

Understanding the value chain for Mobile Video Ads
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In Monetization, Growth & Marketing, Top Posts
Tom Kinniburgh

Great examples are more moves, restock troops, double earning for a limited time, and the ability to unlock new content early. Each of these things encourage and enable players to play and engage with your game more.   

Making Money with Ads 1

Certain games are specifically designer to encourage users to watch more videos – these are often one finger touch games, frustration games, clicker games or fast arcade games. In each case the player is under an intense amount of pressure for a short period of time and so often the reward generated by the advert is very high value – indeed, it might even allow them to double their score.

When designing a game to fully engage with video ad monetization you must be focussed on increasing the video views per DAU to at least three to five in order to really see an eCPM of $20 or more around the world. Often these types of games require very unique and clear graphics in order that players can pick up and play in an instant.

4 ways Futureplay use mobile video ads to increase monetization 1
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4 ways Futureplay use mobile video ads to increase monetization
In Design, Monetization
Tom Kinniburgh

Every game is different and so when seeing revenue sources on aggregate, don’t believe that your game should fit that split between IAP and Video Ads.  IAP will always be the most profitable method for game developers to monetize their audience, but it forces you to design your games in a certain way. Video ad monetization provides a new avenue to design free games that monetize and allows you to be a little looser on your monetization design. As a result, you need to decide early which method you want to follow and design your game from the ground up around that method.

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