Sponsored By
Bryan Atwood, Blogger

December 20, 2011

4 Min Read

Your mobile game is live. In addition to in-app purchases, advertising revenue will be an important source of income. 

So what’s the best way to monetize your game? Which mobile advertiser do you choose? How do you maximize profits on your game?

We have four great ways. So let’s get to it. First, it’s important to focus solely on free apps – which make up the mass majority of downloads – and understand what kind of performance to expect from mobile ad networks. 

Mobile ad networks operate on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. This means just showing more advertisements to users may not result in more revenue for you – unless you can get a corresponding rise in the number of clicks. The CPC rate from the top networks is somewhere around 4-5 cents for 320×50 banner ads.

The revenue you generate is the number of impressions times click-through-rate times cost-per-click (imp x CTR x CPC). Click-through-rates can vary widely, but this is the most important number to focus on. A good target to aim for is around 1 percent CTR, but this can vary from 10 percent CTR all the way down to 0.006 percent. Given these numbers, a good target performance is around $0.50 for every 1000 ad impressions.
So now that you know what you’re aiming for. Here are the top four ways to make the most of your mobile ads. 

1. Don’t put all of your chickens in one basket. Use multiple mobile ad networks
On the desktop web, a publisher can insert an AdSense tag and call it a day, since it typically outperforms other networks. For mobile ad networks, it’s not that simple. In general, publishers with four or five networks consistently outperform those with fewer networks set up. Why? For one reason, mobile ad networks can’t guarantee 100 percent fill rates. There are still more mobile impressions than ad demand, so using only a single network means some of the time your users are going to be served a blank space in place of an ad. Using several networks will guarantee that you can get as close to full fill as possible. In addition, ad networks still don’t have a lot of variety. If you’re using one ad network, there are cases where the fill rate is high, but it’s because a user is seeing the same ads many times. Users will get desensitized to a certain ad if they see it too much. By using several ad networks, you can ensure a variety of ads will be shown to your audience in a given time. In particular, some networks our customers prefer are AdMob, iAd, InMobi, Jumptap and Millennial.

2. Use the same ad on all your pages (and make sure it’s visible at all times!)
Because the goal is the maximize clicks, not maximize impressions, any ad shown that’s not clicked actually loses value for you. The publishers with the highest click-through rates and highest CPMs all have one thing in common: they use the same banner unit as the user traverses the app. Users typically fly through your menus. Trying to load a new ad for each page means that the user will move on before the ad has been loaded. If instead the same ad view is used, it will be displayed for the maximum time on screen so that the user will be more inclined to click the ad.

In addition, if the page is scrollable, make sure the banner ad is always shown. Seems like a no brainer, right? But if a banner is off the screen, the user can’t click it and the impression is wasted. You’d be surprised how often we see this mistake made!

3. Know when to show an ad… and know when to be invisible
Placing a banner ad on a screen before the user is about to start a game will almost guarantee that it won’t get clicked. There is a large jump in clicks on banner ads when the user has finished a task in-game. Similarly, if the user is mid-game or in browsing mode, an ad will have a higher click through rate since the main purpose of opening the app has been completed.

4. Accidental clicks don’t really help you in the long run
Many app devs believe getting any clicks for their ads is good business sense. Not so anymore. Eventually poor conversions from clicks will just adjust the price advertisers will pay for advertising. The better user experience and true intent to click on ads, the better for everyone. Users will notice banners whether it’s at the top or the bottom and we see the same clickthrough rates in both locations. However, they hate clicking on ads when they are trying to do something else. If your app has a set of controls that is concentrated at the bottom of the app, make sure the banner is at the top, and vice versa. This will lead to happier users, happier advertisers, and happier publishers. 

There you have it. Multiple networks, placement, consistency and real intent of click will drive your game to the next level of revenue. 

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