Optimizing Game Design for Ad Monetization

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Optimizing Game Design

The mobile game industry has exploded since the launch of the App Store in 2008 with countless new titles appearing every day and ample opportunity for strong advertising revenue. However, not everyone has succeeded in making a profit from their marketing efforts. Sure, Words with Friends, Solitaire, and Candy Crush Saga have done it, but many developers fail to see a strong return on their investment. Here are some tips to consider and how to choose the right type of ad formats for your game.

Casual Games Work Best

What is the common trend among the highest earning games? They are designed for wide audiences rather than a specific demographic. Most casual games are easily marketable, with asynchronous turn-based games like Words With Friends being best for full-screen and video ads. Other casual titles can be just as successful with banner and native ads as long as they don’t interfere with the user experience.

Second, when designing your game it’s important to make it very user friendly to a global audience. While it’s great if you have a hit title in the US, the player base for most mobile titles is larger in foreign countries like China, Japan, and Korea. Mobile game developers like Pocket Gems highlight on their website that 70% of their players are outside the US and a 2013 report by App Annie on the most successful mobile games based on revenue reported that Puzzles and Dragons, developed by GungHo Online came from Japan. The same report, also mentions that game revenue for freemium games resulted in 93% of profit compared to premium titles, a good point to consider when setting pricing.

The other benefit of designing your game for a global market besides a larger audience is the opportunity to reach a broad range of affluent people not typically associated with playing mobile games resulting in a win-win situation for advertisers. For instance, before the iPhone, Nintendo was very successful with the DS and Wii because they targeted people outside the hardcore gamer market (some who never played any video games before) with their casual titles like Wii Sports, Brain Age, and Nintendo Dogs which paid off big time for them.

Types of Mobile Ad Formats

Now that you know how to market your game, let’s talk about which ad formats work best for mobile. These three are the most common:

Full Screen Interstitials: With this type of ad format you have quite a bit of variety. One of the simplest and most effective ways is to mimic the YouTube model and offer short video advertisements. Another variation is a large rich media image that covers the screen briefly to showcase advertisement. This type of format is quite popular on mobile and can bring great results as long as the timing of the ad placement doesn’t feel forced.

Banner Ads: These have the greatest reach and scale of any ad unit allowing you to reach millions of players. Unfortunately, they do not perform as well as other ad formats. The types of banners include adhesion, expandable, pull, and slider. Each one has their own unique set of pros and cons depending on how they are used. However, some games do quite well like Flappy Bird which generated $50,000 a day during its prime.

Native Ads: This is the hot new trend in mobile advertising and it has proven to be quite successful. Facebook, being the best example with its user-friendly design and huge multi-billion dollar ad revenue. Native ads work great because they blend in seamless with game design and don’t intrude on the user experience.

By paying attention to mobile trends, tailoring your title to a global audience, and choosing the correct ad format, the process of optimizing game design for ad monetization doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. With effective ad design, mobile game developers can increase their chances of standing out from everyone else and become successful generating a profit through word of mouth.

TapSense and AT&T Join Forces For Hackathon During GDC Next, Los Angeles

Hacker Bus

TapSense, AT&T, Nvidia, Pocket Gamer, and Women Who Code have joined forces to launch the first-ever hackathon for mobile app developers on the Hacker Bus, a wifi-enabled luxury motorcoach. The hackathon spans four days, with the Hacker Bus traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Sunday, 11/2 and returning on Wednesday, 11/5.

Grand Prize is $10,000 in Ad Spend

This exciting opportunity allows mobile developers to showcase their skills, build incredible games, and meet new people. To the winning team, TapSense will award them $10,000 in advertising spend to help them promote their game and get it to the top of the charts.

Developers Who Get on the Hacker Bus Will Receive:

  • A free roundtrip Hacker Bus ticket.
  • Free food, candy, caffeinated beverages, and soylent.
  • An expo pass to GDC Next.
  • A work space in Los Angeles for continued hacking.
  • $10,000 in mobile advertising spend to the winning team.
  • An unforgettable cross-California hackathon adventure.

Click here to sign up for the Hacker Bus.

How to get Started with Monetization for Mobile Games

Mobile Advertising Monetization

So you have a great mobile game that’s perfect for mobile devices and are excited to release it to the masses, but have you thought about how to effectively monetize from it for the best results? If not their are several tools and strategies you can use to make the process of easier.

Mobile Advertising Made Simple

While mobile games can be a great opportunity to generate ad revenue, it can be a challenging endeavor. In-game purchases isn’t enough to be successful and in order to overcome the tradeoffs involved with the business it’s best to look into other ad services to assist you.

A great tool for getting started with mobile advertising is RTB. RTB, short for Real-Time Bidding acts like an online auction similar to the stock exchange where mobile advertisers compete for ad slots that are available on ad exchanges and DSPs. Whichever advertiser bids the most wins the ad slot. This transaction all takes place in milliseconds. If successful the mobile publisher can make more of revenue then what would have been possible through just their direct sales team.

The “public” RTB model isn’t perfect however, there are still some risks for publishers and gaming apps. Some of these risks include blind bidding, and not being able to control how your 1st party data is being used by advertisers. Reasons like these is why publishers and gaming apps have been moving their ad serving to Private RTB.

Why Private RTB Works Best

With private RTB more features are available to gaming apps such as what advertisers are allowed to participate in the bidding of inventory, the option to set price floors on their inventory, and tier access allowing certain advertisers access to the inventory before other advertisers. The other major benefit of private RTB is that it’s more effective on a global level than RTB because it allows mobile publishers a convenient way to monetize international traffic. Therefore publishers and gaming apps tend to put their best inventory on a private exchange so they can get the best price. The rest of their inventory tends to be put on public exchanges.

Other advantages include the ability to make first party data more valuable to ad partners by making it actionable. Utilizing third party data like geo targeting, and audience segmentation to target at the exchange level. Both of these save mobile game developers the trouble of having to implement their own data.

These are all great reasons to choose Private RTB over public RTB, but it’s greatest strength is how it can be used to differentiate your gaming app from others. The problem with traditional RTB is everyone competes under the same exchange with very little data used besides a source url. Also, since everything is happening in real time you’re always at a disadvantage to mega providers who have billions of inventory to offload. So, instead of the price of your inventory rising in value from all the competition the opposite happens and it actually decreases in value.

Private RTB avoids this by making the first party data actionable to ensure premium inventory always retains its value or increases significantly. This prevents negative issues like data scraping where sneaky buyers can alter things like data about your users by cross referencing it with other data and reselling it without your permission. This can be detrimental because it can hurt your reputation and make your gaming app appear less valuable. All these negative factors have made private RTB the more preferable option to mobile game developers.

The Benefits of Mobile Advertising Meditation

Another way to generate the most ad revenue for your game and sell through your inventory is to work with multiple partners rather than just one. The best way to do this is through mobile advertising mediation. Ad mediation is technology that sends ad requests to multiple ad networks to ensure publishers find the best available network to fill their ad slots. With a list of priorities in place related to things like geography, genre type, and other preferences ad meditation can match your game with the right partners to maximize revenue. The other benefits of ad meditation is the ability increase fill rates, maximize eCPMs, and control access to ad networks using only one SDK versus dozens.

Both RTB and ad meditation are useful tools for game developers to help simplify the mobile advertising process and can compliment in-game advertising by increasing fill rates along with CPMs. With the right implementation the ad revenue results can be extraordinary and separate your game from everyone else on the mobile marketplace.

Ad Buyers Guide to Mobile Programmatic

mobile programmatic advertising

Recently, the popularity of mobile programmatic advertising has soared. The subject is mentioned frequently in popular advertising trade journals, at conferences and in social media. But what exactly is mobile programmatic advertising? And what is it’s impact on media buying?

What is Mobile Programmatic Advertising?

Mobile programmatic advertising is the automatic buying and selling of mobile ad inventory with software. It replaces the request for proposal (RFP) process, in person negotiation, and the insertion order (I/O) system. The technology makes ad buying more efficient and cheaper for advertisers, because it allows them to access a wide selection of inventory, typically through an ad exchange. It also helps maximize value by finding the best possible price for inventory at any given time.

Programmatic advertising technology also makes it easy to buy audience segments, across a varied selection of publishers. Traditionally, advertisers thought of audience segments by publisher. Buying all the ads on a given publishers based on it’s audience index against a tool like ComScore. Now, with programmatic technology and the advent of big data, advertisers can target the right audience on a variety of publishers. For example, in mobile geo targeting is a popular buying method that is done programmatically across as many publishers as possible. This allows an advertiser’s to get maximum scale in a given geo.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t buy directly from a single publisher with programmatic technology. The systems make it easy to buy a guaranteed amount of impressions from a specific publisher. This is known as “programmatic direct.” Programmatic direct allows you to leverage your previous relationships while taking advantage of programmatic ad serving to ensure that you get the most targeted impressions.

Why is it Getting So Much Press?

Mobile programmatic is a fundamental shift in how advertising has been done. The transition is very similar to what happened with digitalization of stock markets. The time consuming, manual process of writing a stock purchase slip and having it processed by hand at trading desk, was replaced with computerized trading. This revolutionized the stock market and brought the transaction price way down, which has been great for consumers who can now buy stock for as low as seven dollars per trade.

Advertising is now going through a similar revolution. Before programmatic, you had a sales teams trying to sell publisher inventory to brands, agencies, and other advertisers directly. This process was manual and inefficient. Programmatic technology shrinks the overhead cost on both the advertiser and publisher sides which has increased their margins. This has opened the door to a huge new market of small advertisers that previously could never afford to buy ads.

How Much Does Mobile Programmatic Cost?

Programmatic technology can actually save money. Through automation, many tasks have been eliminated making the process more efficient and reducing implementation costs. The technology is also very good at finding the best price, across a variety of publishers. This frees up  teams to focus more on creativity, or research – improving the quality of campaigns.

How Can I Take Advantage of Programmatic?

There are a few ways to take advantage of programmatic buying. One is you can go directly to an ad exchange or and buy inventory through them. This will require technical integration and ad buying technology that you maintain, which is referred to as a demand side platform (DSP). If you are an agency, you can create a trading desk that integrates with multiple ad exchanges and DSPs. Lastly, if you’re a smaller buyer there are lots of DSP that specialize in a particular area, like app downloads for example. There are many trade shows where you can find a specialist that handles the area of advertising that you’re focused on.

Join TapSense at the iOSDevCamp Hackathon at eBay, August 22-24, 2014

iosdevcamp2013

The iOSDevCamp hackathon is taking place at eBay in two weeks, and we are very excited to make a BIG announcement from the main stage on Saturday morning. We can’t reveal much yet, but we can tell you:

1. It’s the most unique and interesting TapSense announcement yet.

2. It’s something every mobile developer will get excited about.

3. It’s going to be awesome.

Register to attend and hear it live from Ash Kumar, TapSense CEO and Co-Founder.

Now in its eighth year running, iOSDevCamp 2014 is all about the internet of things and the vibrant ecosystem of connected devices and hardware products for developers to connect with in their apps. This year’s hackathon promises to be the best yet, with the new functionality of iOS 8, which includes over 4000 new APIs. iOSDevCamp is the largest iOS developer event outside of Apple’s own Worldwide Developer Conference, attracting over 500 developers who have launched award-winning startups such as Getaround and Foodspotting, and formed founder teams such as Square.

As the first mobile ad exchange to support wearables, TapSense is excited to sponsor iOSDevCamp, and we can’t wait to see what developers build this year.

Wearable Tech in Sports: How and Why the Sports Industry is Winning in Wearables

Wearables in Sports

Wearables have become the new ‘must have’ for just about every industry. From immediate notifications to immersive augmented reality experiences, wearables enable users and businesses to be smarter, more agile, and more efficient. With the proliferation wearable devices and apps in health and fitness, and the early adoption of Google Glass by some football teams, the sports industry is well positioned to take the lead in utilizing wearables as a key part of marketing and business operations.

How Are Wearables Used In Sports?

The sports industry is known for being adventurous when it comes to new technology, and wearables have been a prime example. From the leisure runner who started using the Nike+ Running App to the use of portable compression devices by companies like HyperIce, wearable technology has been making its mark for a while. Even stadiums, like Citi Field in New York City, started getting in on the action by debuting iBeacon technology. This app, a prototype in conjunction with the MLB, alerts users of promotions and even landmarks within the stadium, acting as fans’ personal tour guide.

Wearables, however, go beyond the basic hosting duties and provide athletes, coaches, and owners with data–the most valuable asset in any industry. Those seeking that competitive edge, both on and off the field, are likely to be the ones who take wearables to a whole new level. Companies like MC10 and Catapult Sports have been working with seasoned pros for years now, trying to decipher the body’s reaction to hits, landings, and explosions. Even putting sensors in mouthguards isn’t off-limits as these firms intertwine with athletes to do what they do best: find the winning strategy.

Why Are Wearables Taking Over Sports?

Real time content with Google Glass is revolutionizing the way that fans watch sports. Teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Yale Football have used Google Glass to give fans a first person view of on-field action. By allowing fans to get in the game, so to speak, viewers are able to engage on another level. Having access to stats, player data, and instant replays makes the fan experience much more memorable, exciting, and profitable to athletic associations.

The biggest reason wearables are revolutionizing sports is the way that they utilize big data, much like the way big businesses do. With the NFL adding tracking sensors to the shoulder pads of each and every player starting this fall, coaches will be able to build on training regimens in a more unique way. And with that customizable training comes better performance, more effective, efficient coaching staff, and potentially more money in the long run. In a world where winning is directly correlated to profits, it’s easy to imagine how this investment could produce an incredible return.

What The Future Holds for Wearables in Sports

We’re at the very tip of the iceberg for wearables in sports. The possibilities bring smarter stadiums, such as Levi’s in Santa Clara and ESC in Sacramento, both of which could debut the use of cashless mobile payments. We could even see sports teams leveraging augmented reality to create custom Heads Up Displays, or HUDs, showcasing stats, live feeds, and instant replays–all from the comfort of Row G, seat 114.

Lastly, and probably most important to the longevity of sports, we could see an extreme increase in player safety. The ability to track an athlete’s reaction to injuries both can trigger a more effective rehab and a better regulation of player safety. Even normal wear and tear on a body can be observed to decrease recovery time and emphasize preventative measures.

Wearables are already changing the world as we know it, and watching the way it revolutionizes the sports world will be exciting for everyone, super fan or not.

Big Data in Marketing: What it’s Good and Not Good For

Big Data in Marketing

Big data has been revolutionizing the way business and institutions create their strategies, forecasts, and predictions. However, for every big data success story, there are more big data failures. Nate Silver addresses this in his latest book, “The Signal and the Noise.” He dissects scenarios where big data has been essential to forecast predictions across a diverse array of fields like weather, finance, and real estate.

What’s most interesting, is even with terabytes of data, how many of these predictions failed. This happens not only in the fields listed above, but in the world of marketing. As marketers, we have predictive analytics, dashboards, data providers, and other tools which help us gain as much insight as possible and yet, there are times when our efforts completely flop. Why does that happen?

It’s Great When Big Data is Accurate

Meteorologists have been able to greatly increase the accuracy of their predictions over the last two decades. This has happened because they not only understand all the data they collect, they also understand the context behind the data itself. They know exactly how tornadoes form, how tropical storms turn into hurricanes, and are able to collect incredibly accurate data on these events.

Marketers also have access to a plethora of data, and we have the context. With digital channels such as social media, email, display advertising, and paid search we have multiple touch points to analyze. With cross-channel analytics we even know how these ecosystems interact within an integrated marketing strategy. Thanks to first and third party data, we have know our audiences better than ever before. This type of knowledge allows us to use these digital formats and get tremendous scale.

In digital, marketers have control of almost every factor including targeting, channel, copy, and the creative. Yes, the advertising platform algorithms have the final say on when ads are shown. But with all this data, and an in-depth understanding of how the different ad platforms work, marketers can make good prediction on how their campaigns will play out.

But When Big Data Fails

Even with big data, the science of earthquake prediction has made little progress. Seismologists provide a date “range” of when an earthquake will happen, but their official positions is that earthquakes cannot be predicted. Why? Even with all the data that’s been collected, plate tectonics are still not well understood. Thier shifts happen deep inside the earth and making it hard for scientists to observe. The data sets we study and collect represent the results, not the actual movements of the plates.

In marketing PR, organic search, and referral traffic parallel the challenge seismologists face. The data we collect on these channels only represents the results, or the end product. Unlike digital channels, so many factors that determine the outcome of these channels are not easily observed or in the marketers control.

PR is a great example, most marketers know that PR is key in driving great marketing and awareness. The predicament is, even with all the tools and analytics we have in place, we will never be able to create an accurate forecast or prediction on the results of PR. There are just too many factors that are out of a marketers control. For example, it’s hard to predict exactly how a publication will react to a press release, and it’s impossible to predict what other news will get released at the same time. Big data is worthless without accurate data sets, from well understand and repeatable scenarios. Yes, we will be able to formulate a general idea of how PR will perform, but making an accurate prediction is nearly impossible.

Aim for A Happy Medium

With big data, we have the power to take our marketing efforts to new heights, but it can’t solve everything. It’s great for uncovering meaningful patterns in areas of marketing that are well understood and easily measured, like digital advertising or email. However, there are still some areas where big data can’t have a meaningful impact, such as PR. It’s by understanding and working within the limitations of what big data can and cannot do, that it will have the most meaningful impact on your business.

What Is Mobile Ad Mediation And How Does It Work?

Most mobile publishers have more inventory than they can sell through one ad network or their direct sales team. To maximize fill rates and sell more of their inventory, most publishers work with multiple ad networks at the same time. Ad network performance can also vary for a given publisher, with some offering better performance in a particular geography or industry than another. This means some ad networks will produce more revenue for a publisher than others.

With ad mediation, publishers can match the right ad networks to the right inventory and monetize more of their impressions. Mediation increases fill rates, maximizes eCPMs, and helps publishers get the most revenue possible from every impression, making it a critical monetization solution for publishers.

How Mobile Ad Mediation Works

Ad mediation is technology that sends ad requests to multiple ad networks to ensure publishers find the best available network to fill their ad slots. First, publishers rank ad networks in order of preference. Second, the mediation platform tries the top ad network. If the top ad network can’t fill the ad request, the mediation platform tries the next preferred ad network until it fills the request.

For each ad request, the mediation platform chooses the ad network that best matches the publisher’s priorities. Often, publishers will choose the highest revenue option and prioritize the ad network that offers the highest eCPM. Alternatively, a publisher may give preference to a specific ad network for ad requests coming from that ad network’s country of origin.

They key technical benefit of ad mediation is the ability to centralize access to ad networks with just one SDK, instead of managing hundreds of SDK integrations directly. The single SDK approach allows publishers to add and remove ad networks through the ad mediation platform, instead of pushing out an app update to all app stores.

Mobile Ad Mediation

 

How to Get Started

For a publisher, the first step with an ad mediation partner will be to prioritize a list of ad networks to which inventory will be allocated. To do this, publishers can start by running a test with the mediation platform and place the best performing ad networks first. Publishers can expect payments to come directly from each ad network. With hundreds of ad networks to choose from, mobile publishers will find it necessary to choose an ad mediation partner to maximize fill rates and eCPMs.

What Businesses Can Learn From This Year’s World Cup

World Cup

The greatest of all sporting events has come to a close and the Germans have been crowned World Cup Champions. This years World Cup brought to life many lessons for individuals and businesses alike. We can learn things from not only the teams that won, but also the teams that lost. Here are takeaways from this years World Cup that can help your startup succeed.

1. Never Say Die

When the odds are stacked against you, and that light at the end of the tunnel starts to dim, it can be easier to just give up and quit. But this is when the best teams dig deep, and rise to the occasion going on to victory. The best companies, just like the best teams never quit. They persevere and come back even stronger. It takes enormous courage, but if you believe in your team and they believe in you, your startup can overcome any challenge.

2. Pragmatism Over Emotion

The World Cup is an inspiring and emotional. But being too emotionally vested can actually make it difficult for a team to stay focused. Just like in sports, emotions in business can also run high. In these situations it is crucial to, remain objective. Makes sure you get all the information you need, before making any important decision.

3. Find Your Competitions Weakness and Exploit It

In professional sports the best teams study their opponents carefully, analyzing videos of past matches, and even hiring scouts to observe competitors during practice. In business getting accurate “competitive intelligence” from tools, technology or other methods of research is essential. Once you have access to information, get more people involved in the marketing process. This will enable you to see different points of view on your competitors. A more holistic view will enable you to create the most successful strategy that exploits potential weaknesses of competitors.

4. Have a Clear Goal and Know What It Takes to Get There

Using visuals can be effective. The German World Cup team’s training facility had images of Estádio Maracanã, the World Cup stadium in Brazil and the FIFA World Cup trophy all over the building. This was to help them focus on their goal, not winning the match they were about to play during the season, but to go on to become world champions. In businesses focus your team or organization on a common goal. Keeping everyone on the same page will increase collaboration, transparency, and improve overall performance.

5. Never Let Off the Gas

During Mexico’s last match against the Netherlands, Mexico held a 1-0 lead with eight minutes left to play. Instead of applying pressure the rest of the game, they relaxed and gave up two goals in five minutes going on to lose the match. Complacency like this can happen in business when a company is too successful too quickly. When sales are up the office environment could not be better. No one should take it an opportunity to slack off. When you have a lead over a competitor it’s essential to keep the pressure on. Work to extend that lead and make it impossible for any rival to overtake you.

6. There is no “I” in team

Brazil’s World Cup dreams this year were shattered when their star player was injured. Relying on superstar players in both sports and in business is high risk. It can often backfire. The best businesses, just like the best sports teams, should be built as teams – not organizations designed to support one superstar. Remember that everyone in your company, no matter how seemingly small the task may be, has a very important role to play. And they need to play together. Yes, superstars can be very effective, but even Pele once said, “The only way to win is as a team. Football is not about one or two or three star players.

TapSense Selected by AlwaysOn as a Global 100 Company to Watch in 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, July 11, 2014 — Today, TapSense, the leading independent mobile advertising exchange, announces its selection by AlwaysOn as a Global 100 Company to Watch in 2014, in the B2B mobile category.

The list showcases companies providing innovative technology solutions for a fast-paced, demanding customer base, with substantial returns for their inventors and rapid revenue growth in the short term. These companies re-invent legacy industries, bringing much-needed efficiencies to consumer and business users.

Ash Kumar, CEO and Founder of TapSense, says, “I am thrilled that TapSense is part of the AlwaysOn Top 100 Companies to Watch in 2014. We’re experiencing tremendous momentum this year. The advertising technology space is competitive and we’re honored to be included on this list. This recognition highlights our market leadership in mobile, and the success we have achieved in relatively short amount of time. I also want to congratulate all the fellow honorees who are helping reshape the technology landscape.”

The AlwaysOn Global 100 Companies to Watch in 2014 were selected from hundreds of other entries nominated by leading venture capitalists, investors, researchers, journalists, and industry insiders. The AlwaysOn editorial team conducted a rigorous selection process to finalize the list.

About TapSense

TapSense is the leading independent mobile advertising exchange, and has been featured in publications including Forbes, Bloomberg, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, GigaOM, CMO.com, MediaPost, Entrepreneur and AdExchanger. Founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco, California, investors include top Silicon Valley venture firms, Ron Conway’s SV Angel and Maynard Webb, a board member of Salesforce and Yahoo.

TapSense was named one of the 2014 AlwaysOn Global 100 Companies to Watch, and is a member of the Mobile Marketing Association.

About AlwaysOn

AlwaysOn is the leading business media brand networking the Global Silicon Valley. AlwaysOn helped ignite the social media revolution in early 2003 when it launched the AlwaysOn network. In 2004, it became the first media brand to socially network its online readers and event attendees. AlwaysOn’s preeminent executive event series includes the Silicon Valley Innovation Summit, OnMedia, OnHollywood, IMPACT Venture Summit Mid-Atlantic, Venture Summit East, OnDemand, Venture Summit Silicon Valley, OnMobile, AlwaysOn Australia, and GoingGreen Silicon Valley. The AlwaysOn network and live event series continue to lead the industry by empowering its readers, event participants, sponsors, and advertisers like no other media brand.