How to Monetize Your Mobile Games With Ads


Monetize your game with ads

So you have a great mobile game that’s burning up the charts, but have you thought about how to effectively monetize? Are you sure you’re maximizing earnings? Here are some strategies you can use to make the process of monetizing with ads easier and more effective.

Getting Started With Mobile Advertising

Mobile games can be a great opportunity to generate ad revenue, but for an ad-tech novice, it can also be a challenging endeavor. Working with a single ad network like Google just isn’t enough. You won’t get enough ads to fill all the impressions shown which means you’re leaving money on the table. To maximize earnings you should enlist a mobile ad exchange to assist you.

The popular trend in mobile advertising right now is real-time bidding, or RTB, which acts like an online auction similar to the stock exchange where mobile advertisers compete for ad slots that are available on ad exchanges. Whichever advertiser bids the most wins the ad slot. This transaction takes place in milliseconds. If successful the mobile publisher can make more revenue than what would have been possible through their direct sales team alone.

The “public” RTB model isn’t perfect, however, and there are still some risks for publishers and gaming apps. Some of these risks include lack of controls around who is buying your ad inventory and the security of first-party data. Reasons like these are 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 put the app in total control. With private RTB, developers can decide which advertisers are allowed to participate in the bidding of inventory. They can also option to set price floors on their inventory and tier access allowing certain advertisers access to the inventory before others.

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 end up 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 tools save mobile game developers the trouble of having to implement their own data targeting technology.

The problem with traditional RTB is everyone competes on the same exchange, making it hard to differentiate your app from competitors. As a small developer, everything is happening in real time and you’re always at a disadvantage to big apps who have billions in inventory to sell. In public RTB prices sometimes go down instead of up because there is just so much undifferentiated inventory available.

Private RTB avoids all of this by making the app’s first party data actionable to ensure premium inventory always retains its value or increases significantly. This prevents negative issues like data scraping in which 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 Ad Mediation

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 ad mediation.

Ad mediation technology 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 mediation can match your game with the right partners to maximize revenue. The other benefits of ad mediation include the ability to increase fill rates, maximize eCPMs, and control access to ad networks using only one SDK versus dozens.

Both RTB and ad mediation are useful tools that 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’s on the mobile marketplace.

Good Marketer, Bad Marketer

I was recently at a trade show representing TapSense. After looking at all of our competitor’s booths, I realized that we had only produced one t-shirt design ever in our three years of existence. We also have only produced a few printed brochures and some iPhone cases. In general, we have kept the SWAG to a minimum. This was in broad contrast to some other players, who had produced so much SWAG one might assume they were in the t-shirt business, not the technology business.

This instantly made me think of Ben Horowitz, a partner in the Silicon Valley Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz and his inspirational memo from his time at Netscape called Good Product Manager / Bad Product Manager. The document is well known in tech circles and is a great read for people working in a startup environment. That night I was inspired and decided to re-edit his document, changing the focus of the memo from product managers to marketers and I shared it with my marketing team. They all loved it. Here is my re-edited version:

Good Marketers / Bad Marketers

Good marketers understand the customer’s needs both explicit and unmet, they know their product inside and out and have studied the competitor’s products, positioning and messaging in detail. They operate from a strong basis of knowledge and confidence. A good marketer is the CMO of their area. They take full responsibility for the success of their strategies and use quantifiable ways to measure all marketing programs. They also understand that measurement systems have limits and some marketing strategies require significant investment before seeing a measurable return. A good marketer knows the competitive landscape, can anticipate the needs of the company in advance and takes responsibility for developing a marketing plan that uses the right strategy, channel and approach, at the right time.

Bad marketers waste lots of time on areas of marketing that have little impact on the business. Such as designing t-shirts and sweatshirts, arguing over the visual design of ad creative or the website, performing A/B tests on traffic volumes that aren’t statistically significant, and confusing trade marketing with socializing. Phil Schiller doesn’t make these mistakes and neither should the CMO of any successful area in marketing.

Good marketers don’t waste all their time attending other team’s meetings just to form cross-functional alignment. They don’t project manage the sales function, or act as a simplistic megaphone for product team announcements and updates. They are not managing one distinct aspect or channel of marketing; they manage marketing. All of it. Good marketers view themselves as the tip of the spear for their counterparts on the sales team or business development team. Good marketers set quantifiable targets for lead generation and PR. They then implement strategies to achieve those goals and build the business month over month, year over year, in a ROI positive way. Bad marketers feel best about themselves when they successfully negotiate more marketing budget from the CFO. Good marketers communicate succinctly and visually to the company by producing and keeping up to date project plans and strategy documents. Good marketers don’t work informally. Good marketer develop networks to gather information and competitive intelligence informally.

Good marketers create evergreen content, blog posts, downloads, and white papers. Bad marketers complain that they spend all day creating powerpoint decks for the sales team and are swamped. Good marketers anticipate the market and the competition. Good marketers take initiative, develop breakthrough ideas that they can execute independently of the other divisions of the company. They don’t pin their hopes on the next product release and complain when it’s late, or use IT as an excuse as to why they’re behind on lead generation. Bad marketers complain that resources are what’s holding them back. Once bad marketers fail, they point out that they predicted they would fail because they didn’t have enough help, or budget.

Good marketers focus the team on the market and the customers. Bad marketers focus the team solely on competitors. Good marketers work with what they have and leverage what resources are available to their absolute maximum. Bad marketers develop marketing plans that can’t be executed because they’re are too resource intensive or too expensive.

Good marketers wake up every day trying to find clever new ways to drive inbound leads and interest in the company and its product. They also obsess over developing measurement systems that prove they’re meeting their goals, both long term and short term. Bad marketers don’t understand measurement at all. They mistakenly use vanity metrics to try and prove their marketing is working, which only diminishes their credibility with other teams. Good marketers break down complex problems into small manageable chunks. Bad marketers combine all problems into one.

Good marketers understand the prevailing press narrative regarding their market area. They focus on timing stories that go with that narrative for maximum impact. Bad marketers think about press only in terms of volume of coverage, no matter how insignificant. Good marketers give the press what they need in order to get coverage. Bad marketers complain that they didn’t speak to the right reporter. Good marketers assume press and analysts are really smart. Bad marketers assume that press and analysts are dumb because they don’t understand the difference between a RTB exchange and programmatic buying.

Good marketers communicate simply and effectively. Using as few words as possible, communicating only what needs to be communicated. Bad marketers use complex language that obfuscates and confuses people. Good marketers define their success and achieve it. Bad marketers avoid responsibility.

Good marketers keep their project plans up to date, because they are disciplined. Bad marketers forget to update their plans on time, because they don’t value discipline.

GamesBeat 2014: TapSense Recap in Pictures

The TapSense team had an absolute blast at GamesBeat 2014! Here’s a few highlights, including some photos of our very own Ash Kumar at “The Evolution and Future of Monetization in Mobile Games” panel (photo credit: Michael O’Donnell, aka @Photo) and from Monday’s Pocket Gamer Mobile Mixer. Enjoy and see you next year!






Announcing TapSense SDK Support for iOS 8, Video, and 20+ new App Monetization Features

Apple’s release of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and iOS 8 is thrilling news for publishers and developers. We at TapSense have been hard at work not only adding support for iOS 8 but also adding video as well as 20+ new features to drive higher monetization for mobile app developers.

Our updated SDK is compatible with iOS 8 and XCode 6. TapSense’s team has done a great job making the SDK update process as seamless as possible. Your existing SDK ad units will work automatically for new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screen sizes. In order to ensure compatibility with iOS 8 as well as supporting new devices, please update to our latest SDK before submitting your latest app update.

Download TapSense iOS 8 SDK

Based on your feedback, mobile app monetization remains a challenging area. Some of the top issues we heard from you are:

  • SDK Fatigue: Every ad partner wants you to integrate their SDK which adds weight that can potentially crash your app.

  • Poor eCPMs and Fill Rates: We consistently hear that your fill rates and eCPMs are not satisfactory.

  • Inappropriate Ads: Some ad partners are not closely monitoring the quality of ads or the user experience of ad formats.

We took your feedback and have been actively developing the next version of our Private RTB Exchange to address some of these problems. Here are some key highlights of our new Private Exchange 2.0 and the updated iOS and Android SDK:

Lighter SDK

  • With our Private Exchange SDK you can work with more than 300+ demand sources rather than integrating one ad partner SDK at a time.

  • SDK also offers mediation support so you can work with larger ad providers such as AdMob, iAd, Facebook, Twitter/MoPub so you don’t have to integrate multiple SDKs.

  • Our SDK is lightweight and supports video, interstitials, and banners.

Improved eCPMs and Fill Rates

  • The new SDK is packed with numerous features to drive higher CPMs through our Private Exchange as well as enhance user experience. Mobile video advertising is growing rapidly and will get a big boost from the larger screen iPhones. We have significantly improved full-screen video capabilities in our SDK with the new native video player including: customizable text, color, and border for the call-to-action button, as well as customizable wait times and sizes for the close button.

  • Support for keywords: publishers can pass demographic and other valuable data such as age, gender, or custom audiences that typically get higher CPMs from advertisers.

  • Granular control over eCPMs across different geographies: publishers get more granular control over their monetization.

  • Support for interstitials and banner ad units: maximize your monetization with simple ad unit setup and a good mix of video, interstitial, and banner ads.

Superior Ad Controls

  • Private Exchange offers unprecedented control over your ad inventory:

    • Segment your traffic based on geos

    • Set up different price floors and ad partners

    • Control your ad creatives in real time from our dashboard

    • Control your first-party data access to specific ad partners

  • With the TapSense SDK, we keep the user within your app even after the ad click. We achieve this by using an in-app browser or SKStore View as appropriate.

We have received amazing feedback on our Private Exchange and how it’s helping you maximize your ad revenue while still maintaining control over your ad quality and pricing. The new SDK enables you to turbocharge your monetization going into Q4 which is shaping up to be the biggest quarter ever for mobile advertising.

For more information, visit our Github page or reach out to

If you have not joined our Private Exchange, you are missing out on our $10M RTB fund.

Sign up for our $10M RTB Fund Today

Pocket Gamer Mixer Tonight!

Pocket Gamer Mixer

If you’re in town for GamesBeat—or if you’re just in town—don’t forget to stop by Vessel in SF’s Union Square for the Pocket Gamer / TapSense Mobile Mixer tonight at 6pm. It’s free and you can register here.  Come ready to mingle and don’t forget your business cards!

Smartwatch Giveaway x 3 at GamesBeat 2014!

You could be the lucky winner of our Smartwatch Giveaway!

Are you suffering from smartwatch envy? Or just having trouble choosing from all the options available? Maybe we can help! All you have to do is stop by the TapSense booth during GamesBeat and enter your business card for a chance to win one of three smart watches above. Simple enough right? But wait, there’s more.

Increase your chances of winning and follow our Facebook and Twitter updates to find out when the drawings are taking place. We will have three live drawings at GamesBeat to announce the winner via Twitter/Facebook and on the expo floor – so make sure to be present to receive your smartwatch in person.

See you at GamesBeat.

Guide to Mobile Game Monetization 2015

gaming_ebook_blog (1)

Whether you’re new to the field of mobile game monetization or a veteran strategist in the space, our Complete Guide to Mobile Game Ad Monetization is designed for your needs. With 66% growth in mobile games as of last year, the global audience for mobile gaming continues to increase exponentially. Gaming companies command an enormous audience, and advertising is a key driver for mobile gaming revenue.

With that in mind, TapSense has collected our most valuable thought leadership on this topic to help you refine and develop your monetization approaches for mobile games. Key topics covered include:

  • Optimizing Game Design for Ad Monetization
  • Getting Started Monetizing With Advertising
  • How to Attract Brand Advertisers to Your Games
  • Tips to Increase Advertising Revenue From Your Game

Download it here:

GamesBeat 2014 Brings Total World Domination to SF

GamesBeat 2014 Banner

Starting this Monday, September 15th, GamesBeat 2014, VentureBeat’s sixth annual conference on disruption in the games industry, is poised to be quite the event! This year’s theme: “Total World Domination!” As games become a global force, platforms diversify and monetization opportunities broaden—this is a rare opportunity to check in with the movers and shakers of the field as they discuss the implications of these shifts over the coming year.

Over two days at the beautiful Parc 55 Wyndham in San Francisco’s Union Square, industry leaders, including our very own CEO Ash Kumar, will discuss the state of the games industry, focusing on the next steps (leaps?) forward in gaming.

Register here with code TapSense20 for 20% off!

Check out Ash’s talk on Monday:

Monday, 9/15
2:40 pm – 3:40 pm
Breakout Session: Where is Game Monetization Going?

Why the Apple Watch Could Completely Disrupt the Digital Watch Business

Apple WatchApple’s track record of disruption is solid. While iPod crushed competitors in the MP3-player space, the iPhone was an even bigger game-changer for the smartphone industry, and the iPad has had significant adverse impact on the PC market.

Apple has already disrupted big consumer electronics markets

In the early years of Apple, Steve Jobs openly admired Sony and wanted Apple to be as dominant and successful in the consumer-electronics market as Sony in its heyday. In hindsight, that admiration and aspiration makes perfect sense as Apple has come to dominate the music, smartphone, and tablet markets. Now, personal computing is just one aspect of Apple’s products: They are also our music player and camera of choice.

Could anyone have predicted that the iPod would not just dominate digital music but music, period? In less than half a decade, the iPod went from being the preferred way to consume music to eliminating the need for physical media and the devices on which they ran (rest in peace, optical drives). Similarly, the iPhone crushed both the phone and digital camera markets by offering a quality networked camera product, and the most popular camera on Flickr, in fact.

Apple will disrupt the digital watch industry

The digital-watch industry is prime for disruption. It’s a device with which we already have a relationship whose function has been temporarily replaced by our phones. When the watch comes back en vogue as a networked device, it will also redefine how we think of and use it.

Here are the key factors that will make the Apple Watch disruptive:

  • The next step in connectivity: The Internet on PCs transformed the desktop computer to a daily-use device. Smartphones put the internet in our pocket and changed our on-the-go lifestyle. With the Internet on our wrists, the implications are huge for the Internet of things.
  • Enabling new services: The Apple Watch comes with big features for enabling health monitoring and frictionless payments with Apple Pay. The health and mobile payments industries have yet to embrace mobile internet; the Apple Watch will significantly impact both.
  • Massive user base: Apple already has a massive install base of iPhones, iPads, and iPods. During last WWDC, Apple boasted a total of 800 million shipments of iOS devices, which provide Apple with an amazing customer base to upsell new products to.
  • iPhone as the hub: Sure, we’ve seen watches that check your pulse, play MP3s, and check email — but those watches were not functional extensions of the most powerful smartphone in history. The iPhone 5s has more speed, memory, and performance than PCs of a few years ago and is the hub of our digital lives. Because Apple Watch will use the iPhone for Internet and connecting to other iOS apps, this creates a great moat for Apple.
  • Third-party apps boom: Developers are already waiting in the wings to build third-party Apple Watch apps, offering a robust ecosystem of existing functionality right out of the gate. Messaging, social networking, and real-time information apps will be exceptionally popular with consumers.
  • Innovation that fits in an existing product category: Unlike Google Glass, the Apple Watch is an innovative product that’s also socially acceptable to use. It fits into an existing product category that consumers understand.

With an unbroken string of successes in mobile devices, the dominance of the App Store, and the thriving iOS developer community, Apple is again poised to reinvent and dramatically upend an existing consumer-electronics category, in this case with digital watches and potentially health care and mobile payments as well. Watch out, Switzerland!


TapSense Street Team Hits TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon

Hacker Bus Street Team

Say hello to Lissette and Christina, flossing their TapSense gear at Pier 48 in San Francisco last week. They’ve been hard at work drumming up excitement for November 2nd’s Hacker Bus event. We’re extremely excited about this first-of-its-kind hackathon for mobile app developers, a storm of creation leaving SF for the GDC Next event starting November 3rd in Los Angeles. If you can’t make the trek, you can participate remotely.

Have you signed up yet?