As the mobile industry matures, developers have no shortage of options to choose from when it comes to monetizing their users. One of the most effective and time-tested methods is the mobile offerwall. It combines all the benefits of high-performing ad formats like rewarded video and playables with the fun-factor of earning virtual currency. Offerwalls have the potential to generate unparalleled eCPMs while also fostering user engagement and retention. In this brief guide, we’ll introduce you to mobile offerwalls and their benefits for mobile developers.

  1. What is a mobile offerwall?
  2. What are the benefits of mobile offerwalls?
  3. How offerwalls function
  4. How to get the most out of your offerwall

 

What is a mobile offerwall?

Offerwalls are in-app advertising units that monetize apps through incentivized engagements. They can be implemented in any app that offers virtual currency and are most commonly used in mobile games for Android and iOS platforms. Offerwalls function as storefronts in which users can complete various objectives, such as watching a video or signing up for a free trial in exchange for in-app currency. On Android, these offers can also include incentivized offers to download and install promoted apps or even reach certain milestones in the game or app’s progression.

Beginners Guide To Offerwalls

 

What are the benefits of mobile offerwalls?

Industry studies have consistently shown that mobile players are highly willing to engage with advertisements, provided they can do so on their own terms and receive something of value in return. Offerwalls satisfy this need by providing an opt-in portal for incentivized ad engagement.

Offerwalls don’t just benefit end-users: They have immense benefits for developers and advertisers as well. When a developer implements an offerwall in their app, our studies have shown that they consistently produce the following benefits:

 

How offerwalls function

After a developer integrates an offerwall into their game or app, they can add elements such as “Earn Free Currency” buttons to the native UI that produce the in-app storefront. These buttons can be placed anywhere in the app, but are most effective in the store, main menu, or “game over” screens. Upon launching the offerwall users are presented with various objectives that they may choose to complete in exchange for premium currency or in-game bonuses. This list is refreshed daily so that well-retained players can engage with new offers on a consistent basis.

Some common offerwall objectives include:

 

How to get the most out of your offerwall

When it comes to maximizing offerwall impact, mobile developers have several techniques at their disposal. By optimizing the offerwall design or strategically placing offerwall engagement CTAs, developers create a better user experience and in turn generate more revenue.

  1. Customize your offerwall – You can customize offerwalls to reflect the app’s native UI, including colors, fonts and brand imagery. A custom UI reinforces the feeling that offerwalls are part of the app experience which creates a smooth path for player engagement.
  2. Prompt users when they run out of currency – Developers can invite players to engage with the offerwall at key points during the gameplay loop. For example, a game over screen can link players to the offerwall for an extra life or additional resources.
  3. Promote offerwalls to non-payers – Developers can optimize offerwall messages and notifications by segmenting their players into three groups: payers, non-payers, and inactive users. This segmentation allows developers to maximize the value of each group without cannibalizing their IAP revenue. When implemented correctly, offerwalls have been proven to have a positive impact on player LTV:
    1. Apps with offerwalls usually have retention rates of at least 50%.
    2. Users who engage with rewarded ads are 4.5x more likely to make an in-app purchase.
    3. Currency sales increase conversion lift by up to 80%.
  4. Execute regular currency sales – Offerwalls can feature limited-time currency sales that offer higher virtual currency rewards. These deals increase the likelihood that players will engage with offerwall objectives and will continue to do so once a sale is complete.

For more tips, read our latest offerwall guide: “6 Tips For Maximizing Mobile Offerwall Revenue”.

 

The Tapjoy Offerwall

Tapjoy’s SDK allows developers to quickly and seamlessly integrate offerwalls into their apps from a centralized, easy-to-use dashboard. We also provide the tools and resources to fully customize your offerwall UI. We also know how important it is to ensure a positive experience for your players, which is why our customer support team is provides players with dedicated resources and monitored social media channels. We also offer a complete developer dashboard that grants full visibility into the reward fulfillment process and even lets you manage payouts manually. With a few simple clicks, anyone can implement custom exchange rates, launch a currency sale, or deploy in-app promotions to help drive awareness and engagement with your offerwall.

An offerwall is one of the best tools developers can use to monetize their apps, so don’t let the opportunity go to waste! For more information on the benefits of a Tapjoy-powered offerwall, download our first-party reports or check out our mobile monetization features.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Choosing the right offerwall provider is an important part of your overall mobile monetization strategy. Engineering time isn’t cheap, and every integration needs to be tied back to a clear ROI. So how do you know which offerwall provider is worth your time?

In this article, we’ll outline the questions every developer needs to ask before committing to an offerwall provider.

  1. What Level of Support Will I Receive?
  2. What Kind of Branding Options Are Available?
  3. Which Other Developers/Publishers Do You Work With?
  4. What Advertisers Do You Work With?
  5. How Much Control Do I Have Over Rewards?
  6. What Sort of eCPMs Can I Expect?

 

1. What Level of Support Will I Receive?

The most effective integrations take a holistic approach to where, when and how offerwalls fit into your game or app. Having an experienced ad monetization professional on your side makes all the difference. Before committing to an integration, be sure to find out who will be supporting your team during the process and what sort of experience they’re drawing from. Ask things like:

If you’re not confident in any of the answers provided, proceed with caution. An experienced offerwall professional should be able to steer you in the right direction when it comes to category specifics, placements, exchange rates, and more.

 

2. What Kind of Branding Options Are Available?

Offerwalls perform best when they look and feel like any other part of your game or app. The more smooth and intuitive your integration, the better it will perform. The best offerwall providers give you the freedom to customize every part of your offerwall’s appearance, including:

When offerwalls match your brand, it’s easier for players to recognize the role they play in your virtual economy. As a result, offerwall engagement (and ad revenue!) increase. Once you’ve confirmed that you’ll be able to customize your offerwall’s appearance, the next step is knowing what offers players will see.

 

3. Which Other Developers/Publishers Do You Work With?

While you should always take the time to form your own opinions of providers, having a stable of successful partners can be a helpful early indicator as to which ones are worth investigating. Ask around in your professional communities, but also free feel to ask potential providers direct questions like:

Don’t be afraid to ask for specific references, either. An experienced provider should have no shortage of satisfied clients that they can connect you with. This will help you not only verify the value of their product, but can also help you get a jump start on any best-practices that will help you get the most out of the implementation.

 

4. What Advertisers Do You Work With?

Find out who will be competing to place offers in your offerwall and what sort of control you have over what gets shown to your players. Get into specifics and ask questions like:

If control over offers is limited, or if advertisers aren’t advertising with your potential provider, it could be a red flag that they might not be what you’re looking for. For example, we here at Tapjoy work with a diverse combination of brands and app developers to ensure that we’re always able to provide your players with offers that will be relevant to their interests and encourage engagement.

Offerwall Provider Questions 2

 

5. How Much Control Do I Have Over Rewards?

Well-balanced virtual economies are the key to successful freemium games. They keep players progressing through your games and promote regular engagement through a delicate balance of supply and demand. Any major changes to that balance could have drastic consequences, which is why monetization managers need to stay in full control of their offerwalls and the rewards they provide. That means having a firm grasp on the size and variety of offers being made available. Be sure to find out the following:

Developers should be skeptical of any black-box solutions that don’t offer a transparent look into offerwall engagement levels and how they’re affecting player behavior. Make sure you’re given full visibility into how your offerwall is performing, as well as control over key variables like virtual currency exchange rates. Extra points if you’re able to introduce greater value through the offerwall at key times throughout the year (with a Currency Sale, for example).

 

6. What Sort of eCPMs Can I Expect?

Your offerwall provider should be able to give you a reliable and accurate estimate as to how much money an offerwall will generate for your business. Every game or app is different, and so much depends on where your audience is located in the world, so don’t be afraid to drill down into specifics like these:

Getting answers to questions like these will give you the information you need to weigh a commitment to any potential offerwall provider against its potential benefit to your business overall. At Tapjoy, we’re not shy about the fact that our publishing partners typically see twice as much revenue or more when they monetize their games and apps with rewarded video placements and offerwalls compared to rewarded video alone.

 

Ready To Get Started With Tapjoy Offerwalls?

We’re proud to be the leading provider of mobile offerwalls for the world’s best developers and publishers. Tapjoy offerwalls offer the following benefits for mobile developers like you:

Our developer relations team is always available to discuss opportunities and best practices for getting the most out of mobile offerwall placements. To learn more about how you can start generating more ad revenue using Tapjoy offerwalls, click the button below to contact our team.

New call-to-action

In the Tapjoy App Spotlight, we take a deep dive into the engagement, retention, and monetization strategies employed across the mobile industry’s most unique and successful titles. Through industry data-driven analysis, we identify the measurable relationships between development decisions and business outcomes to offer publishers actionable insights they can use to build successful portfolios.

After more than a year in app stores, the mobile version of the popular PC game ARK: Survival Evolved has achieved a remarkable level of sustained success. Translating this massive multiplayer survival experience from PC to mobile was no small feat. War Drum Studios began with an ambitious vision to load the mobile app with a full suite of features, and they worked closely with Studio Wildcard to make it happen.

This on-the-go version features the full online survival experience contained in the PC and console versions of ARK, including a gigantic island to explore, 80+ dinosaurs and primeval creatures to tame and train, multiplayer tribe mechanics, and of course, crafting and building.

Studio Wildcard

Thanks to ARK’s brand recognition, unique design, and an aggressive content release cycle, the mobile app has already become massively popular. With minimal paid user acquisition and an innovative adaptation of its native PC gameplay loop, War Drum Studios has managed to execute a seamless transition into mobile environments, fostering engagement with an expansive and valuable new audience.

 

Key Insights

  1. How War Drum Studios made the leap from desktop to mobile
  2. A steady stream of new content keeps users engaged
  3. ARK’s rewarded monetization & IAP strategy
  4. Brand recognition fuels the app’s current performance
  5. Global Android Reviews
  6. Global iOS Reviews
  7. Conclusion: ARK is far from extinct

 

How War Drum Studios made the leap from desktop to mobile

From the start, War Drum Studios set out to simplify mechanics without compromising aesthetics. While the title had to be optimized for the limitations of mobile interfaces, it was imperative that this not come at the cost of the exploration and discovery experiences to which the PC version owed its success. That said, fitting ARK’s expansive open-world survival gameplay onto mobile devices presented a number of technical and design challenges, some of which Art Director Morgan Hughes discussed in a presentation at the 2019 Unreal Engine Conference. What was originally intended for long-term, curiosity-driven gaming sessions on desktop would need to be scaled down to offer meaningful and compelling gameplay interactions at a fraction of the time and with fewer input capabilities.

Features had to be cut and systems rejigged. The number of in-game creatures was reduced to roughly 80 in the interest of concision and size while user interface elements were scaled up to accommodate touchscreen inputs on tablets and phones. A more forgiving combat system was introduced in order to fuel a time-based virtual economy that promoted regular scheduled engagement at shorter intervals as opposed to longer sessions.

The cold-open approach to survival gameplay that’s common to desktop survival titles also had to be replaced, knowing that mobile users are often likely to churn within even the first few seconds of gameplay. A more curated experience was developed, as War Drum Studios added a linear quest system designed to better orient players with its mobile-specific systems and encourage pursuit of meaningful rewards as early as possible. Players were introduced to all aspects of the virtual economy, including rewarded ad placements and power of premium currency, within the first intended session. This ensured they were well educated by the time the game’s open-world aesthetics were reintroduced and monetization strategies could be put into place.

Finally, by treating the mobile version of ARK as its own entity, the developers at War Drum Studios were able to give players experiences that are exclusive to this version. Speaking with Tapjoy, War Drum Studio’s Lead Community Manager Jordan Kleeman said, “Since we treat this as a separate product from the PC and console game, there’s lots of things we’ll do that are unique to the mobile game, like weekly dungeons. This sort of mobile-only content keeps a steady stream of users coming back to ARK week after week.”

 

A steady stream of new content keeps users engaged

The mobile version of ARK: Survival Evolved is unique in its approach to user acquisition, in that it makes little to no use of paid advertising. While paid UA is often a staple of mobile game marketing strategies, they are actually the minority contributor to the title’s DAU. Organic acquisition, thanks in large part to its existing brand recognition and frequent content release cycle, has been sufficient to drive a steady flow of high quality installs for the entire year that it’s been in the market.

A quick glance at the game’s version history shows that it’s not uncommon for the developers at War Drum Studios to push 1-3 and sometimes even five releases per month. Each update involves exciting new content, rather than just bug fixes. Kleeman regularly releases developer update videos which review upcoming app features. The studio’s commitment to fresh content allows them to consistently reactivate their existing player base with update notifications for fresh content, ready to be consumed.

As Kleeman told us, these updates are “incredibly important” to ARK’s ongoing mobile success. “The games industry is moving more and more towards live service games,” he said. “It was important to us… to make sure that we’re constantly releasing new things to keep our players engaged and give them reasons to keep coming back.”

This is the kind of developer activity keeps users equally engaged, and that sustained user engagement has earned ARK a substantial visibility in the app stores. ARK: Survival Evolved has benefited from hundreds of store category/country feature placements on the Google Play store in the past month alone. ARK has been featured across 16 countries in the following categories:

Many of these featured placements have been in the “Best New Updates” section, which provides a visibility boost in addition to the natural spike in DAU resulting from update notifications that players receive whenever new content is released. Frequent content updates have kept players engaged and a strong relationship with store platforms has kept ARK visible to new users allowing for continued organic growth. It’s this virtuous flywheel that has allowed War Drum Studios to consistently keep ARK in the charts. These app store features have enabled ARK to maintain a consistently high rate of new downloads, despite the absence of a paid UA strategy.

 

Estimated July 2019 Downloads (via SensorTower)

 

ARK’s Rewarded Monetization & IAP Strategy

Unlike desktop, ARK’s mobile version employs the free-to-play business model. Revenue is generated through rewarded ad placements and in-app purchases; according to Kleeman, “the split is probably 30% ad revenue, 70% in-app purchases, with most ad revenue coming from our offerwall and rewarded ad placements.” ARK uses rewarded ads as part of their core engagement loop, providing players the ability to level up, progress through content faster, or acquire the Ancient Amber virtual currency. The app also offers a number of “free gifts” in the form of valuable objects, including food, medicine, or armor. These free gifts can be acquired by watching a rewarded video ad every two hours.

As the game’s only hard currency, Ancient Amber figures prominently into ARK’s virtual economy. The use-cases of this currency are tied directly to gameplay mechanics, as opposed to timers or cooldowns. While this can lead to a relatively low average revenue per paying user in other game genres, the sophistication of ARK’s gameplay systems and economy design provides ample opportunity for players to derive value from repeat purchases. Paying users typically convert on multiple premium items, making for an active late-game community responsible for generating the majority of the game’s revenue.

That said, ARK does offer things like timers and cooldowns too. “We have a wealth of in-app purchases,” Kleeman explained. “‘Paying for convenience’ is sort of our motto for the items we sell in-game.”

To further cultivate this dynamic, War Drum Studios employed a VIP program monetization strategy. It uses the relatively new subscription based monetization functionality provided by Google and Apple to offer its most devoted players a better class of gameplay experience designed around frequent engagement. The “Primal Pass” IAP can be purchased on a monthly or annual basis and includes the following features:

 

Estimated July 2019 Revenue (via SensorTower)

 

Ark Survival Evolved

 

Brand recognition fuels the app’s current performance

ARK’s powerful brand recognition has allowed it to sustain consistent profitability and reach. The decision to optimize in-game assets for older devices allowed it to thrive in geos where current gen device adoption is lower. At the time of writing, App Annie data places ARK’s Android version among the top 10 grossing Android apps within Mexico (#6), Ecuador (#7), Saudi Arabia (#7), Colombia (#9), and India (#10).

“We knew making the transition from console and PC to mobile would be a challenge, but our investments in mobile-specific game aesthetics paid off. ARK is also a powerful brand, and that brand recognition has been a primary driver of our success on mobile. Our PC community is already highly active and engaged, and many of these same users have taken the liberty to review our mobile edition publicly and positively. There’s always active discussion on our forum regarding the ARK app and we are incredibly grateful for this vibrant community.” – Marc Diana, VP of Partnerships and Marketing at Studio Wildcard.

In addition to the top grossing charts, ARK benefits from prominent visibility in its gaming sub-category charts on both Android and iOS

This sustained community engagement and consistently high review scores have increased the app’s visibility radically, resulting in a steady flow of organic downloads.
 
 

Global Android Reviews

Ark Android reviews

Key:    = # of positive reviews,     = # of negative reviews

 

Global iOS Reviews

Ark iOS reviews

 

ARK is far from extinct

War Drum Studios has managed to translate unique open-world gameplay, varied monetization strategies, and a strong content development machine onto mobile platforms in order to make ARK: Survival Evolved a major success story. Though theirs might not be the most universal approach, it’s a valuable reminder not to underestimate the potential of a strong franchise to navigate new environments and generate value for its creators.

 

New call-to-action

Offerwall monetization can be incredibly effective for mobile developers. It provides an engaging opt-in monetization option for users, increasing ad revenue and improving overall engagement.

However, it isn’t a fit for every app. Offerwalls drive revenue by providing value, and they can’t do that if your game or app doesn’t leverage a few fundamental parts of traditional freemium app design. In this article, we’ll walk through some key questions every developer should ask themselves before committing resources to an offerwall integration.

  1. Does Your Game Have A Virtual Economy?
  2. Would Your Community Respond Well To An Offerwall?
  3. Will Offerwall Monetization Positively Impact Your Virtual Economy?
  4. Can You Ensure Visibility For The Offerwall?

 

1. Does Your Game Have A Virtual Economy?

One of the main benefits of a in-app offerwall is that it provides players with an extra avenue to further engage with the games they love when they may not wish to make an in-app purchase. Like many aspects of free-to-play games, offerwalls depend on a strong relationship between supply and demand. If interaction with your game’s core features doesn’t depend on some element of a virtual economy, offerwalls might not be a right fit.

If your game does include a virtual currency based economy, then offerwalls likely have a place in your core engagement loop. They are most effective when they serve as a source of currency that’s in particularly high demand. In freemium economy terms, this is typically referred to as a game’s “hard currency”.

Unlike soft currency, which players can typically earn through gameplay, hard currency is more valuable and is typically kept scarce to foster demand. It’s this high demand that motivates players to complete IAPs, but can also be channeled into providing value for developers through offerwalls and other kinds of rewarded ads.

Concerns over IAP cannibalization have been widely disproven by a variety of industry studies, including our own. In fact, offerwalls have been found, in many cases, to increase conversion rates and average spend per user by fostering greater levels of overall engagement. With that in mind, it’s still important to take a qualitative look at your user base and consider what it could mean to them.

 

2. Would Your Community Respond Well To An Offerwall?

Many games are solitary entertainment experiences, but some let players interact with each other, giving rise to organic community interactions on social media, subreddits, fan sites and Discord channels. Many developers come to depend on these communities for organic user acquisition and retention. Before adding an offerwall, ask yourself what impact it might have on your community dynamic.

It’s been our experience that when it comes to free-to-play titles, most communities would benefit from adding an additional currency source. Rewarded ad placements of any kind can often end up in blog posts and articles shared by experienced players in an effort to help newcomers.

Starting fresh with offerwalls integrated at launch is one sure-fire way to ensure that they’re well received. If you’re updating an existing app to include an offerwall, it’s a good idea to notify your community through patch notes and social media channels to make sure you get the word out.

 

3. Will Offerwall Monetization Positively Impact Your Virtual Economy?

While economies of any kind can quickly get complex, they’re fundamentally comprised of two things: sinks and sources. Sinks are any opportunity for players to spend currency, and sources are ways to earn it. It’s critical that these two are kept in constant balance in order to fuel engagement. Too many sinks and players might get frustrated. Too many sources and they won’t have anything to aspire to.

Adding an offerwall means introducing a potentially powerful source into your game economy, and so they perform best as part of an economy with an equal or greater number of sinks. These come in many forms, but can include any of the standard freemium economy drivers, including:

If your game or app offers players indefinite opportunities to engage meaningfully through hard currency transactions with assets like those listed above, then it’s likely a great fit for offerwall monetization. If you have only a limited number of ways for players to spend currency, consider adding more before finding ways for an offerwall to fit into your overall strategy.

Offerwall Monetization 2

 

4. Can You Ensure Visibility For The Offerwall?

The revenue generated by any rewarded ad placement is limited by the number of opportunities players have to engage with it. Furthermore, offerwall engagement increases the closer it is to moments in the user experience in which players feel the need for hard currency. If your game or app includes one or more high-traffic bits of UI where players can experience demand for hard currency without interrupting gameplay, then an offerwall is again likely to fit nicely into your economy at large. Some examples of ideal placements include:

Some of these placements drive higher conversions than others. Ideally, each offerwall will have multiple access points in order to maximize engagement. As with any monetization tactic, user experience comes first. If you can integrate an offerwall in such a way that players don’t feel distracted or annoyed by your placement then you’re in good shape for boosting ad revenue, engagement, and retention. Remember – offerwalls is are an opt-in experience for your users.

Implement Offerwall Monetization With Tapjoy

As offerwalls become more common across the in-app ecosystem, it’s crucial to ensure that yours provides a seamless and engaging user experience. That means ensuring full control over things like conversion rates, display frequencies, branding, and more.

If you replied “yes” to one or more of the questions, then we should talk!  As the originators of the mobile offerwall format, we here at Tapjoy have spent more than 10 years perfecting the practice of offerwall monetization and helping countless developers use offerwalls to add a powerful new revenue stream to their business. Click the button below to get in touch with one of our monetization experts and learn more about offerwall monetization with Tapjoy!

New call-to-action

For nearly a decade, mobile publishers and developers have relied on ad waterfalls to monetize their user bases. It’s an approach that made sense given the technical limitations of the time, but new developments are allowing for more advanced strategies to take root. It’s time for a change, and we believe programmatic mediation, sometimes referred to as in-app header bidding, is the way forward. Understanding why starts with recognizing the shortcomings of ad waterfalls.

 

How the waterfall model falls short

The mechanics of ad waterfalls contain a number of biases, some less useful than others. Their reliance on estimated revenue per ad impression means that demand sources with the best historical track records are given the greatest opportunity, while others rarely get the chance to prove their value. It’s a model given to both negative and positive momentum. 

The top demand sources tend to stay at the top, delivering high eCPMs for the majority of ad impressions, while the lower sources are only given occasional opportunities to deliver value. As a result, publishers are able to realize greater value than if they were to depend on a single demand source, but not as much as if every source were given the chance to demonstrate their strengths consistently. These blind spots can mean missed opportunities for publishers, especially as the entire ecosystem develops a stronger understanding of who their audience is. 

As mobile targeting capabilities grow, it has become easier for demand sources to determine which customers are most valuable to them. In these circumstances, a lower-waterfall network might actually be willing to pay more for impressions to these audiences than networks ranked above it.

Waterfall mediation was a good and natural progression from the manual management of individual ad networks, but it’s proven to be inefficient when it comes to giving each demand source a level playing field to compete for the most valuable inventory.Amit Bhojwani, Head of Partner Management, Facebook Audience Network said. “Bidding flattens the waterfall and gives every network the opportunity to compete for publishers’ inventory.

“Waterfall mediation is certainly widely used, but it also makes it harder for smaller demand sources to compete at a premium level — even when they have the means to pay premium prices,” Jackie Cooper, Manager of Professional Services at MoPub said.  “Programmatic mediation levels the playing field by allowing all demand sources to truly target their most valuable markets in a way that is both transparent and competitive.”

For example, a premium source with a stronger track record may be willing to bid $1 for an ad impression, but a secondary network with greater knowledge of this particular user would pay $3 to reach a key market segment. If the premium network fills demand in this scenario, the publisher is missing out on revenue that was hidden behind the waterfall’s prioritization. Even worse, because the secondary network fulfills impressions less frequently, the average price that determines waterfall rankings can become volatile and prone to error.

From this perspective, waterfalls run counter to mediation’s intended purpose of maximizing publisher revenue. So what can be done?

 

What in-app bidding means for the ad ecosystem

Programmatic mediation represents a more effective and transparent mechanism for monetizing apps through the power of in-app bidding. Instead of prioritizing networks and contacting them consecutively, in-app bidding solutions contact each integrated network concurrently and provide an opportunity to buy the impression in a real-time auction. By offering these opportunities to multiple demand sources at the same time, programmatic mediation platforms can increase competition, maximize yield, and diversify demand for each impression.

“For years, in-app ad monetisation suffered from inefficiencies, lost revenue, and an overall lack of transparency,” Amit Bhojwani, Head of Partner Management, Facebook Audience Network said. “Impartial systems that award impressions to the highest bidder help in solving these problems directly and create new opportunities for sustainable ad businesses.”

Let’s revisit the scenario mentioned earlier — where the high-paying premium network offers $1 for an impression, but the secondary demand source offers $3. In a real-time auction, the higher bid of the secondary source means it wins the impression and pays more revenue to the publisher.

“The meritocracy of real-time bidding for in-app advertising makes a world of difference for publishers,” Jayme Farrell-Ranker, Senior Product Growth Manager at MoPub explained. “In recent A/B tests, publishers using our in-app bidding solution, Advanced Bidding, saw increases in ARPDAU of up to 45% and enjoyed the reduced overhead that comes with switching to a unified solution.”

Advertisers benefit from in-app bidding solutions as well. The transparent nature of programmatic mediation creates an equal playing field for all demand sources. It allows advertisers to leverage market data to determine whether an end user warrants increasing the bid’s value. Suddenly, the broader advertising ecosystem is more sustainable as it increases buyer confidence and matches the right ads to the right audience.

 

Implementation 

Despite the notable benefits of in-app bidding, much of the industry remains entrenched in waterfall models. Transitioning to programmatic solutions will take time, but steps can be taken to implement them more effectively:

1. Choosing the right model – Programmatic or Hybrid

Exclusively programmatic in-app bidding is not the only solution available to publishers. In this transition period, hybrid models allow publishers to monetize apps through auctions while still prioritizing direct partners. This combines the best elements of both models by allowing publishers to continue to get the most out of their existing demand relationships while providing new opportunities to experiment.

2. Auction density

Flattening the waterfall with in-app bidding is a great first step to increasing competition. The second step is to maximize the number of demand sources on your platform. Even within hybrid models, the more partners you have taking part in auctions, the greater the benefits will be for publishers and advertisers alike.

3. Reviewing your Results

When transitioning networks from a traditional waterfall integration to a bidding integration, publishers need to ensure they measure performance changes effectively. Additionally, when running a hybrid waterfall that contains both bidding and fixed price/auto optimised demand, it’s important to measure the share of voice bidding partners have in the overall demand mix, as well as the impact bidding has on non-bidding demand that remains within your app. By reviewing overall ad APRDAU publishers can best measure the effectiveness of programmatic mediation.

 

Ultimately, programmatic mediation benefits publishers as competition increases on a per impression level. On the flip side, demand partners get greater transparency on available supply, improving advertiser confidence and long term performance.

New call-to-action

Well, it’s official: With the start of spooky season, Q4 2019 is underway. But don’t get out the 2020 planning calendar just yet; there’s still a ball to drop and champagne to pop. New Year’s is a unique opportunity for direct to consumer marketers — those who capture the spirit of the holiday with killer marketing campaigns capture consumers’ hearts.

New call-to-action

On major retail holidays, like Black Friday, DTC brands often get drowned out by retailers’ massive holiday sales, but they can still make a play for the last festive event of the year. By New Year’s Eve, those big retailers have typically run out of steam — after all, they’ve been pushing their deals for two months straight. It’s the perfect time for DTC brands to get in on the holiday action. Of course, your New Year’s campaign needs to be smart, creative, and holiday-appropriate, which is never an easy task. We’ve put together some top-tier New Year promotion ideas to help you ring in the new year.

 

New Year’s Promotion Ideas

  1. Make a New Year’s Resolution
  2. Kick Off a Resolution-Themed Promotion
  3. Use the New Year to Reinvent Your Brand
  4. Go Big on Mobile
  5. Hold Out for Lunar New Year

 

1. Make a New Year’s Resolution

What makes New Year’s so exciting is that it’s all about new possibilities. You can let go of the past and look to the future. That’s why so many people make resolutions to kick off a new year; it’s the perfect time to think about what you want to accomplish and set some goals to make your dreams come through.

That’s exactly what Frank & Oak did to ring in 2019. The DTC fashion brand is committed to making environmentally conscious clothing, so it’s only fitting that it pledged to reduce waste and increase their eco-friendly efforts last year. This kind of ethical, responsible business is very appealing to gen Z and gen Y consumers, who tend to make up the bulk of DTC businesses. For your own New Year’s resolution, consider pledging to make a difference of some sort, rather than getting lost in the consumerist blitz of the holiday season.

That’s not all Frank & Oak did to celebrate, though. The company also guided customers on making 2019 their most stylish year yet. With the season of giving coming to a close, New Year’s is a great time to treat yourself, and Frank & Oak showed how some fashionable new garb could help fans achieve their goals for the coming year.

New Year Marketing Strategy 2

 

2. Kick Off a Resolution-Themed Promotion

Making a New Year’s resolution is a great start, but DTC companies can expand on that idea by inspiring their customers to set goals of their own. Imperfect Produce did just that with its Food Waste Bingo promotion, which encouraged customers to save money and reduce with a set of realistic, easily achievable goals. Simple tips like swapping out plastic, disposable coffee cups for reusable mugs go a long way towards cutting down on food waste, which is right in line with Imperfect Produce’s stated goals. The New Year promotion also shed light on the fact that becoming an Imperfect Produce customer goes a long way towards reducing food waste.

When you involve your customers in the resolution-making process, it gets people talking. Imperfect Produce encouraged fans to share their progress on social media with trackable hashtags and sweetened the pot by offering a box of produce as a prize for participating. When creating your own resolution-themed promotion, think about how to engage customers — if you’re lucky, your brand will become a part of their vision for the new year.

 

3. Use the New Year to Reinvent Your Brand

You’ve probably heard the phrase “new year, new you,” but how about “new year, new brand”? Okay, that latter one might not be sweeping the nation anytime soon, but given the spirit of reinvention that comes around every January 1st or so, New Year’s is the right time to refresh your brand.

This is especially true if you’re seeing a loss of customers, as meal-delivery service Blue Apron did after its 2017 IPO. After stock prices fell nearly 70% below their initial offer, Blue Apron used the transition to 2018 as a fresh start. Starting in January, Blue Apron’s messaging reflected “the transformative power of home cooking,” showing customers that its product was more than just ingredients in a box. The rebranding campaign was a success, as its Q1 2018 earnings showed. So if your brand messaging has gotten off track, take the opportunity to introduce customers to the new you when the ball drops.

New Year Marketing Strategy 3

 

4. Go Big on Mobile

Mobile should always be a consideration of any modern marketing campaign, but this is especially true in the lead-up to the New Year. Why? Because smartphones are one of the most popular holiday gifts on the market. With the influx of new devices comes heavy mobile traffic, so it’s the perfect time to really make your mobile strategy shine.

Popular glasses DTC brand Warby Parker did that earlier this year, using the new year as an opportunity to unveil its new AR-powered virtual try-on app. The AR app gives customers an in-store experience without having to leave their homes, or even get off their phones. As Warby Parker proved, New Year’s is an ideal moment to launch a new app, double down on mobile video, or start a CPA campaign because that’s where consumers will be most engaged and attentive. Keep that in mind as the end of 2019 draws near; mobile marketing is a must, especially for DTC brands looking to cut through the holiday noise.

 

5. Hold Out for Lunar New Year

If you’re feeling like the holiday season is a bit too cramped for you to make an impact, you could always hold out for Lunar New Year. DTC brands Barkbox and S’well did just that in 2019, waiting for the end-of-year madness to die down before releasing special Lunar New Year–themed products. For Barkbox, that meant a festive, on-theme box went out in February. Meanwhile, S’well took the opportunity to release an exclusive Lunar New Year 2019 water bottle with a lovely cherry blossom design.

If you really want to make an impact, waiting for Lunar New Year could be an effective marketing strategy for smaller DTC brands. You’ll be competing with fewer companies, increasing your odds of grabbing customers’ attention. At the same time, you can still tap into those New Year’s feelings of renewal and fresh opportunities.

New Year Marketing Strategy 4

 

It might feel like DTC companies don’t have a chance going up against big retailers during the holiday season, but that simply isn’t true. You just have to find your own strategy and get creative about your message — and make sure you’re targeting the right audiences, which is why mobile advertising is so key. And of course, timing is everything, which is why New Year’s is ideal for direct to consumer brands that already offer affordable prices year-round. So get that champagne ready and take advantage of the opportunity! When you’re ready to get your own New Year promotion ideas rolling, the experts at Tapjoy are here to help.

Known for its casual gaming phenomenons like Words With Friends and Farmville, Zynga is a global leader in social games. We spoke with Head of Global Ad Sales Gabrielle Heyman and learned more about the kinds of engaging mobile ad campaigns that resonate with players.

What We Learned:

New call-to-action

 

Hi, Gabrielle! Could you please introduce yourself and describe your role within Zynga?

I’m Head of Global Ad Sales, which means my team partners directly with brands and agencies via both private programmatic and direct I/O. We specialize in mobile in-app media with a focus on video and engagement solutions for advertisers.

 

What are Zynga’s overall best practices for connecting with consumers?

Players are at the core of everything we do, whether it’s making games or delivering ad experiences. The first thing you see when you enter our HQ in San Francisco is a sign that says “What will our players thank us for?” Zynga is social mobile game publisher – and our mission is to connect the world through the power of play. Our best practices focus on connection and engagement; most of our features, as well as many of our ad experiences, revolve around that.

 

Hundreds of millions of people play mobile games every single day. What has your experience taught you about the majority of these players and their gaming habits?

Globally, billions of people play mobile games – the young, the old, across nearly all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Play is universal. Since the first iPhone was released, there has been a seismic shift in how people consume entertainment, and that includes gaming. People play because it’s social, it helps them destress, and it’s quick and easy to play anytime on the go. There is a mobile game for everyone, and since most are free to play, the barrier to entry is low.

 

Zynga pioneered so many mobile advertising and monetization trends we’ve watched unfold over the past decade. How has Zynga’s approach or strategy changed over that time, and why?

I started at Zynga six and a half years ago, just as we were beginning our shift from web to mobile.  It used to be significantly easier to get a game to the top of the charts, and we used to release games more frequently. These days, the market is far more saturated. Nearly 50,000 games were released on the iOS App Store and Google Play in Q2 2019 alone. It’s more expensive to break through the clutter.

A few years ago Zynga decided to double down on our live services by continuing to program engaging features in our forever franchises like Words with Friends, Zynga Poker, and CSR Racing 2. Words with Friends just had its best quarter in its history, and it’s mostly ad-supported. We’ve also become more selective about the games we release; we are more stringent in the greenlight and release process. Finally, we’ve acquired some amazing game studios, bringing new audiences and talent to the mix.

 

Two of the most popular ad formats in mobile gaming are video and playables. How does each compare in importance to marketers? What are some of the best applications of each?

Video remains best in class to brand advertisers. And video really is one of the best kept secrets in mobile gaming. We have a lot of quality, viewable, high-VCR impressions. We are seeing a lot of demand from clients running first impression takeovers when they want to make a high-reach splash.

We give brands a choice between opt-in video and interstitial video. Interstitials are one of the most flexible and misunderstood ad units around. They can accommodate video, playables, and statics. For interstitial video, 15 seconds is the gold standard in terms of max length, but clients are also finding a lot of success with six-second video and vertical video. Opt-in video has more flexibility on length since there is a value exchange, so we accept up to thirty seconds there. Opt-in is what consumers prefer, but advertisers are still playing catch-up on leveraging that unit.

 

You’ve partnered with IAB in the past to educate brands and agencies about advertising. Why is this work important? What initiatives on this front are you particularly excited about?

Mobile gaming is still underrepresented in the brands advertising mix, so it’s important for the industry to come together to advocate. The IAB Games committee allows us to align on advocacy work for the category. More consumers game than advertisers purchase ads in a gaming environment. Our work in the past has included education on playables, opt-in video, app.ads.txt, and more. This year, we’ve had a presence at several IAB conferences, and we look forward to continuing this important work.

 

What are the biggest challenges mobile advertisers face in the next five years, and what can be done about them?

So much changes in six months that I can’t even begin to ponder what five years in the future looks like. Certainly, 5G will bring huge technology innovation in games and mobile. In the short term, mobile in-app ads need to sort out some lingering ad tech challenges, mostly around conversion, attribution, and measurement. We’ve come a long way, but most of ad tech has been built for a desktop and mobile web world. Just today I heard of a major automotive company who banned mobile apps because their ad server couldn’t track attribution. I was disappointed that their solution was to just ban mobile in-app media – this is where their consumers are spending most of their time and researching their next car!

 

Which current mobile trends are particularly exciting to you? What innovations are you looking forward to moving ahead?

We are just at the start of a revolution in how people consume entertainment, and mobile gaming is at the forefront. I’m proud that gaming has held user privacy in such high regard – with the California Privacy Act and GDPR I think this aspect of games will be embraced by brands and consumers alike. I’m also excited to see new applications that will help society. Imagine a game which gives you carbon credits and you can manage your negative contribution to the environment and trade carbon credits with neighbors. I’d love to see that!

 

Are there any people in mobile whose work or achievements you admire?

I had the privilege to work at Yahoo! during the aughts and it’s been so fun to see so many of my colleagues build mobile businesses at some of the giants like Facebook, Snapchat, Google, Amazon, and so on. I’ve been lucky to have some amazing managers at Zynga – Ben Webley is now at Facebook and Julie Shumaker is at Unity. My current boss, Scott Konigsberg, has a PM background so he is teaching me to be even more rigorous in applying data and learnings to our strategy moving ahead.

Tapjoy would like to thank Gabrielle Heyman for taking the time to join us. For more insights from our Mobile Champions, check out our interview with Bryan Davis, Senior VP at Big Blue Bubble.

For a limited time, developers can kickstart their offerwall monetization with 10% cash back from Tapjoy!

Offerwalls enable developers to monetize both paying and non-paying users, drive engagement, and increase retention, all while ensuring a high-quality user experience. It’s no surprise that over 15% or the top 100 highest-grossing apps use offerwalls as a core strategy. Developers aren’t the only ones that are excited about offerwalls — Tapjoy studies have shown that mobile gamers prefer rewarded ads to interstitials 4-to-1. Read on to learn more!

 

Offerwalls maximize ad monetization & user engagement

As part of a special Q4 program, Tapjoy will be offering 10% cash back to new developers who implement a new offerwall integration. For developers, that means sky-high CPMs, among other benefits. But what exactly is an offerwall, and why are they so effective?

An offerwall is a premium opt-in ad unit that monetizes apps through incentivized, contextual ad engagement. They are commonly implemented in mobile games, but they are applicable to any app with a basic economic structure. Offerwalls are typically presented as portals to an ad storefront in which users can complete an action in exchange for in-app rewards. The integration is highly customizable to ensure a native experience. Offerwalls supplement IAP revenue by providing an alternative path for players to earn premium benefits. The most popular types of offers include rewarded video ads, playable mini-games, down-stream actions such as sign-ups, new game discovery, and other in-app activities. Because it’s always the user’s choice to visit the offerwall, these units drive unparalleled engagement. 

 

5 reasons to partner with Tapjoy this quarter

  1. Accelerate your monetization by partnering with the undisputed offerwall market leader for over ten years
  2. Drive higher CPMs across the board (as high as $138 for iOS users in the US!)
  3. Maximize IAP conversions (users who engage with rewarded ads are 4.5X more likely to make in-app purchases)
  4. Boost average daily sessions by as much as 34% among users who engage with rewarded ads
  5. Increase retention by up to 4X (players who engage with rewarded ads have a retention rate of at least 50% compared to the benchmark of 13%)

 

Program Terms & Conditions

*10% cash back applies to offerwall revenue only.

 

[Download the full program description here]

 

Get started with the Tapjoy offerwall in under 24 hours

The Tapjoy SDK includes a combined rewarded video and offerwall platform that can be customized to meet your specific monetization needs. Our offerwalls are compatible with Android and iOS platforms and can be customized to match your app’s brand and UI.

 

Contact ben.chen@tapjoy.com to get started!

In the age of always-connected devices, direct to consumer companies have found more ways than ever to connect with audiences. This shift has led to a renaissance in the DTC category: Social media has replaced the mail-order catalog, and modern-day consumers embrace the hype with word-of-mouth. Whether they’re selling glasses, razors, mattresses, or cleaning products, modern brands are eschewing traditional retail strategy in favor of selling directly to customers.

For years, DTC brands have relied heavily on Google and Facebook for customer acquisition — and for good reason. Billions of people use these platforms daily, making both high-profile options for digital advertising. Although Google and Facebook are ideal for generating awareness, down-funnel engagement is a struggle. For instance,  67% of users report that they have not purchased “from” nor directly within social media. On top of that, customer acquisition costs are rising, and Google and Facebook remain expensive. To stretch their marketing budgets further, direct to consumer companies must find new channels for user acquisition and target down-stream engagement metrics.

New call-to-action

 

Create memorable, personalized experiences

The influence of Google and Facebook ought not to be discounted, but modern DTC brands are experimenting with new ways to drive ROAS. Alternative channels may not yield the same number of views, but if you deliver a memorable experience, they could drive more consumers to the purchase.

To do that, you’ll have to make your ads a little more personal. DTC marketers are always coming up with new ways to tailor products to their intended audiences. Often, the customer journey even begins with a personalized quiz. For example, vitamin brand Care/of quizzes customers and delivers personalized supplement recommendations. Similarly, haircare brand Prose specializes in making custom shampoo and conditioner based on customers’ hair texture, health, and environment. These kinds of experiences could easily translate into the mobile advertising environment.

In fact, mobile advertising is becoming an increasingly common strategy for brands looking to deliver personalized value. Playable ads, in particular, have surged in popularity over the past few years. IAB defines playables as “a single ad unit that combines interactivity [with] gamification to enable full-funnel marketing brand communications (attention, education, and action).” Direct to consumer brands are already seizing the opportunity, launching memorable mini-games that delight consumers and gently encourage a purchase. In fact, according to eMarketer, US agency professionals cited playables as the single most effective format for in-app advertising.

Furthermore, rewarded advertising in the in-app environment is a particularly powerful approach for creating memorable ad experiences. In a rewarded model, app users receive an in-app bonus, such as coins in their favorite game, just for engaging. Then the experience drives to the purchase as a secondary organic action. Alternatively, customers could be rewarded for signing up for a free trial. Virtual rewards foster brand affinity because it’s a two-way exchange of value.

 

Think about the end-game — Not clicks or impressions

It’s time to stop thinking about views and clicks as the most important measures of success. Since the dawn of internet advertising, marketers have chased these metrics, wanting to get ads in front of as many eyes as possible and entice a good percentage of those viewers to click through. The truth is, with so many screens and apps vying for users’ attention and so many brands to choose from, that’s simply not enough anymore.

Instead of running campaigns on a cost-per-mille (CPM) impressions basis, explore options like CPA — cost-per-action (also known as cost-per-acquisition). In CPA advertising, brands only pay for ads when the customer completes a desired action, such as a purchase. For instance, DTC brands that leverage a subscription model could run a CPA campaign that invites users to sign up for a discounted first month. Another popular CPA tactic is to encourage users to sign up for regular newsletters or emails. This is a particularly good option for brands whose content marketing is on point.

 

Keep it simple, streamlined, and relevant

DTC brands need to return to the tried and true tactics that have always served them: keeping things simple and relevant. These principles are evident in their products and websites, and they must extend to their advertising. Men’s shaving supplies company Harry’s is an expert at this: The brand earned over a million customers in its first two years in business by being straight-forward and user-friendly. Its website keeps things clean and streamlined, limiting itself to a few categories and only a handful of products within each. As a result, when someone sees an ad and clicks through, they’ll find an easy-to-navigate user experience where they can quickly find exactly what they’re looking for. Digital ads can follow this same philosophy — but remember, simple doesn’t mean boring. Whatever kind of interaction you’re hoping to achieve, it has to be designed intuitively so that potential customers can find their way to the desired result.

Finally, you can’t discount the advantage of influencers in today’s market. Influential YouTube steamers and social media users often have followings numbering millions of people, many of whom are active viewers. Studying the social media techniques that boosted these personalities to internet success could also be a successful technique in your own marketing campaigns.

 

While Google and Facebook still have their roles in the DTC marketing industry, gone are the days when they’re the only way to reach consumers or measure success. The successful modern DTC retailer is constantly evaluating new channels of communication, analyzing its own strengths and weaknesses, and evolving along with technology. For more information about modern DTC user acquisition and advertising, contact the experts at Tapjoy!

Programmatic advertising has been a game-changer for many online retailers. The ability to automate the buying and selling of ads saves time and streamlines marketing campaigns. However, this modern convenience soon gave rise to another problem: advertising fraud. In other words, unauthorized resellers found ways to claim and spoof inventories as their own, even when they weren’t authorized to sell it.

Enter Ads.txt, a fraud-fighting program released by IAB Tech Labs in 2017. Two years later, the research and development consortium has released a newer version, called App-Ads.txt, that cuts down on mobile advertising fraud within apps themselves.

Benefits

As an app publisher, adopting this specification allows your in-app advertising inventory to remain eligible and verifiable to programmatic buyers, allowing you to successfully reach your monetization goals. It reduces fraudulent in-app inventory from marketing campaigns, as well as identifying and blocking instances of unauthorized developer impersonation.

Implementation

Implementing the app-ads.txt specification primarily relies on the following steps, though details may vary depending on your own infrastructure.

  1. Create a publicly accessible website for your app (example: www.mybestgame.com).
  2. Specify the website in the developer website section of the app store at the time of your app submission.
  3. On your website, create and publish an app-ads.txt file that should be accessible at /app-ads.txt location (example: mybestgame.com/app-ads.txt). Make sure to carefully proofread all content.
  4. The file should be saved as a text file and the content of the file should be one line for each of your direct sellers and resellers. 

How to authorize Tapjoy as a Digital Seller

  1. Define the ad source domain:  For Tapjoy, this will be tapjoy.com
  2. Input the publisher ID: This ID is unique for each publisher partner. You can find this information on the Tapjoy Dashboard on the page for your app under Settings. 
    To locate your unique publisher ID, first navigate to your App on Tapjoy Dashboard and then click on the
    App Settings under Settings in the top navigation bar:

    On this App Settings page, select the API Keys tab and Publisher ID is one of the available values:
  3. Designate the relationship type: For Tapjoy, you can put ‘DIRECT.’ Please list Rubicon Project, our programmatic demand provider, as ‘RESELLER.’
  4. List the ad source ID: This is the ad source’s TAG ID. For Tapjoy, this will be 29e595b1aeb5904d

All four parameters must be separated by a comma and a separate line must be used for each authorized partner. Be sure to proofread your file as errors can be costly.

For example, for Tapjoy, and Rubicon Project as our programmatic demand provider, the two entries in the file are:

This IAB-recommended best practice of specifying resellers of your inventory keeps your reach at its fullest potential and helps prevent domain spoofing against your app.

For more information on all things mobile advertising, reach out to the experts at Tapjoy today!