Frequency Caps and Daily View Limits in Mobile Video: A Primer

Many publishers go through the same thought process when integrating video ads: I want to monetize my game, but I don’t want to alienate my users.

The thing is, it’s not an either/or situation. Video ads can be used in ways that incentivize the user, whether it’s with an extra life or more game play. And, when it comes to integrating them into your app, there are two powerful little controls at your disposal: Frequency Caps and Daily View Limits. Using these wisely can keep player irritation at bay while still creating value for you. Here’s how.

Frequency Capping

What it is: Frequency caps allow you to change the amount of time that elapses between ad impressions for each user. (Example: You might set your frequency cap so that users can only see one ad per hour.)

Why it matters: While watching TV, you know that every 10 minutes or so, the content will be paused for a few minutes of ads. It’s the same for Hulu or other ad-supported web content. The same principle applies with mobile ads. Providing a consistent pacing for ads (frequency capping) will help users know what to expect. In the case of opt-in ads – where users receive a reward for watching – they may even stick around the game longer because they know another one is coming.

The recommendation: On average, we recommend one 15-second ad for every 4-5 minutes your user spends in app. However, it’s very dependent on the nature of the game and the type of placement that you have. For example, if your placement speeds up some feature of the game when users watch an ad (like, growing crops faster), you’ll want to ensure users can’t “coin-farm” with video views. So, you might add a frequency cap to balance coin use and video plays as a way to speed things up.

Daily View Limits

What it is: This lets you set the number of video ads an individual can see per day.

Why it matters: If you have an opt-in placement, you’re giving something of value to the user, so you’ll want to carefully strike the right balance between those goods and your IAPs. The right idea is to monetize non-paying users with video ads, but not give so much access to the good stuff that paying users stop paying. That’s where daily view limits come in.

The recommendation: When using an opt-in (rewarded) placement, consider setting a low DVL for a game with high IAPs and a higher DVL for games with lower IAPs. With interstitial (not rewarded) placements, you can set a higher DVL, since users are receiving less value from the ad experience. If you like to do deep dives into your analytics, you could hone your DVL by determining where the majority of revenue is made. Let’s say 90% of your ad revenue is made within 8 views. Then, by setting a DVL of 8, you can maintain your revenue without spamming users.

Start Safe. Then Ramp It Up. 

Experimentation makes perfect when it comes to frequency caps and DVLs. Just remember our cardinal rule: Start conservatively – with higher frequency caps, for example – and then adjust from there. This will prevent you from accidentally miscalculating and losing users as you course-correct.

As with many things, video advertising is part art, part science. But once the balance is struck, there’s no limit to the reward.