Oct 30th 2019

3 Golden Rules of In-App Monetization

If you’re a publisher who relies on in-app monetization, you might be agonizing over how to gain more revenue without interrupting your apps’ user experience with mobile ads. To help publishers on our network succeed, here are Vungle’s three golden rules for mobile app monetization that earns you more — without sacrificing your users’ loyalty.

Rule 1: Placement is king.

An ad’s placement determines about 70% of its success. Sometimes developers are hesitant to front-load their apps with ads; no one wants to be bombarded with ads from the get-go. However, hiding ads might end up reducing your impression rates and negatively impacting your monetization. Here are some ideas that encourage ad engagement in user-friendly ways:

  • Place ads in your app’s mailbox or notification center. Users love to check their messages for free items or new features before diving into the app.
  • Turn ads into rewards when the user needs it the most. Gift users with extra lives, hints, secret levels, or bonus material for watching a video ad. Users will choose to engage with an ad if it means getting something in return.
  • If your apps have short session times, try a skippable ad at key breaks in the app. It’s important to keep ad length proportional to session length. A skip button on lengthier ads puts control back in the users’ hands and drives down abandonment rates. Do a sanity check and think about whether every session needs to show an ad.

Rule 2: There’s a “sweet spot” for the right number of ads.

Ad fatigue and ad blindness are very real and very capable of hurting your monetization. Let’s use an extreme example. Suppose there are two apps — Zombie Fruit Samurai and Angry Wizard Puzzle — each generating a thousand views a day.

Zombie Fruit Samurai has 1 user per day = 1,000 daily views

Angry Wizard Puzzle has 1,000 users per day = 1,000 daily views

The unfortunate player of Zombie Fruit Samurai sees 1,000 ads on their phone every day, while each Angry Wizard Puzzle player sees only one ad a day. The player of Zombie Fruit Samurai has probably become desensitized to mobile ads — or worse, the player has come to resent the brands being advertised. On the other hand, ads served to Angry Wizard Puzzle players still feel fresh and interesting, bumping chances of conversion.

90% of advertising campaigns through Vungle bid on a CPI (cost per install) basis. So it’s important not just to show ads a lot, but to show ads enough to get users engaged…without going overboard and pushing users away.

Based on data from the Vungle network, user sessions typically last 10 minutes. To balance revenue with UX and prevent ad fatigue, we recommend showing no more than two ads per session, since two ads can already take up one minute, or 10% of your time with the user.

Rule 3: Blacklisting hurts your revenue — don’t do it!

You might feel a natural inclination to manually block competitor apps from showing in yours. After all, why would you want their ads popping into your gameplay and stealing your customers?

In reality, this might mean reducing revenue opportunities. Vungle compared several top publishers’ performance before and after blacklisting, with surprising results. Retention rates and even in-app purchase revenue were not affected even after competitors’ ads were shown in-app.

Your users are most likely already familiar with the competition. Puzzle game players love more puzzles and action players love more action. So advertisers are willing to bid higher for publishers of the same genre because user quality, engagement, and conversion are naturally better. And as a result, developers get a larger slice of the revenue pie.

Want to turn your passion for mobile apps into a profitable business? Contact us!