Traffic Racer roared to the top of the charts when released for Android in late 2013. In its first two months, more than 20 million copies of the game were downloaded and the momentum continues today. And why not? It’s fun, challenging, and free. For developer Soner Kara of SKGames, it’s also proven to be lucrative. Kara incorporated Vungle’s mobile video ads into Traffic Racer and used them to strategically reward players. As a result, this free game is driving a revenue stream the likes of which he had not anticipated. A single ad placement produced a nice return, but when Kara added two more placements, his daily revenue tripled.

The Challenge: Users Come First

For mobile game developers reliant upon ads for revenue, the challenge is ongoing: how do you create an income stream without compromising the user experience? To receive compensation, a developer must get players to view the ad, without interrupting gameplay and alienating players. After all, they’re there to enjoy the game.

The Solution: Players Cash In

Soner Kara found the solution in Vungle, the world’s leading in-app video advertising platform. He easily integrated the Vungle SDK into Traffic Racer, a racing game that topped 20 million downloads in its first two months on Google Play. Instead of pushing ads at players, Kara presents them with an opportunity to watch a 15-second HD Vungle video ad – in exchange for which they earn $500 in in-game cash to upgrade their vehicle. With the flexibility and high quality ads that Vungle offers, Kara has managed to keep players happy while keeping the revenue flowing.

The Results: Cash Flow

In the first release of Traffic Racer on Android, Kara included only one Vungle ad placement. It was more of an experiment than a source of revenue that he was counting on. Players entering their “garage” were given the opportunity to earn $500 in in-game money if they tapped a button and watched the 15-second ad. With the newly-earned cash, they could buy new vehicles or upgrade existing vehicles with better brakes, handling, and other characteristics that make gameplay even more fun.

While the “cash flow” has been popular among players, it’s been even better for Kara. “I didn’t set any financial goal when I started presenting Vungle ads. I just thought they would deliver a side revenue, but they have turned out to be one of the main revenue streams from the game.”

Indeed, the revenue stream was strong enough that when Kara pushed out an update of Traffic Racer, he added two more opportunities for players to earn in-game cash by watching Vungle ads. The ads are still presented as opportunities at different strategic moments between runs, and the players have been quick to take advantage of the extra cash. Just by inserting two more Vungle ad placements, Kara tripled impressions and in turn, tripled revenue.

Vungle HD ads are pre-loaded into cache when a player starts the game so that the 15-second ads are smooth, uninterrupted, and unencumbered by buffering icons. Players can load up on in-game currency quickly and get back onto the road with an even better ride than before.

“The players want to buy new cars,” says Kara, “and they like the videos because it gives them access to free cash. I don’t push videos in front of players without their consent. I just show a button and give them the choice. In fact, some players are so eager for cash that they get upset when there are no videos available.”

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