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Pocket Gems’ ‘Episode’ Improved Player Experience and Increased Ad ARPDAU 60% on Android With MAX

by Claire Tak on Aug 19, 2020

Highlights:

  • Pocket Gems’ hit game Episode used MAX as their monetization platform. They saw a 60 percent increase in their ad ARPDAU on Android.
  • A better monetization strategy through this partnership meant Pocket Gems had more time to focus their efforts on an improved experience for their players.
  • Multi-faceted partnership with AppLovin helped Pocket Gems share Episode with  a wider audience through its powerful user acquisition platform and custom-tailored high-performing creatives.

You know you should do everything you can do to create the best experience for players and grow your business. You know you should A/B test your assumptions and price points that will further increase ad revenue. You also have a nagging feeling that you should have a better strategy to improve CPIs and UA.

But there are only so many hours in the day, and as a game studio, the ultimate goal is to use as many of those hours as possible actually making and optimizing your games themselves. 

This is the challenge San Francisco-based gaming studio Pocket Gems faced when they decided to use AppLovin’s growth platform and engaging creatives with SparkLabs.

With over 450 million downloads under their belt, Pocket Gems wanted to captivate their player experience and grow their hit storytelling mobile game, Episode

Specifically, their small team operated an in-house monetization platform that gave them flexibility over their monetization stack—but was also costly to maintain and keep up with the fast-paced changing mobile landscape. They felt this time could be reinvested into enhancing their player experience.

In search of a full platform solution that would still provide flexibility and make them more money with in-app bidding, the Episode team turned to MAX. They needed help with two key areas that limited their growth:

1. Finding the time to manage an in-house monetization platform and keeping it up to date. This included managing unstable SDKs, managing crashes, and staving off bad ads that might negatively impact player  experience and cause churn.

2. Maximizing revenue for each impression opportunity with a more competitive monetization stack.

More free time for the Episode team to focus on game development

MAX’s platform and capabilities meant the team no longer had to spend time: 

  • Managing their in-house mediation technology that leverages the traditional line item-based monetization strategy
  • Identifying integration issues that can negatively affect player experience
  • Manually optimizing their monetization stack without a clear idea on the incrementality of each new network or price point change

Improving their ad experience for players

The studio can now focus on an improved ad strategy with a more robust approach, including: 

  • An immersive and enjoyable ad experience
  • Engaging ad placements that enhance the games
  • Balanced user experience with the amount of ads shown

As a result the studio is able to focus more of their time and energy on making great games. 

The results?

  • Reduced latency and faster ad load times, ensuring high-quality app recommendations that are seamlessly incorporated into the game for players
  • A 60 percent increase in ads ARPDAU on Android 
  • A 54 percent increase in IMP/DAU on Android

Helping Episode scale quickly through MAX and SparkLabs

Through this partnership, Episode’s team worked closely with AppLovin’s in-house design service, SparkLabs.  The playables they collaboratively designed helped the studio scale on AppLovin’s powerful growth platform.

SparkLabs assisted Episode’s team in developing playable ads that enabled them to engage players in a more meaningful and relevant way. 

  • On iOS, a single playable increased their IPM by 35 percent 
  • On Android, a single playable increased their IPM by 22 percent

Episode continues to grow

With a fully optimized, automated monetization stack based on in-app bidding, Episode’s team is now able to focus more resources on creating an even better experience that continues to put their players first. 

They have been able to add new features to Episode and optimize existing features, in order to improve retention and player experience overall. Player experience was enriched with relevant content that players wanted to see, and more stories were released, read, and loved than would have been possible without the partnership.

As the team streamlines their ad operations and supercharges their revenue with MAX, a platform built from the ground up for in-app bidding, they’re also focused on building their talented team of 300+ developers, marketers, designers, and techies. 

Pocket Gems has been around since 2009 and have pioneered some of the most popular games in the mobile space. Their hit strategy game is called War Dragons. 

If you’re interested in learning more about opportunities at Pocket Gems, check out their careers page.  

Claire Tak is Marketing Manager, Content at AppLovin.