Mobile Games Blog


Some smart ideas on how to monetize your game with ads from Casual Connect Berlin

by Thomas Heinze on Feb 21, 2017

Recently, AppLovin participated in Casual Connect Europe — it was in Berlin this year, and it was great to see so many of our partners and learn about how mobile gaming companies in Europe and elsewhere are innovating. We co-hosted not one, but two parties with our partners Tenjin (which offers mobile marketing infrastructure solutions) and Gram Games (creators of Six! and 1010!). Needless to say, the beer flowed freely at each party, and I loved seeing our guests having such a great time.

I also had the pleasure of moderating a panel called “Ad revenue: An important tool to drive scale for top developers” — an interesting conversation with Alexander Willink (Head of Strategic Partnerships at Gram), Ville Heijari (CMO at Rovio), and Mark Wang (Co-founder of Game Hive).

We were talking about how casual game developers have mastered the art and science of spending money to make money — namely how to strategically place ads within their games to generate revenue and then channel the revenues they make from ads into user acquisition. Here are a few nuts-and-bolts takeaways with respect to monetizing with ads:

Plans for monetizing with ads should be integrated into the earliest stages of game development.

No matter what the size and capabilities of your mobile gaming company, you should plan for how you’re going to monetize from the earliest stages of building your game. Rovio is obviously a large company, and Game Hive is an indie, but for both, about 30 percent of their revenues come from ads, so they build with that in mind from the get-go. In the case of Gram, which depends on ads almost exclusively, its creators have to make sure that every game is so sticky that no matter what, users will keep coming back for more; rapid prototyping and testing is crucial to data-driven assessment of what works.  

Introduce users to rewarded video strategically.

At Game Hive, the developers think of rewarded video as a learning process for the player. In Tap Titans, for example, beginning players are encouraged to click on a little flying fairy that dispenses “gifts.” Eventually, over the course of more game play (after level 50 or so), the fairy becomes an entry point for rewarded video. In essence, the fairy primes the player in the first levels for rewarded video in higher levels. Also, with Tap Titans, the reward or payout increases with the user’s level, encouraging retention.

Rewarded video is where it’s at now, but playables are worth experimenting with.

There’s no doubt that rewarded video is where it’s at for many mobile game developers these days, largely because when it actually enhances game play, game developers and publishers make money off them in two ways: off the ad placement and off introducing players to the value of IAPs. But everyone on the panel agreed that in recent months playable ads have become increasingly viable, and that they’ll likely become the new trend moving forward.

So three cheers for Casual Connect in Berlin, where great ideas were exchanged and excellent beer was savored by one and all!


Thomas Heinze is senior director, Business Development, at AppLovin.