The 3 Best ‘Rewarded Video Ad’ Strategies For Game App Monetization

Rewarded Video Ads - A Powerful Weapon In Your Game Monetization Arsenal

Me: Cool, your game monetization arsenal is fully loaded. You have freemium, in-app purchases, in-app advertising, incentivized advertising and all. How about Rewarded Video Ads?

Developer: Good grief! Even in our wildest dreams, we cannot think of integrating Rewarded Video Ads in our app because, we strongly believe, it would eat into your IAP revenue.

Me: Umm… that’s bad.  

Yes, unfortunately, there are several mobile app developers out there who do not trust Rewarded Video Ads enough to use it as a game monetization model.  Partly because of their conviction that it could cannibalize their IAP revenue. Of course, they are right to a degree. If not applied rightly, Rewarded Video ads could definitely puncture your app monetization plans, and in turn, affect your app’s success. On the other hand, there are several out there who are employing it without any sort of afterthoughts.   

That brings us to….

Why Game App Developers Bet On Rewarded Video Ads?

For all intents and purposes, it is one such game app monetization strategy that has helped biggies like CrossyRoads rake in a million in 2014. It is one strategy that Clash of clans creators is banking on big time. It is one strategy that has got no fewer than 35% of the developers using it in 2014.

In fact, as per one of the recent App Annie surveys, 17% of the developers agreed that the video was their highest-earning ad format.

Suffice it to say, what freemium does for app downloads, rewarded video ad does for longer game sessions. In short, it keeps the players glued to their game for long. Needless to say, rewarded videos ads are emerging to be the cornerstone of a game app monetization strategy.


But, first things first: What is a Rewarded Video Ad

It’s a short video ad format that lasts only about 15 seconds.  The users watch the video in exchange for a virtual reward. It could be in the form of virtual coins, power-ups, level-up, and game play elements like skateboards, power boosts, additional lives, and so on.

Framework of a Rewarded Video Ad

  • Non-intrusive Ad Placement
  • Always on sound
  • User – centric ad experience
  • Video length is around 15 seconds

Benefits of Rewarded Video Ads

  • Encourages players to stay in a game longer
  • Provides higher eCPMs
  • Ensures user-centric experience
  • Rewarded Video Ads nudge non-paying users toward IAPs

Gaming genres that could benefit from Rewarded Video Ads

  • Arcade
  • Casino
  • Simulation
  • RPG

Which said, several game developers, wet under their ears, fear including rewarded video ads for fear of cannibalizing their IAP revenue. But then, heavy weights like Supercell, have gone ahead and, have made them an  indispensable part of their app monetization strategy.  According to FusePowered’s recent study, of  6M gamers who played multiple freemium games, with included both IAPs and rewarded video ads, players who watched rewarded videos made 24% more purchases and spent 21% more money than those paying players who did not watch rewarded video ads.

Take a sneak peek at these three strategies before your embark on your Rewarded Video Ad optimization plans

#1. Best times to introduce Rewarded Video Ads

Now the big question: When to introduce Rewarded Video Ads?

Should be at the completion of every level?  Or, should you start your game  with a rewarded ad? Or, should you reward them all the time they visit the Storefront?

Ah! The decision solely depends on the game type and the rewarded video placement, but here are a few things one needs to bear in mind:

a. Start of the gameplay

Insert ads at the start of the gameplay to give gamers an additional morale boost in the form of virtual currency, power-ups, game elements and so on in exchange for watching your video.

b.When the going gets tough

Yes, these are times when gamers morale is darn low, specifically when he is  not able to overcome a mountain of an obstacle.  So, before he thinks of moving away from the game, offer a  morale booster in the form of rewarded ads. It could simply consist of watching a mobile video ad or it could be completing some offer on the offer wall, whereby you could offer the gamer a free life.  Yes, just a little push from you, the app publisher, could get the users back on their feet, all inspired.     

For instance:  Football game ‘Score’ offers rewarded video ads that allow gamers to buy Golden shots, which could be used by players to skip a difficult shot or pass.


c. Tail the users with a bonus

Unlike the video console games or desktop games, players tend to end their game out of the blue.  It could be for attending a phone call or for some work that needs their urgent attention. During such times, the developer could think of introducing some rewarded ads to pull the gamers back into their game.

For instance, Rovio’s Angry Birds 2 welcomes users back with a daily gift. In fact, the company offers double rewards if the user views a rewarded video.


d. End of the Game

Think about it? Placing ads at the end of the gameplay motivates gamers to continue with their game in exchange for watching the video. This placement is pretty much in these days.

For instance, the Finnish game Zombie Catchers, with its opt-in placement ads has got it right when it comes to placement of reward ads at the end of the gameplay, keeping the players hooked before they start the next session. In fact, the ads are so placed that it helps players get back to the game sooner and makes them play longer. In fact, the video ads extended the player session time by more than 25%.

The video ads, apparently, extended the player session time, by more than 25%. Check out Zombie Catchers to know more.

Zombie Catchers

e. Award every achievement with a virtual high-five

Games are engineered with concrete action plans and goals.  And, winning them does not come easy. Isn’t that the case? Whether it’s matching up colored candies in a row or outrunning zombies, every victory is energizing and calls for a small victory dance.  As a developer, you could help your gamers celebrate a little more by offering them virtual high five in the form of some virtual items or an extra life.

Game Hive’s Tap Titans offers an assortment of bonuses when players damage their opponents.

Tap Titan's Rewarded Video Ads

Other slots for Rewarded Video Ads

a. Storefront

 Users tend to visit Storefront during the gameplay to buy virtual currency, level-ups and more. For the starters, this is the most common slot for placing rewarded video ads. Here, you could place umm… a maximum of five ads per day, per user – just enough to let the users know the  gaming benefits the rewards could provide, and drive them toward the in-app purchases when rewards no longer exist.

For instance, Subway Surfers Rewarded Video Ads @ the Storefront.   

Shopfront - rewarded video ads

b. Upfront menu

This is also an ideal place for ad placements. Placing ads upfront at the start of the game itself would ensure that non-paying users don’t really have to struggle hard and reach the storefront for virtual currency, power-ups and so on.

For instance, Skyline Skaters Video Ads @ the Storefront.   

Skyline_skaters - Upfront Menu
Long story short, the ad platform you choose should be able to decide how much is too much, thereby putting a period on the user fatigue.

#2. Introduce rewards that inspire

If  you think the timing is the be-all-end-all for videos ads, think again.  Users accord good amount of importance to the prize factor as well.

Which said, the game developer, while determining the reward structure within the game, need to consider the following points:

a. Don’t cannibalize IAPs

Rewards on ad views should never outdo the rewards available in the form of IAPs in the storefront.

 b. Think beyond in-game goods

You don’t always have to offer goods or currency in exchange of video views.  You could even think of offering additional lives. One can even shorten wait time times before moving on to the next session.

For instance, Zipline Games’ Slot Tycoon set up a “free spin” option in their diner solt machine to encourage long  game sessions and to keep the users  hooked.

c. Get the users to decide

Game players love options.  In fact,  92% of the mobile users wish to have say in what they receive. So, it’s your job to offer them enough options to take their picks which in turn could be used for A/B testing purposes to determine future incentives.

That said, don’t forget to personalize them, and more importantly, include those sort of ads that would keep them playing longer and engaged. You could also plan multiple video creatives because it helps rotate different creatives at different times. This minimizes user fatigue and offers the much-needed exposure to the app.

Further, you could even opt for creative revamps often.  It not only improves ad performance but also helps ad networks with more engaging ad experiences for the users.

#3. Bet on the right ad platforms

Yes. A lot depends on  your ad partner. Because it’s they who would ensure to monetize your app without dropping the ball. It’s they who would dictate how much time an app publisher/developer should spend integrating with an SDK, in addition to keeping an eye on your earnings and the Lifetime Value (LTV) of users.

The user needs to consider the following points before deciding their ad partner:

a. Load time

This is given, as most of the ad networks offer instant play video ads. This they do by caching the video ad in advance, thence minimizing the load and buffer time.

b. HD Video

Pixelated videos are a passe. HD videos are in. So, choose a partner who could support you with HD videos. But then, don’t forget, that HD videos consume a hell lot of data. So ensure, at all costs, the prebuffering time is not more than required or else it would exhaust the user’s data and, in turn, shoot up their data charges.

c. Ad experience

Visualizations, animations, and localization are the key features for enhancing Ad experience. So, ensure that your ad platform is equipped with visually beautiful ad units for higher engagement and better monetization.

d. Life Time Value

Indeed Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is a key metric for every app developer and publisher. Bet, it’s one of those ego booster things for the app developers. But developing a long-term  relationship with the customer is far more important than any other sort of monetization strategy. So, if need be, the developers/publishers shouldn’t mind relaxing their monetization targets a tad bit in favor of LTV. In fact, ARPU and LTV should go hand in hand. And sometimes, you shouldn’t mind if the former has an upper hand over the latter. So, choose a network that’s able to strike a balance between both.

OpenXcell 2 cents

Rewarded videos ads are emerging as the cornerstone of game app monetization process. To that effect, OpenXcell has built a huge resource pool of seasoned animators and marketing experts who’d to go extra lengths to ensure perfect integration of rewarded videos in your app. Interested? Just drop in a word in the comment box below and our business development team would get back to you in no time. Be assured, we’d involve every weapon in our app monetization arsenal to help your game get the maximum engagement and downloads. Ciao.


Jini Maxin

Jini Maxin

Well folks, Appy Times are here. Though I am no appoholic, I am in an industry that breathe apps. So, despite myself, I keep waking up to smokin’ hot cuppa of app stories every day. So, do you like what I prattle here? Duh! Of course, you do. So just go ahead and scribble a line or 2 here in the comment box below, or share them on social media. Why? Because it will load me with just enough confidence to prattle a li'l (lot) more :)