Game Developers: 6 Tips for Making the Most of Rewarded Video
If I had to name a single strategy that just about every mobile game developer should deploy in order to monetize, without a doubt it would be rewarded video. Given that in any given game, a large percentage of players will never make a purchase, monetizing with ads to balance in-app purchases (IAP) is a no-brainer. But unlike other ad formats, rewarded video delivers revenue in two ways: off the ad placement itself and by converting players who have not thus far made purchases. I’ve seen it again and again: a game developer uses rewarded video and immediately sees a lift in player spending. Why? Because rewarded video gives players a taste of what they’re missing and reduces the barriers to them joining the game’s economy.
Here are 6 things game developers need to keep in mind when it comes to rewarded video:
Build rewarded video into your game from the start. Games like Crossy Road, The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land & Compass Point: West have had particularly great success with rewarded video because they built it into the gameplay from the get-go. Developers should think of rewarded video as a foundation to their game rather than as something they just drop in. Top studios often include discussion of rewarded video in design meetings and strategize for it with literally every aspect of their games. Basically, developers should make sure that the rewarded video enhances rather than detracts from gameplay.
Use rewarded video early and often. Think about it: if one of the points of rewarded video is that it demonstrates the value of in-game currency to non-paying users, then you want to show them that value as soon as they start playing and then frequently after that. As for the concern that some game devs have that rewarded video will cannibalize IAPs (why pay for something when you can get it for free, so the thinking goes), again, the truth is that rewarded video generally increases IAPs rather than reducing them. MMX Hill Climb, a game by Hutch, is a good example of a game that uses rewarded video early and often.
Place rewarded video in a variety places within your game. For the right number of rewarded video ads to get in front of a player per day, developers should put them in several different places — then no matter where they are, players will interact with them, which then of course increases impressions. Developers should also leverage natural breaks in the game for optimal interaction, like a lobby/menu page in between levels or games or by offering a free power up prior to the gameplay. Also, the options should be crystal clear to players, emphasizing the “opt-in” nature of the video. A good example of this lies in Taps to Riches, by Game Circus: players can collect a “business bonus” to earn higher profits, and then after certain duration, they are given another chance to “double rewards” by opting in to a rewarded video ad.
Not sure how much in-game currency to give away? Test to find out. There’s no reason for developers to stab in the dark to establish how much currency they should give to players for watching video ads — I recommend running tests to find a number that maximizes ad revenue, IAPs, and retention as well as the sweet spot that gives players a sound understanding of the currency’s worth but doesn’t devalue it. But once is not enough: developers should run tests often with cohort analyses to make sure they’re optimizing as other factors change over time.
Be on the alert for diminishing returns. With rewarded video, game developers need to keep an eye on the point at which impressions become less valuable — inundate a few players with them and they’ll likely become less effective than if they were spread out among more players. Developers should test and optimize to find out when exactly players tire of rewarded video against retention and IAPs.
Experiment with rewards that aren’t currency. Sure, giving away currency as a reward for watching video might seem like the easiest and most obvious approach, but I advise trying out other rewards that engage players and keep them playing. For example, granting players a revive if their character dies is a great strategy, and developers can always look to the Japanese Gatcha system for inspiration; players love having the opportunity to access something extra-special in exchange for their time and they’ll appreciate the novelty of the reward.
At this point in the evolution of mobile game monetization, rewarded video should be in every developer’s toolbox. After all, no other monetization strategy delivers revenue in two ways. But rewarded video isn’t something that can just be dropped into a game randomly. It should ideally be integrated into a game as the game is being built, and it should be used early and often within a game session (but not so much as to overwhelm the player). It should also be accessible from different places within a game. Developers should run tests to determine the right amount of currency to offer, and run them to determine when returns on rewarded video diminish. Finally, it’s well worth it to explore rewards that aren’t currency — players love unexpected surprises!