Expenses from developing an app can add up quickly; costs from engineering, design, servers, and marketing are the cost drivers in app development. The good news is, it is possible to recoup these costs and turn a profit by bringing in a monetization strategy.

There is plenty of money to be made as mobile game revenue for the iOS App Store and Google Play Store reached $54.7 billion in 2018, which accounts for a whopping 77% of the year’s total app revenue.

In the competitive app market, gaming apps have several routes they can take to earn money. Options include freemium and subscription-based models or offering free and paid app versions. Unfortunately, these options alone won’t foot the bill when it comes to supporting ongoing app development.

A solid app monetization strategy approach that includes in-app advertising is critical to stay ahead in today’s app market.  There are a few formats when it comes to in-app ads, including display banners, native, and interstitial ads. Interstitial ads take up the entire device screen and can feel slightly aggressive to a user, but according to a survey from App Annie, 57% of app developers reported that video ads generate the most revenue.

There is a fine line between using in-app videos to monetize your app and preserving the user experience. This balance can be achieved by following a few strategies that ensure the users’ experience is harmonious while leveraging non-disruptive ads. 

5 App Monetization Strategies

Strategy 1: Show Ads at the Right Time

The last thing a gamer wants while engaged in gameplay is ad interruption. Allowing intrusive ads to be shown at the wrong time will result in frustrated players who will likely abandon the game. Instead, make sure the timing of an ad comes at a non-disruptive moment when the player has lost a life or completed a level. That natural break in gameplay is the sweet spot so showing an interstitial ad creates acceptance as players have become used to experiencing that moment. It is also the perfect moment to offer a rewarded video ad.

Strategy 2: Increase Video Ad Completion Rates

One of the key metrics when creating a 15-30 second video ad is completion rates. Interstitial ads can be skipped after just 5 seconds which means in-app ads become less attractive when looking to achieve high video completion rates.  As an app publisher, identifying ad placement opportunities throughout the game allows for longer ad formats, up to 30s. Consider requiring a 15-second minimum before the “skip ad” is available to players.

Strategy 3: Control Ad Audio

The Audible and Visible On Complete (AVOC) metric determines if the sound was playing during the ad or the mute option was enabled. Ads can be enhanced by the accompanying audio, but players find loud noises off-putting and aggressive when it unexpectedly starts blaring from the device speaker. Be mindful of the ad audio and take the necessary steps to start ads with the option to unmute.

Strategy 4: Test & Optimize Ad Placements

To ensure the app balances money-making in-app ads with good user experience, you need to determine the best placement for non-disruptive ads. Do this by running A/B, split, or multivariate tests to understand the best placements for ads how the ads affect the user experience. By knowing how users react when they see ads, allows you to optimize the placements.  

As a complement, you can also test ads across different user segments. Be mindful and do not include paying users in the tests. If publishers can identify which segment of users respond best to ads, longer video ads shown to these users will have lower chances of game abandonment.

Strategy 5: Ad Content is King

It’s easy to distract your users, so keep a close eye on the ad content. Be careful with ads for games that are similar to your game. You may end up sacrificing the user who will forgo your game for the new one. Also, be mindful of showing a call to action to download another app. This action takes your player out of your gaming experience and redirects them to the app store. 

While playable and interactive ads are liked by users, these ad formats often have technical issues and will impact your users’ experience if there is an ad failure that requires reloading the app. Keep the majority of ad content free from playable ads or other CTA-driven content and stick with ads that are “view only.”

Making Mobile Ad Monetization Happen

Mobile ad monetization provides app developers with a clear strategy for making the most money from their apps. It’s a challenge to properly monetize Android apps and iOS apps, so it should be done in partnership with advertising experts. Using a mobile advertising SDK gives app developers the ability to partner with a company like YouAppi to access premium ad inventory.