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Ad serving strategies in mobile games

Advertising has become one of the most popular ways for monetizing apps. Mobile game ad serving is a win for everyone: players, developers, and advertisers. Some users are not willing or do not have the disposable income to pay for the game or other in-game items. With advertising, users get to play the games they love for free, which increases popularity, engagement and retention. This popular pricing model is often called "freemium", which provides players the option to play for free with an ad-supported version or pay for a premium ad-free version. Developers and game publishers earn the needed revenue to keep game servers online, fixing bugs, improving existing titles and creating new releases. Advertisers have the opportunity to reach more potential customers with targeted and relevant ads. As always, there are the right and wrong ways to do anything so here are some guidelines to follow when serving ads in mobile games:

Design a game with considerations for advertising
A well-designed ad serving solution becomes an organic part of the game experience, making it more acceptable and more enticing for players to engage with the ads. If it is done right, it can even be a positive experience that players look forward to because of its reward incentives. In general, the focus should be on suitable ad placements and quality incentive programs rather than relying on a huge volume of low quality traffic. At the end of the day, your ads monetization success depends on users’ engagements and responses, which in turn boosts traffic, ad impressions, and ultimately, ad revenue.

Respect the user experience
The game starts and ends with the players so their experience is the most important factor. Design ads to fit in the game with as little disruption to the user experience as possible. For example, interstitial ads should only appear at natural breaks in the game, expandable ads should not block or force the users out of the current game, and video and static ads should be served at suitable placements. These considerations are all important to make sure the players have the best possible experience while you can still deliver the ads that make money to sustain and grow your business operations.

Take advantage of game breaks
The perfect time to deliver an ad is during regular breaks in the game. It could be a break between two levels or when a player or a race is won or lost, and other similar situations. Users will naturally be ready for a pause in the action after a period of high attention. During that break time, they are more likely to accept an ad as a distraction. It might also be a good time to serve an ad that offers related rewards because the player might want to collect or upgrade before beginning the next level or challenge.

Keep users stay in the game
It should almost go without saying that an ad should never force players to exit their current game unless they actively decide to leave. In fact, there should be a clear warning before exiting the game, if that is required after they engage with an ad. Having users leave your game unnecessarily and unexpectedly when they didn’t even want to, is never a positive thing. If you can make it easy for players to resume their game after interacting with the ad then that is a good solution.

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