Retention is the central KPI to measure mobile game performance. Not only does it impact ROI, but the overall success of a mobile game.Here are the networks that drive mobile games ‘retention rates:
1. Google: Just like in the previous edition, Google Ads ranked #1 when it comes to retaining users. With the tech giant’s focus being on App Campaigns tool, constant updates, and machine learning, it obviously manages to reach the right users. Using Google’s App Campaigns, game ads can appear across all Google’s properties: Google Play, Google Display Network, Google Search, Youtube, AdMob, at their search partners, and in other apps. Generally, with Google Ads, you can target users by location, language, mobile platform, operating system, interests, topics, and other criteria. Meanwhile, in App Campaigns, Google automatically adjusts targeting and bidding to get maximum value from each install. Furthermore, Google allows you to choose between bidding strategies based on the number of installs, in-app actions, and driving in-app action value. When it comes to in-app advertising, Google supports all the main app formats: banner ads, interstitial ads, native ads, and rewarded ads. Choosing the right ad format helps game advertisers to monetize games most effectively and retain the right users.
This network remains among the leaders in mobile game advertising year after year. One of the main reasons for this are its superior targeting options that include:
a. Location--Target users by country, city, or area where your game is available to download.
b. Demographics--Find your target audience by age, gender, and other demographics. You can test different game ad variations for different user groups.
c. Interests--Reach your potential players if they’ve shown interest in something related to your game.
d. Behaviours--For example, you can find people who’ve purchased games in the past.
e. Platform--Target Android, iOS, or Amazon App store users.
f. Devices--Allows selecting device types, but also device models.
g. Connection--Only targeting users with a Wi-Fi connection.
Facebook also supports different types of ad formats, including those that are game-specific such as rewarded video ads and playable ads. These kinds of ads help game advertisers reach high value and high-intent users. Finally, these ads can appear anywhere in the Facebook app, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network. All of these, from finding the right audiences to delivering the right ad format at the right place, are factors that drive user retention on Facebook.
3. UnityAds: Since the last Performance Index, Unity Ads have surpassed AppLovin and became a leader in the so-called Gaming Triopoly (Unity Ads, AppLovin, ironSource). Unity Ads experienced a significant increase in scale. This happened after it became the global power rank leader in Hyper-Casual and Arcade games retention and reached top positions in other game genres. Since the Unity Ads network specializes in mobile game advertising, it comes as no surprise that it ranks this high in retaining game users. One of the key features of this network is that it can target users interested in a certain game type. Another factor that makes UnityAds so successful is its focus on native video advertising. Of course, you can use other ad formats like banners or interstitial ads as well. Moreover, it allows you to run CPI and CPM campaigns. Basically, if you are using video ads to monetize your game, you must try this platform.
4. ironSource: Another ad mediation network that climbed up to a high position since the previous performance index is ironSource. This platform is also game-centric and has an extensive list of clients that use it to monetize their gaming apps. Here, you can also place different ad formats like video, interstitial ads, and offerwalls. IronSource’s retention scores were best among several game genres: Music, Sports, Adventure, Arcade, and Simulation games.
5. AppLovin: This network’s main focus is finding high-quality users based on campaign analysis. The ad formats on this platform include interstitial ads, banner ads, mobile app install ads, and video ads. You can mix these formats until you find the best performing combination. When it comes to bidding, AppLovin supports CPI and CPC-based campaigns. AppLovin dropped by two positions, mainly because it experienced a reduction in scale. Taking several strategic moves over the year affected their performance. They have launched MAX mediation, invested in gaming studios, and even acquired Machine Zone. It seems that their strategy is to become a leader in the gaming industry, rather than just in advertising.
6. Apple Search Ads: Even though they are available on the iOS platform only, Apple Search ads ranked high in overall mobile game user retention. This network drives game installs through search results. When it comes to ad formats, it auto-generates them based on the game’s App Store information. After setting up goals, budgets, and bids, you can target users by keywords and audience. Moreover, you can target users by their iOS version, device model, age, gender, and location. Finally, it is a fact that Apple users spend more than Android users. According to Sensor Tower, the overall revenue in the Apple App Store and Google Play reached $39.7 billion in the first half of 2019. Apple Store made most of this revenue share with a user spend of $25.5 billion.
7. Vungle: Vungle is a mobile ad network with several distinguishing features. It serves one type of ads only video ads. Moreover, Vungle is specialized in in-app advertising and is available on several platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, and Amazon. Additionally, they provide custom targeting options. The bidding models they offer are CPA, CPM, CPC, and CPI. This ad network experienced a big jump since the last performance index, climbing 4 places in the gaming category.
8. Mistplay: Mistplay is anything but a typical ad network. The app first started as a loyalty program for mobile gamers. Later, it introduced chat, follow, and other social options within the app. Working together with game studios, they create content and analyse user behaviour data to recommend new games they might like. The longer users play the recommended game, they get more loyalty units. After that, in exchange for the collected units, they award people with real-life gift cards. Basically, people get rewarded just for playing games. By 2020, this app got more than 5 million installs in the Google Play Store. Since it was not present in the earlier rankings and already ranked this high, we can only expect further growth for this platform in the following years.
9. Chartboost: This in-app advertising platform remained in the same position as in the previous Performance Index. Chartboost is a direct marketplace, with no intermediary costs. It provides you with ad space control, so you get to decide who can advertise within your app. One of the key features on this platform is the free cross-promotion of interstitial and video ads. Here, you can run CPI and CPC campaigns and place different ad formats. Those include video ads, interstitial ads, and offerwalls.
10. MOLOCO: MOLOCO is a mobile advertising platform for user acquisition, monetization, and engagement. They programmatically bid on ad exchanges, providing apps with billions of daily impressions. Alongside programmatic UA , the network provides AI-driven mobile app retargeting. It also features a self-serve real-time bidding platform, Moloco Cloud. It has recently moved to Google Cloud to support their app bidding. MOLOCO’s growth is seen across the world, appearing in growth rankings in 9 regions.
11. AdColony: One of the leading platforms for mobile video advertising and monetization, AdColony, has over 1.5 billion users across the globe. This network provides app publishers with reach, optimization tools, and targeting options to find engaging mobile audiences. Some of its main features include:
a) Instant-Play video technology
b) Aurora HD interactive videos
c) Demographic targeting
d) Integration with Android and iOS
With video ads driving the mobile gaming industry, it comes as no surprise that AdColony remains among the leading ad networks.
12. Liftoff: Liftoff is a mobile app advertising and retargeting network specialized in user retention.
Every mobile app install campaign on this platform is CPA optimized. According to Liftoff, CTR is overrated. Here, the campaigns are optimized to drive post-install conversions such as in-app purchases or subscriptions and ad revenue. Moreover, their cost per revenue model is optimized for finding users with the highest LTV. To do so, they provide different high-impact ad formats: interactive, video, animated, rewarded video, interstitial, native, or banner ads.
13. Snapchat: When it comes to reaching a younger audience for your mobile game, Snapchat ads are a great choice. In 2020, about 48% of Snapchat users were 15-25, and 30% of them were 26-35. Snapchat offers different targeting options that include interests and behaviour, demographics, location, custom audiences, and lookalike audiences. Despite its solid position in user retention for gaming apps, this platform is even more effective when it comes to non-gaming apps, reaching the top 5 networks in rankings.
14. CrossInstall, a Twitter Company: This mobile-only platform specializes in acquiring users through playable and interactive ads . CrossInstall delivers ads via its demand-side platform (DSP) and CaaS (Creatives as a Service). To ensure your ads find the right audience, it uses programmatic, performance-based bidding. Here, you can also create playable mobile ads compatible with other platforms such as Facebook, Google, or Snapchat.
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