What is the most player-friendly ad format?
A lot of players agree on this one – rewarded video ads.
Game publishers and advertisers love them as well.
This ad format works for many different genres and games. There are multiple reasons for that and we’re going to explain all of them in this article.
You’ll find out everything you need to know to successfully monetize your game with rewarded video ads.
Rewarded Video Ads Explained
Rewarded video ads are one of the most popular mobile types of in-app ads. Publishers, advertisers, and gamers – everybody can benefit from rewarded video ads.
Let me explain how they work.
When players watch a rewarded video ad, they receive a reward in exchange. That can be any kind of in-game benefit like extra lives, currency, points, etc. This gives players the incentive to watch through the whole ad. And the only thing required from the players is their time and maybe attention.
From the publishers’ perspective, rewarded ads have positive effects that go beyond revenue. They can improve user engagement and retention, are opt-in, and don’t disrupt the gameplay experience (if placed properly).
The advertisers love them because they come with high viewability and CTRs. The main goal is that the player watches through the whole ad. And the best thing for advertisers is that they only have to pay when that happens.
The process behind monetizing with rewarded video ads consists of three steps:
- The offer – the player gets a reward offered in exchange for video ad completion
- Watch time – the player chooses to watch the video and has to finish it to get a reward
- The reward – the video is complete, and the player gets back to the game with the earned reward
Rewarded Video Ads Statistics for 2022
If you’re looking for data to support the popularity of rewarded video ads, here it is. These are the most important, fresh rewarded video ad statistics you should know about in 2021.
First, let’s run the numbers on players’ perceptions of rewarded video ads.
- 68% of players say they like this ad format (TechCrunch)
- Players that watch rewarded video ads are 6 times more likely to complete in-app purchases (ironSource)
- 32% of players find rewarded video ads useful, 27% find them interesting, and 12% think they are enjoyable (Facebook Audience Network)
- They are perceived as the least disruptive out of all ad formats – only 24% of players find them disruptive (Facebook Audience Network)
- 53% of players say they played the game longer because they got rewards from ads (Facebook Audience Network)
- 76% of US mobile gamers prefer opt-in rewarded video ads over interstitial ads
Next, we cover the most important statistics each game publisher should know about their popularity, effectiveness, and the impact they have on mobile game revenue.
- Rewarded video ads are the most common mobile game ad format – 82% of developers use them (DeltaDNA)
- Rewarded video ads can boost ad revenues by 20-40% (ironSource)
- 79% of mobile game developers find rewarded video ads the most successful ad format (Facebook Audience Network)
- According to Walnut, 46% of mobile developers agree it is the most effective ad format for generating revenue
- This ad format is used across all genres – they can be found in 85% of casual and hyper-casual games, and 76% of hardcore and mid-core games (DeltaDNA)
- 4 in 5 developers believe rewarded video ads work most successfully in a hybrid monetization model (Walnut)
- Only 15% of mobile game developers whose games contain ads don’t use this ad format (eMarketer)
10 Rewarded Video Ads Placements
When placing rewarded video ads into your mobile game, you have to be strategic and selective about them.
There are different types and placements for rewarded video ads, and it’s your task to find the ones that make the most sense for your game. Here is a list of rewarded video ad placements.
1. Ads in the Start Menu
When a rewarded video ad option is included in the game’s home screen, it will be seen by a lot of players.
This is especially useful for introducing new players to this option early in the game and hooking them on the concept of value exchange. Also, it ensures high visibility for those players that never make it to the game store.
Here’s how a hyper-casual game, Paper.io included rewarded video ads into their start menu.
Generally, this placement can be implemented in high volume without the danger of cannibalizing in-app purchases. Additionally, they can have a positive effect on retention rates and session lengths.
2. “Out of Lives” Ads
If your game falls into the casual category and game progress is based on lives, make sure to utilize this placement.
It shows up at the moment the player has no other alternative but to quit the game, or purchase lives.
This is where you can offer a “watch a video for another life” option. No one likes seeing the game over screen, so these kinds of ads can create a positive attachment for non-paying players.
The only potential flaw of this placement is that it can cannibalize in-app purchases. To prevent this, limit the number of times this offer appears.
3. Daily Reward Multiplier
“Welcome back – claim and double your daily reward” – you’ve probably seen things like this in different games. This kind of offer appears in games that provide daily rewards.
If the players return to the game on a daily basis and interact with a video, they can get multiple rewards. The main benefit of this placement is its potential to monetize active players on a daily basis.
Above you can see an example of a simulation game – Choices, where the player has the opportunity to watch 3 daily ads to multiply their daily bonus. As you can see, the first two bring one diamond, while the third brings double.
However, it doesn’t have to be daily. For example, the multipliers can be implemented each time the user comes back to the game.
If users decide to engage with this ad type, it will certainly boost retention rates. They can be used in any genre, while the types of offers will vary.
4. Multiplier at the End of the Game
A lot of games include a feature where they reward players upon mission or level completion. This placement can be used for another type of reward multiplier designed for the end of the game.
It is based on the concept where players collect something (e.g., stars, gems), and can collect more of them if they watch an ad.
Giving the players this option can be tempting. They might think something like: “I went through all this trouble to finish this level, so I deserve as many rewards I can get”.
Here’s an example of this kind of multiplier from Hunter Assassin.
The only obvious flaw of this ad placement is that, if the players are about to leave the game after they finish a level – they might miss it.
End-of-game multipliers can be introduced in any type of game that is divided into levels, regardless of genre. This kind of placement also comes with high engagement potential.
5. One More Try
When your game is not based on lives, you can always include this option.
The players get the opportunity to start again and retry, and all they have to do is watch through an ad. Oftentimes, they are also called “out of action” ads.
When including rewarded video ads into your game, pay attention to how they help players in times of assistance.
You can offer them anything that will help them progress faster and give them a competitive advantage. For example, you can give them the option to earn currency right before a difficult level.
This type of rewarded video ads can be applied to almost all genres and can bring high engagement rates.
7. Time Booster
Time booster is a type of booster that decreases wait times. This type of rewarded video ad lets players skip wait times, provides instant access or progress in exchange for watching an ad.
It is an especially good fit for certain genres such as simulation and casual games.
In simulation games, players typically have to wait or make purchases to unlock in-game elements.
In casual games, there are frequent wait times for players to receive certain items or lives. If the players want to reduce wait times, all they should do is watch through an ad.
8. In-Game Hints
In exchange for watching a rewarded video ad, the players get hints and clues that help them advance in the game. This can be very enticing for players and therefore, drive high retention rates.
This example shows how a popular trivia game, Brain Out, incorporates in-game hints.
Naturally, this kind of ad is most suitable for puzzle, trivia, board, and word games.
9. Ads in the Game Store
If players are exploring the game store, they are probably thinking about making a purchase.
However, many players will conclude they are not yet ready to spend money on IAPs. At this point, watching through a rewarded video ad might give them a taste of what they are missing out on.
While this ad type is great for monetizing non-spending users, they have to come in low volume. Otherwise, they can negatively impact the players’ spend. Another downside is that this placement is somewhat hidden, so a lot of players will never stumble upon it.
This type of ad can be applied to any game regardless of the genre, as long as it contains its own store.
10. Discount for In-App Purchases
If you are looking to additionally boost in-app purchases with rewarded video, this is the way to go.
You can offer an IAP at a discounted rate in exchange for watching rewarded video ads. This is something you want to introduce early in the game to hook the players to the concept of IAPs and discounts.
Examples of Rewarded Video Ads Integration in Top Mobile Games
Now that you’re familiar with the types of rewarded video ads, let’s see how they look like in gameplay, and which ones are used most. Here’s how two games from different genres included rewarded video ads in their monetization mix.
Join Clash 3D
This arcade game by Supersonic Studios uses a hybrid approach – it is monetized with ads and in-app purchases. The prevalent ad format used in the game is rewarded video ads.
So let’s start.
Here’s an overview of rewarded video ads players will stumble upon during the first 5-minute session.
When you open the game, players are thrown right into gameplay. After finishing level 1 there is a screen that says Victory, and how many coins they’ve earned by finishing it.
And this is where they first see a rewarded video ad – to be exact, a multiplier after the game. This multiplier triples their earnings – from 300 to 900 coins. Tempting, right? After watching, they make it clear they actually won 900 coins.
Back in the start menu, players can see plenty of extra options. Hiding behind a Bonus feature, we can claim bonuses for the day. There is a possibility to claim one for the next day – if the player watches through a rewarded video.
Clicking the Castle icon brings the opportunity to attack another player – only if the player watches through another video ad.
It is more than obvious how important rewarded video ads are for this game’s monetization.
8 Ball Pool
Now, here’s how one of the top-grossing sports games incorporates rewarded video ads.
8 Ball Pool is also monetized by both in-app purchases and ads.
In the start menu, one of the first features we can see is called Free Rewards. After clicking it, players can discover a variety of Daily Missions.
While there is a certain amount of coins given out organically, there are additional amounts of coins and cash that can be earned by watching a rewarded video.
Above we can see how informative they made this process. This pop-up tells players exactly what will happen after watching ads.
After the ad finishes, a congratulations message shows the given reward. Right underneath, there is an offer to watch another ad right away to receive more coins.
As you can see in the top left corner, 8 Ball Pool also included a rewarded video ad offer inside their in-game store.
These are the rewarded video ads that a user can find during one session, in a first-time user experience.
Since the game’s primary monetization are in-app purchases, there were no ads in gameplay breaks. Instead, they were incorporated in the least intrusive placements – the start menu and the in-game store.
Call of Duty: Mobile
When speaking of rewarded video ads, a competitive first-person shooter is hardly the type of game that comes to mind.
However, Call of Duty: Mobile successfully utilizes the power of rewarded video ads.
They appear as a part of the game’s hybrid monetization strategy. The game offers various IAPs, from cosmetic items to weapons and boosters. It also brings a tempting battle pass offer for engaged players.
Since this only leverages the game’s paying base, the developers found a way to monetize non-payers as well.
For this reason, the game included two different ad placements.
The first one appears on the home screen and attracts players with a sign free.
The sign leads players to a Lucky Board. Every time players watch an ad, they get a chance to draw from it. Basically, the lucky board works as a gacha.
The players’ chances of winning high-value items are low. They mainly win lucky coins, which is a special feature currency. They can then be exchanged in a special store.
The other placement was added to the game in May 2021. Obviously, the developers saw some more potential to monetize non-payers.
This placement allows players to level up their weapons faster. The thing is, doing this is one of the players’ main progression goals.
With this update, players can now double up the XP they get from matches.
Both of the placements are completely opt-in and unobtrusive, which is very important for this type of game.
Rewarded Video Ads eCPMs
For successful ad monetization, you have to keep track of your eCPMs (effective cost per mile).
This metric tells us how much money a game publisher makes per one thousand ad impressions.
As a result of high click-through rates and player satisfaction, rewarded video ads come with higher eCPMs in comparison to other ad formats.
However, they tend to differ depending on countries, regions, mobile platforms, and ad networks.
Let’s go over eCPM values for this format from Appodeal’s 2020 Mobile in-app ad monetization performance index.
Global Rewarded Video Ads eCPMs
Above you see an overview of average eCPMs across the top 5 markets on iOS and Android in the first half of 2020, eCPMs are traditionally higher on iOS than Android, and the US is the #1 market, as it has been for years already.
On iOS, the eCPMs in the top five countries range from $9.08 in China to $16.33 in the US.
On the other hand, Android eCPMs for rewarded video ads vary from $7.58 in Taiwan to $10.16 in the US.
As you can see, the majority of the markets on these lists are mature, developed regions. Since the US is the number one market, let’s take a closer look at eCPM values for rewarded video ads in that market.
Rewarded Video Ads eCPMs in the US
When it comes to ad network rankings on iOS, Facebook has by far the highest eCPMs. It came first with eCPMs of $32.32, followed by Google’s AdMob ($15.12) and BidMachine ($16.96).
On Android, the rankings feature the same networks, only in a different order. Here, AdMob came first with eCPM values of $13.46, followed by Facebook ($22.62) and BidMachine ($13.57).
If we take a look at eCPM trends on iOS, we can see that the first half of 2020 had a 0.5% decrease in comparison to 2019.
On Android, the eCPMs were more affected by COVID-19, as H1 values in 2020 decreased by 20% in comparison to the first half of 2019.
Generally, the trends show that rewarded video ads are seeing a slight growth decrease in comparison to years prior.
Rewarded Video Ads: Best Practices
This ad format is universally applicable – they work great across genres, from hyper-casual and casual games to mid and hardcore genres.
Naturally, all of these genres require them to be integrated in a different way. To get the most out of rewarded video ads, there are some core principles that should be followed.
This includes three equally important success factors: placements, value proposition, and design innovation.
Based on these success factors, there are some guidelines for integrating rewarded video ads each game publisher should know about.
1. Create a Clear Entry Point
Offer the user a descriptive understanding of the value proposition. When players stumble upon a rewarded video ad, they should be aware of the benefit.
This means you need to make clear what they are giving, and what they are getting in return. Doing this will make the player more receptive to the ad and more likely to engage with it.
2. Consider User Experience
A user must choose to start the ad. This is extremely important for user experience. For this reason, you have to pay special attention to minimize accidental ad clicks.
Also, make sure not to serve too many rewarded video ads, because this will negatively affect ad engagement.
3. Display the Reward
If the players finish watching the ad, they often like to be 100% sure they were not tricked.
Analyzing app store reviews, we’ve noticed plenty of comments where people complained about not receiving a reward from rewarded video ads. Perhaps they just didn’t get a clear confirmation.
For this reason, it’s desirable to highlight they earned the reward and make a visual display of it.
4. Make Them Valuable Enough
We’ve already made it clear that rewards coming from this ad format should provide game aid, extend gameplay, and help the player progress.
However, deciding on what and how much to offer can be tricky.
The best way to do so is to put it in numbers. If we know the average user impression is worth between 2 and 3 cents, the reward should be worth at least 5. For rewards to be enticing enough you have to be moderately generous.
Just make sure you’re not too generous because this could jeopardize your in-app purchases.
5. Make Them Similar to Your IAP Offers
Early in the game, you can provide players with rewards similar to your most popular IAPs. This way, they can get accustomed to rewarded ads.
Later on in the player’s lifecycle, you should reduce the frequency of these ads. This way the players can be convinced your in-game features are worth buying. Finally, your ultimate goal is getting these users to make an IAP.
6. Segment the Players
Instead of giving out generic rewards, personalize them.
This means you should segment your players into at least two groups: occasional and loyal players.
Occasional players should be tempted to play the game more. For this reason, they should be offered more valuable rewards.
The loyal users are already engaged enough and more likely to make an IAP, so they should receive lower value rewards.
Bonus: Advantages and Disadvantages of Rewarded Video Ads
If you’re still not sure whether you want to implement rewarded video ads to monetize your game, here is a list of the pros and cons.
Increasing In-App Purchases
Used in a hybrid model, this ad format makes a perfect fit for in-app purchases. They are used to give players a taste of IAPs. Also, they effectively monetize the larger part of the player pool, the non-payers.
Improving User Retention
These ads are highly engaging and less disruptive than other ad formats, they also give players value. All of this can impact gaming behavior and lead to high retention rates.
They Work Great in a Blend of Ad Formats
When combining different ad types, rewarded video ads can be combined with each of them. One of the most common combinations is blending interstitial ads and rewarded video.
Rewarded Video Ads Foster Positive User Experiences
This ad format is opt-in, so players never feel forced to watch an ad. This is one of the reasons why this ad format is the least disruptive and provides a positive experience.
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect ad format. There are potential disadvantages as well, from both the advertisers’ and developers’ perspective.
They Can Cause Low-Quality Traffic for Advertisers
Oftentimes, people only watch the video to get the reward and don’t even glance at the ad content.
Rewarded Video Ads Can Result in Decreased User LTV
There are users interested in rewards only and are not planning to actively play the game once the rewards wear out.
A Final Note on Rewarded Video Ads
Done right, rewarded video ads can be a win-win-win situation for your game.
To maximize your in-game revenue, make sure to find the most effective placements.
When building placements for rewarded video ads, you have to have the game’s core loop in mind.
Ultimately, watching a video in exchange for rewards should feel like an integral part of the game.
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