Increasing eCPM in Mobile Games with Zero-Party Data!
Once more, TIKI strikes in gaming land!
Mobile games! We’ve dug into this topic before in TIKI Case Studies, and we’re digging a bit deeper this week. And for good reason. If you missed out before…the mobile gaming market is ENORMOUS. Like, projected to be $286 billion (in the US) enormous in 2023. By 2027, that number is expected to grow to around $377 billion with 2.3 billion users, meaning that over a quarter of all humans on Earth will play mobile games in just five short years. Like we said…enormous.
If you missed the last blog on gaming, another refresher: in-game advertising is a crucial revenue driver for mobile games. Only 19% of mobile games can claim to be profitable on their own, which means the remaining 81% rely on ads to keep the boat afloat. In fact, in 2022 alone mobile ad spend registered at $336 billion, enough to be the 44th largest country in the world according to GDPR. In 2023, the number is forecasted to reach $362 billion.
When it comes to ad spend in mobile gaming, eCPM is an important metric to monitor.
What is eCPM?
When measuring performance of mobile advertisements, one of the most critical metrics is eCPM (effective cost per mile). If you know you know; if you don’t you don’t, but for sake of consistency, eCPM measures the revenue from a given ad’s performance and breaks down to the amount of dough earned per 1000 impressions of a given ad. From the perspective of an app publisher, an ideal scenario is getting this metric as high as possible. In 2022, things weren’t looking so hot in that department.
Compared to 2021, ad impressions decreased by 10% and 20% respectively on Android and iOS, and overall eCPM decreased 28% and 35%. No bueno. This has caused quite a stir in the mobile advertising world, and rightfully so.
For an insider breakdown on what’s going on here, check out these blog posts (1) (2) from Božo Janković, the head of Ad Monetization at GameBiz Consulting.
To summarize, there’s many factors that go into the drop in eCPM, including privacy regulations, post-pandemic lifestyle changes from consumers, inflation in the global economy, and seasonality.
Many of these factors are outside the realm of influence of an ad monetization manager, so what can someone do when faced with major declines in eCPM?
We’re not going to speak out of our breadth of knowledge, but we want to talk about one sure-fire way to optimize mobile ads: improving the quality and quantity of data behind each campaign. And how are we going to do that? With zero-party data, of course!
What is Zero-Party Data?
Imagine throwing a party. You send out invitations, and everyone who shows up was someone who was invited! And better yet, all those people actually have a reason for wanting to be there! They came to the party because you offered up an enticing reason to attend. Look at you! Party planning committee MVP over here.
Simply put, zero-party data is data that is voluntarily and directly provided to a business.
This can take the form of preferences, personal information, behaviors and more. Zero-party differs from third-party data in that it is given directly from a customer and not collected from outside sources that may or may not have a direct relationship with those customers.
So, instead of getting data and insights from a broker or another company, you get it straight from the user, with their stamp of approval. Nice!
You may be wondering, well, that sounds well and good, but how exactly do you get customers to share data with you? The simple answer is by providing them with a good reason to do so.
We’re in a new era when it comes to data and privacy. People are more aware than ever of what happens to their data, major tech players are prioritizing and building entire campaigns around privacy, cookie banners are commonplace and iOS devices straight up ask users if they’re willing to have their data tracked. Most people of course say no.
When it comes to mobile games, they have it better than most other applications. But things still aren’t perfect. More people opt in to tracking in mobile games compared to other apps, but when we look at iOS, for example, roughly 30% of gamers are opting into in-app tracking since the introduction of ATT (App Tracking Transparency). Not ideal, but who can blame them? What’s in it for them?
Despite this, 80% of gamers are willing to engage with ads for rewards and 85% of consumers are willing to trade data for discounts and coupons.
Well then, we’ve got a recipe to increase the number of users willing to share data with a company, and with that data, we’ve got the fuel to increase the eCPM and of ad campaigns.
How Can Zero-Party Data Increase eCPM?
Alright, so there’s been a lot of talk so far, but how about some action? How does zero-party data actually help increase eCPM?
Personalization Power, Precise Targeting
With zero-party data, you directly collect valuable insights about your players’ preferences and behaviors. In turn, this data allows for personalization of the gaming experience for each player, or segment of players. Ads can be tailored to specific interests, increasing the odds that they are willing to engage with the ad, improving click-through rate, boosting conversions, and ultimately increasing eCPM.
Include a reward incentive and boost these numbers even higher. For example, say you deploy a brief interstitial survey during a loading screen or between levels. In exchange for answering the questions, the player receives something like extra lives or in-game currency. You learn a gamer likes basketball. And you’re strategic! You also have an upcoming basketball mobile game set to release. You can hype it up prior to launch or even after its launch for newer users in the form of in-game ads. Or maybe you have an ad partnership with a company that offers basketball-related products. Now you know who to target and who a beneficial and worthwhile advertising partner would be. This methodology extends well beyond surveys, but the end goal is the same. Extrapolate this process across your user-base and increase the effectiveness of your ad campaigns and partnerships even more.
More knowledge, more revenue. If eCPM had a slogan, maybe that’s one to consider. But who am I to say, I’m just a handful of paragraphs removed from a bad Cher reference.
Since eCPM is a monetization-centric metric, it only makes sense to use zero-party data to optimize monetization strategies. By understanding a players’ spending habits and preferences, ads can be placed strategically in areas where they are more likely to be receptive. For example, you may learn through zero-party data opt-in that a gamer is more receptive to making a purchase upon completion of a challenging level. Armed with this info, an ad can be placed upon level completion that offers up power-ups or special discounts.
Additionally, you may learn the specific player (or types of players) who are likely to make in-app purchases or engage with advertisements in the first place, allowing for better targeting and more efficient ad spend.
Knowing the right whos, whens and wheres when it comes to advertisements can greatly increase the chances of engagement, increasing eCPM.
And, speaking of where: lots of ads become irrelevant without location data. Knowing where your players are in the world allows increases fill rates, increases personalization and helps generate more revenue.
Enhanced User Experience
This one goes hand in hand with personalization and precise targeting. When you know the correct information about a player, advertisements can be seamlessly integrated into the game, enhancing the overall user experience. Zero-party data allows for relevant ads to be displayed at the right time and in the right context and greatly decreases the chances of ads that are disruptive or irrelevant and alienate players. With ZPD, ads are perceived more positively, engagement increases, play sessions become longer, and your monetization metrics increase. It’s pretty simple really: if you know who your players really are, you can deliver the most optimal experiences for them and make them want to come back for more.
Trust, Loyalty, Compliance
It’s no secret that trust and loyalty factor into monetization metrics. Zero-party data cuts through all the BS and lets players know exactly what data a publisher is looking to collect and what purposes they want to use that data for. By receiving explicit consent, it shows a respect for privacy, bolstering trust and loyalty. Players appreciate personalized experiences and relevant ads that are derivatives of their data, especially if they know their data is going directly into powering personalization. On top of this, zero-party data is compliant. No worries about this new privacy regulation or that: by dealing users into the data collection process and giving them agency, all data is permissioned.
Stay true to your word and loyalty and trust grows. And how does this impact eCPM and other important metrics like ARPDAU (average revenue per daily active user)? Well, on average consumers spend 25% more on brands they trust.
Alright, so how can TIKI help achieve these goals? Let’s break it down with a patented TIKI Case Study (woo-hoo!!!):
HOMA Games Maximizes eCPM with TIKI's Data-Driven Rewards
Remember, this is just a mock case study, but hey HOMA (or any game publisher or studio, for that matter), if you're watching, we'd love to make this a reality!
HOMA Games is a Parisian gaming powerhouse. HOMA is one of the top publishers in the world, but also offers many other services to other mobile game developers, including game evaluation and optimization from tactical and creative angles. HOMA prides itself on its data-oriented approach to increasing the overall game experience—from the awareness stage, to the initial download, to the playability and stickiness of their games.
In 2023 HOMA is taking an initiative toward true ownership. HOMA plans to allow for users to actually own unique characters and items in their video games, connecting them among their many titles, and introducing players across the globe into the new world of blockchain gaming.
HOMA is already incredibly successful and ambitious, but their dedication to ownership caught our eye. We reached out with an idea to increase ownership in the HOMA game universe by allowing for users to own their data and in turn offer that data to HOMA in exchange for rewards. By doing so, we believed we could help increase the overall eCPM of advertisements in HOMA games now and as they progress in their blockchain-centric model.
While HOMA, as mentioned, is an extremely efficient and successful company, they are not exempt from the ramifications of world events. After 2022, it was clearly evident that eCPM was tanking nearly everywhere. HOMA was looking to control what they could control by ensuring that their data and analytics were top of the line. We believed we could do our part by increasing the amount of zero-party data collected by HOMA via data reward programs launched across their wide catalog of mobile games.
HOMA already has a dedicated team of data analysts, and through the HOMA SDK thousands of developers have benefitted from their insights. What is already good can always improve and become great, and after 2022 HOMA was looking to level up their eCPM efforts.
Sharing a belief in ownership and blockchain technology, TIKI proposed integrating our cutting-edge SDK into the HOMA stack. As HOMA began advertising their push toward ownership of in-game characters and items, the TIKI SDK was to be implemented to allow for the ownership of their data, too. HOMA could launch a wave of customized reward programs, empowering them to incentivize players with in-game currency, exclusive items, bonus perks and more in exchange for valuable permissioned data. Utilizing the zero-party data collected, HOMA can personalize experiences that cater to each player's preferences. This can not only enhance the in-game experience, but also supercharge the performance of their in-game ad campaigns through targeted and relevant ads—ultimately boosting their eCPM.
With the TIKI SDK seamlessly integrated, HOMA Games introduced captivating reward programs across their game portfolio. Along with optimized advertisements catered to their players’ interests, HOMA also tantalized players with exclusive glimpses of upcoming blockchain gaming features. Not only was HOMA displaying more relevant, higher-performing ads…they were also building excitement for their new blockchain initiatives—all while reinforcing ownership capabilities to their players.
By tailoring the rewards to align with the purpose of data collection—offering enhanced in-game and ad customization and personalization—HOMA was able to make a promise and deliver upon it. What they learned from their players they turned into relevant bonus items and features to keep them engaged and coming back for more. To receive these perks, players interacted with ads, and through this engagement HOMA was able to target the right players at the right time with the right ads—all while using zero-party data to improve upon the process as they went.
Let's dive deeper into one standout example—Aquarium Land – Fishbowl World. HOMA published this gem developed by Turquoise Studio and implemented the TIKI SDK in their iOS app. Players were enticed to opt-in to track their in-app behavior and advertising identifier in exchange for exclusive fish, character skins, and bonus gems (the in-game currency). HOMA and Turquoise harnessed the power of data to understand player preferences and optimize the game accordingly. Rewarded ads, which were heavily impacted by the eCPM downturn in 2022, were fine-tuned to resonate with players' interests. Carefully placed and timed, these ads boosted engagement, responsiveness, and conversion rates. Ongoing testing and meticulous analysis allowed for continuous optimization based on valuable player feedback.
As the year progressed, HOMA Games expanded their blockchain functionalities across multiple titles, including Aquarium Land. Players reveled in the joy of owning customized skins and aquatic creatures, creating a sense of true ownership. Due to the large catalogue of HOMA games, many of these items became interconnected and could be utilized in multiple games, creating a unique HOMA universe filled with custom characters owned by the players themselves.
By harnessinging the zero-party data rewards program facilitated by TIKI's technology, HOMA Games optimized their in-game advertisements, resulting in increased eCPM across their titles. Doubling down on the user experience effort, HOMA poured some of its eCPM profit back into improving upon their new blockchain features and marketing their connected gaming universe to a wider audience.
Some added bonuses include the ability to search and index contracts for each player (millions!) across each eligible title in the HOMA catalog. A single gamer may have an agreement on one HOMA title, but not on another. Easily being able to search and index means HOMA can always stay compliant. Since HOMA is multinational entity, contracts can also be generated, licensed, stored and indexed under the provisions of any and all privacy laws and regulations for each country, state, province, territory…(you get the idea) in the world.
HOMA Games and TIKI joined forces to conquer eCPM challenges by harnessing the power of data-driven rewards. By incentivizing players with personalized offerings and optimizing in-game ad performance, HOMA Games unlocked new revenue potential to fuel business growth and solidify their new dedicated efforts in blockchain technologies. This effort showcases the successful collaboration between HOMA Games and TIKI, demonstrating the effectiveness of zero-party-data-driven strategies in boosting eCPM and delivering a truly captivating and unique gaming experience.
Hey there, developers! If we caught your attention, we’d love for you to chat with us!
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