Five lessons learned from DeltaDNA’s in-game advertising study
By James Batchelor
Analytics experts DeltaDNA recently conducted a survey quizzing developers about the use of in-game advertising in their free-to-play games – and the results are in.
A free report has been compiled based on how respondents’ highest monetising free-to-play games use a variety of ad types. Develop helped to promote the survey to its readers, expanding the number of developers that took part in the study.
We’ve taken away five of the key points we learned from this research, which are detailed below. Alternatively, you can download the full report for free, which also includes DeltaDNA’s recommendations on best practices when it comes to in-game advertising.
1. Developers are cautious
One of the greatest fears among respondents was damaging player retention by displaying too many ads – or even using ads at all. Asked how concerned they were about frightening players, with five being very concerned, participants scored an average of 3.58.
As a result, more than a third of these developers – 36 per cent – show only one ad or none during each gaming session. Meanwhile, 36 per cent also segment their non-paying players, while a further 33 per cent protect their spenders.
2. Confidence is no guarantee of success
Only 54 per cent of all respondents felt certain they were taking the right approach when it comes to in-game advertising. 40 per cent of participants believe that your overall strategy is the key to success when it comes to using ads effectively – almost double the number that put their faith in good formatting.
Interestingly, those who believe they are using the best strategy report that an average of only 34 per cent of their revenue comes from this advertising.
3. Studios still believe in casual
Most developers are targeting a casual audience, with 58 per cent of developers saying their highest monetising free-to-play mobile games have been built for this audience. This is almost double the 31 per cent of studios targeting the mid-core audience, while only one in ten participants are focused on the traditional hardcore audience.
DeltaDNA analysed these studios’ results further and found that developers are more likely to segment their players in casual games than in mid-core or hardcore games. Casual players are also more than twice as likely to be presented with five or more in-game ads during a single play session than non-casual audiences.
4. It’s not all Clash of Clans clones out there
Thanks to Supercell, Machine Zone and others, it’s easy to assume that most of the free-to-play titles out there are found within the strategy market, but just under 40 per cent of survey participants actually report that their highest monetising games are action titles.
In fact, when you break this down further strategy is, in fact, the third most popular genre behind infinite runners and RPGs.
However, DeltaDNA reports that genre doesn’t actually make too much difference when it comes to how ads are being served. When it comes to how many action games serve one or fewer ads per session compared to other genres, the difference is negligible.
Of more interest is the fact that action games are less likely to bombard their players with ads, with only four per cent showing more than five ads per session. Comparatively, 18 per cent of all other games show five or more ads.
5. Most devs use a mixture of ads
Interstitial ads proved to be the most popular type used by survey participants, utilised by 67.4 per cent of studios. Rewarded ads, which give players virtual in-game currency for watching a video or otherwise engaging with the ad, were a close second at 56.2 per cent.
Banner ads, a more traditional form of in-game advertising, still remain popular with 39.3 per cent of studios using them in their free-to-play games.
Many studios use a mixture of these types, with almost a quarter of all respondents favouring a combination of rewarded and interstitial. An interstitial-led strategy was the second-most popular choice, with just over 15 per cent of studios using this（source：develp-online）