There’s a lot to know when it comes to mobile game monetization and user acquisition. This glossary of commonly used terms and acronyms will help you learn the basics of mobile game ads, in-app purchases, and acquiring new players.
- Ad impression: Impressions in digital marketing tells advertisers and developers how many times an ad was viewed by users.
- Advertiser: An advertiser is the entity that pays for an app or brand to be advertised. They are on the “demand” side of mobile marketing and they are looking to spread a specific message about their product.
- API: An application programming interface is a way for two or more computer programs to communicate with each other. Examples of API’s at Unity Ads, are IAP API, and Monetization Stats API.
- ARPDAU: Average revenue per daily active user is a metric used to measure the success of a monetization campaign. It measures how much revenue active users generate for an app or game every day. ARPDAU is calculated by dividing Daily Revenue by Daily Active Users (DAU)
- ARPU: Average revenue per user (or unit) is a metric that helps all companies understand, on average, how much money they are generating from a single user over a set period of time.
- Banner ads: One of the longest-serving mobile game advertising forms, banner ads place static or animated image ads above or around a game, typically only occasionally, but sometimes continuously. Typically they are defined by their size: 320x50px for phone and 728x90px for tablet.
- Click-through attribution: A metric used to demonstrate the precise value of an ad. This is done by tracking clicks on an ad, all the way to install.
- CPI: Cost per install is a pricing model for user acquisition campaigns in which app advertisers pay each time a user installs their app from their ad. CPI = total ad spend / total installs.
- CPM: Cost per mille is the amount advertisers pay to publishers for every 1,000 ad impressions and it is also known as cost per thousand (mille means 1,000 in latin). This metric helps developers and publishers to keep track of the amount of resources they should allocate to their portfolio to keep it net-positive.
- Creative: Describes a single advertisement. Creatives are files that you upload to the system and they need to be moderated before they can be used. Each creative has one of the three stages, pending, approved, or rejected.
- Creative pack: A creative pack consists of several creatives. For example, one or two video creatives and one end card creative. Creative pack status is calculated based on the moderation status of all creatives. If all creatives are approved, then the creative pack is approved, if one creative is rejected, the whole creative pack is rejected. Otherwise the creative pack is in pending state.
- CTR: Click through rate is the percentage of users who saw an ad and clicked on it. This metric helps app advertisers understand the ratio of users who clicked on their app-install ad and got redirected to the app store. Click through rate (CTR) = clicks / impressions.
- CVR: The conversion rate is the measure of what proportion of people are persuaded by advertising to take a particular action – such as clicking on a link or making a purchase. In in-app advertising, CVR is the percentage of users who saw an app-install ad, clicked on it, and converted through some pre-specified action. In cost per install campaigns, conversion is measured by app installs. Conversion Rate (CVR) = installs /iImpressions
- DAU: Daily active users is a metric that shows the total amount of users who visit an app on a daily basis. DAU offers a glimpse on how successful an app is, as it shows how immersed users are and how sticky it is.
- DSP: A demand-side platform is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface
- eCPI: Effective cost per install defines how much it costs to get a new user to install an app. It is closely related to CPI (cost per install), but it also takes into consideration organic variables in mobile marketing, like the viral component of adding a new user to the app.
- eCPM: Effective cost per mille can be used in both monetization and user acquisition contexts.
- For monetization, it is used to compare ad monetization earnings across variables like region, operating system, ad network, etc. eCPM = (total earnings/total impressions) x 1,000
- For user acquisition, it is used to determine a campaigns' buying power within an ad network. It is calculated by multiplying IPM (installs per one thousand ad impressions) by CPI (cost per install, or the bid). eCPM = IPM x CPI.
- End card: An end card is a static visual ad that is displayed to users at the end of a video ad. It contains basic information about the app, which was promoted in the video, like the app title, the app icon, the average rating, or a button to install it. Usually, it also includes a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages the viewer to click the end card.
- IAA: In-app advertising is a revenue stream for mobile apps that seek to leverage their real-estate to show ads to their users. In other words, ad buyers pay them for displaying ads within their app.
- IAP(s): In-app purchases are items bought in-game with real money, or with in-game currency that can itself be purchased with real money, as well as earned through gameplay.
- IDFA: Short for “identifier for advertisers”. It helps advertisers get information about their app users in order to create personalized ad campaigns. The IDFA is used for Behavioral traffic (BHV) models.
- Interstitial ads: A video ad that appears during gameplay at a predetermined break. These videos are often skippable, and can be deemed more intrusive than their rewarded cousins.
- IPM: Installs per mille is a metric used to track the number of app installs per thousand ad impressions. Campaign installs X 1,000 / number of impressions.
- IR: The install rate of an ad campaign is expressed in percentages and it measures how many clicks on an ad it takes to lead to the installation of an app. Install rate (IR) = (total measured installs / total measured clicks) x 100.
- KPI: A performance indicator or key performance indicator is a type of performance measurement. KPIs evaluate the success of an organization or of a particular activity in which it engages.
- LTV: Lifetime value estimates the revenue a single user generates throughout their entire lifetime within an app. It helps predict a user’s monetary value over time, and is calculated by considering both in-app purchases (IAPs) and in-app advertising (IAA). This figure is directly linked to retention, because the longer a player stays, the more money they put into a game, be it through IAP or viewing ads.
- MAU: Monthly active users is a metric that shows how many people open the app or play the game at least once each month. Often contrasted with DAU (daily active users).
- Mediation: Also known as ad mediation, mediation is an app monetization solution that allows developers to manage and optimize multiple ad networks in one place.
- MMP: A mobile measurement partner is a company that acts as a third-party provider to attribute, collect, and organize app data to deliver a unified overview of a brand's campaign performance.
- Playable ads: Playable ads are ad units that enable the player to engage with the ad content through interaction. You can implement playable ads through rewarded and interstitial ad units.
- Publisher: A publisher provides the capability and inventory that allows advertisers to run ads in their apps or on mobile sites (supply). A publisher can be a website or an app that sells space on their property to app developers and agencies.
- Retention rate: The percentage of users who continue engaging with an app over time. Retention rate is typically measured in days after users first install the app. i.e: seven days (D7), one day (D1), etc.
- Rewarded video: Opt-in Video ads in games that reward the player with access to in-game items and content in return for watching an ad. They can most readily be integrated into a game’s design and gameplay mechanics, for example through being fused with the graphic user interface (GUI) and flowing into the core loop of a given title’s gameplay.
- ROAS: Return on advertising spend is a revenue-based metric used to calculate the efficiency and performance of digital advertising spend. In the mobile world, this often refers specifically to the amount of revenue generated by in-app purchases, advertising impressions, and app subscriptions. ROAS is calculated by dividing the amount of revenue generated by an ad campaign with the amount spent on that ad campaign.
- SDK: A software development kit is a collection of software development tools in one installable package. They facilitate the creation of applications by having a compiler, debugger and sometimes a software framework. The Unity Ads SDK provides a comprehensive monetization framework for your game, whether you develop in Unity, Xcode, or Android Studio.
- SKAdNetwork: StoreKit Ad Network, or SKAdNetwork, is a privacy-centric API operated by Apple. It helps ad networks and advertisers measure their ad activity (such as impressions, clicks, and app installs) on an aggregated level.
- tCPI: A target cost per install bid lets you choose the amount you would ideally like to spend each time someone installs your app.
- UA: User acquisition covers the many methods for gaining players or users. Often its use refers to the likes of CPI schemes, but advertising and marketing a game is also an act of user acquisition. Some would even include designing a game to be popular as an act carried out in pursuit of user acquisition.
- UTC: Coordinated universal time or UTC is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about one second of mean solar time at 0° longitude such as UT1 and is not adjusted for daylight saving time. It is effectively a successor to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
- Unified Auction: This is a programmatic feature that gives multiple demand-side partners (DSPs) the ability to compete for the same advertising spot.
- View-through attribution: Also known as impression tracking, is a measurement that shows that an impression has led to an eventual install. This is especially useful when a user spots an ad but doesn’t take action immediately (installing the application).
- Waterfall: Also known as waterfall mediation, this refers to a style of auction for ad selling which orders the advertiser's bids by a descending order of set cost per mille (CPM). The waterfall organizes ad sources in a way that is meant to yield the highest CPMs for advertisers and increase revenue for publishers.