Creating a positive user experience is important for free-to-play games where balancing ads and in-app purchases (IAP) is critical to keeping players happy while still successfully monetizing the game. Pixel United achieves this balance with tools like self-service ad-blocking and revenue insights in Unity’s Monetize dashboard to help them be responsive to users and understand the impact of an action.
Understanding the revenue impact of ad-blocking decisions while responding to user feedback.
EverMerge, Fairway Solitaire, Cooking Craze, Big Fish Casino
Beginning in 2002, Big Fish Games (a flagship studio within Pixel United's portfolio since 2018) has long been a force in the mobile and PC gaming industry. With titles like EverMerge, Fairway Solitaire, and Cooking Craze they work hard to maintain a diverse portfolio of successful games that span many genres. Their efforts have paid off, notably with EverMerge, being selected for the Google Play Best of 2020 award in the Best Casual category.
Balancing ads and IAP
Putting users first is a core value Pixel United lives by and something Kelly Kang, the director of ad monetization & publishing partnerships, experiences every day. Developing monetization strategies that use ads and IAP to support gameplay while driving revenue is a core focus for the studio.
Kang said: “Creating a perfect balance for ads and IAP within our free games is a big part of our strategy. We think of users first, so we’re focused on serving ads through rewarded videos and interstitials that are not intrusive to users.”
Whether setting up placements and CPM rates in the Unity Monetize dashboard or managing their waterfall rate with their Unity account team, Kang and her team are always looking for solutions to perfect this balance. When she heard about a new ad-blocking feature in the dashboard that they could use themselves, she was excited to try it.
Kang added: “My account manager Camille is always on top of supporting us with resources, documentation, and new features like ad-blocking! That’s the reason why we’re able to test new things from Unity and why we get excited when she tells us about something in the works.”
Efficiency and insight
When users give feedback about ads they see in a game, Pixel United is quick to take action to ensure they are heard and gameplay experiences stay positive.
Whether due to undesired content, ad quality, or competition, they’d block an ad first and evaluate the revenue impact later, but this strategy took time and lacked insight. To block an ad previously, they would email their Unity account manager with a list of ads to block and wait for the revenue analysis.
“Before we started to use the ad-blocking feature we would block an ad and measure the revenue impact later. Or in some cases where we wanted more insight, we’d ask our account manager to pull an analysis of the revenue impact manually for certain ads,” adds Kang.
While Unity was always responsive and timely, Pixel United needed more autonomy to make blocks and analyze the impact themselves.
Unity’s self-serve ad-blocking and revenue insights feature empowered Kang and her team to have more efficiency and insight when setting a block. Now they can set blocks based on store id, bundle id, and domain options as well as understand the projected revenue loss of a block over a 14-day period.
With the new strategy, they now see that their previous blocking tactics were sometimes overzealous, resulting in a loss of revenue that could have been avoided.
“We use this feature very often. Everytime we receive feedback from users that would warrant a block, or see the need to block certain ads, we use the revenue loss insights from the feature to determine what the revenue impact will be before we decide to block it. We’re also able to escalate ad quality issues quickly now, and as a result we’re blocking less and preserving more revenue while still putting users first,” continues Kang.
A partnership focused on success
Beyond helping publishers be more user-first with features like ad-blocking, Unity is focused on giving Pixel United the tools to achieve goals of better time management, greater ease of use, and driving overall revenue with higher performance results.
Kang added: “Working closely with the client team has been a win for us and has definitely helped with managing our waterfall rate accordingly. Unity has brought us a higher fill rate and helped us achieve a 10% increase in overall eCPM.”