Case studies
How Moonee’s Square Bird reached #1 with the ironSource Growth Loop
Oct 3, 2019

Hyper-casual publisher Moonee was looking to grow their user base for Square Bird quickly and cost-effectively, making sure that the users they acquired were generating ad revenue post-install. After seeing disappointing results from a variety of different platforms, they decided to use ironSource’s platform to close the monetization and marketing loop properly and accelerate their game’s growth.

Fast forward three weeks and the addictive title is sitting at number 1 in the US charts, with twice the D7 retention than the hyper-casual standard and 75% of their overall installs coming from ironSource. Let’s look at how they did it.

growth loop graph

Stage 1: User acquisition

Moonee’s first priority was acquiring new, high-quality users. To do that, they leveraged ironSource’s ROAS Optimizer and creatives from the Playworks Studio. While the ROAS Optimizer automatically adjusted bids dynamically across supply sources, the key to Moonee’s success in acquiring new users was creative optimization.

The magic of creative optimization

The ironSource Playworks Studio created an interactive end card and a [tooltip term="playable-mobile-ads"]playable ad[/tooltip] for Square Bird, which drove a spectacular 88% of its installs. The playable achieved 84% engagement rate and 73% completion rate: these impressive metrics were the outcome of the quality of the ad, which captured the essence of the game, and highlighted its novelty.

By leveraging a playable ad with high IPMs, Moonee was able to make every dollar of their UA spend go further, lowering CPIs without impacting quality or access to supply. This is because improving IPM boosts the rank of the advertising campaign in advertising networks’ waterfalls, which in turn results in higher volumes of ad impressions and installs.

Stage 2: Monetization

Using ironSource’s mediation platform, Moonee was then able to monetize the users they acquired without compromising user experience. They leveraged both rewarded videos, banners, and interstitial ads to generate revenue while also driving engagement and retention. Using multiple instances from several networks they maximized ARPDAU, retention, and LTV.

Stage 3: Optimizing monetization

Once Moonee had their monetization set up, they turned their attention to optimizing it, managing to double user engagement for rewarded ads. Let’s examine how:

By working with dedicated growth engineers from ironSource in looking at how monetization fit in with their game mechanics, Moonee realized they had to add depth to Square Bird in order to integrate rewarded video into the core loop of the game. This paid dividends: in a mere 3 weeks, user engagement for rewarded video doubled, from 20% to 42%, and DEUs (daily engaged users) went from watching 2 videos a day to 3.3. As a result, Moonee more than doubled rewarded video ARPDAU and improved retention, resulting in a stronger LTV to further facilitate scaling the app.

Moonee also worked with ironSource on managing and reviewing their waterfall. The focus was placed on improving ARPDAU by squeezing the lemon from a selective range of countries: the US, UK, Japan, and Germany. These demographics have high eCPMs, and for a team of 4, it was vital to invest time and resources smartly. Focusing on geos that would yield the most revenue was the most strategic way to manage their management overhead to extract maximum value from the waterfall.

Stage 4: Optimizing user acquisition

Moonee applied the same level of focus to optimizing their user acquisition, using ironSource's impression level revenue tool to measure the amount of ad revenue generated by the users they acquired and optimizing accordingly. Impression level revenue informed them of the exact ROAS of specific segments and campaigns from UA activity. Moonee, therefore, knew where to reinvest its resources, bid more aggressively and, ultimately, scale.

At the same time, Playworks’ ongoing cycle of creative optimization for playable ads continued to contribute to Square Bird’s growth and ascent to the top of the charts. The constant creative optimization meant that when Moonee raised its bids, it achieved a huge spike in DAU. The process can be split into two parts: the video and the end card. The key is finding the winning combination of the best end card and the best video; it’s a constant back and forth to optimize this creative set.