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5 A/B tests to increase revenue and users for your hyper-casual game

At the latest Hyper Games Conference, Lior Shekel, Strategic Partnership Team Leader at ironSource, presented the top 5 A/B tests every hyper-casual game developer should run to increase revenue and drive more users. Read on for a summary of Lior’s presentation or watch it below. 

Test 1: Creatives that boost your game metrics

As a hyper-casual developer, you likely already test many concepts and iterate them, A/B tests videos with interactive end cards to find the best combo, and continue challenging winning creatives to achieve low CPI, high ARPU and scale. 

But that’s where the process usually ends - once you find a “killer creative” that explodes on social and SDK networks and drives great engagement, what should you do next? Lior suggests integrating it into the game and A/B testing the change. For example, you can integrate it as ‘epic challenge level’ like Supersonic did -once every few levels, users were given the choice to “GO EPIC” or continue”, which led to a 10% ARPU uplift.

If you make any changes to that killer creative, be sure to reflect those changes into your game, for example, different backgrounds, new colors, characters and more. Always A/B test the changes and see how it impacts your game. 

Test 2: In-app bidding

In-app bidding has many benefits, it helps maximize your ad revenue, saves precious time using automation, and enables full data transparency. User acquisition strategies are impacted as well - with a chance to bid for every single impression, you can increase reach and scale much quicker. 

Make sure you’re constantly testing the impact of in-app bidding on your games. If you find one month of in-app bidding doesn’t bring the ARPDAU lift you’re looking for, try again the next month. Mediation platforms are constantly adding new bidding networks and updating logic that could positively influence your revenue.

ironSource data shows that in-app bidding impressively outperformed the traditional waterfall in 94% of A/B tests, resulting in a 10% ARPDAU uplift on average.

Test 3: Interstitials

Interstitials are the basis of any hyper-casual monetization strategy and making sure they’re performing at maximum capacity is key to success. Lior reviews two critical tests every hyper-casual game developer should run. First, pacing, which is the frequency at which you show an interstitial in your game. In an A/B test for different pacing periods (25, 35, and 40 seconds), results showed that 25 seconds between interstitials performed best (in 80% of tests), with a 10% uplift in ARPU.

The second interstitial test (below) centers around the stage of the game the interstitial is shown. Here, the test group shows the interstitial between the level end page and the win page, while the control group shows the interstitial at the end, after the user chooses to skip the rewarded video. In this test, the outcome showed an increase in interstitial engagement rate by 20% and a 150% increase in impressions per DAU. Although only 55% of the test groups won, you’ll want to test this with your game to maximize your ARPU (increased by 5% in this case).

Test 4: Follow the ROAS

ROAS is the most important KPI for user acquisition, especially for hyper-casual as this is where most of your profit comes from. To improve ROAS, try A/B testing a blanket bid vs bidding differently per source.

For example, in a test in which the same bid was made on two sources with different LTVs, results showed a negative margin on source A and a positive margin on source B. Both sources showed the same results for install scale.

Meanwhile, bidding granularly per source showed different results. By decreasing the bid on source A and increasing the bid on source B, margins were optimized and the scale of installs on source B doubled. These results show the importance of challenging your current UA strategies and testing source bidding to optimize and increase your ROAS.

Test 5: Keeping your users within your portfolio 

Because hyper-casual developers ship games often and quickly, it’s likely you have a pretty hefty portfolio. Keeping users within your portfolio is crucial - and the best way to do that is implementing a cross promotion strategy.

Lior explains a test a publisher made comparing user acquisition with cross promotion, and user acquisition without. The test was run through the ironSource cross promotion tool, available on the ironSource platform. The cross promotion tool allows you to split and separate cross promotion activities between different users and groups. 

In the test, Group A ran cross promotion and group B didn’t. Cross promotion results showed zero impact on retention, and interestingly, ARPU slightly decreased (approximately a $0.01 difference). This outcome was the effect of the opportunity cost for cross promotion, an ad that you are paying for and the opportunity cost of not showing a different ad. 

Looking at the whole portfolio, it’s interesting to see the difference in LTV of users engaging with cross promotion starting on different days. In this case, cross promotion engagement starting on Day 2 drove the highest LTV. “With more than $0.30 difference between groups, this test shows how important it is to segment your users and run cross promotion within your game, until you find the sweet spot," Lior says.

Key insights

Remember to continue challenging your setup with A/B testing, whether it’s user acquisition, monetization strategies or interstitial timing. Define your KPIs in advance and stick to them all while exploring new growth opportunities - it’s always possible to improve your game. 

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