Because strategy games tend to be so intricately designed, we often see developers try to create equally intricate ad monetization strategies. However, overcomplicating ad placements can actually harm potential revenue. Meanwhile, keeping placements simple makes them feel like a natural part of the user experience - enabling you to engage players without disrupting your game economy.
In this article, we’ll get into our recommendations for rewarded video ad placements that work best in strategy games and tips on how to integrate them. But first, let’s talk about some common mistakes we see strategy game developers make when they first start monetizing.
Top 3 rewarded video mistakes for strategy games
Mistake #1: “I’ll just place a rewarded video anywhere I want”
Your first instinct may be to place rewarded video traffic drivers in many - sometimes random - places throughout the game, like inside the mini games. But more isn’t always better, and can even hurt the game economy. Instead, you want to start simply and turn to your core game loop. That’s because by adjusting your rewarded video placements to meet the basic needs of your players, you’re encouraging more engagement with your ads - ultimately increasing revenue.
For example, to progress through a game, strategy players constantly need basic resources like coins, wood, or mana - but this currency comes and goes quickly throughout levels. By offering users to watch a rewarded video in exchange for these basic resources, they’re more likely to engage because they’ll get what they need. When you offer them outside the core loop, they have no need for the reward - so there’s less of a reason for them to engage.
Another example? If the core loop dictates that users need to buy a new weapon for soft currency, then you can make coins a reward users receive.
Mistake #2: “I’ll offer rare currency to all my players”
It’s true that rewarded video placements should be available to all players, but the rewards should differ depending on the players’ level - are they beginner or advanced? For beginners, currency should mostly be easy to get. For advanced players, offer rare currency at higher levels in the game. Why? If you offer rare currency to all your players in the first few levels of the game, beginners may not know what to do with it - so they won’t engage with the rewarded video. That’s why saving rare currency for advanced players, and offering basic currency early in the game helps you capture a wider audience and increase engagement.
Mistake #3: “I want to make additional rewarded video currency to reward players because it’s easier to develop”
The easier it is for strategy players to reach the resource they need, the more they’ll continue engaging with rewarded videos. Often we see strategy games create an additional currency just for rewarded video, which players then need to cash in later to receive the game’s actual core currency. But this puts an extra step in between the users and what they really want: immediate rewards. Not only is a third currency an additional step for players, they’ll often forget about spending it, delaying their reward.
In fact, one of our developer partners originally created movie tickets as an additional currency for rewarded video but then ended up switching their strategy. They kept the movie ticket placement but also added a new placement without movie tickets, so that the players could have the option to receive a direct reward of gold coins.
The developer saw a huge spike in all KPIs with no harm to the game economy and IAP. The placement worked well because it eliminated the in-between currency (movie tickets) while giving direct access to the currency (gold coins) players wanted.
Top 5 rewarded video placements for strategy games
As a general rule of thumb, rewarded video works best when it’s shown as often as possible. Start monetizing users starting on D0, but also focus monetization efforts on D7 and D30. The players who stay beyond these days are the ones that rewarded video can be most useful for. That’s because the more players progress in a strategy game, the more valuable the rewards will be for them to stay and succeed.
With that in mind, let’s dive deeper into how to boost ad engagement with rewarded video placements.
1. Home screen
Strategy players spend most of their time on the home screen, toggling between different actions to take - so rewarded video here is potentially your top placement. Because this placement will be your most exposed, users have more opportunities to engage with it.
Turn to your core loop to decide what rewards users will be looking for the most, but always A/B test so you know which rewards drive the most revenue and engagement. The most common rewards to offer on the home screen are basic resources, soft currency, and gachas, since players constantly need these to progress through the game.
To increase engagement rates, you can also add a time limit to the home screen placement. This will give your players a sense of urgency - encouraging them to engage immediately. They’re more likely to tap the button to watch an ad because they’re afraid of missing out on the opportunity.
2. In-game store
Strategy players who need hard currency are most likely to head to the in-game store. Since the majority of players don’t spend real money to earn rewards, offering a rewarded video here in return for valuable resources is a great opportunity. Generally, rewards in the store aren't specific items but still give value - like treasure chests or other gachas.
To get users to keep coming back to the store, set the pace for rewarded videos to be between 4 to 6 hours. Use this as a starting point and then keep A/B testing to find the ideal pace for your game. Not only does this promote more traffic to the store, but done right, users might also make an in-app purchase down the line - a double win for you.
3. Pre and post level boosters
Level-based games like match-3 often show rewarded videos before and after levels to engage users at critical moments - giving users the resources they need to progress. Though strategy games aren’t centered around levels in the same way, the ones that do have level-based gameplay, can also leverage this placement.
For example, your pre-level booster can offer users to upgrade their characters or get additional resources they need to complete that level - essentially giving them a leg up before they start. Your post-level booster can extend play sessions when players fail (think: earning an additional life).
Be sure to carefully limit this placement, as it can be risky if players are given too much help. If players can too easily boost their performance and pass levels a lot faster, they’ll get bored and leave the game. It’s about finding the right balance.
4. Time boost
For strategy games where wait time for tasks increase depending on progress, a time boost placement will help them progress faster.
When using this placement, make sure that it’s aligned with a player’s progression and level. For example, if a player needs to wait 20 minutes, cutting their time by 10 minutes would be substantial. But if a player needs to wait 3 hours, you’d want to adapt the time you’re taking off for them and cut their time by an hour or so. Again, make sure to A/B test the amount of time you’re reducing for players - since it’ll depend on the game.
5. Daily reward multiplier
For games that have a daily reward, you can add a placement that multiplies it - giving users an extra reason to engage. During the first week and month of a player’s life in the game, daily rewards are really valuable. You’re essentially giving players a taste of what your game is like and are drawing them in. From the start, if players need 100 coins in a game, giving them 80 coins for free in the daily check-in and 20 through rewarded video is an easy way to motivate players to continue. It’ll help to A/B test these rewards to find the right ratio whether that’s 50/50, 80/20, or so on.
Make sure this isn’t your only placement. Strategy players only get one shot per day to use it - meaning you can’t monetize players more than once per day.