In the last few years, we’ve seen in-app advertising become an increasingly critical pillar in game developers’ app monetization strategies.
Ad mediation, which aggregates multiple mobile ad networks into a single platform, occupies a central role within the app developer community - helping app developers maximize eCPM and fill rate, save time and resources and also reduce SDK bloat.
However, with all the great platforms available today, choosing an ad mediation partner can be difficult and overwhelming. To make it easier, we’ve rounded up six key features every mediation partner should have. Take a look.
1. First-class analytics
Data is the backbone of an effective monetization and UA strategy. It serves as the guiding light for key business decisions; it shows you if your game is healthy or not, and how various changes you make impact your KPIs. That’s why you want to prioritize finding a mediation platform that provides comprehensive and accurate analytics, so you can always make informed decisions.
In addition, it’s important your mediation platform is user-friendly and allows you to easily access and navigate through all your key metrics in one place. Having total transparency through your mediation platform into KPIs such as daily active users, daily engaged users, ad engagement rate, and usage rate, as well as cohort reports, means you don’t need to rely on third party platforms to view your data - saving you time and money.
Mark Allen, Director of Games at Neon Play, echoes the importance of finding a mediation platform with market-leading analytics:
"Our search for a mediation partner was exhaustive, but the answer was simple. We settled on ironSource because their reporting is absolutely second to none"
- Mark Allen, Director of Games at Neon Play
First class reporting capabilities will help massively with the next key feature in a mediation platform: A/B testing tools.
2. Strong A/B testing tools
By A/B testing changes in your monetization strategy, you can make data-driven decisions, minimize risk, and increase revenue. That’s why the mediation platform that will truly unlock your game growth will be one that offers a range of powerful A/B testing tools. Whether you want to quickly test the impact of in-app bidding on your revenue at the click of a button, easily test changes in your waterfall settings (like different countries and instance pricing), or experiment with adding new ad placements in your game like introducing interstitials - make sure you have the possibility to do so directly on your mediation platform.
Indian game developer Bombay Play, for instance, used ironSource’s A/B test tool to see if they should migrate their monetization operations to bidding from waterfalls.
"The test was fast and simple to set up, and after seeing that the bidding group performed better, we decided to move all of our traffic to bidding."
- Abhas Saroha, co-founder at Bombay Play
Learn more about A/B testing to increase revenue
3. Competitive in-app bidding solution
In-app bidding is fast becoming the default monetization method for developers large and small. To ensure you don’t get left behind, make sure your mediation platform offers a robust in-app bidding solution that lets you maximize your revenue while saving you time through automation. Here’s a few things to check about in-app bidding before integrating a mediation platform:
- Does it connect you to a large selection of network bidders?
Does it connect you to a large selection of network bidders? This is very important as it ensures you maximize demand and competition, helping you get the highest payout for each impression. You can see all the networks that are bidding on ironSource mediation here.
- Does it offer a hybrid setup?
Hybrid monetization setups - meaning a combination of traditional waterfalls and bidding - let you tap into high-performing ad networks that don’t have bidding tech available yet - in addition to top performing network bidders. That means you’re never excluding higher bids and are always getting the maximum revenue for your ad impressions.
- Can you get started immediately?
The best bidding solutions will be instantly open to all developers - meaning you don't need to hit a minimum daily active user (DAU) threshold or go through a long pre-approval process to get started. That way, all developers of all sizes - from indies to global powerhouses - can get straight to business and start maximizing profits from day one.
Eiso Kawamoto, Head of Product, Monetization, and User Acquisition at Metamoki, demonstrates the value of a bidding solution that ticks these boxes:
“It’s blowing our minds. In ironSource, we felt like we had a true partner that helped us grow our game and exceed our revenue goals.”
- Eiso Kawamoto, Head of Product, Monetization, and User Acquisition at Metamoki
4. Industry-leading technology
There’s a reason why most app developers turn to the top few mediation services - because the technology is reliable. Be sure that the ad mediation provider you choose has technology you can trust to be stable and reliable - stability is directly related to app performance. That means a product that has been tested in many builds, has been implemented by many developers, has multiple testing layers both on the platform and on the code, and has a team dedicated to making the integration process smooth and easy.
Quality is also an important factor here. Not all mediation platforms are able to validate the quality of each adapter (which contains the SDK of a specific ad network as well as the code needed to operate the ad network), instead leaving it up to the individual networks. However, it’s more beneficial for developers if the mediation platform is able to take quality control under their authority - so be sure your mediation platform is responsible for each adapter.
5. Track record of innovation and adaptability
This is an industry where the only constant is change - Apple’s privacy changes are the latest example. These changes force the industry to adapt fast, and the mediation platforms best positioned to react and create innovative solutions that meet the needs of developers will be those with a history of doing just that.
Find a mediation platform that is constantly adding innovative solutions: for example, ironSource has been first-to-market with a range of solutions, from cross promotion bidding and code-free A/B tests, to impression level revenue.
Gary Cohen, co-founder of the mobile game studio Dual Cat, thinks ironSource ticks all the boxes when it comes to vision and innovation:
"The way ironSource sees the future and develops features, such as cross-promotion, is why we’re confident working together in the future."
- Gary Cohen, co-founder, Dual Cat
6. Incorporates the entire growth lifecycle in one place
Game growth is a loop in which UA and monetization are inextricably linked - that’s why it’s important to have a mediation platform that allows you to manage both in one place. This will let you seamlessly analyze how they’re affecting each other, make smart decisions, and ultimately achieve your app’s full growth potential.
Think of it this way: to optimize your UA buying strategy, you need to know which users are generating high amounts of revenue and why - since it influences which sources you’ll double down on and how you’ll tweak ad creatives. This way, you buy more users who generate even more revenue. And so the cycle goes.
A mediation platform that offers these six key features will provide you with all the tools you need to scale your game business with minimal hassle, and succeed in this industry over the long run.