As the saying goes, there’s no rest for the wicked. The year may be coming to an end, but the work continues for app developers now more than ever. The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to leverage higher traffic and advertiser budgets, with users spending more time on their phones - and there are several things you can do to make the most of this. Keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving, below the ironSource Growth Strategy team shares their top recommendations to help you scale your UA and monetization from now through mid-January.

How to maximize revenue over the holidays

Keep reading to get our tips for driving up your revenue over the Christmas period.

1. Activate all available bidding networks

During a period of high demand from advertisers, leveraging bidding networks is a must. Bidding creates an auction environment that drives up competition for your impressions. This in turn enables you to increase eCPMs and earn more revenue from your game’s ad inventory. SYBO saw first-hand the benefits of ironSource’s in-app bidding solution, which helped increase Subway Surfers’ ARPDAU by 67% year-over-year.

Make sure your mediation platform connects you to all the leading bidders, and also gives you the option to add your own custom networks that aren’t available by default. ironSource’s mediation connects developers with a long and constantly expanding list of bidder networks - check them out here.  

2. Add brand-inclusive networks to your monetization strategy

Brands are very active with their marketing at this time of year, as they seek to tap into the rise in consumer spending over the holidays. As a result, they are willing to pay premium CPMs to reach gaming audiences. 

For brand-inclusive networks that don’t support bidding yet, we recommend adding a couple high CPM instances into your waterfall. This will help you maximize competition for your impressions, leading to more revenue.

3. Consider unblocking advertisers

You may have blocked certain advertisers from serving ads in your apps, likely because they are competitors who could steal users. However, during holiday season - where downloads and play time tend to skyrocket - competitors could be willing to spend more money on your impressions to reach high quality users. The jump in ad revenue you’d earn could outweigh the potential risk of losing users to your competitors’ games - so if you’ve blocked such advertisers, consider unblocking them during the holiday season. 

To help you find that balance, use a tool like Ad Quality by ironSource, where you can see churn yield - the ad revenue earned per churned user. Block competitors that deliver a low ad revenue yield while causing high churn rates in your game.

For more insights into how to unblock competitor ads, learn how Jam City used Ad Quality to do this for their game Genies and Gems and boost CPMs by 20%. 

How to scale your UA during the holiday season

The Christmas period is one of the best in the calendar for scaling your installs. Here's how to it:

4. Make sure you’re active in top performing markets

In this period, users have time off work and school and therefore are more willing to download and use more apps. So aim to scale your UA activity in your top performing markets - in 2020, some trending markets were the US, UK, Denmark, France, Japan, and China.

If you’re not running campaigns at all yet in these countries, now’s the time to start. If you’re already active in these markets, consider increasing your spend to capitalize on the potential to scale your UA. 

5. Automate your UA activity

In a period where you’re increasing your UA spend and creating more campaigns, leveraging an automation tool that optimizes your bids for you is a must. ironSource’s ROAS Optimizer tool, for example, automatically adjusts bids to make sure you acquire quality users at the right price while reaching your ROAS goals. 

Papaya Gaming is a case in point - the games studio increased D7 ROAS by 40% just 4 weeks after activating ironSource's ROAS Optimizer. 

By adding your UA campaigns to the ROAS Optimizer, you can let the machine learning do the heavy lifting, save time to focus on human-led activities like making ad creatives, and ensure you’re spending your budget on acquiring the most valuable users. 

6. Optimize ad creatives

With all that time saved thanks to the ROAS Optimizer, you can focus on optimizing creatives to make a big impact on your UA campaigns’ performance. Creatives are what move the needle in terms of installs, so make sure you’re testing new variations and using the highest performers on your live campaigns. For example, test out different Christmas-themed ad creatives to see if they drive up IPMs and in turn reduce CPIs.

Because scale is so high during this period, you’ll be able to get a large amount of data from your tests, which you can turn into actionable insights to improve your creatives in a short amount of time. When testing, make sure you’re optimizing towards the right metrics. If you’re using playable and video ads, you should be looking at KPIs like IPM, completion rate, engagement rate, and click-through-rate. 

In case you’re struggling to make ad creatives at scale, consider using an end-to-end creative workflow platform like Luna Labs. Rovio did just that, and managed to increase impressions by 56% and revenue by 16%. 

Take advantage of holiday season opportunities for your games business with ironSource.

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