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. LevelPlay 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. 

To tap into brand demand, be sure to activate networks with brand advertisers, like the ironSource Exchange. 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. A/B test your banner refresh rate

As brands boost their budgets this holiday season, we recommend not only working with brand-focused networks, but also using A/B testing to optimize ad units in which brands have a high share of voice - banners. 

To best maximize banner performance and boost your revenue, try A/B testing the banner refresh rate. You can test both increasing it, in other words showing more banner ads within a timeframe, and decreasing it (showing fewer) to see how it affects your revenue and user engagement. By testing different options, you can find the sweet spot that generates as much revenue as possible, while ensuring users stay engaged and not distracted by the ads.  Learn about improving banner performance and our A/B testing tool.

4. Run an offerwall multi-credit promotion

Offerwalls are a unique way to monetize and earn revenue - in fact, they have the highest eCPMs of any ad unit. This is because offerwalls encourage users to complete in-game events, giving the advertiser high-quality and engaged users. As a result, advertisers are more willing to spend on these users - driving up eCPM in the process. For example, Inspired Square started using offerwall to boost their UA activity on Android - and their unique payers tripled as a result

During the holiday season, offerwalls are particularly lucrative thanks to multi-credit promotions, time-limited offers where users receive exponentially greater rewards. Users are using phones more often during the holiday season - to make the most of that, publishers offer extra rewards. This boosts user quality, motivating advertisers to increase their bids to acquire these users. To participate in the promotion, just speak with your account manager and determine your updated conversion rate - your users, motivated to complete the offers and receive extra rewards, will do the rest. 

ironSource offers multi-credit offerwall promotions during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas, and more. Learn how to get started.

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:

5. 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 - we recommend scaling in all strategic markets that work best for your app. 

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.

6. Automate your UA activity

During the holiday season, people are spending more time on their phones, as the quality of users boosts as a result. Automation is key to make sure you’re adapting to these shifts in quality and increasing bids accordingly to stay competitive .

Origin Mood exemplifies this - the studio increased installs 40% just 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.

7. 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. 

According to ironSource Luna data, IPMs are significantly higher throughout the holiday season - in fact, game installs surge 3x during the week of Christmas. Plus, advertisers are testing 2x as many creatives during the holidays compared to the rest of the year. 

The first step is understanding whether or not to invest in building holiday-themed creatives. There’s not much time and it requires a good amount of work to create a new batch. If you do choose to, here are 3 tips to make sure they deliver the highest IPM: 

  • Utilize emotion. Emotion is a key factor in generating high IPM any time of year, and because the holidays are a nostalgic period, emotion can play an even greater role. Use real footage with real people to emphasize the emotion. 
  • Switch out typical items for holiday elements. For example, change a sword to a Christmas tree or a mermaid to a pumpkin. 
  • Give the pointer and buttons a holiday theme, like a witch’s hand or Santa’s hand. 

Sometimes, holiday-themed creatives continue to perform well after the holidays. In fact, in one case study the creatives continued driving high IPM until April. Get more tips here.

8. Test out Custom Product Pages

In addition to trying out holiday-themed ad creatives, the holidays are a great time to leverage and optimize Custom Product Pages for your iOS campaigns. Custom Product Pages allows developers to create custom versions of their App Store landing page, which you can connect to specific campaigns, like the ironSource network. Data shows that customizing your product page in the App Store can boost both IPM and conversion rates - so it’s best to leverage it before the holiday season traffic begins.

Don’t just go with any version - test different creative and Custom Product Page combinations to see which performs best. Try basing a Custom Product Page on your best performing creative or your new holiday creatives. It gives your campaign a more focused message and flow, increasing the likelihood of install. In fact, by basing their custom product page on their most popular creative, Pocket Gems boosted their IPM by 16%

Once you find the highest performing Custom Product Page, you can use it across all campaigns. This way, by the time the holidays come around, you already know what’s working best.

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

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