Chen Mizrahi is a BI analyst at ironSource.

During the winter holidays - from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas, to New Year’s Day - there is a marked shift in mobile user behavior, as millions of people are buying new phones, and generally have more free time to play games.

That’s why the holidays are the best time of year for both monetization and user acquisition managers. On the monetization side, the sharp increase in DAU translates to an increase in total revenue. On the user acquisition side, the jump in DAU and IPM makes for the highest install volumes of the year.

DAU peaks on New Year's Day

Throughout late November and December, your app will experience an increase in DAU and impressions. This behavior is similar to what you experienced during the summer months, in which variance between weekday and weekend behavior is less drastic.

In the US, as depicted in the graph below, expect to see a sharp increase in DAU throughout the weekend of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Moreover, you can expect a gradual increase in both daily and weekly users between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

*This data excludes apps launched after October 1, 2017.

Keep in mind that in other Tier 1 countries, you might not see an increase in DAU during Thanksgiving, as this is exclusively an American holiday.

Nevertheless, Tier 1 countries see a gradual increase in daily and weekly users the week between Christmas and New Year’s, with DAU ultimately peaking on New Year’s Day. Refer to the graph above.

ER and UR remain constant

Engagement rate (ER) is the percentage of users who actively engage with ads on your app, and usage rate (UR) is the number of daily impressions per engaged user.

ER and UR should remain constant year-round as they depend on user behavior within the app. These rates mainly depend on your ad monetization strategy and are not affected by seasonality. If you don’t adjust your ad monetization strategy during the holidays, you should not expect to see an increase ER and UR - only an increase in DAU.

To improve ER and UR, we suggest adjusting your ad monetization strategy. Here are 3 tips:

1. Test new ad placements and make sure they’re visible on the homescreen
2. Adjust your frequency caps by fine-tuning the number of ads users watch per day/session
3. Run special promos such as double credit promotions on your offerwall

IPM is highest the week before Christmas

In the US, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, expect to see a sharp increase in IPM. Why? Our data shows that users with new devices are more likely to install many apps.

However, don’t be alarmed if IPM begins to decrease after New Year’s, as this is expected. This trend applies to Tier 1 countries, too.

*These charts compare IPM during the holidays to IPM in September, where 0% represents IPM in September 2017

In Tier 1 countries, IPM should remain steady the weekend of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, but increase Christmas and New Year’s Day. The week leading up to Christmas shows an increase of up to 40%, the highest IPM rates of the season.

IPM also varies across game genres. The category with the largest increase in IPM during the holidays is casual games.

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