It's easy to stick with strategies that work - but incremental growth comes from balancing exactly that with constant testing and experimentation. That's why at Appfest 2022, Samantha Benjamin, Director of Growth at Supersonic, explored four ways you can break old patterns and be more experimental with your monetization strategy - or, as she puts it, “get off of autopilot."
Get inspired by successful creatives
First, Samantha recommended getting inspired by features in what she calls “booster creatives,” or creatives that give you 3-5x more installs for the same cost as other creatives (and can even change the marketability power of your game).
For example, her team saw that creatives with realistic obstacles performed significantly better than creatives with cartoonish ones - so they decided to take those realistic obstacles and actually add them to their game Going Balls. As a result, LTV grew on both iOS and Android, and D7 ARPU jumped 5-7%.
As your creative team finds these “boosters”, make sure they pass them directly to your monetization team. This way, with every new idea, you can consider and optimize any potential monetization opportunities.
Building a sophisticated interstitial player experience
Though interstitials are a major source of revenue, the potential impact on retention sometimes deters developers from monetizing with them . So to ensure players have the best possible interstitial experience, it’s critical to adjust it to your players’ engagement behavior.
For example, when a player hasn’t touched their screen for at least 20 seconds, Supersonic displays what they call “no touch interstitials”. This player is likely taking a break - but they’re going to return to their phone eventually, so the ad will be the first thing they see. CPMs are high with this placement, and it’s a win-win - LTV is high, advertisers get installs, and players can enjoy a more sophisticated interstitial experience.
Before or after end-level screen
Additionally, Supersonic tested adapting interstitials for users who reject rewarded video offers. Usually, developers just show interstitials when this happens, but clearly these users don’t want to engage with ads. Supersonic tried a different approach: showing interstitials to this segment during natural pauses in the game, like commercials. They tested this by putting interstitial ads for these users right before or after the end-level screen - and engagement boosted as a result.
Looking at other genres
Next, try broadening your sources of inspiration - beyond just games competing in your genre. Other kinds of games might seem drastically different, but if they have similar motivations, they can be an ideal learning opportunity.
Highlighting progress with a leaderboard
Inspired by PvP games, Supersonic decided to add an automated leaderboard that pops up at the end of their hyper-casual games. By creating a competitive atmosphere and displaying players’ progress, they boosted LTV and ARPU lifted 12% on average.
Celebrating wins with confetti
The Supersonic team noticed other genres creating excitement within their games, so they decided to add a burst of confetti in their games whenever players achieved something (like shooting a basketball through the hop). Simply by emphasizing their players’ success and making them feel like winners, Supersonic saw their ARPU jump by 15%.
The power of music
As Samantha puts it: “never underestimate the power of music,” especially in ad-oriented games. When Supersonic tested incorporating more music into their games, they saw a 10% ARPU uplift - simply by tweaking the music and testing different volumes and sound effects.
Staying open to ideas
Finally, Samantha explains the value of having dedicated time to think of new ideas. In fact, when one growth operations manager at Supersonic pitched an idea, it inspired a real change in their games: timed treasure chests. To increase session length, as the user was approaching the average session length, they would see a pop-up chest with a timer - encouraging the user to keep playing and wait for their prize to be available. This proved so successful at increasing session length that Supersonic implemented this into three of their biggest games.
Ultimately, new monetization ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere - so it’s crucial to stay on the lookout, trust your data - and, when the opportunity strikes, don’t be afraid to try going off autopilot.