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How to automatically maximize retention for your UA campaigns

Acquiring high quality users that return to your game again and again is essential to your game’s long term success. But placing the right target bids on the right sources requires constant adjustment and attention. Even if you avoid overpaying while attracting high retention users, the operational overhead can be costly to your business. This is where the ironSource retention optimizer comes in.

This tool automates the bidding process to optimize your UA towards maximizing D7 retention - and it’s open to every developer running UA with ironSource. 

Automated UA tools are the most time and cost-efficient way to maximize campaign performance - so let’s talk about the ways you can get the most out of the retention optimizer. Here, Guy Hilb and Dor Herz, Growth Strategy Managers at ironSource, share their tips for maximizing D7 retention using the automation tool. 

1. Set yourself up for success

For the retention optimizer to perform at maximum efficiency, your app needs to meet certain criteria:

  • First, it’s important that your D7 retention rate is greater than 1%
  • Your campaign should also include 2-3 apps, each with at least 200 installs per geo in the past 3 months
  • We suggest setting a minimum daily budget of $250, since higher spend often correlates to greater scale 

Once you confirm your app meets these standards and you’ve set your budget, it’s time to place your base and maximum bids.

2. Decide on your bids

The optimizer lets you set a base bid and a max bid to ensure you scale affordably and quickly. The base bid refers to how much you’re willing to pay to achieve the current average D7 retention rate. It’s your starting bid - not to be confused with a minimum bid - for reaching the D7 retention your app has right now (don’t set this based on the retention rate you’re aiming to have in the future). To calculate your base bid, we recommend taking the average eCPI from the past 2 weeks and adding 10%-15%.

Your maximum bid is the highest bid you’re willing to pay on a single source and should be calculated based on the KPIs you’re achieving right now - not the metrics you want to achieve later. We suggest setting your max bid as 2x - 3x higher than the base bid.

"The granularity in bidding was unrivaled. Automating the bidding process and going more granular helped us reach a broader mix of apps that attracted users with higher retention in our game."

- Metehan Gultekin, User Acquisition Team Lead at Zynga Turkey

The bids you set need to be based on your app’s current performance - then you can (and should) adjust them as you see the retention optimizer working so you can achieve greater scale and boost retention further. Confirm if your app’s performance has improved by checking whether CPRU, or cost per retained user, stabilizes or decreases and retention rate increases. Just don’t change your bids too often (more than once per week) and always ask your ironSource account manager to do it for you. Working directly with an account manager also gives you an opportunity to get feedback and support from the team to ensure you’re adjusting your bid correctly and getting the most out of the optimizer.

3. Recognize the differences in this optimizer 

For many developers, it’s tempting to look at ROAS and retention together because they’re often correlated - as users return to your game, they often spend more time playing which creates more opportunities to show ads and monetize them. However, while more ad impressions often yields higher revenue, high retention doesn’t directly cause higher revenue - or vice-versa. 

The retention optimizer puts retention front and center as the main KPI: it’s specifically set up to maximize retention. If your primary performance metric is ROAS, though, we have another automated UA tool for that.

This optimizer is different from other automated UA tools because you’re maximizing a KPI instead of optimizing towards a specific goal. In other words, you’re not setting a D7 retention rate goal - rather, the optimizer is automatically bidding to maximize D7 retention without exceeding the max bid you set. This is unlike the ROAS optimizer, for example, which optimizes towards a ROAS goal that you calculate based on ARPU, LTV, and profit margin. 

The latest way to automate UA

With the retention optimizer, maximizing UA performance becomes easier, faster, and more affordable. Automating the bidding process lets you go more granular than any human could - you can bid across more supply sources, optimize campaigns constantly, and ensure you’re getting maximum volume from each and every bid. For any advertiser with retention as their main KPI, this is the tool for you. 

To get started, talk to your ironSource account manager or reach out to us here

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