Cross promotion is set to become increasingly important this year. It’s the reason why major game companies are buying ad networks - and more are likely to follow. Eric Seufert also emphasizes the importance of cross promotion on his blog, predicting that the strategy is more essential now than ever because of the diminished efficiency of user acquisition in the face of the iOS 15 privacy updates. So what’s with all this hype about cross promotion?

  • Scale newly launched apps effectively. The users already actively using your app represent an engaged audience that have already proven to have high LTV. Showing them ads for your new title is an opportunity to bring these high-quality users to the app at scale 
  • Always have access to your target audience. Cross promotion lets you gather more learnings about your campaigns and what’s resonating with your target users. You can use this information to optimize both your monetization and user acquisition strategies so you continue to reach the right, high-value users
  • Reduce churn to competitors. Getting to users first by showing them ads for other apps in your portfolio as they’re already engaged with one of your apps can improve portfolio-level retention. The users in your portfolio already are likely familiar with you and more likely to install from your ad than an unknown competitor’s 
  • Address the obstacles to UA transparency presented by the iOS updates and ATT framework. Cross promotion can maximize the value of users already in your portfolio and inform your UA strategy based on the learnings gathered from the campaigns 

To help you take advantage of cross promotion and maximize portfolio-level retention, revenue, and scale, below are three ways you can get started, along with their pros and cons.

1. Tailor-made in-app placements (native placements) 

You may decide to design and place cross promotion ads within your own games, for example placing an ad for Game A on the loading screen of Game B. It works a bit like arbitrage - you buy users inexpensively, then shuffle them through your portfolio, and wait until they monetize. 

The positive is that you don’t need to pay for your own real estate, and you can control placements easily. But this approach requires an extensive time commitment.

The positive is that you don’t need to pay for your own real estate, and you can control placements easily. But this approach requires an extensive time commitment, since the solution effectively replaces the duties of an ad network - quality assurance, ad rendering, and attribution instead need to be done internally. Also these placements historically have very low engagement rates, and therefore little conversion, limiting the possibilities for significant scale. 

2. Utilizing an ad network

Another option is to use an ad network in order to manage your cross promotion campaigns by buying your own supply - doing so just like you would any other campaign. This solution provides you with access to network optimization and therefore to higher quality users.  

The thing is, networks take a sizable margin (often 20% - 40%) on ad revenue so you're paying the same price for your existing users as you are your new users. There’s also a transparency issue - on the publisher side, you can’t get insights into the unique performance of the cross promotion campaigns, since cross promotion and other network campaigns are delivered blended together inside of each instance. As for advertisers, you’re essentially competing with other advertisers over the same instance, which drives up the price on your own inventory.  

3. Your own bidding ad network: ironSource's cross-promotion bidder solution

There’s no need to buy your own ad network like Zynga or other players in the industry who are snatching up bidders - ironSource’s tool acts like a dedicated bidding network that’s set up for your cross promotion campaigns exclusively. It’s also the only tool available on the market today that helps optimize both sides of your operation - monetization and user acquisition.

From the monetization side of things, this solution gives you full visibility, transparency, and control into the performance of your cross promotion efforts. Serve cross promotion ads inside a dedicated bidding network and use all of the advantages that come along with automated in-app bidding. 

From the demand side, you're able to run campaigns on a CPI basis, utilize the ROAS optimizer, and have access to all of the same controls from the regular UA platform including dynamic suppression. Furthermore, access to ironSource’s data science makes sure that cross promotion ads are shown to the right users at the right time and maximizes both scale and quality.  To confirm that the cross-promotion tool actually works, we have a methodology for analyzing performance that uses ROAS to prove profitability - just like your other UA campaigns. 

ironSource’s tool is the only one available on the market today that helps optimize both sides of your operation - monetization and user acquisition.

For example, Amanotes used the cross-promotion tool to improve both the monetization and UA sides of their cross-promo campaigns. Using it like any other bidding network, they quickly set up and started running campaigns that automatically optimized their waterfall to boost KPIs on both sides of the operation. On the monetization side, they experienced a 22% increase in ARPDAU and 24% increase in eCPM. And on the UA side, being in the right place in the waterfall and reaching more sources led to 12x more installs and 2x higher IPM - all while decreasing CPI by 50%.

ironSource's cross promotion solution was designed to solve the biggest challenges you’re facing in the industry today: retaining users and maximizing value despite having less transparency into UA performance. 

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