East Side Games is a mobile games company based in Vancouver, Canada.
Below, their Monetization Manager David Cooke explains why they turned to in-app bidding for their game Bud Farm, and how LevelPlay, ironSource’s bidding solution, freed up valuable time and increased revenue.
Too many instances, not enough time
Before moving our monetization operations to LevelPlay bidding, we were using a traditional manual waterfall setup, calling each of our networks at multiple price points starting at a high eCPM and working our way down to the bottom. Our setup was quite detailed with 20 to 25 instances, so managing and optimizing each price point was a challenge. With the time required to manage a manual waterfall, we naturally focused most of our efforts on the US, our largest market. We knew we were likely missing out on revenue in non-US markets, something that LevelPlay helped solve. As one person managing the waterfalls for all of our games, I did not have time to manage it to the granularity we would have liked.
The rationale for switching to LevelPlay
It was clear that the mobile ad monetization market was heading in the direction of real time bidding and we wanted to test out how this would work with Bud Farm. By testing this out early, we felt prepared for the eventual shift in the industry. Moreover, from a workload perspective, we wanted a less manually intensive process that matched or improved our current set up and would free up time plus make us more money. Having the same set up across titles as well would remove some ambiguity around why certain titles get higher eCPMs despite similar network setups.
Making sure it was right for us: As simple as AB(C)
While we were confident that in-app bidding was the right move for our monetization strategy, we wanted to prove our hypothesis with data. This was very simple thanks to ironSource’s built-in bidding A/B testing tool. As soon as we received the go-ahead from our partners, it was very straightforward to set up the A/B test comparing LevelPlay to our traditional waterfall.
Once we signaled to the ironSource team that we were interested in testing this approach, it was a very quick turnaround. They made it very easy to onboard other bidding networks and arranged the initial setup. There were a set of very clear instructions for us to follow which they also evaluated once our set up was complete.
Quickly after launching LevelPlay, we had proof of improvement in our waterfall strategy.
- David Cooke, Monetization Manager at East Side Games
The ability to easily A/B test LevelPlay in the ironSource platform was a huge plus for us. With ad monetization there are a lot of variables at play. This can make it difficult to pinpoint which factors impact the lift we see from our changes. Running an A/B version of our waterfall side by side meant we could easily control those variables such as in-game event performance, advertiser demand, and any external factors.
Optimizing for overall revenue growth
Previously, with our waterfall setup we were guilty of mainly prioritizing a single strong network. Switching to bidding with LevelPlay has allowed us to spend much less time manually optimizing our waterfall, or worrying that we’re not prioritizing the right networks. Because we opted for a hybrid setup, we still have a few networks that we’re manually optimizing in the waterfall, and now it is much easier to do so and identify their sweet spots.
The ironSource team focused on improving the non-bidding section of our waterfall to ensure we had overall growth - it wasn’t about getting more traffic to the bidding networks. With LevelPlay, we saw ARPDAU on both the bidding networks and the non-bidding networks increase by 39% on iOS and by 60% on Android.
That's because some instances for the non-bidding networks started filling at price points that previously had low fill, allowing us to optimize and increase their eCPMs overtime. The important thing for us is that the introduction of LevelPlay actually increased our revenue to varying degrees across each network.
Working with ironSource
What we love about the ironSource platform is how easy it is to implement and test our bidding strategy. We also have direct access to a technical team that can help troubleshoot any integration issues. With the success we saw with Bud Farm, our plan is to roll out the same strategy across our entire portfolio in the coming months.
ARPDAU on iOS
ARPDAU on Android