Adi Shalom, Ad Monetization Team Leader at Playtika, joins ironSource’s Melissa Zeloof to discuss all things monetization, including how his team is structured, their weekly habit for success, tips for optimizing the waterfall, and more. Read on for edited highlights from the podcast:

Playtika is not a gaming company (plot twist) 

Playtika has said before that it sees itself as a monetization company more than a games company. What does this mean in practice? 

“We look at ourselves as if we were a B2C company, not necessarily a gaming company. What makes us unique is not the ability to develop a really nice game, but rather the way we can acquire a new company tomorrow and basically plug and play all the technology and know-how we have.”

Team structure and its advantages

"Each monetization manager at Playtika works on 3 games from different genres: casual, hyper-casual and casino. The knowledge you can get from integrating ads in a hyper-casual game is not necessarily applicable to a high IAP based game. But the ability to test new concepts is much higher for hyper-casual games and the knowledge from this can be transferred to more sophisticated games. On a personal level, it's more interesting to diversify; I wouldn’t want my team members to get bored. And from a management side, I’d prefer that if an employee is sick for a week, someone else can take over without needing training."

Prioritizing across different studios 

“It can be a struggle. But we have a phrase in marketing here that translates to, "we want to do everything". It’s not quantity over quality; it’s both. If we want to invest focus on one specific game but we're low on capacity, we'll just increase the capacity.”

Monetization differs per genre

“The main issue everyone should be aware of is the balance between IAPs and ad revenue. The more IAP heavy the game, the more cautious you need to be with ads and the more segmentation-heavy you need to be to tailor the user experience. Let's say I’m a paying user, my experience will be very different from someone who started to play yesterday. So we need to offer something that's relevant for everyone.”

A weekly habit for success

“We have weekly monetization sessions in which we review a specific game, usually from another company, and analyze the entire integration of ads in that game. Each week someone summarizes what they like, what they didn't like, and how we could do it better.”

Optimizing waterfall setup for each genre

“For hyper-casual, the scale is larger and the waterfall is little more complex: what we usually aim for is to maximize the ARPDAU and we monitor it on a more daily basis. In casual games, we can have more sustainable long term yields, and we're more concerned about the sustainability of the waterfalls. For IAP games the focus is a bit different depending on the segment; sometimes we'd avoid maximizing ad revenues to not compromise the user experience.”

Balancing IAPs and ads

“There's a concept in which if I give you something for free, you won’t necessarily treat it the same way as if I made you work for it. As an example, as a reward for watching a video ad, I can give you a 20% coupon, or I could give you the coupon regardless - something we do all the time. But the effect of the user needing to work for the reward in some cases increases the perceived value and number of in-app revenues.” This has been dubbed the ‘IKEA effect’ - consumers appreciate their IKEA furniture more as they built it themselves. 

Rewarded video: a communication channel

"An advantage of rewarded video is that it grabs users' attention more than interstitials or banner ads can. So basically it's a communication channel for anything. If you want to maximize ad revenues,  you want to sell that 30 seconds of attention. But it can be used for anything: for example, if you have a new feature coming out you can show a specific video teasing the user.” 

Specific placements

“We need to tailor the ads to each game. For example, in Wooga's game, June's Journey, a top-performing placement is a 50% sale on energy before you start. A user enters the game in the usual flow they have and has the ability to get 50% off on all the resources they'd be spending on regardless in the next 20 minutes. In that case, the ad comes naturally to users in the flow of the game. The more connected the integration is, the higher the engagement rates."

"In most cases for more complex games, users are varied in what they like. For some users, they'd like more lives, or coins, or boosters, so we try to have an option for each one and create different types of rewards."

Want to learn what goes into making the world’s most popular games? Subscribe to LevelUp to never miss an update

Let's put these tips to good use

Grow your app business with ironSource