Make money from ads in mobile games!

Mobile Game developers are always the first target. A few years ago we were the ones that had to integrate every bloody SDK in order to acquire users. Every network knocked on our door and promised us the world if only we were to integrate their SDK. Time has passed. Tech has advanced plus most game developers have become more cautious also because that they can hardly compete on price with the big game publishers or all the big consumer brands that are turning to mobile. And not every SDK has delivered up to their promise.

For the last year we have again been a target for the networks. Now the ad networks come and promise amazing revenues from ads. This sounds great so we should be smart about it. If 85% of user time is spent in apps and a lot of the time is spent in games, games are the gateway to a large chunk of advertising inventory.

I’d like to take a step back and share some brief thoughts on ad revenues:

  1. CPMs
    Ad networks are sales houses. They need to get you excited. So they will talk about amazing CPMs (meaning revenue per thousand impressions) that they have reached and that you can also receive. If your traffic is iOS, US, and they were telling the truth, that’s where you can probably reach this. But don’t expect this to be the revenue for every impression worldwide and on every phone. And don’t expect to make a ton of money unless you have a lot of users every day.
  2. Fill rate
    Almost as important as a high CPM is a high fill rate. If you get $4 for interstitials from an ad network at 50% fill, you have to realize that you would earn more money from a network with $ 2.80 at 80% fill. Small networks may struggle to deliver a high fill, so be aware that in order to be competitive they will offer this impression to another network which may mean another network that earns money from your impression and less money for you.
  3. Mediation
    Almost every network claims today that they have a mediation platform. For some, however, this just means that they are taking other networks to fill. That is not mediation. Ask people from companies like MoPub or Fyber and Supersonic (both reward video mediation) about the difference.
  4. Waterfall
    If you set the ad networks up in a waterfall yourself it means that you may leave money on the table if the first network doesn’t sell at the highest price. That’s where mediation is more powerful and flexible.
  5. Re-cycling revenues
    Ad networks like to see you recycle money into buying ads on their platform. As it’s money that you have earned it’s easier to spend. However, it doesn’t mean that you can afford these ads to be more expensive so be careful about spending.



I have been helping a number of mobile games companies on maximizing revenues from advertising. When considering doing a deep dive into maximizing the revenues from ads, it’s only worth it, once you have a significant amount of users/sessions and impressions. And with significant I mean more than 200k impressions per day. Otherwise the additional revenues may not justify the effort to integrate and set up all the tools. If you only have a small number of daily users or impressions, integrate one network for display and one for reward video, that are delivering at a decent fill rate, leave it to it and rather focus on growing your game.