Last week, SponsorPay set up shop at Casual Connect Europe. Housed in the architecturally famous Beurs van Berlage venue in Amsterdam, the event was buzzing right and left with great information about the gaming industry. (Perhaps the great conversations were fueled by the SponsorPay-branded energy drinks we handed out at our booth!) Topics ranged from tips on creating great audio for iOS games, to funding strategies for indie developers, to our favorite subject: mobile ad monetization.
We hosted our own panel, called “Success in Asia: Lessons from Industry Leaders in China, Japan, and South Korea,” moderated by our Director of Developer Relations for EMEA, Tomas Piktozis (who also gave a great Casual Connect interview the next day). Asian market experts Charlie Moseley of Tap4Fun, Jaime Ocampo of DeNA, and David Kim of Animoca shared their insights, the most important of which were:
- Each Asian market is extremely different. China, Japan, and South Korea can’t be lumped together into a single market when you think about gaming in Asia.
- If you’re looking to break into the Chinese market, you should absolutely partner with a Chinese gaming company that can help you . You should also be working on Android and know that freemium apps reign supreme in China.
- In South Korea, virality is part of the culture. Trends go viral with the blink of an eye. Trends that take weeks to sweep the U.S. can sweep South Korea within 24 hours – and often, the most viral games are created by South Korean locals. Even foreign developers who create successful games for the South Korean market are often outdone by locals who release better versions of their games a short time later.
- Don’t overlook Southeast Asian markets like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, which all have their own regional ins-and-outs. In fact, WeChat, Kakao, and LINE are all competing for Southeast Asia as their next battleground. Developers should know: Thailand and Vietnam have cheap user acquisition costs and LTV; you can acquire huge numbers of users there, but Southeast Asia not a gold mine in terms of monetization. Still, there’s room to go and establish yourself in Southeast Asian counties for the next 5 years of growth. Singapore and Malaysia are logistically the friendliest because of their large English-speaking demographics.
Be sure to watch our full panel to learn more about mobile gaming in Asia!
SponsorPay Expands Video Mediation Platform to Android, Launching with Key Developers Pixelberry, Ninja Kiwi and Cie Games
Following rapid adoption of its iOS rewarded video mediation platform, SponsorPay launches Android counterpart to enable feature parity and ease of integration through unified SDK
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Feb. 19, 2014 – SponsorPay, a leading mobile supply-side platform, today announced the launch of Android support for its mediation platform to further empower developers with cross-platform feature parity. Now, developers can seamlessly integrate, manage and optimize video ads from leading ad networks across Android and iOS for better fill rates and higher eCPMs.
In 2014, mobile advertising spend is expected to reach $18 billion globally, according to Gartner. Video has been identified as the fastest growing ad format and the IAB estimates that mobile video ads will grow at a compound rate of more than 70 percent in the next five years. In parallel, Android is gaining significant ground in the race for platform dominance, capturing more than 79 percent of the smartphone market in 2013. Empowering developers with innovative and simple tools to capitalize on this momentum, Sponsorpay will partner with developers such as Pixelberry, Ninja Kiwi, Cie Games, LOVOO and Xyrality at the launch of its Android rewarded video mediation platform.
“We didn’t hesitate when considering whether to integrate SponsorPay’s rewarded video mediation for Android,” said Oliver Miao, CEO of Pixelberry. “We were an early adopter of SponsorPay’s rewarded video format on iOS and found that its built-in mediation layer helped us seamlessly manage our monetization strategy. The availability on Android is significant in that we can now offer a unified user experience across platforms.”
Developers must balance opportunity costs at each stage of the ad monetization lifecycle – integration, management, optimization and reporting. SponsorPay’s Ad Monetization Platform empowers developers through easy drag-and-drop ad network adapters, yield optimization features and the ability to view results on a consolidated and transparent revenue reporting system. This feature set is increasingly crucial for video as the medium catapults to the fastest growing ad format in 2014.
Ninja Kiwi, which has used SponsorPay’s iOS rewarded video mediation since October 2013, will be among the first developers to launch with Android support. “Our biggest advertising challenge was immediately alleviated after integrating rewarded video mediation on iOS,” said Scott Walker, Head of Production at Ninja Kiwi. “The growth in fill-rate and revenue was substantial, up 25 percent overnight. The added benefit is that more players received the rewards they wanted, which makes them more likely to engage with future ads and rewards. SponsorPay provides us with end-to-end solutions on iOS, web, and Android, and we look forward to similar immediate wins with Android video mediation.”
Optimization, another significant challenge for developers monetizing apps, is a key element of SponsorPay’s solution. To ensure adequate fill, developers must integrate multiple ad networks, but optimizing these ad sources expends valuable resources. SponsorPay recently launched its predictive algorithm to mitigate this time and resource expenditure. This proprietary algorithm automatically predicts eCPMs across all ads in all networks and selects the right ad to be delivered for each request, resulting in increased revenue for the developer.
“We see ad-based monetization as a key complement to in-app purchases,” said Austin Yuen, Product Manager at Cie Games. “SponsorPay’s supply-side platform allows us to automatically optimize based on eCPMs from multiple ad networks. This not only increases revenue across our different ad sources, but also makes our lives easier.”
In this post, our product manager Jan Ustohal explains ad network mediation, giving advice on how developers can make the most of mediation for their overall ad monetization solution.
The key to successful ad monetization is being able to show an ad to your users whenever they want to see one, regardless of the time of the day or their geographic location.
With increasing demand for advertising, it is getting more difficult for ad networks to provide sufficient fill rates for your traffic, leading to a large number of ad requests going unfilled. This issue can be solved by integrating several ad networks, but this process requires a lot of time and resources — not only for the integration itself, but also for the management and optimization of these ad networks.
Mediation enables you to integrate, manage, and optimize several ad networks in parallel. We’ve built a solution that minimizes the complexities of the process by unifying ad network adapters. These ad network adapters, which are either distributed with the SDK or implemented on the server-side, facilitate communication between the app and the ad networks. Normally, developers need to deal with all these networks individually. With our mediation solution the developer bypasses this inconvenience and is able to use all the networks through a single interface.
The integration itself is only a matter of one drag-and-drop that adds the libraries to your project. This simple process is identical whether you’re integrating one or one hundred ad networks.
In a similar manner, mediation addresses the issues related to managing individual ad networks. Rather than setting everything up in each network’s dashboard, with our solution you are able to configure all the networks, set up optimization options, evaluate the performance of your integration through unified analytics, and depending on the network’s support, manage your content control rules through one single dashboard (see screenshots below).
Making the Most of Mediation
Being able to integrate and manage ad networks effortlessly is only one part of the story. It’s important to get the most out of each network to achieve the best possible eCPM and maximize ad revenues.
Regardless of the ad format used, the process of manually adjusting the ranking of the networks based on their actual performance in tedious and inefficient. You have to obtain the data from the ad networks’ dashboards, make sure the metrics are comparable, rank the networks, and set the order accordingly. Failing to do so daily can result in a sub-optimal integration.
Our AutoPilot optimization aims to eliminate this problem by tapping into the reporting APIs of the ad networks, fetching the revenue data, and automatically calculating the real eCPM of the network. While this approach already addresses the biggest optimization pain point, we believe that we can improve the rankings even further. By using clever algorithms and statistical models, we want to leverage the fact that networks usually place the high paying campaigns in front of the “queue,” ensuring we always show high-paying from all networks before going to the backfill. We’ve just released our Predictive Algorithm to accomplish this very goal.
We don’t want to take away manual control over the network ranking completely, though. We also provide the option to fix eCPM manually, or to top-rank a specific network in a group of countries to ensure prioritized delivery.
Finding the match
Now we know that we can easily integrate and manage several networks, as well as optimize them for the best performance. But we still have to decide which ones to choose.
We believe that in some cases “less is more,” and we put a lot of effort into continually screening and selecting the best ad networks to work with, on the basis of their eCPM potential, fill rates, user experience, and stability. Each partner network then undergoes a diligent integration process, making sure the integration into the mediation platform is seamless.
Just go for it
So, what is this mediation in the end? It’s a clever way to maximize your eCPM, ensure high fill rate, and integrate the right networks — all while minimizing the effort required to integrate, manage, and optimize these ad networks. So give it a shot!
Apple’s announcement about regulating IDFA use in mobile apps made headlines this week. In the wake of the news, we’d like to ensure that you’re informed and know we’re doing everything in our power to ensure this doesn’t affect our developer and advertiser clients.
First, a little background on Apple’s announcement and the situation:
The IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is the widespread tracking option for advertising within mobile apps. Each user has a unique IDFA that mobile apps can retrieve to serve advertisements. Apple’s crackdown applies to a specific subset of mobile apps: those that retrieve an end user’s IDFA without showing any advertising. Specifically, Apple states:
“You and Your Applications (and any third party with whom you have contracted to serve advertising) may use the Advertising Identifier, and any information obtained through the use of the Advertising Identifier, only for the purpose of serving advertising. If a user resets the Advertising Identifier, then You agree not to combine, correlate, link or otherwise associate, either directly or indirectly, the prior Advertising Identifier and any derived information with the reset Advertising Identifier.”
What does this mean for our clients, and why can you rest easy?
If you’re an app developer using our ad monetization platform, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. You are showing advertising to your users, which is the explicit purpose of the IDFA and precisely what Apple allows.
Furthermore, more than 90 percent of advertisers on our platform use third-party tracking providers whose attribution works without IDFA. Tracking via these third-party providers will continue to work without IDFA.
We believe that mobile advertising attribution is a valid use of the IDFA, so we are working closely with our third-party tracking providers to monitor the situation. The fact remains that third-party tracking hasn’t been compromised.
We are currently working on a solution for those of you who are not using third-party tracking. We’ll provide updates to keep you informed on the best tracking alternatives that work independently of IDFA.
While we have yet to see an app get rejected for using IDFA for advertising attribution, we’re already working on a solution that will work without IDFA for those of you not using third-party attribution platforms.
SponsorPay recently rolled out an update that allows users to globally top-rank a mediated network in the Publisher Dashboard. This important update underscores SponsorPay’s dedication to empowering developers with features to support existing and direct agreements with multiple ad networks.
Previously, our developers were able to specify one or more countries in which to top-rank an ad network, using the Video Network Priority page under app settings. Still, we were getting requests from developers who wanted to apply the same ad network prioritization globally. To support these cases, we built “Global Top Ranking.”
A functionality in the country selection widget now empowers this:
Once a priority rule has been selected for all countries, the chosen network will always be the first requested network for ads, regardless of performance and a user’s location.
Developers, please note that you can only top-rank a network unilaterally if there are no other priority rules in place. If you have any uncertainties, your account manager will be happy to help. We hope this makes your lives just a little easier!
SponsorPay Announces Fourth Consecutive Year of Double Digit Growth with Mobile Growing 90 Percent in 2013
Mobile now represents 76 percent of SponsorPay’s business, as compared to 40 percent in 2012
BERLIN, Germany – Jan. 28, 2014 – SponsorPay, a leading mobile supply side platform, today announced its fourth consecutive year of double digit growth and reaffirmed its transformation into a mobile ad tech company. SponsorPay’s progress trended alongside the prior three years, remaining strong with 82 percent YOY revenue growth in December 2013. Furthermore, mobile jumped from comprising just 25 percent of impressions (ads shown to users) in January 2013 to 70 percent in December. The success of the company’s shift to mobile is underscored by SponsorPay’s recent induction into VentureBeat’s index of the Top Ten Mobile Advertising Companies.
Ranked alongside Facebook and Google in the index, which is compiled based on feedback from readers and clients, SponsorPay was lauded for easy integration, product support and a “fan favorite” dashboard. This resounding endorsement coupled with SponsorPay’s steady progress lays the foundation for the company’s 2014 plans to enhance its Ad Monetization Platform’s mediation layer and Ad Marketplace as well as continue its mobile expansion.
SponsorPay’s Mediation Platform addresses key challenges faced by developers in a crowded app and mobile advertising space. The Mediation Platform launched with drag and drop SDK integration, prompting VentureBeat to highlight SponsorPay as the “easiest mobile ad network to install and deploy” in the aforementioned ad Index. 2013 was dedicated to rolling out product enhancements that allow developers to automatically optimize based on eCPMs, prioritize ad networks on a country basis and view results through a consolidated and transparent unified revenue reporting system.
“Fragmentation is a critical issue faced by developers,” said Janis Zech, co-founder and CRO of SponsorPay. “Our solution empowers developers to manage their ad monetization strategy on a central dashboard equipped with features that simplify and streamline, all while supporting developers’ direct relationships with ad networks.”
SponsorPay’s Mediation Platform is complemented by its Global Ad Marketplace, which enables developers to open their ad inventory to bids from ad networks, demand side platforms, agencies and direct advertisers. The marketplace’s success helped drive increased audience and app reach for demand partners. SponsorPay’s audience (monthly active users served ads by SponsorPay) climbed by 62 percent while the number of mobile applications integrating SponsorPay’s Ad Monetization Platform increased by 65 percent.
To fuel and sustain this company growth, SponsorPay continues to extend its global footprint, with substantial investment in the U.S. market. The company welcomed Ted Liang as VP of Global Ad Marketplace & Partnerships to its new dedicated office space in the heart of San Francisco. The San Francisco office nearly quadrupled in 2013 to 15 people, including SponsorPay CEO and co-founder Andreas Bodczek, who relocated from the company’s Berlin headquarters. In 2014, SponsorPay plans to build on this momentum, adding an additional 10 new hires to its Bay Area team.
VentureBeat has just published its newest list of the Top 10 Mobile Advertising Companies, and SponsorPay has been awarded a spot on the list. VentureBeat notes that SponsorPay is “the easiest ad network to install and deploy,” and that advertisers who use SponsorPay are “funneling clicks into an app store — more than on any other platform.”
Read more about the list on VentureBeat!
Our Director of Developer Relations in EMEA, Tomas Piktozis, interviewed with PocketGamer.biz in conjunction with his appearance as a panelist at PG Connects. Bringing more than 10 years of B2B and B2C sales and biz dev experience to bear, Tomas shares his thoughts on the app economy and indie developers:
Pocket Gamer: What were the most significant changes to the app economy you saw in 2013?
Tomas Piktozis: Freemium in mobile gaming staked its claim last year. By November 2013, half a billion people had installed Candy Crush Saga for free, and it was named top grossing app of 2013 on iPhone and iPad.
In the future, 2013 will be seen as the year that freemium became the default option for developers.
Ad placements in apps are also becoming more widely accepted. In June, Facebook simplified its mobile app ad installation process, so that developers could place ads with only an App Store URL. The quick and streamlined process was encouraging for marketers.
How do you think new mobile advertising trends will impact the mobile games industry in 2014?
Monetization will remain a key focus in 2014, especially with mobile gamers being such a high potential audience.
Mobile gamers monetize faster than web gamers, so we think large game companies will naturally allocate more budget to user acquisition in 2014. We also expect the industry to produce more creative advertising solutions for monetization.
Mobile video is the forerunner here. Data shows that 15-30 second mobile videos have the highest conversion rates, so videos of this length will become more popular.
What about indie developers in particular, is it going to be a tough year or an exciting one for indies?
In today’s landscape, indie developers aren’t faring as well as they used to. Of course, there’s still room to make a big splash.
My advice is twofold: differentiate your game, and then build a marketing strategy that will excite gamers and attract press coverage.
To differentiate, make sure to dig deep into the industry and avoid the trap of creating just another adventure game, or just one more puzzle game. Indie developers have a history of creating games that are unconventional and quirky – use this to your advantage.
Marketing is important because you’re competing with a huge number of developers for gamers’ attention. Going the extra mile will make a big difference. Create videos that give users a taste of your game environment, and foster a strong and memorable identity for your game.
Beyond that, don’t underestimate the value of word-of-mouth marketing. Fifty seven percent of game discovery awareness comes from word-of-mouth recommendations, which indicates a strong gamer preference for peer-to-peer discovery.
Continue reading on PocketGamer.biz!
Flipboard is garnering a good reputation for itself in the mobile ad world. The Internet is loud with praise for the app’s monetization model: users are subscribing to Flipboard’s brand magazines, advertisers are showing interest in Flipboard’s wide array of content marketing options, and the app is reporting solid click-through rates of 3% on full-page ads.
In short, all parties seem to think Flipboard’s ad strategy is great. The reasons are clear enough: advertisers are gaining exposure, Flipboard is monetizing, and consumers… well, consumers are a bit harder to pinpoint. What’s prompting our engagement with ads on Flipboard? Our actions, after all, determine an ad campaign’s success.
Keep reading about Flipboard’s native ad strategy on Medium!
In 2012, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) acquired 14 video games for its collection, sparking a heated debate over whether video games qualify as art. Some argued that, with a major museum exhibiting video games, the case had closed: video games would henceforth be considered Art (with a capital A). Others balked at MoMA’s decision and rejected the idea that video games were anything more than entertainment. Still others gave credit to games as design feats, but differentiated design from art. The impassioned debate continues today, with museum acquisitions at the forefront (just last month the Smithsonian acquired Halo 2600 and Flower for Playstation 3).
What about mobile games? Mobile games are sweeping the industry, so naturally, it seems time to apply the same question to this new medium. In 10 years, will MoMA be exhibiting smartphones with Candy Crush Saga on-screen? And if so, how will they determine that mobile games have made the cut?
Continue reading our full multi-media article here on Medium!