Analytics, Marketing

Kongregate's recent blog post suggests that you can double your traffic by tracing your ad revenue

I recently came across a fantastic post by Jeff Gurian. Those of you who don’t know Jeff, he is the Director of Marketing at Kongregate. In his post he brings up a super important point – you can double your traffic by Tracing the Ad LTV or “counting the ads” in the language of the article.

Doubling your traffic only takes a 25% increase in LTV

According to Kongregate’s experience with user acquisition, Jeff explains, the correlation between how much traffic you can get and the bids you place is not linear but rather a power function. “There is always a tipping point where your traffic will increase exponentially relative to the increase in your bid.” says Jeff.

The chart in the post does a good job in explaining this point:

chart illustrating the power curve of the impression volume you can get at different bid levels

Image from original article at Kongregate developer blog

In this example – acquiring traffic with bids of $12.5 as opposed to $10 will allow you to get twice the amount of traffic. It’s only 25% more.

Tracing Ad LTV allows more room in your CPI bids

Not all games have ads but the ones that have added in-game advertising are seeing between 10% to 80% of their revenue coming from ads. 25% is a typical scenario in many games and is also close to the ratio reported by public companies such as Glu and Zynga. The example given in the article (see image below) is showing that tracing Ad LTV can modify your ARPU / LTV analysis by 25%-30%. As we know, higher LTV means that we can afford to pay higher CPI which leads to twice as much traffic per the explanation above.

Illustration of LTV and ARPU calculations with and without tracing-back the ad revenue

Image from original article at Kongregate developer blog

Let SOOMLA do the work and get you the accurate Ad LTV

Many companies skip the Ad LTV since the process for calculating it is often complicated, time consuming and in many cases it is not accurate enough. Their claim is that none of this matters if you are miscounting your Ad LTV. Counting impressions can lead to significant errors in LTV calculations which means your ROI analysis can be off and end up losing money for the company.

Fortunately enough, SOOMLA has developed a solution that automates the Ad LTV calculation and we do that with much greater accuracy so now you can enjoy the benefits of Traceback and double your traffic without worrying about accuracy or actual development efforts.

To save valuable resources and ensure you are getting the Ad LTV correct for every cohort you need a specialized system like SOOMLA TRACEBACK. The platform traces the ad revenue and sends it to your attribution partner or in-house BI.

Learn More

 

 

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Analytics, Marketing

BiggestMistake_in_Ad_LTV_Calculations

Recently I became aware of game publishers that implemented an in-house solution for Ad LTV tracing but were doing a huge mistake in how they think about ad revenue. We all know that any LTV calculation has 2 main factors:

  • Retention
  • Revenue
The Ad revenue is the factor that companies get wrong when they build in-house solutions for Ad LTV tracing. These solutions often assume that each impression pays the same level of CPM. This is a huge mistake that can lead to errors in orders of magnitude and ROI calculations that are way off.

If this is how your company calculates Ad LTV you should read the following examples carefully.

Example 1 – The Rewards Collector

  • User played during the first month and never came back after.
  • Watched 50 rewarded video ad impressions from Vungle – didn’t click or install any ads.
  • Average eCPM for this month from Vungle $15
Ad LTV Based on Impressions The True Ad LTV Error
$0.75 $0 $0.75

This type of error could lead the UA teams to a false positive ROI calculations. The UA team thinks the ad spend on this user is ROI positive while it’s actually a losing buy.

Example 2 – The Ad Whale

  • User played 5 days during 2 weeks
  • Watched 10 interstitial ads from AppNext, clicked on 2 and installed a Match-3 game and a Strategy game
  • Average eCPM reported by AppNext for those days – $5
  • CPI for that Match-3 game – $2, CPI for the Strategy game – $5
Ad LTV Based on Impressions The True Ad LTV Error
$0.05 $2 $1.95

Here the ROI calculation could be false negative. The UA team will stop buying these type of users since ther reported Ad LTV is $0.05 while it’s actually $1.95 and the buy was actually a good one.

Example 3 – The Retargeted User

  • User played 10 days during 1 month
  • Watched 20 video ads through Inneractive
  • Average CPM reported by Inneractive for those days – $5
  • This user was a whale in Game of War and was part of a retargeting campaign so specific CPM bids for that user were high – $80 x 4 ads, $90 x 2 ads, $100x 8 ads, $110 x 2 ads, $120 x 4 ads
Ad LTV Based on Impressions The True Ad LTV Error
$0.10 $2 $1.9
The ROI calculation in this example is also likely to be false negative. The UA team might think this was a bad user to bring to the game although his Ad LTV alone was $2.

 

If your company needs to calculate Ad LTV you should try to avoid these costly mistakes. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

Learn More

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Game Reviews, Guest Post

Top 10 Celebrity games for mobile

Leveraging celebrities in your apps has become more popular in the last few years. One advantage of having your game endorsed by a celebrity is that fans of the celebrity will likely download and try the game. In addition, you get an almost automatic featuring by the app stores when you include a celebrity in your game. A 3rd benefit is that even users who are not fans per se are more likely to feel familiar with the game when they see an ad for it. This translates into higher conversion rates and lower CPI for acquiring new users.

Another advantage of using the star power is that your game stands out naturally. Most game companies face a problem since innovating in game-design is dangerous and sticking to proven models guarantees optimal retention and monetization mechanics. The flip side of sticking to familiar game patterns is that it’s hard to differentiate your game. Using a celebrity, however, lets you enjoy proven game designs while still having a way to stand out.

The List – here are the best celebrity games for mobile

While there are a lot of games out there crafted upon celebs, I have decided to pick 10 games of my choice in this post. While I have played most of them, I like the remaining ones for some reason or other. So let’s begin with the count-

Gordon Ramsay Dash

This is new and fresh and it had to do good by all means. Being a Gordon fan myself, I was anticipating this game for some time now. The game brings in a mix of world tours, customizable chefs and an online leaderboard where users can challenge their friends. But the best thing about this game is Gordon’s presence throughout the challenges.

A Facebook post for the game

A Facebook post for the game

One of the best thing about making a celebrity game is that it demands minimal marketing effort to get noticed. Once, the update is out through social accounts of the celebrity, it draws anticipation.

Gordon has been sharing updates about this game since some time and as expected it started acquiring users from the point it was launched.

Kim Kardashian Hollywood

Kim Kardashian has a huge fan following and the game benefitted from that immensely. However, what Glu got right with this one is the gameplay. When it comes to Kim, it is the lifestyle and paparazzi that entice her fans. The gameplay unfolds from the POV of a Kim Kardashian fan and this is what makes it great. Having Kim handover power-ups and goodies feels fascinating.


It is one of the greatest money-spinners in the celebrity game genre till date. According to Forbes, the game has brought 100 million since launch. The in-app purchase within the game offers a variety of items that brings in a lot of sales.

Sniper X-

Sniper X revolves around Jason Statham. The game is rated for 18+ users so expect a lot of violence and action. In other words, it is raw stuff straight away. As it is with every celeb game, Glu has built this one around social networks. As a part of Statham’s team, you are supposed to dismantle terrorists and rogue states that conventional forces cannot fight with.

As for action, burst fire assault, blasting drones with a shotgun and multiple snipers, keeps the user hooked to it. With more than 5 million installs, the game is among the popular ones released by Glu till date.

Lil Wayne-Sqvad up

I am including this game in this list because it has its own share of followers who have religiously supported and have even suggested ideas to the developers. One of the best thing about this game is a large number of 5-star ratings it has accumulated as compared to 1 and 2 stars. Lil Wayne enjoys massive popularity in the US and the world. With 50 million followers on FB and 27 million on Twitter, releasing a game on Wayne makes sense.

Sqvad up is an endless runner game where the player can make Wayne ride a surfboard through obstacles. Every once in a while, Wayne switches to a drone instead of the surfboard. The obstacles and powerups are mashed appropriately to give an engaging gameplay.

Pewdiepie: Legend of brofist

Pewdiepie earned 7 million from Youtube in 2015. With 47 million subscribers he is one of the undisputed kings of Youtube. Making a game on Pew automatically makes a lot of business sense. And that’s not all, the gameplay feels a lot like the classic Mario, hence drawing a lot from familiarity and cognition. In other words, everybody would give this game a try.

One of the unique things about Legends of brofist is its availability in Paid version only. Yes, there is no in-app purchase for the game. There are real voices of Pew and other popular YouTubers in games. Gameplay includes unlocking youtube stars and challenge among friends.

Katy Perry POP

Another one from Glu mobile that did not do as good as its other titles. One of the reasons seems to be technical deficiencies. There are a lot of one star on the game and the reasons seem to range from notification errors to issues related to loading of the game.

While Katy is a popular celeb on a global scale with 70 m FB followers, the game did not really benefit from it. Although the app allows you to record songs, make videos etc, it did not grow beyond 100k installs on Google play.

A large part of the game remains similar to Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood in which you can create your own avatar. Also, Katy gives instructions and goodies during the gameplay to score points and go ahead in the gameplay.

Tyga Kingin World Tour

Not really a popular one but it was an attempt that deserves some appreciation for sure. It is fundamentally an endless runner game where you run as T-Raww through the “Rack City”. The king is chillin but as soon as people chase him, he begins to run.

You can collect points and power-ups as you jump over the obstacles. The game comes with a global leaderboard and customizable avatar of Tyga.

Britney Spears

Unlike Gordon’s Dash or KK’s Hollywood, this game from Glu has seen moderate success. It has been successful to gravitate Britney fans to the game and has been able to touch the million mark. Ratings are also good in this game as most of the users rated it with 5 stars.

Gameplay is similar to the one made on Katy Perry in which you can play a singing challenge and rise to the top in charts. This game also allows you to create your own song and album art. Also, the custom avatar, similar to previous Glu titles, is implemented here as well.

Game of War: Fire age

While this game doesn’t include Kate Upton inside the game play it has become associated with the celeb-model through it’s TV advertisement. Game of war is a strategy game that allows users to build their empires and lead massive armies to battles of epic proportions. Players can choose their roles and can play the game as a soldier, a builder or a leader.

The game is built on a multiplayer format where you can interact with other gamers as you go forward and score points. You can also give special titles to your buddies using your power. As far as graphics are concerned, this is really a cool one.

Leo’s Red carpet Rampage

This is a clever one. Red Carpet Rampage came out when Leonardo was nominated for the Oscars last year. Everybody wanted Leonardo to win and the game was built around that trending chatter. Not the best execution, but the game still managed to touch the 500k install mark on Google Play. The gameplay is simple with a 2D infinite map of a red carpet where stars run to grab the oscar trophy.  

So here’s my favorite list of 10 best celebrity games for mobile. If you have your favorite missing from the list, mention it in the comment section below. Have a good day!

OpenXcell Technolabs is a leading app development and app marketing company. Working with industry leaders, we have developed and deployed hundreds of apps primarily for startups.

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App Monetization

Ad_Mediation_Setup_101

The use of ad mediation in mobile apps has become the mainstream in the last few years. One ad-network can’t have demand to give you good fill-rates and high CPMs for all your user segments and all the geographic locations where you have users. In addition, mediation allows you to add more ad-networks and increase demand for your ad inventory. As you might remember from “Introduction to Economics” – with fixed supply and increasing demand the price goes up. If you want to evaluate different mediation platforms check this post comparing 6 different mediation platforms.

Use placements/zones/areas for placements

Most mediation platforms has a feature called placements or zones or areas. This is designed so that if you have different areas where ads are presented in your app, you can give them names when implementing the SDK and later on refer to them from the mediation platform. This has a few benefits:

  • You will be able to see reporting for each placement separately
  • The mediation auto-pilot will optimize for each placement individually giving the optimization more precision
  • When setting up a manual waterfalls you can set specific one for each placement

Use placements for segments, testing, impression frequency and ad types

Advanced publishers often use the placements feature for other purposes to enjoy the same benefits mentioned above. Here are a few ideas:

Segments – Let’s say that you could create a segment of users who respond well to videos it would have made sense to show them only video ads. Alternatively, if you had a segment of users that don’t perform well for CPI campaigns – it would make more sense to create a waterfall for these users that gives higher pirority for brand oriented ad-networks such as Mediabrix and Hyper MX.

Testing – optimizing and trying different things is a standard practice in mobile these days. The only way to test different setups is to differentiate group A from group B by duplicating all your placements and marking them A and B repsectively.

Impression frequency – serving different placement every time an ad is presented to the same unique users can give you visibility into your eCPM decay and allow you to optimize your impression frequency.

Ad types – this one goes without saying. Differentiate your videos from interestitials.

Some of the advanced segments mentioned above requires the use of SOOMLA TRACEBACK which also allows to test different ad setups and monitor eCPM decay without jumping through hoops

Learn More

Don’t put all your eggs in the auto-pilot basket

Most mediation platforms have 3 modes:

  • Automatically allowing the mediation platform to select the best provider
  • Manually configuring the waterfall
  • Mixed – manual for the top countries and automatic for smaller ones

The automatic approach means that the mediation platform will check each of the ad networks every day to see which one provided the best eCPM and then prioritize the waterfall based on that number. The problem with the auto-pilot approach is that it is based on yesterday’s data. Moreover, in many cases the lower performing network will get switched to the top of the waterfall due to randomness in small numbers. The companies that make the most amount of ad revenue in the world often takes things into their own hands. You should at least experiment with this approach.

Disable the network that gave you the mediation

Most mediation platforms are owned by ad-networks. This creates an immediate conflict of interest. The mediation should be an unbiased, neutral 3rd party while the ad-networks compete with each other for more inventory. What is a publisher to do? Try to find a setting in your mediation platform that eliminates the owning ad-network from the auction. This way you are still enjoying a free mediation but you can be sure that it’s neutral. Important note – make sure you have a catch-all ad network or an SSP if you use this trick. Otherwise you will end up with a low fill rate.

Multiple CPM floors to force ad-network bidding

This is the most advanced trick in this post and requires you to do some prep work on the ad-networks. Basically every ad-network can apply a CPM floor. Some of them allow you to control this from their dashboard while others have the control on their side so you have to call and ask for it. What you want to do with this setting is to create 2 or 3 CPM floor levels under different App IDs or placements and then enter them into the mediation in different positions in the waterfall. Let’s see this simplified example with 2 ad-networks.

Example of a waterfall multiple CPM floors:

  • 1st priority – network A floor $20
  • 2nd priority – network B floor $20
  • 3rd priority – network A floor $15
  • 4th priority – network B floor $15
  • 5th priority – network A floor $10
  • 6th priority – network B floor $10

This means that if either ad-network has an ad that will pay more than $20 they will get to serve it. If none has it, the waterfall goes down to 3rd and 4th priority and checks if there is an ad that will pay $15 or more and so forrth. This method forces ad-networks into an auction that increases the price you get for your inventory.

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Analytics, Marketing

What-Are-Ad-Whales

Targeting lookalikes of your best users has been the easiest and most effective way spend mobile ad budgets since Facebook first introduced the feature in 2013. Google and Twitter are now also offering similar features and advertisers use them with similar levels of excitement.

What happens if your app is monetizing with ads and not IAP?

Apps that monetize mostly with advertising have a much more complicated job when trying to acquire new users. With ads it’s really hard to figure out who are the best users of your app:

  • The users who had the most amount of sessions?
  • The users who watched the most amount of ads?
  • Users who performed social actions?
  • Some other in-app event?

Ideally you would want to create a group of the users who generated the most amount of revenue from advertising in your app and get more users like that.

What are Ad Whales and how to find them?

2% of your users install other apps after viewing ads in your app, these users contribute more than 90% of your ad revenue and can be referred to as “Ad Whales”. This group of users highly resembles the users who make purchases in your app. They are a small group that contribute most of the revenue.

Understanding who your ad whales are could be very useful if you want to spend your advertising budget smartly. You could learn more about the demographics and interests of these users and find more users who share similar characteristics. Better yet – you can let the lookalikes algorithm do this job for you and simply sit back and see your user acquisition campaigns target only users who are similar to the Ad Whales you found.

Tracing your ad revenue is critical for discovering Ad Whales

Unlike In-App Purchases, ad revenue events are not generated inside your app. Finding the Ad Whales is almost impossible unless you have an ad traceback system in place. Traceback is a technology that allows you to trace ad revenue back to the user level. Once you have such a system in place, it’s easy to see who are the users that contribute the most amount of ad revenue.

 

SOOMLA TRACEBACK is a platform for tracing ad revenue. It allows you to get granular data about each and every user and identify the users who contribute the most ad revenue.

Learn More

 

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Research

Top grossing games have been complementing the IAP revenue with ad revenue

The past few weeks we have been working hard to conduct an important research and are proud to show the results today.

The typical profile of a top 100 grossing game

There are number of platforms that allow you to find out the top 100 grossing games. We used mostly AppAnnie for that. The top gorssing games are typically games that excel in IAP based monetization and come from proven genres like Casino, Match-3 and Hard-core Strategy. Many of the use external IP from movies, TV or console games. The companies behind most of these games have significant investment in BI, analytical infrastructure based on data warehousing and CRM that allows drilling down to the single user level. These companies typically have annual ad budgets of over $10M to acquire users for their top grossing games since they are able to see ROI on their ad spend.

For a full list of the top 100 grossing games in the US see these links – iPhone & Android.

Ad pentration is over 50% among top grossing games

In a previous post we revealed that Zynga makes 30% of it’s revenue from ads. The gaming giant is not alone and many other companies are following the trend. While top grossing games by definition excel in IAP based monetization, the ad penetration in this group is higher than you might expect. 52% of the Android games had Ads in them and 59% of the iPhone games. The higher penetration in iPhone games might also surprise some readers as Android is associated more with ad-based monetization compared to Apple which is considered more premium.

Ad penetration in top 100 grossing games in both iPhone and Android

Penetration is lower in the top 10 and grows from spot 11 and after

The second thing we wanted to check was the impact of the store ranking on the likelihood of the game to have ads in it. We had a feeling that the furthest the game will be from the 1st spot the bigger the ad penetration will be. This assumption was proven true in a high level but the trend was more of a step function than a linear trend. The games in ranks 1-10 only had 5% ad penetration while games from rank 11 to 100 were at around 60%.

Ad penetration is stronger in ranks 11-100 in the top 100 grossing games

Simulation genre is leading the ad revolution

Obviously, not all genres are created equal when it comes to ad penetration in the top 100 grossing games. Before we analyzed this aspect, we considered a slightly different definition of genres that is more specific to the top 100 grossing games:

  • HC/MC Strategy – these are strategy games where you build a kingdom or an empire and compete for world domination
  • Simulation – includes simulations of many kinds: city, farm, dragon, cooking and celebrity life
  • Racing – high end raching games
  • Sports – high end sports games such as Madden NFL
  • Fantasy cards – games where the player collects cards and compete PvP against others
  • Real World Card/Dice/Board – these games are based on real world games – Poker, Solitaire, …
  • Action RPG – role playing games where players build charachters and battle against each other
  • Match-3 and Bubble – Games with this specific gameplay of matching 3rds or shooting bubles
  • Casino – games like Slotomania, Heart of Vegas and others

As you would expect the Hard-core and Mid-core strategy games which include titles like Game of War, Mobile Strike, Clash of Clans and Vikings by companies like MZ, Supercell and Plarium are the least likely to adopt ads. The Casino games and Match-3 & Bubble had around average adoption. The genres the lead the adoptions are two:

  • Simulation games
  • Real World Card/Dice/Board

Simulation games and card/dice games are leading the revolution with close to 80% ad penetration in the top 100 grossing games

Ad penetration is increasing over the last 12 months

When we set out to determine if the trend is towards ads or away from ads we had a feeling that there more and more companies are warming to the idea. The results confirmed our assumptions. While the adoption is growing on both App stores the trend on the top-100 grossing iPhone games is very strong towards adding ads.

The trend is up and to the right as more and more successful games adopt the new way to make money

 

If your company also have top games with in-game advertising it’s important to know the Advertising revenue per user. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

Learn More

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App Monetization

10-Ways-to-Improve-Optin

We already covered the emergence of rewarded video ads in mobile games and the importance of focusing on opt-in ratio to increase the number of first impressions you get.

Opt-In Ratio – the number of unique users who watch rewarded videos in a given day, divided by the number of total unique users in the same day.

List of ideas for improving opt-in ratio for rewarded video

Here you can find a few game design suggestions to improve the number of people opting in to videos. However, we don’t recommend implementing all of them. The way to use this list is to set up a system like SOOMLA TRACEBACK that allows you to measure opt-in on a segment and cohort level and then try different methods for different segments while monitoring the improvement through the system.

1 – Guide users to watch a video as part of the tutorial

The rational here is simple. D0 is the only day where you have 100% retention. Guiding users to watch a video in the tutorial allows you to get a lot of 1st impressions and also teaches users that rewarded videos are an integral part of the experience.

2 – Daily offer that require users to watch a video

Once users come back, a nice way to promote the videos to them is to offer some special benefit, bonus screens or game advancement in the form of a daily promotion.

3 – Surprise box in exchange for a video

Many users like to get a surprise box in the game. Making the surprise box the reward of watching a ad is a great way to incentivize more users to engage with the ads.

4 – Lives for video views

Many games has energy mechanic built into them. It could be lives, energy, fuel or any other resource that is consumed with every attempt of the user. Users who want longer sessions usually have to pay but in many cases rewarded video can be offered as an alternative to payment for the non-payers segment.

5 – Save Me / Revive

Games often offer an option to keep playing from the last point by watching a video ad

In many action or arcade games ther user is able to play until some tragic event kills his character. This is the perfect opportunity to offer him an opportunity to keep playing from the same point in exchange for watching a video ad.

6 – Virtual currency for video completion

Another popular place to introduce the value exchange is inside the store of the game. The user can buy coing with money or he can get some for free if he watches some video ads.

7 – Double virtual currency collection for a limited time

Future play offers a 2x profit doubler for a period of 4 hours in exchange for a video viewMany games have coin collection mechanics into their games. In game design these are known as ‘pools’. The option to double the effectiveness of a pool is very appealing to a player and creates an incentive to watch an ad. Futureplay is one company that did a nice job with this option in their game Farm Away.

8 – Remove other ads in return for video view

Another option for introducing rewarded video is to offer the user an interruption free session in return for watching a single ad. You can see examples of this option here.

9 – Accelerate delivery/building time in return for video

Some games have built in waiting periods. This is specifically true for games in the strategy, simulation and racing genres. In these games the user have to wait for some action to be completed and is offered to pay to accelerate. Another option would be to give him an option to accelerate the action by watching a video ad.

10 – Users that don’t opt-in for videos – show them other ads

The final tip wouldn’t directly improve the opt-in rate to rewarded video but it is important just the same. About 2% if your game users pay for In-App Purchases, A typical opt-in ration might be 25%-40% and games that have optimized their opt-in ratio might get to 80%. This still leaves at least 20% of your users that are not contributing any monetization. To these users, you can show interstitials, banners and native ads to round up the monetization.

If you want to improve your opt-in rate to rewarded videos try these ideas and monitor which one works using SOOMLA Traceback.

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Game Design, Guest Post

top-9-fantasyGames

 

 

This is a guest post by Katrina Manning, Editor-in-Chief for Techandburgers.com, an online lifestyle, food and tech magazine.

Fantasy card games are games where user can collect cards and battle against other players to win more cards and gain experience and levels. The emergence of Hearthstone and Clash Royale showed us that this genre can be very popular if the cards are based on the right IP.

Fantasy card games can monetize well with rewarded videos

While the game play of card games is more casual compared to strategy games they typically attract similar audience. Unlike strategy games, Fantasy card games can’t retain their users for a long period so the LTV of the users tend to be lower. This makes them good candidate for mixing Rewarded Video ads in addition to IAP in their monetization strategy. We expect to see more games in this genre add video based monetization and generating more revenue doing so.

If your company is planning to make a Fantasy Card Game and monetize with ads it’s important to know the Advertising revenue per user. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

Learn More

 

Ascensionascension

This card game requires you to build a deck in order to battle against other players. The fantasy card game offers 50 cards in total, but they come with a wide variety of features. In addition, an expansion called Realms Unraveled, increases the number of cards you have. Not to mention, it comes with multiplayer support that is cross platform with either Android or iOS. You can even play against AI opponents.

Hehearthstonearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

This is a digital, collectible card game that may cause an addition. You get to choose whether you want to play as one of the great heroes or villains of the Warcraft universe. To illustrate, you can choose Jaina Proudmoore, Gul’Dan, Thrall and more.

You can then call upon allies and minions to help you win epic battles. What makes it even better is it is an easy-to-learn cross-platform app. Moreover, you earn gold that can be used to buy booster packs.

Pathfinder Adventurespathfinder

This cross-platform game is the digital port of Paizo’s Pathfinder Adventure Card game. It combines deck-building and role playing. Essentially, each deck represents weapons, special abilities and gear. You can use them to defeat themed location and quest decks.

In addition, you’ll notice captivating backgrounds, cut scenes and animations. You can choose either single player or pass-and-play coop modes. It’s just one of the many examples of the rise of social games.

Magic: The Gatheringmagic

This game launched the collectible card game (CCG) genre. It gives you a detailed tutorial including the origin stories of the game’s Planeswalkers. You can earn new cards and skills with Skill Question challenges. Furthermore, you can choose between human or AI opponents through battles and/or Two-Headed Giant team games.

dream-questDream Quest

What makes this game different is it looks like a kid’s coloring book. Yet, if you take a closer look, you’ll find a fascinating combination of dungeon crawling and deck building. You start out with a beginner’s collection of cards and a basic character. You can then search for treasure, explore dungeons and unlock new cards in order to improve their decks.

If you move forward successfully, you can soon run your character deck easily. There are major boss battles that you need to win. Not to mention, death can be permanent. On the other hand, if you do well, you can unlock endless bonuses, extra content and secret characters. You might even decide whether or not you prefer playing on an Android or iPhone.

Eredan Arenaeredan

This is both a dice and card game. From a deck of 120, you choose five heroes. You then throw the dice in order to trigger their abilities. In contrast, if you were to play Red Flush Casino, you might throw the dice and win some seriously fun prizes.

Here, you also have the elements of tabletop gaming. It is a role playing game that offers many strategies to help keep the game feeling like new. Moreover, your heroes can level up to receive new abilities. Since the dice rolls can be quite random, matches are always surprising.

Star Realmsstar

This takes the deck-building card game action to the stars. You begin with a small cadre of ships and fighters. You compete against other players to recruit a variety of warships, starbase cards and freighters. The goals is outfight each other in a battle for rulership. You’ll also get the opportunity to play short, but intense games.

Not to mention, its deck-building mechanics are quite impressive. You even get basic campaign and AI battles for free. To unlock the full game, you can make in-app purchases. This gives you harder AI, pass-and-play multiplayer and more campaigns. In-app purchases also give you the new Gambits expansion. Moreover, you’ll find varying themed missions and challenging AI.

Clash Royaleclash

This enticing game gives you a mix of tower defense with card management. Each round is only three minutes. You can play on a tower-defense style map utilizing a variety of unit cards. The objective is balance both offense and defense in quick-play rounds. A single misplay can turn the game in someone else’s favor. As you get through each match, you earn reward chests.

SolForgesolforge

This app comes from Stone Blade Entertainment, the same studio that created Ascension. It takes the basic card battle game and adds positional elements. The objective is to try to eliminate your opponent’s life to zero by using creatures to bombard them with attacks. There are five lanes where you can set your creatures to attack or block. Its rules are challenging, which can means hours and hours of pure game enjoyment and strategy.

 

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One of the most effective tools in business is using back of the envelope calculations using rules of thumb or benchmarks. This method is highly useful when trying to quickly evaluate opportunities before committing resources for in-depth research. In Mobile games, there are already established benchmarks for many KPIs you would need when trying to calculate things on an envelope. We collected 33 of these in this post. Save this link for the right time.

Retention and Engagement

  1. 2d retention – 40% is on the high side of the spectrum
  2. 7d retention – 20% is on the high side
  3. 30d retention – 10% is on the high side
  4. MAU DAU ratio – poor ratio is 1:10, really addictive games get 1:3 – 33% of their users play every day
  5. Session length in mobile games – 7.5 minutes is a good overall benchmark but some genres like card and board are getting between 10 and 15 minutes.
  6. Time spent per day – According to flurry the average user spent 33 minutes per day in mobile games during Q2/15. This stat is down from 52 in Q1 that year.

Marketing and User Acquisition

  1. Marketing spend from total revenue – If we look at public companies we can find these ratios in their income statements:
    • Zynga: 22%
    • Glu:20%
    • King:18%
    • In smaller companies we can expect the ratio to be closer to 30%
  2. CPI in tier 1 countries – high $10 (for strategy), low $2 (for casual games)
  3. Download boost when getting featured – games saw an average boost of 130% in H2/2015 according to a research by App Annie
  4. Top charts download boost – for games 100% boost (an additional organic install for every paid one)
  5. First week ROI on UA – For an app with 40%,20%,10% the first week contribution is 12%. For apps with worse retention, this number needs to be closer to 20%
  6. Top-10 threshold: Apple’s top free chart – 72,000/day, Apple’s top grossing chart – $47,000
  7. Top-25 threshold: Apple’s top free chart – 32,000/day, Apple’s top grossing chart – $23,000
  8. Top-50 threshold: Apple’s top free chart – 23,000/day, Apple’s top grossing chart – $12,000, Google’s top grossing – $6,600
  9. CTR – for banners we have seen reports of 0.25% to 0.75%, for intersitials it can go up to 5% and even 10% but a lot of those are accidental clicks.
  10. Install Rate – According to Branchmetrics – click-to-install rate is 11.9% on iOS and 13.5% on Android. US rates are lower – only 6%. The report also shows the install rate by channel.

Game Monetization

  1. ARPDAU in tier 1 countries – the lowest we have seen is $0.005 for apps with only banner ads and the highest report is for $1 for a hard-core strategy game targeting Japan. Glu sees $0.08 globally while Kabam, A Thinking Ape, PerBlue and Dena higher levels between $0.4 and $1 for hardcore titles.
  2. ARPDAU from ads alone in tier 1 countries – the lowest we have seen is $0.005 but with Rewarded video you can get all the way to $0.09 according to some reports.
  3. LTV in tier 1 countries (IAP+Ads) – The range here is quite high. Hard-core titles can reach $20 LTV (for all users – not just payers). The good casino games can get to $10. The bottom side of the range can be quite low if the game has no monetization it can be $0.
  4. LTV in tier 1 countries (Ads Only) – The lowest we have seen using TRACEBACK is $0.1 and the highest we have seen is $1.5
  5. Rewarded Video CPMs in tier 1 countries – we have seen reports of CPM going up to $60 in some genres. The numbers can go as low as $15 for the first impression and will go down for games that expose their users to too many
  6. Video CPMs in tier 1 countries – $8 to $15 in most games but if you have too many video ads it will decline below that
  7. Interstitial CPM in tier 1 countries – $5 to $10 eCPM
  8. Banner CPM in tier 1 countries – $1 to $3 eCPM
  9. Conversion to payers – 1.5% conversion is typical on a monthly basis and 0.3% on a daily basis.
  10. Top 10% revenue contribution – The top 10% of payers typically contribute 50% of the revenue in games with consumables or currency
  11. LTV of paying users (Total ARPPU) – In hard-core strategy games the average is about $500, in casino it’s usually $200-$300, in Match-3 it can get to $150 but $50 to $100 is more typical.
  12. Ad revenue proportion – In hard-core strategy games – 0%, mid-core strategy games and simulation games get 10%-15% of their revenue from ads, Casino games can see up to 50% of their revenue from ads, card and board games typically see 25%-30% ad revenue and more casual genres typically go above 50%

Market Research

  1. Calculating MAU from Ratings on Google Play:
    • Take the Ratings count from Google Play
    • Divide by the number of years the game was live
    • Multiply by 10 to get MAU Estimate (actual MAU might be 30% higher or lower)
  2. Calculating MAU from ratings on Google Play
    • Take the minimum number of installs from Google Play
    • Divide by the number of years the game was live
    • Divide by 2 to get an estimated MAU (Actual MAU might be 30% higher or lower)
  3. Number of apps per user – Android users have 95 apps on average
  4. New apps installed per month – The average user installs 1 app per month
  5. Total revenue in Mobile games in 2015 – $34B according to AppAnnie

 

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app nanny is a free tool for app research

Today we are proud to continue the tradition of making free and open source tools with the launch of App Nanny. App Nanny is a unique tool made for mobile industry insiders who need to research apps quickly using Google or the App Stores. The tool simply surfaces key information about the app inside the search results so you don’t have to go back and forth in your browser in order to find interesting apps.

App Nanny enhances your app research experience

App nanny adds more information in cards when you search for apps The new tool is a Chrome extension which means that you install it with one click and after that App Nanny works behind the scenes and slightly modifies your app research experience. There are 2 main differences you will notice:

  • App cards will appear in your search results on Google
  • More information will appear in app thumbnails in Google Play and The App Store

What information App Nanny provides

The extension brings information from the app main page into your search results and thumbnails. The information is selected to help you identify the apps that you were looking for:app nanny adds information snippets when searching in google for cool apps

  • Main image (in Google search results)
  • Download count (in Google play)
  • Last update date
  • App publisher
  • Genre
  • Bundle ID

App Nanny saves you time while researching apps

Let’s focus on an example to see why App Nanny is great. Say you are researching for a blog post called “Top 10 Match 3 Games” you would need to search Google or the app stores and track mainly the name of the game, the image and the game popularity but you would also want to see if the game is recently updated. Let’s say that you would need to screen 200 candidates to find the top 10. It means you need to open 200 app pages and scroll down each one to find the relevant information. With App Nanny on the other hand – you get this info directly in the search results so you can save valuable time.

Improve your ASO with App Nanny

Another cool way to use App Nanny is to find out which terms are popular and the competition level. Searching Google Play for the keyword “banana” and the word “dash” allows you to quickly see that there are a lot more dashing apps and that they have a lot more downloads if you combine them. You can also see apps that have not being updated for sometime. These usually present an opportunity.

Hope you also find it cool and useful like we do. Feel free to give it a shot and give us any feedback that will help us improve it.

 

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