Whether you’ve been building free-to-play games for six months or six years, chances are you’re constantly thinking about monetization.

Perhaps you love the process; perhaps it’s the bane of your existence. Regardless, you can’t ignore it. Without monetization, there’s no revenue. And without revenue… You get the point.

Here’s the thing: mobile game monetization—particularly with ads—is evolving fast. 

Five years ago, the hot thing was waterfalls. Two years ago, it was bidding. Today, it’s automation. But how did it get to this point?

From Ad Networks To Mediation

Manual mobile ad monetization has been around since at least 2010, back when Google bought Admob and moved from mobile advertising for the web to in-app mobile advertising. 

In-app advertising is straightforward: you put an ad placement in your game or app, then make it available for ads from various ad partners to fill. If you are working with a single ad network, such as Unity, you’ll simply plug in their SDK and let it deliver Banners, Interstitial Ads, Rewarded Videos, and more, to your game. Each additional ad network will then require the integration of their own SDK. 

Manual monetization later evolved with the introduction of mediation. Ad networks started giving developers the possibility to get ads from multiple ad networks and not just their own, with the integration of a single SDK.

However, that didn’t necessarily decrease your workload. Manual monetization with mediation required you to create a waterfall—that is, a system for asking different ad networks to send your game or app ads based on price. 

Needless to say, this process was complex enough that it generated a whole new job category: app monetization specialist. For studios of a certain size, this individual—or even a whole team—was paid just to make sure the game was making as much money as it could.

The Rise of Bidding?

Manual monetization improved with bidding—a new process where ad networks competed with each other to send an ad placement to your game. Now, instead of asking for ads via the waterfall, your game was saying to the ad networks, “I have an ad placement. Who is going to pay me the most to fill it?” 

This was a great alternative as it reduced the workload of ad monetization specialists since bidding required a lot less attention than waterfalls. It also tended to bring in more money for games—sometimes.

Not always. There was some wisdom in the old waterfall model, so game developers wanting to maximize their revenue had to continue relying on a monetization specialist.

Sounds expensive and time-consuming, right? It was, but for a while, this was the state of the industry. Often, for smaller studios with fewer resources, ad mediation wasn’t even an option. Working with a single ad network with high eCPMs, like AdMob, was the best way to minimize the monetization workload. 

The pain of getting big enough to need a monetization specialist was also real, both because finding one wasn’t easy and because the phrase “you’ve got to spend money to make money” was suddenly uncomfortably true.

Then everything changed.

Automatic Monetization: The Wave of The Future

The first automatic monetization tools were humble, and integrated into existing mediation tools. They promised to save you time by using algorithms to manage your game’s monetization strategy, but they wouldn’t necessarily make you more money. 

While finally making ad mediation more accessible to indie developers, the fact that the automatic tools didn’t outperform manual monetization made it a questionable alternative. 

And the reason is simple: these ad mediation algorithms prioritize their own ad network, even when others might be more profitable for developers.

Still, short on time for and knowledge of monetization, it remains the preferred route for many indie studios—even when they know they have the potential to earn more. 

Unsatisfied by the performance of traditional ad mediation platforms, gaming services company Yodo1 set out to build an unbiased tool to maximize their own games’ output. That was the beginning of MAS—Managed Ad Services.

Battle-tested on titles such as Rodeo Stampede, Steppy Pants, and Crossy Roads, the end result was a custom-built, easy-to-use, single SDK—carrying all top-performing ad networks, globally and in China—and accessible to studios regardless of size or location.

Now, instead of paying a monetization specialist to handle ad mediation, you can let the MAS team handle everything as part of the package—setting up an optimal ad waterfall and bidding system customized to your game and player base. 

And as far as automation goes, the algorithms MAS uses are augmented by machine learning to constantly improve your game’s monetization—making MAS fully automatic for you

In short, MAS makes it easy for any studio to reap the benefits of automation and mediationwithout doing any of the work themselves. 

That leaves you with more revenue and more time to focus on building better games—which I’m guessing is what got you into the business in the first place.

How You Can Start Using Automatic Monetization

As a pioneer in the realm of fully automatic monetization, MAS has been tried and proven successful in more than 300 games—many of which have seen revenue multiply as much as tenfold. 

Starting with a simple integration process, MAS will help your games make more money while significantly reducing the amount of time you spend on monetization. And when you become a MAS partner, you get tailored recommendations on how to improve ad placement and design to generate all the more revenue. 

To get started, contact Yodo1’s business development team via bd@yodo1.com or jump right in with our MAS integration guide.

 


About Yodo1

Yodo1 is a game platform company that helps developers better market, manage, and monetize their games. Our AI-powered tools and global expertise in areas such as mobile advertising, community management, and digital IP licensing enable partners to increase playtime, revenue, and retention. Our vision is to open the world of gaming success to anyone with the talent to develop. To learn more, visit www.yodo1.com and follow us on LinkedIn.

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