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How to make $3,000 per day from advertising in your free-to-play game

By on March 30, 2012

Last week, Nicholas wrote a post on Five reasons why you shouldn’t carry advertising in your games. Not everyone agreed. Simon Moeller is the Chief Creative Officer of Kiloo, and in this guest post he shows how free-to-play games can make $3,000 a day from ads.

How we Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Interstitial Ads

At Kiloo, we’ve been experimenting with mobile ad networks since we first launched Whac-a-Mole on iOS in 2009.

We use advertising as a secondary monetising tool in both Frisbee® Forever and Bullet Time HD, and are constantly but carefully exploring new ways of generating secondary revenue without churning players.

A market has appeared for Cost-Per-Install marketing after the fall of incentivized app downloads in April 2011. As a developer, you advertise other apps in your app and get paid anywhere between 0.50$ and 3$ when your users download the advertised app.

Up until april 2011, direct user acquisition on iOS was dominated by TapJoy with their incentivized installs. Apple severely limited this practise last year. Chartboost, Playhaven, Flurry etc stepped up and filled the space.

In 2011 and Q1 2012 we’ve generated significant revenue from primarily ChartBoost and secondarily AdColony in addition to IAP. Monitoring the thousands of reviews of our apps on the iOS App Store, I can count the number of complaints over the ads on one hand. Users have no problem with ads if they don’t interfere with their gameplay experience.

Advertising we tried in the past

Admob & iAd banners – Very limited eCPM, no control over ads, no relevance, annoys users ingame
Nexage – mediation layer to Admob and others. Same problems as above
TapJoy – limited revenue after the fall of incentivized installs

What we are still using, this works

ChartBoost – Full screen interstitials shown 1-2 times a day at app launch. eCPM’s anywhere between 4.5$ and 40$ (rare, limited campaigns). Note chart of Kiloo’s average eCPM in 2011
AdColony – Incentivized video. Awards currency to users for watching advertising. eCPM’s between 5$ and 10$

What we’d like to try, but have no experience with

Flurry Video – Incentivized video. Can complement AdColony.
Playhaven – Full screen interstitials & more, could complement ChartBoost.


How to Publish a Game

For more advice on monetising your games, buy How to Publish a Game

At 100k-250k DAU you will probably be able to average anywhere between 500$ and 3000$ a day depending on active campaigns if you use ChartBoost and AdColony. Possibly more with Flurry Video as backup if AdColony runs out of inventory.

We have been happy with ChartBoost and AdColony in combination in the past, and we will continue to use advertising as a secondary revenue stream as long as we feel our userbase is comfortable with the methods we apply.

Opinion: Stuff to look out for

Any kind of incentivized advertising. Being able to award users to watch and engage in advertising with virtual currency

You should follow me @simonmoeller on twitter if you like more opinions on gaming trends, mobile developments and general rants

About Simon Moller

Simon Moller is Chief Creative Officer at Kiloo, a game developer working in co-production with other studios such as Sybo to create high-revenue free-to-play mobile games.