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Rewarded Video FAQ

What is rewarded video?

Rewarded video is a short video ad format designed to augment user/player monetization. The video ads are usually 15 to 30 seconds long and non-skippable. A user/player opts-in to watch the video in exchange for a reward. Rewarded video ads work well when designed and balanced around your in-app economy where users/players can gain access to premium content such a virtual good, gift, or currency in exchange for viewing a short video clip. One important thing to note is that rewarded video ads are not exclusive to games. It can be perfectly adapted in a way to allow users of other app genres to get acquainted to premium features or content.

Why consider rewarded video for monetization?

Rewarded video is considered a high-engagement ad format. Compared to other ad formats such as banner ads, static interstitial ads, or even traditional video ads, the rewarded video ad format generates higher eCPMs, user retention, engagement, and overall user lifetime value. The ads drive higher eCPMs because the format is not skippable and must be completed in order to receive a reward. Advertisers are becoming more acquainted to rewards-based video ads as well and are willing to pay premium prices to acquire new users.

Why use Upsight Ad Mediation for rewarded video?

Upsight Ad Mediation (formerly known as AdRally) takes all the headaches and hassle out of mediating multiple rewarded video ad networks and takes care of maximizing revenue for you. Upsight Ad Mediation is a rigorously vetted and tested collection of top-performing rewarded video ad networks all rolled into one powerful SDK. Leveraging our proprietary automated logic, Upsight Ad Mediation maximizes your fill rate and increases monetization by optimizing multiple networks to ensure you secure the highest paying ad to fill your valuable space, in every country, every day. Best of all, Upsight Ad Mediation is 100% neutral since we do not have our own ad network. The top video ad networks we work include: AdColony, UnityAds, AppLovin, HyprMX, MoPub, NativeX, and many more.

How will I know which rewarded video ad network performs the best for me? Will you offer support in setting my network waterfalls?

Our solution is a fully-managed, optimized mediation platform. What this means is we work with many networks and exchanges, and use our proprietary optimization algorithms and technology, to deliver a single SDK, which delivers the top performing ads from these demand partners. We’re happy to offer insights into which network performs well in which countries but we take care of setting everything up for you! We also do not source our own ads directly as we do not wish to compete against our demand partners and wish to remain truly unbiased on how we optimize. So although we are a mediated solution, we look and feel like an ad network. Our technology brings these ads in via wrapped adaptors as well as server-to-server ad connections to various networks. See this venturebeat article.

What types of apps do well with rewarded video?

This really depends because in theory any app can implement rewarded video if there’s something to reward. Typically games perform the best with rewarded video but it’s not uncommon to see utility apps adopt rewarded video to give users access (or temporary) access to premium features. We recommend looking at the features in your app and how rewarded video can be leveraged to drive new adoption. If you’re building new features and want to use rewarded video, we recommend planning ahead and wrapping in mechanics that lend well to rewarded video monetization.

Where should I show rewarded video ads?

Here at Upsight, we use the terms placements, zones, or milestones interchangeably to indicate locations in your app where you can show an ad. Every app is different and the possibilities are truly endless. We recommend thinking about zones in terms of the following 3 areas:

  1. Discoverability
  2. Opportunity
  3. Frequency / Exposure

Let’s use a basic endless runner as an example. Some common zones for this type of game include:

  1. In-store (watch a video to earn some free coins)
  2. Pre-run boost (watch a video to earn a random boost)
  3. Save me (watch a video to get revived instantly)

The in-store placement may be a low revenue generating opportunity since only a very small percentage of players actually visit the store but for those that do, the incentive to watch a rewarded video can be great enough to generate good eCPMs. In this case, it’s best to limit the frequency in which a user can watch a video. That means this placement is low on discoverability, high on opportunity, and limited frequency.

Now let’s look at the Save Me zone. Because this is triggered at the end of a run and players are anxious to keep playing, discoverability is very high. However, it is unlikely that a player will download a new app in the middle of a run. Therefore, revenue opportunity is on the lower end. Frequency can be adjusted here based on performance.

How do I plan my game to take advantage of rewarded video ads?

If you’re building a new game or new features, plan out your monetization strategy early. Certain mechanics such as the “random draw”, which grants the player one random power-up/boost, or “lottery spin”, which grants the player one extra spin for a chance to earn existing currency works very well with rewarded video. If you have a world-builder type of game, a new building called “Armament Support” could be a rewarded video anchor so players can use (try out) a new cannon temporarily after watch an ad. Always think about rewarded video as part of your game rather than just a way to make money. When planned well, rewarded video ads can be an integrative part of the game’s overall player-progression experience. Implement rewarded video monetization simply by tacking it on top of existing features and mechanics is neither the most effective nor the most effective. However, if time and resources are an issue, go ahead with the implementation and iterate with future updates.

How often should I show rewarded video ads?

If you’re asking this question, you’re probably thinking: I want to monetize my users with rewarded video ads but I don’t want to ruin the user experience or piss them off”. The truth is, you have complete control over the user experience even if you use rewarded video to monetize users. Between display frequency (displays the opt-in ad every nth time), hourly caps (how many times a user can watch an ad every hour), and daily caps (how many total times a user can watch an in a given day), you can fine tune the balance between revenue generation and user experience. You want to create enough value for yourself without allowing users to abuse the system to farm for currency. We always encourage experimentation but a general guideline for frequency is as follow: we recommend giving users access to at least one rewarded video ad for every 5 minutes they spend in the game. If they play the game for one hour, you can start off your hourly cap at around 12. If your game monetizes well with IAPs, we recommend setting a lower daily cap and a higher daily cap for games that does not monetize well on IAPs. Again, these are general guidelines and each game will differ. We recommend diving deep into your analytics to see where the majority of your revenue is made and where the breakout is. A good article to read is "Where should I show rewarded video ads”. It covers the topic of frequency and exposure.

What are pre-rolls and post-rolls?

A pre-roll is the message that asks the user to confirm whether or not they want to watch a video to earn a reward. The pre-roll message appears before the video starts. Oftentimes the pre-roll follows an existing on-screen prompt to watch a rewarded video ad, thereby creating a double opt-in. For example, while playing a game, an button pops up that reads “Earn free coins!”. You press the button (1st opt-in). The pre-roll then appears to confirm “Would you like to watch a video to earn 20 free coins?” You click yes again (2nd opt-in).

The post-roll is a message that displays after a rewarded video ends and confirms the reward earned by the player. A post-roll message might read “Thanks for watching the video! You’ve earned 20 free coins!”

What metrics should I pay attention to for rewarded video?

There are some general rules to follow when implementing rewarded video for your app. As an app developer you have control over the most optimal user experience and revenue generating setups. Here are some basic metrics you need to be aware of:

  1. DAU/MAU (daily active users). This metric is by far the most important metrics you need to track as it’s the driver of all performance.
  1. Sessions. The number of times your app has been launched or started.
  2. Views or Impressions. The number of times a video has been watched to completion and is considered as a view or impression. This differs from network to network.
  3. Sessions/DAU. This tells you, on average, how many times a user starts or launches your app in a given day. It is a good measure for engagement. This will also depend on the type of game.
  4. Views/Session. This metric gives you a sense of how ad adoption is going. A high view/session ratio tells you that players are watching lots of videos every time they play.
  5. Impressions/DAU. This is one of the most important metrics to pay attention to for rewarded video. This ratio tells you, on average, how many video ads are being watched by a user. We recommend keeping this ratio at 2 or above.
  6. Ad ARPDAU. This is calculated by finding your average daily revenue from ads and your average DAU for a given time period and then dividing average daily revenue from ads by average DAU. This gives you an idea of how much revenue ads are generating per DAU.
  7. Fill rate. Fill rate from a mediation stack is very different from a single network. We cannot track fill at the time an ad is shown because publishers only show an ad when we tell them we have one available. So tracking on the show_ad call would result in near 100% fill. The best way to estimate fill rate from a mediation stack is to do so when ads are called and cached. Fill rate reported by Fuse is often a worst case scenario due to discarded cached ads.
  8. eCPM. Revenue earned per thousand impressions. eCPM is important as a comparative metric but can oftentimes lead to irrelevant or misinformed conclusions. This metric varies greatly and can be affected by many different factors such as the type of game, your users’ demographics, your zones/placements, platform, etc. For example, by over exposing ads and having users watch many ads per day, you might depress your eCPM metrics but increase your overall ad ARPDAU.

How does iOS and Android rewarded video differ?

Using iOS performance as a benchmark for Android performance or vice versa is never a good idea. One has no indication of how another will perform. One big reason for this is the demographics of Android vs iOS. Generally Android devices are cheaper and will be more widespread in lower income countries. Almost all ad networks favor iOS over Android (except in some particular countries) due to quality of traffic, stability and Apple’s overall better enforcement of the OS, as well as optimizations.

Will rewarded video ads cannibalize my IAP revenue?

Rewarded video ads allow players to watch an in-game video in exchange for virtual goods or in-app gifts. While some developers have concerns about negatively impacting player engagement, this large-scale Fuse study shows the clear benefits of using rewarded video advertising in mobile games.

Fuse looked at 6M players as a sample set across a variety of mobile freemium games. Of the 6M players, 9% interacted with rewarded video during their player lifetime and 1.2% made an IAP. The study found that 37% of paying players engaged in rewarded video illustrating that paying players welcome interacting with this form of ad. As well, 54% of those players watched rewarded video, indicating it is a gateway to monetizing with IAP. Of those who did not watch a rewarded video, only 0.7% made an IAP.

In comparison, 4.7% of players who watched a rewarded video made an IAP. That’s 6X more conversions from players who watched rewarded video than from those who did not, thereby debunking the myth that rewarded video cannibalizes IAP monetization. While those who watched rewarded video took slightly longer to make their IAP (4.67 days versus 2.94), they went on to make more IAPs (3.08 versus 2.49) and generated higher average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) of $18.95 versus $15.60.

The study confirmed players who watched rewarded videos made 24% more purchases and spent 21% more money than those paying players who did not watch rewarded video. For publishers, rewarded video represents an excellent way of further monetizing players without any negative impact on engagement or IAP monetization potential.

Is rewarded video an interruptive ad experience?

All ads can be an interruptive experience for users. Let’s just get that out of the way. However, rewarded video has the largest potential in becoming an integral part of your gameplay. When used properly, rewarded video ads give new and existing players a more engaged way to advance in your game without harming your overall economy. With segmentation, you can fine tune the rewards players earn so you’re monetizing each cohort relative to their value. Consider the scenario where a new player is having a hard time completing level 10 of your game. Without rewarded video, their only options are to try again and again or buy a more powerful IAP item in order to advance. What if they don’t want to spend any money or continue the repetitive level? With rewarded video, they can earn a power-up or a level skip reward for watching a video. Not only have you helped the player advance to the next level but have also taught the user how valuable an IAP can be.

Rewarded video ads are also completely opt-in. Unlike other non-rewarded interstitials or banner ads where players have no choice, rewarded video demonstrates clear intent. If implemented well, rewarded video is immensely powerful at monetizing users.

Should paying for a “Remove Ads" IAP also remove rewarded video?

There are many good reasons to keep rewarded video ads around even if other ad types are removed. As a game publisher ourselves, we’ve experienced complaints from users when the rewarded video option was taken away from them after purchasing the “Remove Ads” IAP. They perceived rewarded video differently than conventional ads. Conventional, non opt-in ads, disrupted their experience. Rewarded video, opt-in ads, enhanced their gameplay.

How much should I reward for every rewarded video watched?

The key to maximizing revenue with rewarded video monetization is to connect the value of your currency to the demand generated by your app's overall economy in a sustainable way. Make sure to test and fine-tune the exchange rate of your virtual currency. Try different exchange rates to determine the most optimal ratio between rewards earned via ads and in-app purchases. Remember to set an exchange rate that entices your users to complete offers. The majority of advertiser revenues per completed offer are below in-app purchase floor prices. To ensure that users understand the value of completing offers, developers usually set the exchange rate of earned rewards slightly above their IAP exchange rate. It's also a good idea to segment your users and offer them different exchange rates based on their relative value.