Hypercasual and casual games publisher CrazyLabs runs a global business with offices across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Similarly, their games cater to worldwide audiences, and have been downloaded more than 4.7 billion times. They're a global leader of live service operations for popular titles, including Super Stylist - Makeover & Style Fashion Guru, Tie Dye, and Phone Case DIY.
When CrazyLabs looked for a way to increase ad revenue within their mature titles, they tried out a new format, AdMob app open ads (beta). This ad format displays once per gaming session, immediately after the user taps to open the app. CrazyLabs hoped the integration would help increase average revenue per user (ARPU), and easily scale to more of their games. With this experiment, the team achieved a 3-5% increase in ARPU, which is significant for their stable and mature games. Observing this success, they rolled out the ad format to their wider global audience.
Balancing a variety of ad formats
CrazyLabs develops casual and hypercasual games, a type of game where users expect to encounter multiple ads. But with such high ad saturation, the team needed to ensure that changes they made to improve revenue preserved player experience without cannibalizing revenue from other ad formats. Interstitials, for example, provide strong ad earnings for CrazyLabs, and the team sought to protect that revenue stream and make incremental gains elsewhere.
“When we’re configuring our ad display, we’re usually using some kind of minimum buffer to show between every ad,” says Nofar Cohen, Product Manager, Ad Monetization and Business Operations, explaining how CrazyLabs preserves its quality experience for players. “It’s a fine balance.” As they learned more about app open ads, CrazyLabs liked the clean UI, and the fact that the ad appeared only once per session.
A small sample and the right recipe
When deciding on the best game to run their A/B experiment, CrazyLabs considered some of their hypercasual games that have a high number of user sessions. A high number of separate sessions means the user opens and closes the game more often, and each time they do, they’ll see the splash page with the ad. The team chose 3-4 games to test within the United States and other countries, and integrated app open ads into their iOS app versions as an A/B test.
Using Firebase Remote Config, CrazyLabs rolled out app open ads to a segment of their user base and evaluated the results.
Along with Firebase Remote Config, CrazyLabs used first-party data on in-game behavior to identify the right user segments and frequency for ads. “Each game has a different recipe,” says Nofar. “In most cases, app open ads were definitely an upgrade to the ad performance.”
During the test, CrazyLabs was hoping for at least a 3% lift in ARPU before rolling out the ad format to more popular titles. “It’s very hard to shift a game that’s been out already for a long time, so 3% is significant,” says Nofar. “And 5-10% is considered amazing.” CrazyLabs also kept an eye on the overall playtime of the game, making sure that users weren’t dropping off earlier now that they were seeing more ads overall.
Whenever we integrate and experiment with app open ads, 95% of the time, it wins.
Product Manager, Ad Monetization and Business Operations, CrazyLabs,
Exceeding expectations and scaling up
Following the experiment, CrazyLabs saw a 3-5% lift in ARPU, surpassing their original benchmark. App open ads also delivered the highest CPMs compared to any other formats that the team was using at that time. Even though users were being shown more ads, there was no noticeable change in play session time which Nofar noted as a positive result.
“Our engagement KPIs were unharmed by the addition of the new ad format, and we still saw a lift in ARPU,” explains Nofar.
CrazyLabs is now working on scaling app open ads across their portfolio of hypercasual games, and experimenting with the new format on a much larger scale. As next steps, they’re looking to test app open ads as a cross-promotional tool for other of their apps, and maximize revenue from the newly launched video demand, in addition to building out the app open ad experience for their Android users.