Thanks to the overwhelming success of the popular arcade-style game Cookie Run: OvenBreak, Devsisters is now one of the best-known game publishers in South Korea. Since the series launched in 2016, users have downloaded Cookie Run: OvenBreak and its 2021 hit sequel, Cookie Run: Kingdom, over 80M times.
From the beginning, Devsisters relied on in-app purchases (IAP) as its primary revenue source. It experimented with in-app ads (IAA) early on, but those efforts fell below their expectations. Later in 2020, Devsisters began rethinking its revenue strategy, as 90% of players in Cookie Run: OvenBreak were non-paying users. Seeing positive market trends with in-app ads, the team decided to give in-app ads another try and partnered with Google AdMob. After experimenting with rewarded ads and placements, AdMob’s ad network delivered a 5x increase in revenue and helped Devsisters adopt an IAA and IAP hybrid monetization model for all its Cookie Run: OvenBreak global users.
Finding the right ads strategy
Devsisters tried in-app ads when Cookie Run: OvenBreak was originally released in 2016. At that time, the team couldn’t find the right mix of in-app ad formats and placements to deliver a steady stream of revenue and maintain a great user experience for their community of players.
As the title matured, Devsisters looked for ways to strike a better balance between revenue and user experience. While brainstorming how to best serve their 400K+ DAU, 90% of which were non-paying users, the team reconsidered rewarded ads.
By 2020, Devsisters noticed that other prominent South Korean game developers were successfully integrating in-app ads into their titles. After learning more about hybrid monetization best practices, Devsisters decided to give ad formats another try.
AdMob ad network delivers as top demand source
Devsisters chose to run a trial phase with several partners, including Google AdMob. Jihyun Dan, Devsister Team Lead for User Acquisition and Ad Monetization, considered AdMob a highly trusted ad network in the region. The team was also already using AdMob’s mediation solution in one game title. With best practices from Google, Devsisters refined its test strategy. It then integrated three rewarded ad placements in Cookie Run: OvenBreak. The ads were located in highly visible locations for users, delivering robust engagement and positive user feedback within weeks — something it did not see in the prior in-app ad experiments.
In addition, Devsisters saw in-app ad revenue increase by 500% with AdMob’s ad network — a much greater boost than the studio expected. The strong demand and revenue from AdMob combined with the performance of the rewarded ad format gave Devsisters the confidence to add two more ad placements six months later into the same title.
“We were impressed by the in-app revenue generated by AdMob’s ad network,” said Jihyun Dan.
Using what it learned from its hybrid monetization experiments in Cookie Run: OvenBreak, Devsisters has plans to integrate in-app ads into their new hit title Cookie Run: Kingdom, in early 2022.
We were very impressed by the in-app revenue generated by AdMob’s ad network
Team Lead for User Acquisition and Ad Monetization, Devsisters,
Plans for the future
After successfully testing and implementing rewarded ads into two of its titles, Devsisters has confidence in the potential of in-app ads and AdMob’s ad network as part of its overall revenue strategy. With this in mind, the studio is planning ahead for its next big title, Cookie Run: OvenSmash, scheduled to be released in 2022.