Seoul-based gaming company Dreamotion Inc. launched Road to Valor: World War II, a deeply researched game reflecting historical accuracy, in just 16 months. “We pride ourselves in making high-quality games as fast as possible,” says CEO and Founder JunYoung Lee. As a reimagined version of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, its new title featured highly realistic details with the goal of reaching more adult players.
Even though the team worked quickly, the release wasn’t an overnight success. The company began to rethink its ads strategy because Road to Valor wasn’t hitting its revenue targets. But once Dreamotion started using AdMob rewarded ads, they saw a 70% increase in cost-per-thousand impressions (eCPMs), doubled average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU), and increased total ad revenue by 2.5x.
Optimizing ads to increase eCPMs
In 2019, Dreamotion noticed disappointing eCPMs from their existing ad monetization platform. They were locked into a year-long exclusive deal for rewarded ads, and Road to Valor wasn’t getting the traction they’d hoped for. The team’s original monetization approach was an 80:20 ratio of in-app purchases (IAP) to ads, but both revenue streams were too low. Ads made up only 10% of total revenue, and ARPDAU from IAPs was also performing below expectations.
The slow trickle of users and declining revenue started to impact company morale. To turn things around, Dreamotion first revamped its IAP offerings, introducing a monthly flat-rate subscription, along with more context-based purchase options. For more competitive eCPMs, the team also updated its existing rewarded ads flow.
Previously, users waited between 3-24 hours to get a reward if they didn’t want to watch an ad. If they did choose to watch one, the waiting time went down by 3 hours. For faster access to their rewards, players could choose to watch another ad four hours later. With its new strategy, the team decided to eliminate the 4-hour gap between ads, and cap the number of ad views instead.
That’s when the metrics started to shift. The team noticed an increase in the number of ads watched per user and in daily ad revenue. At the same time, there was no negative impact on play time, user satisfaction, retention, or user feedback. With a new mindset, Dreamotion began to consider how they could apply what they learned on a larger scale. In particular, they were curious if adding another ad network might grow ad revenue even further.
Moving Google AdMob to the top of the waterfall
The team adjusted their year-long agreement with their third party monetization platform to allow testing of the AdMob network. “We turned to AdMob because we heard very good feedback from the industry about its network performance,” says JunYoung.
To start, they created a new rewarded ad placement and put AdMob in the first spot of their waterfall — setting their original provider as the backfill. They placed the new rewarded ad in the Shop page, which previously offered only IAPs. It took the team less than a week to make the updates.
When user feedback showed that players were hungry for more rewarded ads, the team tested out this new ad implementation for two weeks — rolling out to 100% of users on both Android and iOS. For the initial trial, Dreamotion tracked eCPM, total ad revenue, ads watched per user, and retention. They kept a critical eye on eCPM performance and its effect on the total ad revenue — and they also ensured that the user experience maintained its high quality. When the results showed a clear preference to AdMob over other networks, they decided to officially move AdMob into the first position in their waterfall setup.
Doubling our ARPDAU and ads revenue with AdMob was an incredible result, and has changed our mindset about ad monetization. AdMob makes you feel like a valued partner, giving you consistent support and results. We use AdMob rewarded ads for all our launched games and plan to use it for our upcoming games.
Founder and CEO, Dreamotion Inc.,
Revenue metrics and user feedback score a win for rewarded ads
During the two-week trial, Dreamotion saw ARPDAU double. Ad revenue also increased by 2.5x, and average CPM grew by nearly 80%. Additionally, there was no indication that the new ad strategy cannibalized IAP. Retention metrics remained stable, and Dreamotion received user comments requesting to double the number of rewarded ads available to players. Though Dreamotion had capped it at five, users were asking for ten.
“Doubling our ARPDAU and ads revenue with AdMob was an incredible result, and has changed our mindset about ad monetization. AdMob makes you feel like a valued partner, giving you consistent support and results. We use AdMob rewarded ads for all our launched games and plan to use it for our upcoming games,” says JunYoung.
Looking ahead, Dreamotion is rolling out upgrades to World War II, including a 2 vs. 2 battle mode, launching a hyper-casual RPG game slated for fall 2020, and revamping their monetization approach to a 30:70 ratio of rewarded ads to IAPs. They’re also planning to expand their captivating storylines to PC and console games. “We ultimately want to become a company that can make high quality games fast, across different genres and platforms,” says JunYoung.