Anyone who has sliced virtual fruit with a samurai sword in Fruit Ninja knows Halfbrick Studios. For 20 years, the Australia-based company has been one of the world's most beloved indie mobile game makers. Their biggest titles, Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja, are enjoyed by thousands of players around the world every day.
Recently, Halfbrick’s biggest challenge was growing its revenue by introducing more competition into the bidding process, without devoting limited resources to integrating new SDKs. To solve its problem, Halfbrick tested Open Bidding and saw a 22% uplift in cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) and a 17% revenue boost -- while enjoying an SDK-less option that freed up valuable resources.
Limited demand sources means less revenue
In 2017, Halfbrick began using AdMob’s traditional waterfall mediation* format to serve ads from multiple ad networks, including AdMob, inside Dan the Man. Whenever the team would find a new demand network, they’d first negotiate things like impressions, CPMs, and fill rates. After coming to an agreement, Halfbrick would integrate the new network and run inventory tests to ensure the network could deliver the expected results. Because the process often took months to complete, Halfbrick could only test a small number of demand sources at a time — meaning they could lose out on potential revenue bumps. Additionally, not being able to integrate more competition into their waterfall could affect their revenue as well.
Furthermore, Halfbrick did not have a tech team dedicated to running tests, meaning valuable resources had to be pulled from other teams. “If there is a game update or new build we need to release, the process slows down because we’re shifting resources — which can cause notable delays and financial impact,'' says Daniel Baxter, Halfbrick’s monetization manager.
Putting Open Bidding to the test
Halfbrick struggled with this challenge until it discovered Open Bidding. While traditional mediation calls one ad network at a time, Open Bidding calls all participating ad sources simultaneously. This gives every network — including Google — the same opportunity to compete in a real-time auction to fill ad requests and maximize impressions.
Open Bidding offered Halfbrick multiple networks to pull from — both with and without SDKs — but Halfbrick was most interested in SDK-less options. “The biggest reason we decided to try Open Bidding was because it lets us test multiple demand sources without needing to integrate new SDKs, meaning we get revenue bumps much faster,” says Daniel. Once Halfbrick decided that Open Bidding could bring positive results, it picked Dan the Man to run a revenue performance test. Halfbrick began by integrating the Google Mobile Ads (GMA) SDK into Dan the Man, and creating one interstitial ad unit. It then created two groups:
- One traditional waterfall with all network partners, including AdMob
- One Open Bidding group with Open Bidding and non-Open Bidding partners, including AdMob
To add networks to their second group, Halfbrick only needed to select which ad sources would be included in the new group — avoiding the implementation phases of SDKs and adapters. "It was just 'click' and we were done," Daniel says. "Using Open Bidding is so easy and we can test multiple demand partners and create more competition with minimal effort."
To gauge whether Open Bidding was truly performing, Halfbrick focused on cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM), click-through rate (CTR), retention, and fill rate. “We made sure fill rate and retention did not dip, but we wanted to see whether CTR, CPM, and revenue were truly improving over time,” explains Daniel.
No more SDKs
Halfbrick ran its Open Bidding test for 2 months, focusing intentionally on SDK-less networks only. Even with the limited number of networks, CPMs grew up to 22%, with user retention, fill rates, and CTR remaining consistent. Halfbrick also saw a 17% boost in their overall revenue. “With Open Bidding, we know that we’re always maximizing revenue, so we can shift our focus to optimizing ad engagement and grow our business even further.”
Beyond retention and CPM boosts, Halfbrick was happy with the unique demand they could get with Open Bidding versus other mediation tools.
Open Bidding is the only technology we use that allows us to get the AdMob demand bidding in real time along with multiple other ad networks — this allows us to get the best CPM for each individual impression.
Monetization Manager, Halfbrick,
With the number of Open Bidding networks continuing to expand, Halfbrick plans to continue testing new ad sources and increase competition even further.
Interested in taking your monetization strategy to the next level? Request a consultation with one of our AdMob specialists today.
*Waterfall mediation uses historical revenue data to prioritize networks and call them one at a time.