HeroCraft Ltd. is an established developer and publisher of high-quality games for mobile platforms, tablets, social networks and personal computers. The company has achieved ‘Top developer’ status on Google Play, having racked up more than 50 million downloads with titles such as Yumsters, Majesty, and Farm Frenzy. Headquartered in Kaliningrad, Russia, HeroCraft employs over 100 staff in offices across Europe, and now has a presence in Turkey and China. HeroCraft is currently distributing its apps worldwide in 15 languages.
Getting the monetization model right
With such a wide variety of titles, HeroCraft promotes and monetizes each in slightly different ways, and needs to plan monetization models. HeroCraft used AdMob to tackle the complexity of applying the right model at the right point in the game lifecycle.
The company uses certain monetization models to drive downloads, and other ones to develop ad revenue once it has amassed a large audience. Many apps start out as paid apps, and then move to a “freemium model,” giving a second life to the paid app.
Boosting downloads and maximizing revenue
While Farm Frenzy made nearly $20,000 USD during its four months as a free app through in-app purchases (IAP), HeroCraft used a hybrid monetization model of ads and IAP to support a free version. While offering apps for free initially can work well because it drives downloads, the company also uses AdMob house ads to cross-promote its apps from within its other well-established games.
Once an app garners a sizeable audience, the team uses AdMob to configure the right ads to the right users, generating the lion’s share of ad income. The AdMob ads are either unobtrusive banner ads that appear at the bottom of the screen, or interstitial ads that users pay to opt out of if they wish. Ads are placed strategically to avoid misclicks and make sure the user experience isn’t interrupted.
Alexey Sazonov, sales and marketing director for HeroCraft, says they chose AdMob because it was easy to get started, and offered support for multiple types of devices and a wide variety of ad formats. The found the data analysis in the AdMob dashboard gave them unique insights beyond tracking cost-per-thousand impression (CPM) or cost-per-download -- such as fill rate and overall income from ads.
Hybrid monetization pays off
After implementing a hybrid monetization model - which uses IAP and ads - Farm Frenzy’s revenue skyrocketed to a nearly 200% increase. AdMob now generates roughly 40% of revenues for the company. Overall revenues from ads in free apps are 60% while some HeroCraft games attain 100% monetization just using ads alone.
Because of AdMob’s high fill rate, HeroCraft has also been able to conserve and re-allocate the required effort and resources into the development of new titles, or acquire the rights to promote games from other companies. Sazonov expects fill rates to climb even higher when the company begins using mediation.
Mediation serves ads to apps from multiple sources, including the AdMob Network and other third-party ad networks. This will help HeroCraft maximize their fill rate and increase monetization by sending ad requests to multiple networks to find the best available network to serve ads.
AdMob is by far our primary choice because it is a proven network with a broader reach than other ad networks. The result is higher gross revenues - which is what we’re after.
Sales and Marketing Director, HeroCraft,
Alexey also prefers AdMob’s flexible targeting for certain countries and the ability to tailor campaigns with ease to monetize its games with relatively small budgets. “We are dreaming bigger than ever,” says Alexey. “In the past, we’ve specialized in strategy games, but don’t be surprised when we release several strong, new titles this year that may surprise gaming audiences.”
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