It's every developer’s dream to have their games played and loved by users around the world. To be successful, they have to balance user experience between game design and monetization as they build new content over time. Mattel163, the name behind the popular card game UNO!™ Mobile with over 250 million downloads, is leading on a high-quality player experience while successfully scaling monetization.
Initially relying solely on in-app purchases (IAP) in its first game, UNO!™ Mobile, Mattel163 quickly decided to diversify its revenue with in-app ads (IAA). The studio implemented a hybrid monetization strategy for UNO! Mobile, then created a native IAP and IAA experience from the start for its second game Phase 10: World Tour (Phase 10 Mobile).
Mattel163 chose Google AdMob for ad meditation and later integrated AdMob bidding in addition to waterfall meditation to scale revenue. The result was an impressive 12% increase in ad revenue with bidding combined with waterfall mediation compared to waterfall mediation alone.
Exploring new hybrid monetization strategy
Founded nearly five years ago as a joint venture between iconic toy company Mattel and the Chinese internet giant NetEase, Mattel163 is a leading game studio serving audiences worldwide. Its game portfolio includes UNO!™ Mobile, Phase 10 Mobile, and Skip-Bo™ Mobile. Its games have served over 250M players worldwide and are growing.
When Mattel163 launched its first game, UNO! Mobile, they solely relied on in-app purchases (IAP). Through in-depth insights and industry studies, and learning from the Admob team, the studio decided to diversify its revenue with in-app ads (IAA) for their second game, Phase 10 Mobile. For this game, Mattel163’s team developed a hybrid monetization strategy from concept stage. The goal was to create a native IAP and IAA user experience within the core game ecosystem.
The studio turned to Google AdMob for their ads monetization strategy. The team was impressed by AdMob's positive reputation in the industry and its tools with built-in brand safety controls — a key consideration because the card game IPs appeal to a very broad age range.
“Our team began exploring ways to provide a fun and fresh user experience while building up a healthy and long-term revenue system,” said Amy Huang, CEO of Mattel163. “The answer came with our second mobile game.”
Ad experience begins with core gameplay design
In late 2019, Mattel163 launched Phase 10 Mobile, a fun and relaxing rummy-style card game based on family-night favorite IP Phase 10. The game was another tremendous success for the studio, amassing tens of millions of downloads.
The development team fully integrated both IAP and IAA monetization into the Phase 10 Mobile game design and live operations from the start. The studio uses rewarded ads which are frequently refreshed and incorporated into monthly game event promotions. To keep their global users interested and engaged in the ad experience, Mattel163 continuously optimizes all in-app ad placements, designs and rewards.
In Partnership with Google, Mattel163 initially adopted the Admob platform for Phase 10 Mobile using waterfall mediation, then integrated AdMob bidding when it launched in 2020. The studio then compared IAA performance to the time period using waterfall mediation alone.
By the time we developed our games, we set aside space for ads from the start of the design phase. It was clear AdMob bidding and waterfall mediation helped to increase our ads management efficiency and helped us drive revenue growth.
12% lift in ad revenue after adopting bidding alongside mediation
The difference was even greater than the Mattel163 team expected. They saw a 12% increase in ad revenue with AdMob bidding combined with waterfall mediation as compared to waterfall mediation alone. In addition, the studio cut the time spent each day on daily mediation operations in half, time the team could apply to other areas of their monetization business.
With AdMob, they benefited from the increased competition across more than 200 ads buyers in AdMob’s real-time bidding auction. The innovative ad formats and brand safety tools helped the studio scale ad monetization and create a healthy new revenue stream for Mattel163.
The Mattel163 team said they successfully balanced monetization and a high-quality, engaging player experience by planning it from the game design start. This was especially made possible with guidance and support from the Google Admob team.