Founded in 2016 and based in South Korea, StickyHands is rising to the top of the mobile game charts. The 6-person company specializes in creating unusual and intricately-designed casual games — focusing mainly on solitaire. StickyHands’ mission is to create games that relax players, while providing unique game architectures that players have not seen before.
StickyHands was using a third-party waterfall mediation solution, but wanted a new approach to monetization that increased revenue and reduced operational costs — such as time spent managing their waterfall or manually testing different setups. The team decided to test out AdMob bidding in their Solitaire Cooking Tower game for one month, and saw a 20% boost in total ad revenue and a 22% increase in average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU), while spending almost no time managing the tool.
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In search of an easy-to-use monetization solution
In a rapidly-changing and competitive space, StickyHands’ games stand because of their creative spin on traditional card games. With game design as their top priority, the team values monetization tools that require little operational work and still boost revenue.
Prior to switching to AdMob, the team used a third-party mediation platform that required a lot of manual testing and was too time consuming. Minu Kim, CEO of StickyHands, recalls that the team, “did not have much experience with monetization at the time, and we had a limited number of resources that could be allocated to understanding this — so our previous solution was not giving us the results we needed.” After conversations with their Google account manager on how to improve their current situation, the StickyHands team decided to fully switch to AdMob mediation; however, they still believed the process could be further optimized.
Furthermore, perfecting the game’s monetization from the start was crucial to the company’s revenue stream since they release one to two gaming titles a year. Ultimately, Minu and his team needed a low-maintenance monetization solution.
Testing for revenue uplift
With support from their Google account manager, the StickyHands team decided to try bidding in their Solitaire Cooking Tower game. The team wanted to A/B test bidding against their waterfall setup to see which solution performed best for their chosen metrics.
To start, they segmented their traffic across Google’s monetization solutions — 50% would go into the bidding group and 50% would go into the waterfall mediation group. The team wanted to track changes to ad revenue and ARPDAU, and compare the operational cost it took to operate AdMob bidding versus their previous waterfall setup.
To accurately compare both solutions, StickyHands enabled AdMob’s Ad Network Optimization (ANO) and real-time CPM feature to automatically optimize their mediation waterfall. Real-time CPM adjusts eCPM for the AdMob network based only off of impressions; ANO, on the other hand, uses app traffic, historical data, and third-party network data to adjust CPMs for third-party networks.
For bidding, the team integrated the Google Mobile Ads (GMA) SDK into Solitaire Cooking Tower and selected which bidding ad networks would be included in their group. “As a small developer with an ads-funded approach, getting high eCPMs with low operational cost is crucial for us. We trusted AdMob bidding would maximize our revenue and let us focus on what’s important to: creating great games and expanding our business.” says Minu.
Meaningful revenue growth and time savings
After a four-week test, StickyHands saw results so encouraging that they stopped the test and implemented AdMob bidding across all their apps. Compared to waterfall mediation, AdMob bidding delivered a 20% increase in total ad revenue and a 22% increase in ARPDAU. “The decision to switch to bidding was very easy. We received unparalleled support from our account manager who gave us clear and timely communication. With other solutions, we spent a lot of time waiting for help from foreign centers, and sometimes had to find the solution ourselves. The difference with AdMob made us very comfortable using this tool.” says Minu. The team also saw no meaningful impact to their user metrics, and spent no time further adjusting the tool once implementation was complete.
Looking towards the future, StickyHands hopes to continue expanding their revenue while delivering unique games to their users.
We’re very excited about bidding. Revenue and ARPDAU have grown 20% and 22% respectively, and climbing. The best part was that integration was simple, and we did not spend time managing the tool once it was implemented.
The team plans to add bidding to their future games, trusting that the solution will help them maximize their app revenue while they focus on making great games.
*Bidding is an in-app header bidding solution from Google AdMob that is available to select partners as a beta. It works together with traditional waterfall mediation to maximize ad revenue. If you are interested in learning more, please contact your account manager and request a consultation.