Building and managing a successful gaming company is a challenge for anyone — even a talented entrepreneur. For many years, SUD's founder Sangha An was the sole force behind his gaming company's popular titles including the Android racing game "Dr. Driving," which has over 100M installs and 1.6M daily active users.
Just like any other entrepreneur, Sangha needed to monetize this creative endeavor.
Sangha tested advertising with various ad networks, but their performance wasn’t strong enough to drive the revenue he needed. Since Sangha was the only person responsible for both game development and monetization, he didn’t have time to manage the mediation process for multiple networks. He eventually turned to Google AdMob as SUD’s single ad network more than eight years ago, and hasn’t looked back since. Even when the pandemic lockdowns hit last year and introduced a huge volume of new competitors to the market, Sangha continued working with AdMob, but he adjusted his strategy for the times.
Addressing dropping eCPMs and lower revenue
In Q2 of 2020, Sangha saw SUD’s eCPM drop by over 30%. The company’s monthly revenue also fell by 20%. A large portion of their revenue depended on ads, and Sangha knew he had to find a way to increase eCPM with the minimal resources he had at hand.
As an immediate response, Sangha made his first hire, a graphic designer, to help accelerate the company's growth and creative potential. Even with the extra help, SUD still needed to make the most of their limited resources to keep making great games and driving revenue.
SUD's earnings come from a combination of ads and in-app purchases (IAP), though ads account for 95% of their total revenue. After learning about SUD’s revenue challenges in 2020, the Google team recommended they try out bidding to boost earnings and improve eCPM with minimal impact to SUD’s lean workflow.
Easily integrating bidding
In July, SUD integrated real-time bidding (RTB) networks alongside the AdMob network in their bidding solution — initially for Dr. Driving. SUD found it straightforward to use, with easy-to-follow guides and onboarding resources. All SUD needed to do was link its demand partners to bidding via a simple code implementation. As a small developer, SUD also appreciated AdMob bidding’s ability to provide unified payment from participating demand sources.
After a seamless onboarding and implementation process, the app was running the integration. For a month following the integration, SUD closely monitored KPIs such as crash volume. They measured ad performance with eCPM, and fill rates through AdMob and Firebase.
Without requiring additional resources, SUD, Inc. was able to benefit from great performance with AdMob bidding
Founder, SUD, Inc.,
An instant boost to revenue and eCPM
SUD started seeing performance improvements immediately. “We saw our eCPM and total ad revenues instantly increase when bid requests from AdMob bidding began flowing in at the beginning of July 2020,” says Sangha.
In fact, bidding boosted eCPM and revenue without impacting retention or IAP purchase frequency. Better yet, there were no signs of latency, bugs, or any operational burdens. Compared to June 2020, the following months showed a 72% growth in average revenue per user (ARPU) along with increased fill rates — from 94% to 97%. eCPM for all formats grew 83%, boosting ad earnings by 50%, while eCPMs for interstitials grew by 208%. Today, all 24 of SUD’s apps use bidding, with the same mediation setting as Dr. Driving.
As they look to the future, SUD has plans to work with Google Ads to promote a new puzzle game, slated to launch later this year.