Monetizing Your Web Game Part 2
Currently there are many choices when it comes to monetizing a web game. It can be daunting to decide which model is best for a developer. On top of this, there are conflicting reports as to which ones are truly lucrative. The hope of this series of articles is to shine a light on many of the monetization methods to choose from by presenting hard facts based on case studies from a number of developers as well as statistics we have been tracking at FlashGameLicense.com and GamerSafe.com.
Part 2: Advertising
In part 1 of this series we covered sponsorships and licensing. Since that article was dedicated to explaining how sponsorships and licensing works I won’t repeat that information except to say that most sponsorships and licenses are used as a sort of advertising. It can be confusing for someone unfamiliar with the web game market when they hear the term “advertising” since, really, it could mean any branding in a game, yet the term is never used in such an encompassing manner.
First, I will point out a few of the big distinctions between Advertising and Sponsorships.
- Advertising usually consists of rotating ads that are dynamically loaded into the game. The most effective way of handling this is by using a 3rd party ad platform like CPMStar or MochiAds.
- Sponsorships usually consist of static branding put in the game by the developer.
- Due to the dynamic nature of Advertising, and the need to support hundreds or thousands of advertisers, there are limitations to how Advertising can be implemented.
- For an advertiser, a couple big advantages of Advertising are the ability to geo-target and change up campaigns. Whereas the advantages of Sponsorships are associating your brand with a great game and not being limited to campaigns. Sponsorships last forever.
- Note that neither one is better than the other, they just have different benefits.
Another confusing aspect of Advertising is the fact that it can reside both inside and outside of the game. Usually, these are referred to as “in-game” and “around-game” advertising. I will split this article up into two sections to handle each, but most of the focus will be on the in-game advertising.
Finally, before getting to the nitty-gritty, I want to define what “eCPM” (which is commonly merely called “CPM”) means. This is the standard measurement for how ads perform. It stands or “Effective Cost Per 1,000 impressions” which basically means how much money you make per 1000 viewers. Some advertisers also factor in how many clicks an ad gets and how many actions are performed (registrations, etc…) but covering the entire realm of advertising is beyond the scope of this article and, really, you can still always boil things down to CPM anyway.
Ok, with that out of the way we can start talking about how Advertising usually performs for a Flash game and how to get the most out of Advertising.
In-game advertising consists of all advertising… well, in the game. As stated above, what this usually means, in the web-game space anyway, is that advertising is dynamically injected into your game. The two main ways of doing this is by running a “pre-roll” ad or an “interstitial” ad.
Pre-roll, or “stinger”, or “pre-loader” ads are ads that run sometime before a game starts. A popular method of implementation is to have the ads run as the game is loading. It has been proven that gamers don’t mind waiting a short period of time to play a game and are ok with watching an ad before a game. Global CPMs of $.20 – $2 are usually what you can expect with pre-roll ads. To achieve the higher end of this spectrum there are a couple of standards a developer will need to follow:
- “Tasteful” integration – this may seem very general, but the reality is it will depend on the game. Some developers just slap up ads and hope for the best. The games that have the highest eCPMs integrate the ads in a clever way. I’ve seen ads that are framed by art assets that have done well.
Interstitial ads are ads that play sometime during the game; usually at points where a game has a stoppage or pause in gameplay such as a game over screen or next level screen. Much more care needs to be taken when implementing interstitial ads than with pre-roll ads because gamers are not as tolerant of ads within a game. Especially if they perceive the ads are interrupting the gameplay. However, an upside to this type of ad is that the developer can be more creative with the implementation. There is the possibility to integrate ads seamlessly into the game. Standards for implementing interstitial ads are the same as with pre-roll ads.
There’s also no reason that a developer shouldn’t create their own developer site to showcase their games and use around game advertising to monetize that site. In fact, I highly encourage it. Even if you get a sponsorship, having your own links to your developer site is usually not an issue. Fans who love your game will most likely be interested in your other games. You might as well monetize that. Just be careful not to turn your developer site into a full blown portal if you plan to use sponsorships in the future. Sponsors may see your site as competition and not allow your links in the games they sponsor.
This is merely an introduction to the world of advertising web games, and is not meant to be all encompassing or definitive. I invite all readers to visit our site: FlashGameLicense.com to find out more. FGL is also THE place to buy or sell web games, so be sure to visit if you are hoping to do either or both.
As a final note I want to stress that the Advertising model and all of the models that will be covered in future articles in this series are not mutually exclusive of each other. Developers can, and should, take advantage of all of them. I am merely presenting them individually as to make them less confusing to understand. The final article in this series will cover the best ways to combine as many of these monetization models as possible to maximize the revenue generated by your game.