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Showing ads in your game to make money

February 2, 2015 in Games | 3 min. read
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A game’s success isn’t determined only by how innovative or popular it is, but also by how effectively it can financially support its creator(s). As you’re building your game, you’ll want to strongly consider how to make money. Basically, you’ll typically look at three main ways of monetizing your game:

  1. Paid Download/Pay to Play - Players pay to download your game
  2. Free - Users play your game completely free, and you make money solely through ads
  3. In App Purchases (IAP) - Players pay for content or upgrades inside your game

Besides the obvious Paid Download and IAP, how else could your game make money? The vast majority of the time, by showing ads. Free games that show ads in a smart way can often make more money than paid games, and they’re much more plentiful - Gartner estimates that 94.5% of all app downloads will be free by 2017. And with a recent study predicting mobile advertising revenue to top $25.8 billion in 2015 - there’re plenty of opportunities for you to cash in.

If you’re considering putting ads into your free or IAP game, it’s important that you evaluate your player landscape. Which percentage of your players are going to pay you money directly and which will never pay you? The vast majority of your users (97.8% according to a Swrve study) will NEVER give you a dime. Advertising allows you to monetize these players, your non-paying user base.


When showing ads, every time an ad is shown inside your game you'll make money - essentially you’re paid for impressions. You’ve probably see the term “eCPM” floating around, and this just means Effective Cost Per Mille (thousand views). Basically, it describes how much you’ll get paid for every 1,000 views (impressions) the ads get inside your game.

The first thing you’ll have to do is to look for a great ad network to partner with (like Unity Ads). Ad networks serve up the ads that you show inside your game and pay you - just integrate their SDK into your game and you’re set. In a future blog post we’ll discuss different ways you can implement ads in your game to maximize your game’s return.

After integrating the ad network, you should always look closely at its fill rate - the percentage of times an ad network successfully provides your player with an ad when one is requested. The higher the network’s fill rate, the less money you’re leaving on the table, because an ad will always be shown when one is requested by your players.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on your CTR (Click Through Rate). This is the percentage of all your players who clicked on an ad versus all of your players who saw the ad. The more relevant an ad is to your user base, the more people will click on it, and the more money you’ll end up making. So always be careful to work with an ad network that shows the right sort of ads for your audience.

Next up: Different types of ads and how you can best use them in your game.

February 2, 2015 in Games | 3 min. read
Topics covered