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Extending new monetization controls and insights to publishers

August 24, 2020 in Games | 6 min. read
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We’re evolving our features to give game publishers more control over the revenue they generate.

Effective monetization strikes a delicate balance of strategic planning and setup with automated and efficient execution. At Unity, we’ve done a lot to get the automation right with advanced machine learning applied to the most robust dataset in mobile gaming. Now, we want to change gears and hand the keys to our publishers, with the tools and information to help them do their jobs even better.

Why self-serve is rare in the market

For years, many digital ad services have hesitated to extend their internal controls directly to customers. This may include setting your own prices, blocking certain ads or advertisers, surfacing projections of how certain changes may impact your revenue, and more. Their reluctance to share such valuable tools and insights usually boils down to some combination of the following concerns:

  • The usability and/or aesthetics of the features are not ready for prime time.
  • External customers are not sufficiently informed about optimal use of certain controls.
  • The company is unwilling to share proprietary information more broadly.
  • The offering has inefficiencies that the company does not want to expose.

Users first

Unity is taking a user-first approach to push through these barriers and give publishers what they want. We’re doing this in a few different ways.

1. Designing all dashboard features for external use

All features that we develop will be designed for external use, even if they are initially released only internally. This ensures that our internal users will understand the experience of our customers. It also eliminates the need to redesign features when moving them from internal to external availability, which expedites our ability to bring enhanced functionality to publishers.

2. Validating new features internally before external release

We will validate the value and usability of features before extending them to customers. “Eating our own dog food” helps us to know for certain that a new feature or capability brings meaningful value to our publishers. If it doesn’t, we will modify it until it does, or we simply won’t ship it.

3. Delivering updates and enhancements regularly throughout the year

Mastering new capabilities takes time. Publishers have to become familiar with each new feature before they can fully take advantage of them. We want to keep pushing something new for them to conquer to help keep our publishers in a continuous learn-and-grow mode.

What’s new?

Here are a few features we’ve recently released that we think will make your life a little easier and kick your monetization efforts up a notch.

Self-serve eCPM Targets

Publishers can use this tool to target the price point that they get for each placement. This is predominantly for mediated customers who need to control the eCPM (effective cost per mille, or per thousand) of placements they use in their third-party mediation platforms (MoPub, ironSource, AdMob, MAX, etc.). In mediation, these placements are stack ranked in order from high eCPM to low eCPM for a particular country or a collection of countries.

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Publishers can select which countries to target at specific eCPM price points. The default setting (Global) includes all countries. However, if you have specific prices you would like to set across groupings of countries, we now have Geo-collections so that you can do so in a single action rather than setting the price for each country individually. This will help consolidate the number of steps required to reach your desired price setup.

Both eCPM Targets and Geo-collections now allow for bulk uploads - further saving you time in your optimizations. These two tools are gradually rolling out across our network, so if you haven’t seen them yet you will soon.

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Automated UA transfers

Now, when publishers request a user acquisition (UA) transfer on the dashboard, it will be made immediately, without any waiting period. This is a simple way for developers to funnel their publisher earnings directly into acquiring new users. Acquiring users earlier can have a significant impact on your long-term revenue, and Unity wants to remove any friction in making that happen.

Transfers will show in the Publisher’s and Advertiser’s transaction views under the Finance page as a “User Acquisition Transfer” and also in the Advertiser budget change log.

Project Duplicator

Game studios are increasingly needing to release new games on a shorter cycle to keep up with changing preferences of their players. In order to save time with monetization setup, we introduced our Project Duplicator to copy settings from one project to another. This will allow you to replicate settings, including placements and eCPM price targets from an existing project. This function will not replicate more sensitive attributes, including Privacy settings and COPPA setting, as that may be more specific to the content of the game itself. Publishers are always encouraged to consider the privacy implications of each project individually and configure those settings accordingly.

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For all of our released features, you can find further information in our comprehensive documentation.

What’s coming?

In keeping with our mission to simplify workflows, surface insights, and give more control to publishers, we’ll be unveiling a few capabilities later in the year. Here’s a sneak peek.

eCPM Target Optimizer

Understanding how price changes may affect your fill rates with a particular ad network is challenging and typically involves a lot of time-consuming trial and error. Unity has internally released an incredibly useful tool for our client partners and operations teams to better guide publishers in setting the right prices ahead of time, with optimization based on science rather than speculation. Given the popularity and utility of this tool among internal teams, we plan to extend this feature to publishers.

Ad Blocking Insights

Controlling the ads and advertisers that can buy space in your game can be cumbersome. It’s often based on gut feeling rather than modeled projections of how your revenue will be impacted. To help publishers make easier and smarter blocking decisions, we have enabled domain-level blacklisting, a bulk blacklisting function, and revenue estimates associated with any ads you may decide to block. We indicate a range of the expected revenue hit from a particular block over the next two weeks, so you can decide for yourself if it is worth it for your business objectives.

Ad unit/placement simplification

By simplifying Ad Unit and Line Item creation, you will be able to work better with mediation and have fewer items to manage in waterfall setups. We will handle all migration from existing waterfall setups without interruption, so you won’t need to make any changes to take advantage of this workflow – it will simply make your life easier if you manage complex waterfalls with ad mediators.

Change history

Change history tracks all the important changes occurring by any user editing your account. You can use it to see which users made what changes or what changes might be associated with revenue impacts. The main reason you would want to see these changes is to confirm or troubleshoot issues quickly, so you can pinpoint changes in revenue and correlate them with changes to your CPM floors or settings. Change history acts as a log linking cause to effect, helping you learn faster and make smarter decisions over time.

How can I get started?

If you are not yet using Unity for your monetization needs, take a look at our offerings in more detail. If you are already using Unity for monetization, visit the dashboard to try out some of our new features. We’re always here to help.

August 24, 2020 in Games | 6 min. read

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