In October, we released our most comprehensive monetization solution to date, Monetization SDK 3.0. It’s the first SDK we’ve released that goes beyond ads – where Unity can tie together ads and in-app purchases into a single auction. This serves the most relevant format to each player based on their lifetime value (LTV). Also included were two additional ad formats: banners and AR. Now let’s dive into why these new formats are a solid addition to your monetization strategy.
You might be thinking: Why is Unity supporting banners now? What happened to all the talk about why rewarded video is such a powerful ad format? Don’t get us wrong – full-screen video ads are still players’ most-preferred format and they continue to drive great results. However, the truth is that banners remain a large source of revenue across the industry, and it’s the format that developers most often ask us to support. We recognize that banners are not a new or sexy ad format, but we understand the importance they have within a game’s monetization stack. Supporting banners is another way Unity continues its mission to enable developers’ success.
Banner ads are a form of smaller-sized graphical ads, which typically include static images and text to convey a marketing message. Banners appear at the bottom of the screen, and you can determine when they appear during gameplay. They are a completely separate placement from other ad units and, once you implement them, you can view associated banner revenue in the Operate dashboard. Unity currently supports 320x50px static banners. Since this is a new ad format for us, we do expect fill to ramp up over time.
Augmented reality (AR) has captured a lot of interest from consumers and developers over the past few years. AR had a breakout hit with Pokemon Go and started to reach mainstream audiences thanks to Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. At the end of 2018, AR Insider estimated that there are 900-million AR-compatible smartphone devices and 129-million monthly active users.
The ability to integrate AR ads into a game presents an exciting opportunity for developers, advertisers, and players, as the format allows brands and advertisers to connect with consumers in new, immersive ways. Unity’s AR Ads are completely opt-in, and the ads can run in rewarded or non-rewarded placements. Once the user opts in, the experience becomes a true two-way interaction and is highly engaging.
Initial AR ad campaigns have shown promising results. We partnered with an entertainment brand and Nielsen Mobile Brand Effect (MBE) to conduct a study around an AR campaign that aimed to drive awareness for their new TV show. The AR campaign allowed users to immerse themselves in the characters’ world and drove a 70% lift in aided awareness of the new show, more than 7 times the benchmark of 9.7%.
Game publishers looking to grow their apps have also expressed interest in running AR ads in addition to video and playable ads.
At the time of an ad request during gameplay, the AR ad asks the player for permission to use their camera in order to experience the ad. Once the player opts-in, they can begin to engage with the interactive content. In this example, the player is able to see the product come to life, change the colors and style, and then virtually try out the product. Their experience concludes with an end card and a call to action (CTA) to learn more about the product before gameplay resumes.
AR ads can be rewarded or non-rewarded and can be implemented wherever a video or interstitial would be placed – it’s up to you as the developer to decide what makes the most sense within the experience. The opt-in permission flow for the ad unit is handled by the SDK. Users can opt-into the experience, learn more about AR ads or opt-out of the experience.
AR ads obviously have a natural fit within AR games as well as in games where the player has already enabled the camera. In these cases, the player is comfortable using their camera and has already given initial permission. The ad unit itself will always ask for explicit permission to use the camera with the ad unit but the user is probably already in a receptive mindset.
If the user has not already granted permission for the camera, the ad unit asks for permission at the time of the AR ad impression. We encourage developers to consider the user flow and optimal experience for the player. AR ads are meant to be an additive experience for the game and the user and are not designed to take away from gameplay.