The competition for users in today’s saturated market is fierce. Today, savvy developers who are serious about turning their apps into successful businesses invest in user acquisition, buying users from hundreds of supply sources. That said, shouldn’t they be buying from their own supply as well? Not to mention, if a user likes one of their games, chances are they’ll like the other ones in their portfolio, right?
The problem is, in practice, cross promotion is not that easy. The cross promotion solutions currently available on the market solve some of the pain points faced by game developers today - but not all. For example, most solutions are still unable to run industry-standard CPI campaigns, can only run with one instance, or don’t have dynamic suppression, which ensures that ad networks don’t serve ads for a game that a user already has installed on their device.
This is exactly why ironSource developed a cross promotion solution, which lets game developers run cross promotion campaigns with the full force of ad network and mediation technology.
The pros and cons of other solutions on the market today
Before ironSource’s cross promotion solution, developers like you were forced to find workarounds. Here are some cross promotion strategies you may have tried, as well as their advantages and disadvantages - all of which we considered and aimed to improve when building our cross promotion solution.
Buying on a CPM basis utilizing line items on the waterfall
As a developer, you could potentially utilize a mediation platform and place cross promotion campaigns in your waterfall as a line item. The benefit of this solution is that you can look back at reporting and optimize accordingly.
The downfall, however, is that you’re not able to take advantage of the benefits that come with running campaigns on an ad network. For example, this option requires an arbitrary CPM bid, but without install tracking its hard to determine the campaign’s true value. Additionally, this solution only allows for one instance, which results in limited scale. Data science and dynamic suppression are also unavailable - without suppression, developers run the risk of serving an ad to a user who has already downloaded the game, and without data science, the campaign ends up being arbitrarily placed in the waterfall, which is no way to maximize yield.
Tailor-made in-app placements
You may also decide to design and place cross promotion ads within your own games, for example placing an ad for Game A on the loading screen of Game B. It works a bit like arbitrage - developers buy users inexpensively, then shuffle them through their portfolio, and wait until they monetize.
The positive is that you don’t need to pay for your own campaigns, and can control placements more easily.
It does, however, require an extensive time commitment, since the solution effectively replaces the duties of an ad network - rendering the ads, QA, and attribution tracking all needs to be done internally. Tracking is especially complicated, as without integrating cross promo ads into an attribution platform, a network ad could take credit for an install that a cross promotion ad drove. Lastly, these placements historically have very low engagement rates, and therefore little conversion, limiting the possibilities for significant scale.
Utilizing an ad network
Another option is to use an ad network in order to manage your cross promotion campaigns by buying your own supply - doing so just like you would any other campaign. This solution provides developers with access to network optimization, and therefore to higher quality users.
However, there are a few issues with this solution. First, networks take a non-transparent margin on ad revenue. Second, while from an advertiser perspective, you’ll know how your cross promotion campaigns are performing, on the publisher side, there is no control or transparency into which campaigns you're running, since cross promotion and other network campaigns are blended together inside of each instance. Lastly, developers are essentially competing with other advertisers over the same instance, driving up the prices.
Using a mediation platform, developers can create a line item and place it at the bottom of their waterfall, so that if there’s no fill, they’ll serve their own ads. It’s a pretty quick and simple solution, and most platforms even offer this option for free, or at a very low cost.
However, this solution isn’t optimized for maximum revenue, as developers essentially are only running cross promotion campaigns on remnant traffic with no advanced delivery logic, including suppression and data science optimization.
ironSource's cross-promotion platform
ironSource’s cross promotion solution enables game developers to cross promote their portfolio of games within their own ad space while utilizing the abilities of both an ad network and mediation technology.
From the monetization side of things, this solution gives developers full visibility, transparency, and control into the performance of their cross promotion efforts, multiple instances, as well as all of the advantages that come along with reporting. Additionally, devs are able to utilize all the features of the mediation to set flat eCPM rates and customize the configurations of the waterfall.
From the demand side, UA managers are able to run campaigns on a CPI basis, utilize the ROAS optimizer, and have access to all of the same controls from the regular UA platform including dynamic suppression. Furthermore, access to ironSource’s data science makes sure that cross promo ads are shown to the right users at the right time and maximizes both scale and quality.
Devs today face the challenge of trying to ensure that their quality users from one app make their way to other games across their portfolio. Now, for the first time ever, game devs have access to a cross promotion solution that was designed to solve one of the biggest challenges they face while growing their game: ensuring that they have the highest-valued players possible.