What is rewarded video?

Rewarded video is a short video ad format designed to augment user/player monetization. The video ads are usually 15 to 30 seconds long and non-skippable. A user/player opts-in to watch the video in exchange for a reward.

Rewarded video is considered a high-engagement ad format. Compared to other ad formats such as banner ads, static interstitial ads, or even traditional video ads, the rewarded video ad format generates higher eCPMs, user retention, engagement, and overall user lifetime value. The ads drive higher eCPMs because the format is not skippable and must be completed in order to receive a reward.

What applications do well with rewarded video?

This depends, because in theory any app can implement rewarded video if there’s something to reward. Typically games perform the best with rewarded video but it’s not uncommon to see utility apps adopt rewarded video to give users access (or temporary) access to premium features.

Where should rewarded video ads be shown?

Every app is different and the possibilities are truly endless. We recommend thinking about zones in terms of the following 3 areas:

  1. Discoverability
  2. Opportunity
  3. Frequency / Exposure

Let’s use a basic game as an example. Some common zones for this type of game include:

  1. In-store (watch a video to earn some free coins)
  2. Pre-run boost (watch a video to earn a boost)
  3. Save me (watch a video to get revived)

The in-store placement may be a low revenue generating opportunity since only a very small percentage of players actually visit the store but for those that do, the incentive to watch a rewarded video can be great enough to generate good eCPMs. In this case, it’s best to limit the frequency in which a user can watch a video. That means this placement is low on discoverability, high on opportunity, and limited frequency.

Let’s look at the Save Me zone. Because this is triggered at the end of a run and players are anxious to keep playing, discoverability is very high. However, it is unlikely that a player will download a new app in the middle of a run. Therefore, revenue opportunity is on the lower end. Frequency can be adjusted here based on performance.

How often should rewarded video ads be shown?

You have complete control over the user experience even if you use rewarded video to monetize users. Between display frequency (displays the opt-in ad every nth time), hourly caps (how many times a user can watch an ad every hour), and daily caps (how many total times a user can watch an in a given day), you can fine tune the balance between revenue generation and user experience. You want to create enough value for yourself without allowing users to abuse the system to farm for currency. If your game monetizes well with IAPs, we recommend setting a lower daily cap and a higher daily cap for games that does not monetize well on IAPs. Again, these are general guidelines and each game will differ.

What are pre-rolls and post-rolls?

A pre-roll is the message that asks the user to confirm whether or not they want to watch a video to earn a reward. The pre-roll message appears before the video starts. Oftentimes the pre-roll follows an existing on-screen prompt to watch a rewarded video ad, thereby creating a double opt-in. The post-roll is a message that displays after a rewarded video ends and confirms the reward earned by the player. A post-roll message might read “Thanks for watching the video! You’ve earned 20 free coins!”

What metrics should you pay attention to for rewarded video?

There are some general rules to follow when implementing rewarded video for your app. As an app developer you have control over the most optimal user experience and revenue generating setups. Here are some basic metrics you need to be aware of:

  1. DAU/MAU (daily active users). This metric is by far the most important metrics you need to track as it’s the driver of all performance.
  2. Sessions. The number of times your app has been launched or started.
  3. Views or Impressions. The number of times a video has been watched to completion and is considered as a view or impression. This differs from network to network.
  4. Sessions/DAU. This tells you, on average, how many times a user starts or launches your app in a given day. It is a good measure for engagement. This will also depend on the type of game.
  5. Views/Session. This metric gives you a sense of how ad adoption is going. A high view/session ratio tells you that players are watching lots of videos every time they play.
  6. Impressions/DAU. This is one of the most important metrics to pay attention to for rewarded video. This ratio tells you, on average, how many video ads are being watched by a user.
  7. Ad ARPDAU. This is calculated by finding your average daily revenue from ads and your average DAU for a given time period and then dividing average daily revenue from ads by average DAU. This gives you an idea of how much revenue ads are generating per DAU.
  8. Fill rate. Fill rate from a mediation stack is very different from a single network. We cannot track fill at the time an ad is shown because publishers only show an ad when we tell them we have one available. So tracking on the show_ad call would result in near 100% fill. The best way to estimate fill rate from a mediation stack is to do so when ads are called and cached. Fill rate reported by Fuse is often a worst case scenario due to discarded cached ads.
  9. eCPM. Revenue earned per thousand impressions. eCPM is important as a comparative metric but can oftentimes lead to irrelevant or misinformed conclusions. This metric varies greatly and can be affected by many different factors such as the type of game, your users’ demographics, your zones/placements, platform, etc.

How does iOS and Android rewarded video differ?

Using iOS performance as a benchmark for Android performance or vice versa is never a good idea. One has no indication of how another will perform. One big reason for this is the demographics of Android vs iOS. Generally Android devices are cheaper and will be more widespread in lower income countries. Almost all ad networks favor iOS over Android (except in some particular countries) due to quality of traffic, stability and Apple’s overall better enforcement of the OS, as well as optimizations.

Is rewarded video a bad ad experience?

All ads can be an interruptive experience for users. However, rewarded video has the largest potential in becoming an integral part of your gameplay. When used properly, rewarded video ads give new and existing players a more engaged way to advance in your game without harming your overall economy. With segmentation, you can fine tune the rewards players earn so you’re monetizing each cohort relative to their value. Consider the scenario where a new player is having a hard time completing level 10 of your game. Without rewarded video, their only options are to try again and again or buy a more powerful IAP item in order to advance. What if they don’t want to spend any money or continue the repetitive level? With rewarded video, they can earn a power-up or a level skip reward for watching a video. Not only have you helped the player advance to the next level but have also taught the user how valuable an IAP can be.

Rewarded video ads are also completely opt-in. Unlike other non-rewarded interstitials or banner ads where players have no choice, rewarded video demonstrates clear intent. If implemented well, rewarded video is immensely powerful at monetizing users.