· 5 min read

Why AdOps and LTV are Essential to Your Softlaunch

AdOps and LTV are crucial to a successful softlaunch. So we've detailed how to use both effectively to optimize your ad strategy.

The term ‘live ops’ is an industry-standard. Most large and mid-sized studios and publishers have a department that remotely configure their games, whether that’s localization, in-game events like flash sales, or daily bonuses.

So what is ad ops? And where does it fit in? Well, before we can explain that, we need to explain Lifetime Value (LTV).

Optimize your LTV at softlaunch

In games that rely on ads to make money, it’s usually the user acquisition and monetization teams who are fighting to increase LTV. They’ll make the Cost Per Install (CPI) 1 cent cheaper or get the player to watch one more teeny tiny ad. All to creep up their profit, cent by cent.

But developers almost always optimize their ads after they launch their game – it’s already live and getting thousands of downloads a day. Leaving it this late means they lose a lot of revenue from the installs in the first few days.

Games are peaking in installs sooner. And successful games are often copied in a matter of weeks. So having a monetization strategy from the start can lead to tens or hundreds of thousands of extra dollars per game, within the first three months.

Why aren’t studios doing this already?

It’s only in the past few months that it’s become possible for mid-sized and smaller game teams to use ad data effectively. Until now, high retention, session length, and playtime have been the indirect measures developers used during softlaunch to see “eventual” LTV.

Essentially, if those metrics are high, it’s safe to assume the game will make money. This made sense when you couldn’t test ad LTV for prototypes. But now? It’s outdated. Ad revenue, impressions, and clicks aren’t just numbers in a dashboard, you can associate them with individual players and put them to good use early on.

It’s now possible to track both ad revenue and ad behavior for all the prototypes you softlaunch, and to A/B test changes to your ad strategy or game design. You can make those changes and keep an eye on what increases LTV the most.

Use LTV to evaluate your prototypes

By looking directly at the LTV, you might find that different games emerge as the clear softlaunch winners, than if you just use engagement metrics alone.

For example, it’s possible that a game with lower retention and higher playtime could have higher LTV. Players could be watching more ads, even if they play less. If you don’t test this, your game might not pass softlaunch because of its retention. Or you might keep evaluating it, instead of launching it and making money immediately.

So measure LTV during your softlaunch. If you do, your whole portfolio could make more money, as you’ll be able to optimize new titles specifically for this metric.

Ad ops can increase LTV during softlaunch

Ad ops are the tools you use to optimize your ads: where, when, and what ads you show.

You can use them to increase your LTV in a few ways. Maybe you simply show more ads a session or show a mix of ad types. Maybe you put the ad somewhere else. Or perhaps you source your ads from different channels.

So you can experiment, we built a suite of ad ops services. They’re centered around:

  • Ad tracking – including parameters like type, placement, action and source.
  • Ad revenue reporting – we now support MoPub and Fyber, with IronSource and Max in the works.
  • Ad Ops – through A/B testing and Remote Configs.

With these, you can measure and optimize your players’ ad behavior and the resulting revenue. You can also improve your core metrics like retention and playtime.

Try out these experiments when you start to optimize your ad strategy:

  • Turn certain ad placements on or off at various points in the game to see if you get better impressions.
  • Cut down the time between ads to see how many ads you can show before players get frustrated.
  • Reduce the number of ads you show to players who click on them or who watch ads in higher value placements.
  • Change the ad type per region to see if it increases clicks. (Players in some countries might respond better to interstitial than banners, for example.)
  • Add ad caps for different ad types or placements, so you don’t keep showing people the same ad over and over again.

You can then check whether these experiments increase the LTV in your target groups by using our Explore tool or Ads dashboard. Our A/B testing feature even selects winning variants automatically, if you tell it to target LTV as the winning metric.

Track these essential metrics during softlaunch

Experimenting during softlaunch is essential, but every game needs its own fine-tuning. Small changes can have big consequences. So make sure you’re always on top of how your ad strategy is performing, and keep an eye on these metrics every day or week:

  • Mean LTV per user in top 5 countries
  • Mean LTV per user overall
  • Mean impressions per user on the install day
  • Mean impressions per session
  • Sum of ad impressions and clicks by ad type
  • Sum of ad impressions and clicks by placement

What next?

If this is all new, then you can be ready to go in three steps.

  1. Make sure you’re tracking the relevant ad events and ad revenue data. Our ad event implementation guide is available here.
  2. Get your game ready to run A/B tests and Remote Configs.
  3. Start experimenting and review your results in the Ads dashboard.

If you need any support along the way, drop us a note. We’re always here to help you make the most of your game and GameAnalytics.

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