Indians played a lot of online games in 2020, which has resulted in strong ad revenues for many platforms as advertisers got the eyeballs they were looking for.
Along with the right audience, advertisers also had the right ad inventory thanks to platforms like GreedyGame, a company started by IIT Ropar alumnus Arpit Jain.
GreedyGame is a native ad platform that helps game developers earn money through in-game ads.
"During my college days, I noticed that a lot of my friends were playing games online on their smartphones. But they were frustrated with pop-up ads during the games and that's when I thought of running native ads on gaming platforms and started GreedyGame," said Jain.
He explained that native ads are created in a way that they match the other content on a page.
"Platforms like Facebook and Instagram don't run pop-ups or banner ads. They run native ads which have the same form and function of the content on the platform."
Simplifying it further, Jain shared a case study of a game called World Cricket Championship 2 for which GreedyGame got on board various advertisers. But these ads did not simply pop up or were constantly running on top of the mobile screen. Instead, the ads were placed on the ground like one sees during live cricket matches or around the boundary.
For World Cricket Championship, GreedyGame got on board advertisers like Gems and Fastrack. In fact, it also got on board Jana Bank, a small finance bank which used to advertise only on traditional mediums like radio, TV, among others but tried a gaming platform for the first time.
As for the game, it saw an additional revenue of 30 percent month on month.
Jain said that over the years platforms have seen 15-20 percent increase in revenues thanks to native ads running on their apps.
In fact, gaming platforms that GreedyGame has on board saw 350 percent year-on-year increase in their revenues last year.
Along with gaming platforms, GreedyGame saw 4x to 5x increase in its revenues last year as compared to 2019. The company charges 10 to 30 percent revenue share on whatever the publisher earns through advertisers.
In addition to increase in revenues, Jain said that such ads do not hurt user retention.
"While the cost of native ads is 30 to 40 percent more as compared to banner ads, there is no user dropout with the addition of native ads," he noted.
"Adding native ads does not hurt user retention. So, whenever you place an ad on a platform it decreases user retention as some users leave the app. This is why for all the publishers (apps) after adding native ads we looked at their data and saw that none of the users left after watching native ads," said Jain.
The cost of native ads can go to as low as Rs 30 to Rs 35 per 1,000 impressions and as high as Rs 1,000 for 1,000 impressions.
The company which started in 2013 but went live in 2015 started with three to four gaming platforms. It now has more than 300 app developers on board. And Jain aims to take the number to 1,000 developers this year.
Out of the 300 publishers that GreedyGame has on board, around 60 percent belong to the gaming category and the remaining are video over-the-top (OTT) platforms, chatting apps, among others.
"Amid the gaming apps, there are around 15 to 20 apps in the cricket category and then there are card games which was a big category a year back. But now a lot of these games are moving to real money. And the third category which used to be big was Bollywood IP (intellectual property)-related games like games based on the film Hrithik Roshan's Dhoom or Salman Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan. This was a big category but we haven't seen any Bollywood-related IPs that have done well as they only do well during the release. Another big game category is Ludo," said Jain.
While GreedyGame so far has got on board as many as 150 advertisers for developers, the company plans to focus on apps and ad inventory rather than advertisers.
"Demand for advertising on gaming platforms is already there. Also, brands are not seeing gaming as apps for kids only. In fact, they are seeing gaming apps as utility apps and putting them in similar categories like news apps as they are getting the same demography," Jain pointed out.