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Rewarded UA vs. Traditional UA: Which is Better for Mobile Games?

In the fast-paced mobile gaming industry, securing and maintaining a user base is critical to an app's success. User acquisition (UA) involves a variety of strategies and tactics employed by developers and publishers to draw in new users and retain current ones. As the industry continues to grow, two primary approaches to UA have gained prominence: rewarded user acquisition (RUA) and traditional user acquisition (TUA). This comprehensive article delves into the specifics of both methods, analyzing their pros and cons, and identifying the factors that determine which approach is best suited for your mobile game. Understanding rewarded user acquisition (RUA)

Rewarded user acquisition, also known as incentivized advertising or rewarded video ads, is a relatively new concept in the mobile gaming industry. This approach involves offering players in-game rewards, such as virtual currency, power-ups, or extra lives, in exchange for engaging with advertisements or completing specific actions. These rewards serve as incentives for users to interact with the ads, increasing the likelihood of user acquisition and retention.

RUA typically involves the following steps:

  1. Players are presented with an optional ad or offer during gameplay.

  2. If the player chooses to engage with the ad or offer, they are rewarded with in-game items or bonuses.

  3. The advertiser pays the game developer or publisher a predetermined amount for each successful ad engagement or offer completion.

Benefits of using rewarded UA for mobile games

Implementing a rewarded UA strategy can provide numerous benefits for mobile game developers and publishers, including:

  1. Increased User Engagement: By offering in-game rewards, players are incentivized to engage with ads, leading to higher interaction rates and potentially longer session times.

  2. Non-Disruptive Advertising Experience: Unlike traditional interstitial or video ads that can disrupt gameplay, rewarded ads are optional and integrated seamlessly into the game experience, reducing the likelihood of user frustration or abandonment.

  3. Monetization Opportunities: Rewarded UA provides an additional revenue stream for developers and publishers, as they are compensated for each successful ad engagement or offer completion.

  4. Targeted User Acquisition: RUA campaigns can be tailored to specific user demographics or behaviors, allowing for more effective targeting and potentially higher conversion rates.

  5. Improved User Retention: By offering in-game rewards, players are incentivized to continue playing and engaging with the game, leading to increased retention rates.

Traditional user acquisition methods for mobile games

Traditional user acquisition methods for mobile games typically involve various forms of advertising and marketing campaigns. These include:

  1. Paid Advertising: This encompasses various online advertising platforms, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and other ad networks, where developers and publishers can promote their games through targeted campaigns.

  2. App Store Optimization (ASO): ASO involves optimizing an app's listing in app stores (e.g., Google Play Store, Apple App Store) to improve visibility and organic downloads.

  3. Influencer Marketing: Partnering with influential individuals or content creators in the gaming community to promote a game to their followers.

  4. Cross-Promotion: Collaborating with other game developers or publishers to cross-promote each other's games within their respective apps or platforms.

  5. Social Media Marketing: Leveraging social media platforms to build a community around the game and engage with potential users.

Comparing RUA and traditional UA: advantages and disadvantages

Both rewarded user acquisition and traditional user acquisition methods have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Let's explore them in more detail:

Advantages of RUA

  • Higher Engagement and Retention: By offering in-game rewards, RUA encourages players to engage with ads and continue playing, leading to increased retention rates.

  • Non-Disruptive Advertising Experience: Rewarded ads are integrated seamlessly into the gameplay, reducing the likelihood of user frustration or abandonment.

  • Targeted User Acquisition: RUA campaigns can be tailored to specific user demographics or behaviors, potentially leading to higher conversion rates.

  • Additional Revenue Stream: Developers and publishers are compensated for each successful ad engagement or offer completion.

Disadvantages of RUA

  • Limited Scalability: The number of rewarded ad opportunities within a game is finite, potentially limiting the scalability of this approach.

  • User Fatigue: Overexposure to rewarded ads or offers can lead to user fatigue and a diminished response over time.

  • Integration Complexity: Implementing a rewarded UA system can be technically complex and may require additional resources or third-party solutions.

Advantages of Traditional UA

  • Broad Reach: Traditional advertising platforms and marketing channels offer a wide reach, allowing developers and publishers to target a larger audience.

  • Scalability: Traditional UA methods are generally more scalable, as advertising budgets can be increased or decreased based on performance and goals.

  • Diverse Targeting Options: Traditional advertising platforms offer a variety of targeting options, such as demographics, interests, and behaviors, allowing for precise audience targeting.

  • Established Metrics and Tracking: Traditional UA methods have well-established metrics and tracking systems, making it easier to measure and optimize campaigns.

Disadvantages of Traditional UA

  • High Costs: Paid advertising and other traditional UA methods can be expensive, especially for smaller developers or publishers with limited budgets.

  • Ad Fatigue and Blindness: Users may become desensitized to traditional advertising methods, leading to decreased effectiveness over time.

  • Limited User Engagement: Traditional ads or marketing campaigns may not directly incentivize users to engage with the game or continue playing, potentially leading to lower retention rates.

How to implement a rewarded UA strategy for your mobile game

If you decide to incorporate a rewarded UA strategy for your mobile game, here are some key steps to follow:

  1. Identify Suitable Ad Placements: Determine the optimal points within your game where rewarded ads or offers can be presented without disrupting the gameplay experience.

  2. Choose the Right Rewards: Carefully select the types of rewards to offer, ensuring they align with your game's mechanics and provide value to players.

  3. Integrate a Rewarded Ad Platform: Partner with a reputable rewarded ad platform or network that can provide a steady supply of relevant ads and offers for your target audience.

  4. Test and Optimize: Continuously test and optimize your rewarded UA strategy, monitoring metrics such as engagement rates, retention, and revenue to make data-driven adjustments.

  5. Maintain a Balance: Ensure that rewarded ads and offers are presented in moderation to avoid user fatigue or a negative impact on the overall gameplay experience.

Tracking and measuring the success of your rewarded UA campaign

To effectively evaluate the success of your rewarded UA campaign, it's essential to track and measure key performance indicators (KPIs). Here are some important metrics to consider:

  1. Ad Engagement Rate: The percentage of players who interact with or complete the rewarded ads or offers presented to them.

  2. Retention Rate: The percentage of users who continue playing your game after a specified period (e.g., day 1, day 7, day 30).

  3. Average Revenue Per User (ARPU): The average amount of revenue generated per user, which can be influenced by the effectiveness of your rewarded UA strategy.

  4. User Lifetime Value (LTV): The projected lifetime revenue generated by a user, taking into account factors such as retention, engagement, and in-app purchases.

  5. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): The ratio of revenue generated from rewarded UA campaigns to the amount spent on those campaigns, indicating their overall profitability.

By consistently monitoring and analyzing these metrics, you can make informed decisions about optimizing your rewarded UA strategy, adjusting ad placements, rewards, or targeting to achieve better results.

Challenges and limitations of using rewarded UA for mobile games

While rewarded user acquisition offers numerous benefits, it's important to be aware of potential challenges and limitations:

  1. Ad Inventory Limitations: The availability of rewarded ad inventory can be limited, particularly for niche or smaller games, potentially restricting the scalability of this approach.

  2. User Fatigue and Diminishing Returns: Over time, users may become desensitized to rewarded ads or offers, leading to diminishing returns on engagement and revenue.

  3. Compliance and Regulatory Concerns: Certain regions or platforms may have strict regulations or guidelines regarding the use of rewarded advertising, particularly when targeting younger audiences.

  4. Integration Complexity: Implementing a rewarded UA system can be technically complex, requiring additional resources or third-party solutions, which can be challenging for smaller development teams.

  5. Balancing Gameplay and Monetization: Striking the right balance between rewarded ads, gameplay experience, and overall monetization strategy can be a delicate balancing act.

To mitigate these challenges, it's essential to continuously monitor user behavior, adapt your rewarded UA strategy as needed, and ensure compliance with relevant regulations and platform guidelines.

Choosing the right UA strategy for your mobile game

When it comes to user acquisition for mobile games, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The choice between rewarded UA and traditional UA methods, or a combination of both, ultimately depends on your game's specific goals, target audience, and available resources.

Rewarded user acquisition can be an effective strategy for increasing user engagement, retention, and revenue, particularly for games with a strong free-to-play model or in-app purchase ecosystem. However, it may not be the optimal approach for games targeting a broader audience or those with limited opportunities for in-game rewards.

Traditional user acquisition methods, such as paid advertising and marketing campaigns, offer a wider reach and greater scalability but can be more expensive and may not directly incentivize user engagement or retention.

The most successful mobile game developers often employ a hybrid approach, combining rewarded UA with traditional UA methods to maximize their reach, engagement, and overall return on investment. By carefully analyzing their target audience, gameplay mechanics, and monetization strategies, they can determine the optimal mix of UA tactics to achieve their desired outcomes. Ready to transform your game's outreach? 

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