These last months, the USA & several EU countries have been involved in a massive geopolitical shift, probably the biggest that the Mobile App & Gaming industry has ever seen.
The consequences have severely affected all the stakeholders and areas of the game development chain: yearly strategies of global companies stop working in certain markets, we see significant changes in in-app user behavior, scarcity and price rise caused a change in consumption patterns, developers of certain countries can’t get paid, or lose support from their business partners, etc.
Everyone in the industry has suffered its effects. From big companies to indie developers, mobile businesses see a drastic change in their metrics, KPIs & revenues.
How can game & app developers know what to do in this unprecedented situation with no historical data to show if their efforts are in the right direction?
Appodeal conducted an analysis to shed some light on how the geopolitics between Russia & Ukraine were affecting our industry on a weekly basis. The result is an extension to Appodeal’s quarterly Mobile eCPM Report, which will be a helpful tool for mobile app businesses during the ongoing uncertainty.
What happened to mobile ad eCPMs in Ukraine and Russia these last few months?
Rewarded Video Ad eCPM in Russia and Ukraine
As soon as the world knew that Russia sent a military to Ukraine, the eCPM for Rewarded Video Ads for both platforms (Android & iOS) drastically plummeted. iOS eCPM fell by +75% its price, coming from $3.05 by the end of February to 0.80$ in mid-April. Android also has seen a profound fall in its eCPMs, going as low as -71% by the end of March, from its original price.
Interstitial eCPM in Russia and Ukraine
Though Interstitials were not as heavily affected as Rewarded Video Ads, the drop in eCPMs is severe on both platforms, but we expect to see them stabilize soon. In iOS, since mid-April, it’s already been showing signs of recovery in both Russia & Ukraine.
While the data in the charts is historical, we can predict that with no significant changes to the course of this exceptional situation, the eCPMs for mobile in-app Interstitial Ads may soon recover.
Banner ad eCPMs in Russia and Ukraine
Banners are a special kind of snowflake. During these last months, banner eCPMs in Russia & Ukraine have not followed the same trend as other ad types.
In Russia, banner eCPM on iOS seems to fluctuate slightly, around 7% during March and April. It’s not the same in Android, where they fall to -37%, then start growing again.
In Ukraine, banner eCPMs on Android seem to be slowly bouncing back at the beginning of March.
Impressions and CTR in Russia and Ukraine
Appodeal’s quarterly reports usually focus on the analysis of eCPM to help game developers optimize their monetization strategies and adapt to the market trends and changes.
However, in these exceptional circumstances, additional metrics might be helpful to better understand the market. Below are the charts showing weekly evolution of Impressions & CTR in both Russia and Ukraine.
For those curious minds that want to dwell deep into the data, here are all the links to get access to these charts:
- Rewarded Video Ads: Impressions and CTR in Russia and Ukraine during March & April
- Interstitial Ads: Impressions and CTR in Russia and Ukraine during March & April
- Banner Ads: Impressions and CTR in Russia and Ukraine during March & April
Those charts will prove helpful for game developers and creators who have active UA-campaigns in these markets or are planning to come back.
The reasons behind the eCPM plummeting in Russia and Ukraine?
There are many reasons why eCPM plummets in those two countries.
The most obvious explanation is the sanctions on Russia from the EU & USA that made a lot of companies unable or unwilling to operate in this market. Big brands & publishers with massive marketing budgets redistributed their User Acquisition campaigns and targeted new markets.
Russian publishers were unable to receive payments. PayPal was blocked. Payments via wire transfers stopped due to a multi-step screening process of the Russian banks for sanctions. Some companies faced crypto payouts suspension in Russia and Belarus. These circumstances made it impossible for mobile publishers to withdraw their revenues and, therefore, reinvest in marketing campaigns, which has also affected the eCPMs.
Another less obvious cause of the overall eCPM drop is that all these charts are presented in dollars ($). Advertisers & publishers in the CIS region, that are actively investing in UA, may have ruble-denominated budgets for their marketing plans. With the ruble devaluation, their purchasing power dropped and if that plunge continued, it would have caused an overall market impoverishment against the dollar. As a result, mobile games were not able to push the same number of impressions for the same price, which might have forced companies to lower their bids.
Due to the payment system disruption, app distribution platforms (Google Play & Apple App Store) paused their services in Russia. The Russian users were unable to spend on in-app purchases, which has had a ripple effect on some of the ad formats, such as rewarded ads, that are CPI (Cost per Install) & CPA (Cost per action) based. While banners that are not as widespread in games as in other mobile apps have kept pushing brand awareness campaigns.
In response to the new industry challenges, some publishers may have switched their monetization strategies from the IAP-based (In-App-Purchases) monetization model to in-app Ads entirely, which could have created a higher supply and might have driven the eCPMs down.
Also, some profitable western ad networks (e.g., AdMob) stopped working in the Russian market. This caused a drop in both eCPM and fill rate in the region.
2022 Q2: What to expect this quarter: next steps for developers
Compare your performance with this new source of data
With so many things on our plate, we forget the most obvious things.
The insights presented in this report should be used by developers as a reference point, not as a silver bullet. To understand if any of the highlighted opportunities are a good fit for your app, you should leverage the power of your analytics and growth platform. Compare your metrics, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and eCPMs, against the current trends and find out if there is an opportunity to hop on.
IAP-based monetization? Time to implement Rewarded Video Ads in Russia
If your mobile app or game monetization model is based on IAP (in-app purchases) and you have a strong market in Russia, it’s time to focus on your Rewarded Video Ads.
Keep in mind that your users in Russia are unable to pay you. But this does not mean they don’t want to enjoy your game or spend money on it. That said, Rewarded Video Ads are a way to keep your users engaged and happy.
Consider implementing Rewarded Ads inside your app or game with a wider range of available rewards . Use them to take care of your players’ needs during these turbulent times. Once the uncertainty is over, your flexibility and loyalty will pay off, and your long-term retention rates will likely increase.
Time to optimize your Ad Waterfall
If you still haven’t optimized your ad waterfall when monetizing in Russia & Ukraine, you may miss the opportunity to increase your ad profits.
There may be some ad networks that are not operating or cannot send you payments. In this case, it’s better to work with an ad mediator or a growth platform that allows you to control your ad waterfall for specific regions and accumulate all your revenues to prevent potential issues with the subsequent withdrawal of the funds. .
Finding the most appropriate ad network is crucial now. It will highly reduce the impact of your ad revenues, increase your fill rates, and reduce the latency times.
And do NOT marry any ad network, test what works best for you. Find reliable partners that don’t ask you to get into any blinded contract in these strange times. Stay independent in case things go south again.
Launch new video UA campaigns aimed at Rewarded Ads and Interstitials
eCPMs are extremely low for Rewarded Ads & Interstitials. Promoting your games in those markets has never been more affordable.
If you can’t set the goals of your acquisition campaigns to specific in-app actions or events, such as IAPs, try some brand awareness campaigns. If content and communication of your ad are context-sensitive, you may see the profits soon.
We don’t know how long this will last, but if you compare it with previous years, the cost of acquiring new users has never been cheaper.
Disclaimer: These specific suggestions have been made with an optimistic mindset that the peace talks between Russian-Ukraine will have a positive outcome.
The data outlined above will be helpful to those who want to better understand the ongoing change and adjust their marketing strategies in the said countries or the ones with similar user behavior.
Download the complete Appodeal’s Report “Russia & Ukraine: mobile games under the scope” to learn more about other countries that have been affected, directly or indirectly, by this exceptional geopolitical situation.