Guidelines for Clickable Unit Design: A design study

Efficient ways to improve ad engagement rates

At GreedyGame, we conduct continuous studies to understand ad experiences to achieve higher user engagement. We would be presenting a series of studies to help the publisher to reduce effort and maximize ad revenue.

The objective of our first study was to formulate ad placement guidelines to help publishers maximize revenue using our native ads units i.e. selecting native placements across games that drive high engagement rates.

GreedyGame’s clickable and non-clickable units

We have used common ad industry keywords but if they sound new to you following are the definition of frequently used keywords.

Engagement rate (ETR) is defined as the ratio of clicks on clickable unit to the number of impressions. Clicking on the clickable unit opens an user-initiated interstitial.

Impression is recorded when atleast one clickable and one non-clickable unit is rendered in the game.

Click through rate (CTR) is defined as the ratio of clicks on the user-initiated interstitial to the number of impressions.

GreedyGame click funnel (not to scale)

Simply, a high ETR means that more users saw the native ads within the game and clicked and engaged with the clickable units.

In this study, we focus on design guidelines for clickable units to deliver high ETR.

To achieve this, our team went through thousands of clickable unit placements across all games that use GreedyGame SDK to serve native ads. The two factors which affect ETR the most- ad-placement and ad-design of native clickable units.

Ad-Placements

While non-clickable units create interest in the advertiser message, clickable units drive home the point by providing users a quick way to reach the final advertiser destination. Hence it is essential to place the clickable unit in a spot where discoverability is easy while the brand message is still at the top of the user’s mind.

Through the study, we concluded that ad placement is affected most by two design aspects — screen and proximity.

Screen

Most game designers place clickable units on three screens — main menu, gameplay and pause/exit/setting menu.

Demolition Derby 2

Game play ad units (L), Main menu ( C), Unit clicks %: Game play 88% Exit menu 12% (R)
Game play ad units (L), Exit menu ( C), Unit clicks %: game play 77% Exit menu 23% (R)

Analysis: Since users spend the most amount of time during game play, their exposure to non-clickable units is the highest. Thus the study found that the performance of the clickable units was the highest during the game play.This is irrespective of the size of the clickable ad units across different screens ie, smaller clickable units on the gameplay performed better than a larger clickable units on the main menu.

Clickable ad units perform in the following order: Gameplay> main menu> pause/exit/setting screen.

The performance of each screen’s clickable unit is independent, ie units on different screens do not affect the performance of each other.

Although the gameplay clickable ad unit performs the best amongst all other clickable ad units it is recommended to have 2 or more clickable ad units across different screens in the game to achieve better results.

Proximity

The biggest fear that most publishers have is ad blindness. In our study, we found the clickable unit’s proximity to the game control reduces the chances of ad blindness. The coordinates of the clickable unit contribute to its performance equally as the placement on screen type.

The following examples illustrate how placing the clickable unit led to an increase the game’s ETR. The heat maps on the right shows areas where clicks are concentrated on the screen.

World Cricket Championship 2

Engagement rate of ad unit — 8.86%

Game 2

Engagement rate of ad unit — 0.57%

Notice how game 2 has a very low engagement rate as compared with World Cricket Championship 2.

Analysis: A study of the heat maps with respect to the game’s HUD buttons indicates that the clicks are concentrated near the game’s primary action buttons. We can also see a correlation of ad unit performance and its proximity with these buttons ie, the ad unit which is in close proximity with the game’s primary buttons has higher clicks.

Hence the clickable ad unit should be within the user’s thumb reach from the game’s primary action buttons. If the primary action buttons on a game are situated on both the top and bottom of the screen, ad units on the bottom of the device will perform better as they are easier to reach for the user.

Ad- Design

Once units are placed correctly within the game, the design can further fuel the ETR. The objective of the clickable unit is to draw attention to it subtly without causing disturbance to the user. Way too subtle and risk avoiding notice altogether. While looking at the design attributes that affect ETR, we narrowed it down to its:

Native Exclusivity- This defines how the ad unit’s design looks within the game’s UI. Factors which define exclusivity are color and effects (glow, shadow etc). Factors which define nativeness are shape and size.

Native Exclusivity

An effective clickable unit is one which matches the game’s UI, yet manages to stand out. The unit should feel a part of the game yet catch the users eye. The following examples illustrate how native designs fetch higher engagements.

Bus simulator

Native exclusive design (right) has 30% higher engagement rate

Stickman parkour

Design on the right had 22% higher engagement rate

Analysis: The designs which have a close resemblance to the game’s UI (shape and size) have higher ETR’s. Change in the unit’s colour and effect can create a contrast in the UI to make it stand out.

Design of the units have to be done keeping the mind when and where the ads will be displayed during the game play. The size and shape of the ad unit should be such that it matches the game’s UI elements.

What have we learned?

  • Ad-placements and ad-designs play a pivotal role in determining your game’s ad engagement (ETR)
  • Ad placement is sub-categorized into: ad screen and ad proximity which prevents ad blindness
  • Ad design is defined by its native exclusivity which fuels the user’s engagement and grabs attention
  • Optimizing both of these lead to better consumer experience when they interact with ads giving you higher revenue for your game.

Originally published at www.greedygame.com.