Balancing Immersion and Revenue: Why Continuous In-Game Ad Optimization is Key to Success

As the gaming landscape keeps evolving and 3D gaming titles (such as Roblox and Fortnite) continue to see record-breaking player counts, more developers are seeking innovative ways to monetize their games without compromising the playing experience. Many developers have created additional revenue streams with intrinsic in-game advertising, where they can seamlessly integrate ad placements into gaming worlds without disrupting gameplay.

However, to ensure the ads are successfully grabbing players’ attention, it is crucial to regularly analyze their performance and continually optimize their placements to figure out which strategy works best for their title(s). This is especially important as games become more complex and immersive, with more depth and nuances featured within their environments.

Intrinsic in-game: immersive and non-disruptive

Non-disruptive intrinsic in-game ad placements sit natively within gaming experiences and, unlike intrusive ads, blend seamlessly into the environment, allowing developers to monetize their games. They are compatible with 2D games and more complex gaming environments, such as 3D and metaverse titles. 

To bring realism to more complex games, intrinsic in-game ads also often mirror real-world advertising, allowing players to engage with well-known brands in a uniquely immersive way. The non-disruptive nature of intrinsic in-game also underscores its value proposition, making it a win-win solution for developers looking to generate revenue while complementing gameplay.

Getting the placements right

Placing ads within games requires a delicate balance between maintaining immersion and generating revenue. This ensures they enhance rather than detract from the playing experience.

However, as games continue to evolve with more sophisticated graphics, the process of integrating ads into these worlds becomes more intricate. 3D games offer players greater immersion and interactivity, but with this comes unique challenges for developers to ensure their ad placements are seen from the right perspectives and at the right times. 

Ways of optimizing placements within immersive games can include tweaking the game setup so that players are more likely to engage with an ad, placing ads into areas where they complement the experience, and featuring ads within deeper scenes where gameplay is paused.

This video, which reviews best practices to follow when placing ads into immersive racing titles, shows how ad placements can be viewed more easily when they are displayed at turns on a racetrack that require the driver to slow down. 

It also shows how when ads are placed at points where the camera direction doesn’t change, such as cinematic scenes shown before a race, there is increased opportunity for player engagement. Featuring ads within high-traffic areas of a game, such as points where players fuel up their vehicles, is also a good way to ensure they will be noticed and remembered.

It’s also important to highlight that adding intrinsic in-game ads to a game environment isn’t just a one-off process. The best results come from small (but significant) changes, that result in a considerable increase in ARPDAU over time. This is why we recommend regularly analyzing player behavior and game mechanics to review what works, what doesn’t, and where changes can be made. This can also include ongoing experimentation, data analysis, and reviewing player feedback to refine ad placements and ensure they align with player expectations and preferences.

Success stories

Amelore, the studio behind the indie Steam hit Slappyball, first started monetizing with in-game ads through our solution. They said they carefully considered where their ads made sense within the game and worked to optimize their size and placements based on where they felt they would best complement the playing experience. To ensure that players were also happy with the ad placements, they implemented them slowly and carefully while paying attention to their feedback at every step.


Oddshot Games
, known for its 3D hockey title Slapshot: Rebound (which was previously available to play in its beta stage), recently launched the game into official release with intrinsic in-game ads featured within. When they started working with our solution, the studio optimized their ad placements to ensure they fit naturally into the environment and were fully viewable to allow better fill rates. To mimic the appearance of sponsorships inside a real-life hockey rink and ensure viewability at all angles, display ads were placed along its sidelines at varying angles.

After scoring success with display creatives, including a revenue increase of 62%, Oddshot Games also implemented video ads within the hit title and immediately saw another 30% uplift in revenue.

Paying attention to contextual relevance and creative principles

By aligning ads within the context of the game and its narrative, you can create a more engaging experience for players, which helps foster a connection between the game world and real-life brands. This helps maximize impressions, which can help generate more income from a single ad placement.

Ad placements should also naturally blend into a game environment, avoid being disruptive or disjointed, and resonate with the game’s theme and aesthetics. When determining where to place ads within a game to maximize their visibility and impact, we recommend continually optimizing placements while taking unique properties into account, such as a game’s art style, pacing, and narrative flow.

Like Oddshot Games, Axis Games used the same approach when optimizing ad placements within their flagship title, Axis Football. To bring realism to the game, they built dynamic ad placements around the game’s stadiums and worked to change the ads from season to season to ensure they were always relevant to players.

“After the initial implementation and having monitored where and how players were interacting with the ads via Anzu’s dashboard, we worked together to make some adjustments to which ads play in different areas to maximize the number of impressions.” — Danny Jugan, President at Axis Games

After running their ad placements, Axis Games received overwhelmingly positive feedback from its player base and saw a 360% increase in in-game YOY.

Ensuring the successful future of your game

As we’ve highlighted, optimizing ad placements is a continuous process, and lots of testing and learning is involved to maximize their overall impact on players. However, this practice is sure to help you generate larger revenues and build better gameplay experiences. With games evolving at a rapid pace, this has led to increased competition within the gaming space, large costs associated with game production, and players expecting better experiences over time. Overall, this means that getting intrinsic in-game ad placements right can play a huge part in ensuring the successful future of your game(s).

Want to learn more about how you can launch the perfect in-game ad strategy for your hit title? Fill out the form below, and we will be in touch!

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Maor Wurembrand

Maor is Anzu's Director Of Growth Management and works closely with lots of our game publishers.

Maor Wurembrand