Behind the scenes: constantly learning to optimize advertising

1024 576 Spil Games

Timing is the secret of the balancing act in his job, according to Richard Ramcharan, Technical Program Manager on Spil’s advertising team. Translating great ideas into technical reality maximises revenue while maintaining great user experience.

How would you describe your job?
Dynamic. There is always something new I need to understand, so I’m always learning.

The advertising team drives revenue from display and video ads on our web portals. I make sure these ads are working optimally.

My job is to act as a technical translator between Advertising and other departments. For instance, imagine someone suggests changing the layout of a web page to improve the performance of an ad. I would take that idea and talk to different teams.

I would check with the Portal Content team (the people who find and manage the games) that the change isn’t going to cause problems in game play. I would also coordinate with the Portal Tech team to ensure the changes can be made technically. And I’d discuss the change with the Business Intelligence team to ensure they could continue to record data and report on the performance of the portals.

What is it you like about working at Spil Games?
The people are amazing. There is a lot of expertise in different areas of gaming and everyone is always willing to share their knowledge.

How would you describe the role of the Advertising team at Spil?
On the web, advertising is the main revenue stream and on mobile it is the secondary stream (after in-app purchases). For both, we want to maximise revenue from games but we have to balance that with making sure players have the best possible experience.

How would you describe the web portals’ role at Spil Games?
Currently, the portals are about generating revenue which we are using to grow the mobile side of the business. I am excited about changes in the market that would allow us to use the portals for more. Epic Games is currently getting a lot of attention because it’s using its website as the primary place for people to download its Android game Fortnite. It’s early days, so we can’t yet know what impact this will have on the market as a whole, but it is interesting because it shows that web and mobile can work together. Things like this make the portals fun to work on.

What traits are handy to have to be successful on the Advertising team?
Curiosity. We have a lot of latitude in how we do things, and the team has a broad range of expertise. Our curiosity means we are constantly trying to find out how things work and to make them work better.

I believe that if you want to understand the advertising world, you need to be curious and persistent to try and figure things out. Advertising is not necessarily hard or complex, but it gets confusing quickly. If you keep digging, things become clear.

What’s your biggest lesson learnt at Spil?
That great ideas have their time. For example, when I started here, we concentrated on user experience because we wanted to build the audience for our games. When in-game ads (or midrolls) were first proposed, they weren’t adopted because they were seen as detracting from the user experience.

Recently, as our audience has become more established, midrolls have become viable and you see them in a lot of our games.

Similarly, a few years ago, many advertisers were resistant to the idea of videos that reward a user for watching an ad. Now that they’ve seen how they work, the practice has become pretty standard.

What lessons have we learned on the portals that are helping our mobile games?
On mobile, it feels as if advertising has an image that it damages user experience. This was the same image it had on the web a few years ago. I think we showed on the web that if you get the technical performance of advertising right, it doesn’t have to detract from the player’s enjoyment of the games.

AUTHOR

Aikaterini Kroustalli

All stories by: Aikaterini Kroustalli

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