5 best practices for rewarded video from Candy Crush maker King

“If you create a great advertising experience for players, they’re going to want to engage with it,” says Melissa Stein, global vice president of ad product at King, makers of hit mobile game Candy Crush Saga. Though it’s a supplement to their multi billion dollar IAP revenue stream, King today monetizes some of its titles with rewarded video advertising.


In a recent webinar with the Mobile Marketing Association, Stein shared the inner workings behind how King thinks about integrating rewarded video ads and the fundamentals of creating a great ad experience. From this presentation, we selected five attributes that should be a fixture of every rewarded video integration.

1. Create a value exchange

In exchange for watching a rewarded video ad, the rewards offered need to actually help players advance and give them more time within the game. When players receive a reward, they are stronger, better, richer, faster, or have more resources to survive. Being the advertiser that leads the player to the rewards creates a positive brand association and the advertiser has more opportunity to continue to share more ads (and rewards) during gameplay.

King MMA rewarded video advertising as a value exchange

Image via King

2. Avoid overindulgence

Rewards need to help players achieve their objective in a game (e.g., complete a quest, advance to next level, win battles, etc.). Brand marketers need to ask themselves three things when deciding on the reward:


  1. Is the trade-off meaningful for that player
  2. Does the reward give the player something that they need at the right time
  3. Are they getting enough value from the reward (i.e., don’t give a life when they have a full set of lives)

3. Keep gameplay sacred

When a player is out of moves, lives, energy, etc., this is when brands can swoop in with a rewarded video and be the hero. Until then, keep gameplay sacred and do not interfere with the flow of the game. Instead, be there with the extra boost they need to continue playing the game.

King MMA rewarded video good placement choice

Image via King

4. Include an exit strategy

Don’t force anyone to watch your ads. It’s a sentiment shared by many other leading mobile game developers, including Top Eleven maker Nordeus. The logic behind rewarded video is that players want to see the ad because it helps their gaming experience. If a player does not want to see your ad, then there needs to be an option for them to get out easily and continue playing.


Related: How Nordeus beat EA and monetized the world with rewarded ads

5. Know your audience

Determine the timing of your rewarded video ad based on player type. King categorizes them as:


  • Expirementers. These are players looking for something new beyond the core loop experience (i.e., the base action or series of actions repeated throughout a game). They are highly engaged, making this a great opportunity for the advertiser to sponsor an experience outside the core loop (e.g., contests, treasure chests, quests).
  • Passive engagers. Busy people, who play during a break in the day. For this audience, you want to get ads to them early to maximize your advertising opportunities.
  • Routine consumers. Habitual in their play. For example, a half an hour a day, everyday, before going to bed. By knowing their playing habits, advertisers should max out their frequency cap during the course of play, as opposed to a 24-hour period.
  • Ad lovers. Players who strategically wait to engage with ads, knowing there’s a maximum allowable amount of ads they can watch in a day. Once they’re stuck at a certain point in the game they will tap into their reserves to view the ad and take advantage of that reward.

King MMA rewarded video optimizing ads based on players consumption patterns

Image via King

What King’s best practices reinforce is that the approach to developing rewarded video ads should be audience (player) centered. Players acknowledge those advertisers which have taken into consideration how an ad and its placement will impact them by choosing to give their time and attention to that particular brand. In exchange, brands themselves will be rewarded with greater brand recall, message association, and purchase intent.

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