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41 mobile game development terms every brand advertiser should know

Today, everyone is a gamer, and the number of mobile gamers is only getting bigger - expected to reach 1.7 billion people globally by 2024. Advertising on mobile games offers brand advertisers a large and diverse set of users that is not limited to the stereotypical gamer. While there is a lot of unknown about the gaming industry, the growing market, which is expected to reach $56.6 billion by 2024, is valuable for brand awareness and user acquisition. 

Take a look at the common mobile game development terms that will help inform your buying strategy and the best ways to source mobile ad inventory.  

Mobile game genres

1. Hyper-casual: Mobile game genre that is easy-to-play and typically free-to-play. These games feature a very simple and minimalistic UI, and are also ad-based.

2. Casual game: Mobile game genre that is usually simple but requires more attention than hyper-casual. Casual games have a mixed monetization model of IAPs and ads. 

3. Puzzle games: Subgenre of casual games that focuses on problem solving skills - pattern recognition, sequence solving, logic, and more.

4. Idle games: Subgenre of casual games that focuses on simple actions such as clicking repeatedly. 

5. Match-3 games: Subgenre of casual games where users manipulate tiles to make them disappear. 

6. Midcore game: Mobile game genre that is the most complex and requires users to dedicate time and effort to playing. Midcore games require skill and strategy. 

Business models 

7. IAP (in-app purchases): Virtual goods users buy within apps, such as in-game currency, recurring subscriptions, and more.

8. Free-to-play: Games that give players access to content without having to pay. 

9. Freemium: A pricing strategy where a game is free of charge, but money (a premium) can be charged for extra features. 

10. Ad monetization: Refers to games where in-game ads are the largest source of revenue.

11. Subscription: Players pay for premium gameplay instead of seeing ads, which is the main source of game revenue.  

12. Paid apps: Apps that cost money to download. Paid apps make revenue from the download and often don’t include ads. 

Monetization

13. Monetization: A means by which app developers generate revenue. 

14. Impression: A single view of an ad by one person. Online publishers offer their ad inventory as available impressions

15. SDK (software development kit): A piece of code that lets mobile apps connect to third-party services and technologies. An advertising SDK allows game developers to connect their supply to brand demand. 

16. Mediation: An app monetization solution which lets app developers manage and optimize multiple ad networks in one place, with just one SDK integration. Mediation is important to Maximize ad revenue and eCPMs, maximize fill rate, reduce SDK bloat, and automate optimization. 

17. Waterfall: Monetization model in which publishers rank ad networks in order of preference (which often means the one with the highest rates will be at the top) and when they have an impression to sell, the mediation platform tries to sell it to the ad network that’s top of the list.

18. In-app bidding: Monetization model in which mobile publishers sell their ad inventory in an auction with networks simultaneously bidding against one another. In-app bidding automates the process of getting ad placements and flattens the monetization waterfall. 

19. Hybrid waterfall: The hybrid waterfall combines in-app bidding and a traditional waterfall. 

User acquisition

20. Creative testing: Two or more variants of a creative ad are shown to users at random, and statistical analysis determines which variation performs better.

21. Addressable market size: The total market demand for a game, calculated in annual revenue or unit sales.

22. Performance marketing: A form of marketing that is highly data-driven, measuring everything from the cost of acquisition to incrementality. With performance marketing, payment is based on variable prices that depend on the actual performance of the campaign.

23. Ad fraud: The deliberate process of preventing ads from being delivered to the intended audience in order to generate illegal revenue. Types of ad fraud include: Fake click but genuine user, fake click and fake user, and genuine click and genuine user. Mobile games have, luckily, very low ad fraud and mobile app and game fraud have dropped 30% since 2019. 

24. Geo-targeting: Method of determining the geolocation of an app user and delivering different content to that visitor based on their location

25. Incrementality: The added bonus that advertising spend provides to the conversion rate.

26. Funnel: A way of visualizing how players move through a sequence of events, or 'steps' in the game.

KPIs

27. Retention rate: The percentage of users who continue engaging with an app over time.

28. CPI (cost per install): A pricing model used in mobile user acquisition campaigns in which app advertisers pay each time a user installs their app from their ad.

29. CPE (cost per engagement): A pricing model used in mobile user acquisition campaigns in which app advertisers choose a post-install event and only pay for users who engage in that specific event.

30. CPA (cost per action): A pricing model used in mobile user acquisition campaigns in which advertisers choose a post-install action to measure, and only pay for users who engage in that action.

31. CPCV (cost per completed view): A pricing model used in mobile user acquisition campaigns where advertisers pay each time a video has been viewed through to completion.

32. CPV (cost per view): A pricing model used in mobile user acquisition and brand awareness campaigns in which advertisers pay each time their mobile video ad is viewed.

33. Churn rate: The percentage of users who uninstall or stop engaging with an app over time. 

34. MAU (monthly active users): The total amount of users who visit an app within a 30 day period.

35. DAU (daily active users): The total amount of users who visit an app on a daily basis. 

36. ARPU (average revenue per user): The average revenue each active user generates, with revenue including in-app advertising and in-app purchases. 

37. LTV (lifetime value): The estimated revenue a single user generates throughout their entire lifetime within an app. 

38. ARPDAU (average revenue per daily active user): The estimated amount of money every regular user is bringing in on a daily basis. It also helps to understand how well your monetization is working, whether it’s monetization from ads, from IAPs, or both.

39. ARPPU (average revenue per paying user): The revenue a single paying user generates during a specified period.

40. K-factor: Reveals your app's virality, by measuring how many additional users each of your existing users brings along to the app. Describes the growth rate of apps.

41. CVR (Conversion rate): the percentage of users who saw an app-install ad, clicked on it, and converted through some pre-specified action