Weatherzone and Publift experiment with interstitials to grow monthly app revenue 65%
Case Study

Weatherzone and Publift experiment with interstitials to grow monthly app revenue 65%

With over one million downloads, Weatherzone is one of the leading Australian commercial weather forecasting providers. Since 1998, they’ve expanded to serve independent businesses, government organizations, and more than fifteen different industries. When Weatherzone wanted to boost revenue while maintaining a quality user experience, they partnered with Publift, a programmatic advertising agency, for their strategic expertise. The teams leveraged interstitial ads through Google Ad Manager, growing Weatherzone’s average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU) by over 350%, eCPMs by 20%, and monthly app revenue by more than 65%.

Revenue growth with the user in mind

Weatherzone and Publift brainstormed innovative ways to diversify Weatherzone’s programmatic ad inventory and improve app monetization. At the time, Weatherzone was looking to try out new ad formats, as their analytics showed that long-term users displayed signs of “banner blindness.” With a good variety of ad formats — and by occasionally adjusting their positions — Weatherzone would be able to keep their viewability and click-through rates at healthy levels.

Before starting any experimentation, both Weatherzone and their agency partner were mindful that any change in ads could potentially impact user experience and retention rates.

“We need to ensure that short term revenue gains aren’t achieved at the expense of longer term metrics for audience and engagement growth.”

Ron Wong, Global Consumer Product Manager, Weatherzone

Experimenting for the right balance

Weatherzone had yet to explore the interstitial ad format, but they and Publift were intrigued by the business case the Google App team put forward, and began to research further. “Due to the nature of the interstitials being a full-page takeover, the high eCPM that followed was the most compelling aspect of the optimization,” says Colm Dolan, CEO of Publift.

To confirm that the interstitial display ads were the right fit for their app, Publift and Weatherzone ran a series of A/B tests to find the optimal balance between two factors: revenue and user experience. Throughout the testing phase, they worked alongside an app specialist from Google, who guided the teams by suggesting best practices for testing, implementation, and roll-out strategy. Each test ran for at least two weeks, while teams made sure that the app retention rate stayed above or at 5% — in other words, that the ads caused minimal negative impact to the user experience. It was on their fourth experiment, which showed interstitial ads on the first session and one ad per day, per user, when they struck the perfect balance.

Setting a standard for the future

Weatherzone now displays static interstitial ads, a better fit for their audience than video interstitials, as their users interact with their app in short bursts. Since implementation, Weatherzone has seen more than a 65% increase in monthly app revenue, a 20% increase in eCPM, and an over 350% growth in ARPDAU. The organization is looking forward to continuing to experiment with new ad formats through Google.

Moving forward, Publift plans to integrate interstitial ads across all their applicable publishers. “These ad formats,” says Colm, “will be a must-have for all publishers that would like to maximize their programmatic revenue.”

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