Zynga collaborates with Google to deliver relevant ads while respecting user choice
Case Study

Zynga collaborates with Google to deliver relevant ads while respecting user choice

Zynga is a leader in interactive entertainment with a mission to connect the world through mobile gaming apps. To date, more than one billion people have played Zynga’s app franchises including CSR Racing™, Empires & Puzzles™, Merge Dragons!™, Words With Friends™ and Zynga Poker™. Founded in 2007, the company is headquartered in San Francisco with locations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, India, Turkey and Finland.

Over time, Zynga has tested many approaches to its freemium model, delivering high quality game play experiences at no- or low-cost to the consumer, while at the same time providing advertisers a sophisticated way to connect with desirable app audiences. One of Zynga’s more recent tests involved finding a way to identify audience segments within its player population.

Using Google Ad Manager, Zynga was able to effectively segment its audiences and make impressions available to advertisers that want to deliver relevant ads to those segments, while respecting consumers' choices. This allowed Zynga to differentiate its ad offerings, resulting in better ad experiences for users, more relevant ad buys for advertisers, and a more than 35% increase in direct ad sales year-over-year in 2019.

Packaging audiences with Ad Manager

Advertisers want to invest in mobile apps, but some — especially those that are relatively new to the app space — have concerns around brand safety. Additionally, many advertisers rely on Data Management Platforms (DMPs) to reach their desired audiences, but since most DMPs are cookie based — which don't work in the mobile app environment — advertisers are finding it difficult to identify and reach their audiences in mobile apps.

To solve for this, the Zynga team decided to explore how they could use Ad Manager’s ​Audience Solutions​ to create compelling, brand-safe audience segments for their advertisers. They worked directly with the Google team to build segments — like 25-54 year old women, parents with children under 10, and audiences who watch reality TV or game shows — within Ad Manager, and trained their account and operations teams to use the platform's segmentation features. This combined approach of curation and segmentation allowed Zynga to support requests for proposals (RFPs) with various audience segments that direct advertisers are interested in, in a cost-efficient way.

“Using Ad Manager we were able to develop gamer segments that made sense for our advertisers. Our sales team got up to speed quickly on how to refine and implement each segment in the platform — once we brought the data set in, we found it very easy to deploy.”

Marian Thomas, Director of Ad Tech & Data Solution​s, Zynga

Google’s solutions also provide Zynga’s players the option to interact with the ads they see. This functionality provides transparency into why they received an ad, and the ability to control how (and whether) the ad continues to be shown to them.

Data-informed strategies deliver better results

Zynga can now pitch a higher volume of RFPs with audience segments, improve the rate of direct deals won, and provide advertisers what they’ve been asking for — a better way to engage high-value consumers in apps, while ensuring ads are delivered in a manner which seeks to respect user choice and privacy. They’ve also been able to streamline their teams' operations, because Ad Manager delivers a layer of legal, financial, and administrative efficiency as well. Controls relating to GDPR, CCPA, and billing for specific audience segments are all native in Ad Manager, making the entire launch and execution of their data products easier for their operations team to manage.

“Because we have so many games in so many markets, we knew we needed an efficient, scalable approach to developing interested-user segments. Our sales teams also needed to have nuanced control over how they assess user interests to develop custom audiences, and match them to the specifics of each market,” says Marian. “Ad Manager’s Audience Solutions have proved to be the solution we were looking for and are now a key part of how we approach every deal.”

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