Web redesign + business model for Games44
Games44.com is a simple gaming website allowing users to play free online games right in the browser. Size of this market is $3.5 billion (see more information about money in the gaming industry).
GameArter has made full stack development works - light redesign of all pages, including optimization of frontend and backend to achieve better performance and faster rendering, as well as setting monetization and users acquisition model. Currently Games44 uses GameArter's service for getting website content and PPC management. This blogpost summarizes our approach to processed redesign and current money-driven content and business management.
Make Games44 quick to load, requiring minimum cost and time for operation and management, with an active marketing of a budget driven by the generated revenue by the web itself.
Issues we had to deal with:
- Create a business model for running the gaming website
- No option to monetize the website with Google Adsense due to low quality content
- Not all pages are mobile friendly
Finding a suitable business model for the gaming website
Business model is a plan for the successful operation of a business, identifying sources of revenue, the intended customer base, products, and details of financing. The more complex business is being planned, the more sophisticated the business model should be behind.
Simple projects such as gaming website Games44 may be built based on a very simple financial model - taking only cost for hosting, adding 3rd party gaming content and marketing against revenue per 1 user multiple by number of expected users. Like in insurance, banking, gaming and any other businesses, there is always a certain number of paying users / sold products / displayed ads a month changing final financial bilance for a certain time period from red to black.
The industry of gaming websites belongs between hyper competitive areas - the main reason for existence of so many gaming websites out there is especially the fact that a gaming website is quite easy starting business. Unlike other types of websites, operators of gaming websites have literally a giant offer of free content for placing on their web, even better, they are usually paid for it. It’s possible thanks to game distribution services such as game distribution service provided by GameArter, which offers free games for websites right from the game developers who provide the rewards for publishers as a form of paid marketing for their games.
Anyway, within the business plan, there is a need to know not only the price of creating content for a web (for free in this case), but also, how much money it may bring back. Fortunately, GameArter provides data about revenues publicly, so everyone can count how much it may earn by publishing its games. In the case of other game distribution platforms used for getting games on Games44, there has been possible to make an estimate on basis of public data provided by GameArter. Beside revenue share from published games, of course, there is also useful to use other available types of monetization for a website. For Games44, we are going to use a mix of revenue sources compounded of display and video ads (firstly Adsense, later ad exchange) with a mix of affiliate campaigns for games.
On the other hand, as elsewhere, there are fixed and dynamic costs for running a website. Fixed cost of hosting and especially of web and content management are something which need to be reduced to a minimum. To achieve that, there are no planned writers, instead the whole website management has been dedicated to website management service from GameArter. Within the web management service, there will also be made necessary improvements and issues fixation.
Dynamical costs are the most interesting ones, here it’s basically all around paid marketing - due to the fact that all websites have basically the same content, moreover well processed, there is not much space for doing it better than others. Thus, the business model has been focused especially at a ratio between potential revenue going from 1 user against a cost for his acquisition. Just the price of a user acquisition has been something we tested at the start. Taking the initial games44 website as a minimum valuable product, we launched a PPC campaign 2 times in a time, see the peaks in the graph below.
We targeted these campaigns at users in existing remarketing lists (users who have visited Games44 website before) as well as for new users. Except for the price of users acquisition, we were also interested in the behaviour of bought users - especially frequency and retention of their next visits. This provided us expected revenue per user in a time.
Finally, with the knowledge of fixed costs, expected revenue per user and the cost of a user acquisition, we could summarize whether it makes sense to invest anything into the product without much risk. Shortly, numbers said that it is possible to launch it, but with a need to do it organically, without big initial investments to reduce potential risks. Taking this in mind, we have taken Games44 as a try to find out whether there is still possible to launch a product in such a competitive area like browser games without heavy initial investment. The plan has been to not invest any high external money, instead reinvest all the coming revenue from the website and see what will happen.
Necessary website improvements
Existence of a business model is cool, but it has no benefit until it serves as a guide for work.
To achieve the option to use all ways of monetization included in the business plan, there was a need to deal with an issue of disapproved ads from Adsense. Google Adsense is the simplest way for displaying ads, anyway, it still requires filling terms and conditions specified at Google AdSense program policies while Games44 did not fill them for a reason of low-quality content.
We have suspected that the rejection came due to no text content on game pages. It forced us to decide to make a redesign, which was actually necessary also for a reason to make the game pages mobile friendly. Old and new design of a game page is displayed below:
Text descriptions for games on the pages have been used from a different website, informing Google about the source of the text with a canonical tag.
Games44 have used a very simple code on frontend as well as on the backend. In a combination with a simple used design, it was quite fast to make also a light redesign of other existing page types and create missing page types.
Search (new page)
Contact (new page)
Game Developer (new page)
It all was made in 4 mandays, with a focus at maximum possible page speed optimization. All the pages are mobile friendly, desktop and mobile version runs under a common web address.
Few hours after the next request for displaying ads from Adsense, Games44 has been approved.
Content, Monetization and PPC management
3.1 Content on the website
Games44 is an actively managed website, with daily updated content in the form of 3 newly added games a day. The games are coming from GameArter management service, with unique short description and cross-website shared media as images and video. Required time for publishing 1 game is around 5 minutes and this setup is optimal for keeping minimum costs - compared to expected revenues and quality of competition, it would be very hard to reach a breakout with investing more into it, especially with a trend of answers and recommendations directly in the Google search. Why all games could not be loaded in search, like it's now in the case of simple games like Snake, Mahjong or Solitaire.
In that case, gaming websites would lose significant visibility in search in favor of Google, actually like it's now in mobile search within results leading to websites / google play. There are many risks and competition related to organic search, therefore with a limited budget there is no other option than do SEO only in a form of a brand. On searching brand keywords, a website should be always on the top positions, even with a bad off-page SEO. And because users go play games on Games44 and not to read great long and detailed descriptions, or look at unique game thumbnails, there is no big sense to invest into it, instead there is need to focus on providing good user experience - keep only good and functional games with good feedback (based on data in Google Analytics) on the website.
3.2 Monetization of the website
Adsense is the most popular and simplest ad network. It provides cool detailed user friendly dashboard and clear options. Adsense allows also using powerful nontraditional ad units as responsive ads, in-feed, in-article, link ads or matched content ads. Placing them on the right position and website may bring really great results. And if It's all greek for you, you can simply activate auto ads feature in adsense and do not care about ads anymore.
However, not all is so positive - Adsense is the lowest floor of the pyramid of ads related performance, moreover, publisher's share on revenues from adsense is only 67%.
Therefore, it is beneficial to use different ad networks for traditional units, starting with ad exchange. An ad exchange is a digital marketplace that enables advertisers and publishers to buy and sell advertising space, often through real-time auctions. Except for a real time bidding potentially increasing CPM, there is one more benefit - higher revenue share, usually around 85%. Thus, even when there would be use of the same ads like in adsense, with the same offered price like in adsense, a publisher receives 18% higher revenue (85-67%).
Next step is header bidding, this has not been activated for Games44, so about this next time.
3.3 PPC management
There have been activated display campaigns for the website, CPA prices and budgets are driven by a revenue returning back.
Similar service may be done also for your website within GameArter's custom services.