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Unity Windows Phone 8 Ad Integration

Posted by Gamieon, 02 July 2014 · 634 views

In one effort to monetize Hamster Chase, I wanted to have ads appear in it. It took me a while to decide where to put the ads; the articles at https://inneractive.jira.com/wiki/display/DevWiki/Ad+Placement+Strategy and http://streetfightmag.com/2012/12/14/can-mobile-advertising-be-made-less-annoying/ were helpful with my decision making. I decided to have ads appear briefly at the end of each level, and at random in the hamster cage in the form of a comic strip balloon coming out of a hamster's mouth.

Ad Portal Setup
I created an AdDuplex account on http://www.adduplex.com . AdDuplex treated me as both someone who wanted ads in their game, and someone who wanted to put their own ads in other games. They wouldn't let me submit my game before it was published.

I created a Microsoft pubCenter account on https://pubcenter.microsoft.com . I was able to create one "ad unit" (which is a fancy way of saying "an ad banner to appear in the game" I think), but I had trouble changing it later and adding more ad units. I was informed by an online help desk representative that I couldn't do those things until my game was published.

Unity Setup for AdRotator
My journey with Ad integration began with AdRotator v2 beta at http://getadrotator.com/adrotator-v2-updated-to-beta-release-of-the-v2-unity-plug-in/ . AdRotator supports multiple ad providers; a list is available at http://getadrotator.com/ .

I made a new test project in Unity and imported the AdRotator Unity package into it. The first thing I noticed was the AdRotatorDemo scene had no AdRotator components in it. I figured out which ones belonged, and added them manually. Later on I discovered the menu item to do it: GameObject => Create Other => AdRotator. I clearly glazed right over "this will appear in the game object create menu" in their documentation; but in my defense I'm used to the vendor having the demo scene all set up for me.

I was puzzled by the setup: On the pubCenter and AdDuplex portals, I could choose the size of my ads. In the AdRotatorManagement script was a dropdown where I could choose the size of the banners; but none of the selections matched the sizes I assigned in the portals! I decided to just leave all the component settings unchanged.

My attention turned to defaultAdSettingsWP8. It's the file in the Unity project where you set up all your ad portal identities. I discovered I could comment out the elements corresponding to providers that I did not sign up for, and they would not be included in the rotation of served ads. I like how the developer filled everything in with demo values; it made it easier to confirm that the values I would replace them with were formatted correctly.

I then proceeded to Build and Run the project on my phone...and of course, no ads appeared. My first inkling was that I glazed over something else important in the documentation.

I opened the VS 2013 solution and ran it again. I got at least one System.IO.FileNotFound exception. Between seeing that, and revisiting the documentation, I found that I was missing several assemblies. I made sure to have the following References in my project:
  • AdDuplex.WindowsPhone
  • AdRotator
  • AdRotator.Core
  • Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows (Silverlight)
  • Microsoft.Advertising.Mobile
  • Microsoft.Advertising.Mobile.Common
  • Microsoft.Advertising.Mobile.UI
I deployed the project to my phone again, and the only ads that would appear were test ads for AdDuplex. The debug log reported once that it successfully got a pubCenter ad, but I don't think it ever appeared. Subsequent attempts to get pubCenter ads failed with no error description ever since. It could have been that pubCenter simply had no ads available at that moment; I never figured out what happened in the end.

Unity Setup for Prime31
I was about to settle for only using AdDuplex ads when I discovered that Prime31 was offering a free Windows Phone 8 Unity package for pubCenter ads (while the offer lasted) at http://prime31.com/plugins . I've worked with Prime31's assets before, and I like their brand. I grabbed it right away and built a test app with it. There was one issue I had trying to get it working: I got this message trying to complete a purchase:

System.UnauthorizedAccessException: Invalid cross-thread access.
at MS.Internal.XcpImports.CheckThread()

They quickly gave me a resolution which you can read at http://support.prime31.com/13412/windows-phone-ads-fix-prime31-uihelper-has-null-dispatcher?show=13418#a13418 .

The test app worked fine after that; I was able to see pubCenter test ads. I understand that a provider doesn't want to feed live ads to a developer's test environment, but one of my peeves as a developer is not seeing a component work in live mode before the project is published. Right after the game was published, the test ads were replaced with live ads automatically.

Conclusion
In the end, I decided to run with Prime31 and pubCenter ads. I'd like to see AdRotator 2 mature a bit more before I consider using its capabilities. I don't know which ad provider is the best for my game, so I'm going to start with pubCenter. I won't be able to measure its effectiveness on Hamster Chase until the press release has been out for a while and more than a handful of people are playing it. Eventually I may try switching providers or my integration strategy to see if I can improve revenue.




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