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How ad SDKs lead to bloated startup times in mobile gaming

Fast startup time is important to mobile users. Learn just how significant this is for user experience, particularly in the realm of mobile gaming, in this post.

If you’ve got the latest iPhone or Android device, running the latest OS, and you typically confine yourself to social networking, web surfing, and the like, chances are startup time isn’t something you think about very often.

But for the larger majority of users — and for mobile gamers in particular — startup time is very much top of mind and often leads to frustration.

In fact, when we recently surveyed more than 900 mobile users, slow startups were the No. 1 most common issue they reported running into weekly and daily.


It should come as no surprise, then, that the same study found that slow startup time is the second most pressing concern for mobile engineers, behind only crashes.


If you’re a mobile engineer trying to reduce your app startup time, it’s critically important that you have tools available that can show you exactly how and where slowdowns in app starts are occurring.

Ad SDKs, the software that power the main monetization function for many mobile games, can have a particularly outsized effect on app startup.

Ad SDKs can add to startup bloat

Ad SDKs aren’t just an important part of monetization, they’re often the only means of revenue for mobile games. However, ad SDKs can also work against their own interest when they create startup bloat that leads to player abandonment.

The main reason Ad SDKs create startup bloat is because they frequently invoke native code. This code may install app lifetime listeners, read or write to disk, and/or make multiple network requests at app startup. Each of these operations has the potential to slow down the app’s startup process, and often do so with a multiplier effect.

Without an unsampled view of your game’s startup process, especially one that allows you to examine the complex interactions between the ad SDK and the rest of your app, it can be difficult to spot this sort of bloat.

However, with the proper visibility, it’s easy to see when an ad SDK is contributing to startup bloat due to, for example, repeated failed network requests.

Example of a failed ad SDK call in Embrace's User Timeline feature.

Other impact of ad SDKs on the mobile gaming experience

Bloated startup times lead to a poor user experience that will have players abandoning your app before they even get into the game. But bloated startup times aren’t the only way ad SDKs are negatively impacting the player experience.

Among the most common issues ad SDKs cause for mobile games are disruptions to reward exchange attribution systems, overloaded ad SDKs, failed ad requests, and non-functioning ad mediation systems.

In order to take a closer look at ad SDKs and how they negatively impact the mobile gaming experience, we worked with our team of in-house experts to write our latest eBook.

Leveraging insights only Embrace can provide, we dive into the five most common issues caused by ad SDKs and the downstream impacts they have on player retention and overall lifetime value (LTV).

Learn more and read the eBook here.

Embrace Want to learn more about how ad SDKs affect your mobile game?

Check out the "5 ways ad SDKs hurt player experience" eBook.

Download now

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