User Ads On ROBLOX: How They Work

September

08, 2012

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


Archive

1.98 billion. That’s a big number. That’s the amount of tickets spent on running user ads since January of 2010. Creating and deploying an ad for a game is a tricky proposition–we plan on writing articles in the future that show you how to utilize the many facets of ROBLOX user ads to get more people playing your game. But before we do that, we thought we’d take some time to explain how ROBLOX user ads work on a technical level.

The Basics

ROBLOX user ads were created primarily so that users could advertise the games they created to gain more traffic. The ads appear on all of our web pages, and appear exclusively if you’re a member of Builders Club. Running an ad on ROBLOX takes a minimum investment of 50 tickets, but you can spend as much as 99,999 tickets for more frequent viewership. More on that later.

User Ad
Ads can come in one of three dimensions. Tall, skinny vertical ads are 728 x 90 pixels, while horizontal “banner” style ads are 160 x 600 pixels. Lastly, the wider “square” ads are 300 x 250 pixels.

When you hit “Run Ad” on your Ad Inventory page, you’re giving your ad a 24-hour lifespan on ROBLOX. But this raises some interesting questions: What determines the placement of your ad? What determines how often your ad runs?  What are the advantages, if any, of paying more money to run your ads? This article was made to answer these questions, and many more.

The Nitty Gritty

Let’s walk through the birth of a user ad. Say you’ve made an ad you’re happy with and you’re ready for the world to see it. First, your ad goes up for moderation, meaning somebody has to approve the .jpeg or .png file you’ve assigned to your ad. A human being approves every single ad submitted to ROBLOX. Once it’s approved, you pay your ad ticket fee, and your ad joins a pool of thousands of other ads, waiting to run on the site.

This is where things get a little complicated.

We’ve developed a complex system of ad allocation that we’ve never shared with our users before. In the interest of comprehension, let’s analogize. See your ad as an apple, in a bucket full of apples of varying sizes. Some apples are much larger and heavier than others, right? Well the “weight” of your apple depends on how many tickets you chose to spend on it.

The “heavier” your ad, the more likely it is to run on our site. Every five minutes, our web server grabs five hundred random apples from the bucket. Each of those apples are then sorted by size in descending order. The system also works to determine the total weight of all the apples as well. This is an important part of the process that we’ll touch on a little later.

So now we’ve got hundreds of apples lined up, side by side, biggest to smallest. Every time a page needs an ad, it’s a roll of the dice. We generate a number between zero and the maximum “weight” of all the apples, which is different each time, and the ad that is chosen is basically the one that tips the scale. If you’ve got a heavier apple in the line up, then it’s much more likely that your ad will be chosen. That’s what you pay for when you spend more tickets.
This selection process is constantly running, but to get a better idea of just how often it happens, we did some number-crunching. The process happens once for every ad slot, and the average page has 1.6 of these. Since we receive 1.4 billion page views a month, that means that this process occurs about 864 times per second. 

The grander process, in which we grab a different subset of all running ads in three entirely different instances (remember, there are three types of ads), happens every five minutes. Basically, our user-ad system is a bidding war–an auction of sorts that is constantly happening at all hours of the day. Because so many instances of pages occur daily, there is a strong statistical chance that your ad will run at some point, but the amount of times it runs depends on your ticket investment.

We also give you the opportunity to experiment with the system to see what works for you–once you post an ad, you gain access to an Ad Inventory page that tracks the metrics of your ad. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you spend fifty tickets to run an ad and it gets 200 impressions (or “views” for the layman). If you were to spend one hundred tickets to run that same ad, those impressions will have doubled, based on the rules of our system, though there is a caveat. The amounts of impressions that can be gained is also dependent on the amount of people running ads that particular day.