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Katerina Maliaran: A Monetization Expert You Should Know About

Katerina joined the Burny Games crew in September 2022, bringing her experience from a full-cycle digital marketing agency. She has an economic background, a wonderful family, and a favorite ritual - lighting candles during the daily meeting. Based in Mykolaiv, in the southern part of Ukraine, you may meet Katerina at gaming conferences worldwide.

How did you get into the industry?

Before joining Burny Games, I worked as a Product Manager at a marketing agency. There, I spearheaded the creation of marketing strategies and led the development and implementation of advertising campaigns. The large-scale projects I worked on provided me with invaluable experience in performance and event marketing. Additionally, I operated a team, honed my managerial skills, and relished the success of the projects I contributed to.

These experiences led me to an incredible opportunity: I received an offer to become a head of the Ad Monetization department, so I mastered this direction from the ground up. Our products were games designed for children 0+, and my foray into Ad monetization began within the challenging niche of hyper-casual games. This niche is known for its short LTV and limited network monetization options. Despite the challenges, this experience ignited a period of rapid learning where I gained a deep understanding of Ad monetization and developed strategies to succeed even in the most difficult environments.

What attracted you to working in games?

When I started working with games, I liked the principle of Ad monetization in this segment, and it is also a more promising area on the market. I see a lot of potential here — the industry is constantly developing, and you grow with it. Of course, the numbers here are of a different level: in gaming, big money is spinning and the rules of the game are constantly changing. I like to be a part of ambitious plans, achieve them, and help develop the game industry in Ukraine

How is it different now from when you joined?

The changes have taken place in two directions.

1 — changes in the Ad monetization sphere itself.

Previously, the publisher had more leverage to influence the revenue through manual settings. Now the publisher is losing the ability to control this process directly through manual settings.

We are entering a bidding period when we have to master different variants of segmentations, bid floors, and a lot of technical nuances. Currently, all processes in Ad monetization are more automated, and there is less and less manual work - this is a significant difference. On the other hand, new types and opportunities for monetizing your application or game appear.

2 — the team and the approach to work have changed. It is completely different. At Burny Games, we are very data-driven and that is why we have a huge arsenal of analytical reports and the ability to make a custom tool to get data and manage it. This significantly improves the quality of work and improves its results. I did not have such opportunities and such a top-notch technical team before.

At Burny Games, every action must be justified by the numbers you get from analytical reports, and when you have a lot of data, you work efficiently and effectively.

What brought you to Burny Games?

I am sure it is fate and a lucky chance. At the moment when I thought about LinkedIn and opened it, a Burny Games recruiter texted me and offered to join a fantastic team of professionals. About 3-4 months after the start of the war, which was almost the start of Burny Games, I became a part of the company, responsible for the Ad monetization direction.

What's your proudest achievement?

When I joined Burny Games, the Ad monetization department didn't exist yet, and no one knew exactly how it worked. For almost two years of my work, I built a strong interaction between the Ad monetization department and other units, set up all workflows, and achieved the planned and ambitious revenue targets. The nuance is that thanks to the approach to organizing processes in the company and my expertise, I achieved the goal on my own — without the need to expand the staff of Ad managers.

Now, when people see us in the top charts, evaluate our results, and communicate with me, few people understand that the successes of the entire monetization department are mine alone. The common situation is that no one even expects that Ad monetization can achieve results like this. For the first six months, we had very ambitious plans, and each month began with the fact that they showed me these plans, and I thought that it was impossible. It was like that every month and every time I realized these plans. I believe that this is my achievement.

Currently, I'm alone in my unit, but our goals and pace are rapidly increasing, and we're actively searching for new ambitious specialists. Before we turn into a large department, I constantly interact with all other directions in the company (from lawyers to developers) and they help me a lot in my work. Mutual support is a great resource for the success of each of us.

What we have now — we have raised our entire Ad monetization direction through the efforts of one person.

What game do you wish you'd worked on and why?

I'm not an active gamer myself, simply due to time commitments. Of course, I play the games we create and our competitors' games to stay on top of industry trends, but I can't say I'm drawn to working with a specific publisher or product. What excites me isn't a company's big Brand name, but rather an innovative team that knows how to make every product they touch a success. A team that takes a game from idea to launch and consistently delivers success at every step. I'm more driven by the people behind the product than the product itself. And that's what I found for myself at Burny Games.

How do you manage to juggle all the work for your family?

I have a truly wonderful and harmonious family. We're like a team where everyone pitches in to help each other. My older daughter can help with my younger son, and my husband can step in and take over for me completely when needed. That gives me peace of mind to focus on my work when I need to, or to travel for business. Of course, I miss my family when I'm away, but I always try to find that balance between work and family life. 

What changes would you like to see in the industry?

I want more control. Publishers create games, investing their ideas, time, and money into development, only to often become little more than a platform for various services, analytics programs, and advertisers to make money. I don't think that's right.

Currently, advertising auction data is opaque. I believe publishers should have full access to this information because now we only see the final results and don't have enough tools to analyze the auction process. We'd be much more effective if we had auction statistics from the mediation platform, not just the final results.

This is a topic that needs a separate discussion, but the main point is that maximum transparency between publishers and advertisers will guarantee fair market conditions.

What are you looking forward to?

I want my success at Burny Games to continue with the same momentum it started with. I like our ambitious plans, which depend heavily on my work. I want to keep our current pace so that it's not easily affected by external factors.

How has the war changed the way you work?

The war changed my perspective and pushed me to change my job to something more dynamic and ambitious. Eventually, my work at Burny Games helped me realize that I'm capable of more than I thought and that I can successfully achieve my goals.

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