94% of the mobile game developers utilise in-game advertising in their free-to-play games. Marketers have more avenues to market their brands, with a broader range of audiences to choose from.
If you thought only teenagers (more precisely, the classic teenage-boy-gamer stereotype) are into mobile gaming, you are mistaken. Statistically, a middle-aged mom is more likely to be a mobile gamer than her teenager son.
And here are more facts to blow your mind.
- By 2021, there will be 2.6 billion mobile gamers in the world.
- By 2022, the global mobile gaming market will be worth US$95.4 billion. To put that in perspective, the worldwide movie box office collection of 2018 was US$41.7 billion.
- In 2020, 82% of mobile games incorporated rewarded video ads.
In short, both developers and marketers will have a profitable experience while dealing with in-game ads. Let’s go ahead and find out what in-game advertising really is, how best to implement it, and some of the top myths surrounding this method of advertising.
What Is In-Game Advertising?
In-game advertising is a monetization strategy used by mobile game creators to profit from their creation. By doing so, developers can make their apps free to play, along with other strategies such as in-app purchases.
Although a majority of developers use mobile game advertising to boost their overall app revenue, some of them depend entirely on this model. As app monetization should never be an afterthought, developers decide their strategies in the early stages of mobile game development.
Once developers decide to incorporate in-game ads, they assign specific areas of their user interface as ad spaces. This decision will be reflected in the game design process as well – so that the ads don’t interfere with the user experience of the app.
Check out our guide on app monetization to know more about in-app advertising, ad revenue generation and other monetization strategies.
Types of In-Game Advertising
In-game ads can be divided into two categories – static and dynamic.
Static ads are closely similar to traditional advertising and are built into the game environment. These ads mimic the look and feel of real-world ads and can be present in the form of billboards or similar signages. As they are pre-designed and integrated during development, they aren’t dynamically updated.
Dynamic in-game advertising is most commonly used and is updated in real-time. These ads change depending on users’ behaviour and preferences and will have an interactive call-to-action associated.
Dynamic ads represent the online display ads we see while gaming and browsing the internet. Furthermore, advanced marketing techniques, such as location-based advertising, is made possible due to the dynamic nature of ad delivery.
Have a look at the different kinds of ad formats seen in a mobile game.
1. Playable Ads
With decreasing attention spans, playable ads are the most effective format in the industry, representing 28% of in-app advertisements. These ads allow users to interact with the ad content and are extensively used as app install ads to promote mobile games.
A playable ad appears with a featured button to try a game. After clicking, users will be able to play a demo version of the game (which is intentionally made easy to play). On completion of the demo, a call-to-action (CTA) will be displayed – which redirects users to the app stores.
With the shift from 4G to 5G this year, playable ads will gain more prevalence as loading demo versions of a game will be a breeze with increased data speeds.
2. Rewarded Video Ads
As the name suggests, rewarded video ads offer in-game goods to users for watching an ad. These ads are thoughtfully placed among the game content so that the users don’t feel distracted.
Another factor that enhances the effectiveness of rewarded ads is their timing. These ads will be placed at game events where users need to make in-app purchases to proceed. For example, when a user fails a level, rewarded ads can be displayed, offering an extra life.
3. Banner Ads
Banner ads can be considered as the standard format of in-game advertisements. They consume lesser screen real estate and are extensively used to display images or videos. As these ads are placed in the corners of a screen, they are unobtrusive and have lower in-game advertising costs.
4. Interstitial Ads
Generally, interstitial ads cover the entire mobile screen, yet manages to remain unobtrusive as they are placed in natural breaks of a game, such as in between levels or accomplishments. At times, interstitial ads are also displayed when a gamer pauses or resumes.
They cause minimal interruption to the user experience and offer high conversion and recall rates (estimated time for which a user remembers the ad).
5. Native Ads
Native ads blend in with the look and feel of a game. Unlike other types of advertisements, these ads won’t look misplaced and will probably look like a game design component. These ads are non-invasive and offer 8.8X more click-through rate as compared to other forms of advertising.
Similar to native ads, these ads are mostly represented by a mini-store, which contains a list of tasks that a player needs to complete to gain in-app goods or rewards. The tasks can include visiting a website, reviewing a product or installing an app.
Advergaming may not be a new concept for marketers, but it is often underutilised – probably because it is costly as compared to other types of in-game advertising. It is essentially an ad in the form of a game or game elements.
Advergaming can be executed in two ways. Brands can either develop an entire game from scratch or incorporate a branded section in an already existing game. Since developing a game from scratch can be a time consuming and costly process, most brands get the help of established game developers.
Advergaming is a brilliant technique to improve brand awareness with minimal ad fatigue. Businesses can witness long-term results by using this method and make users talk more about the game and the brand advertised.
Benefits of Using In Game Advertising
1. It’s a Win-Win-Win Situation for All
With in-game advertising, gamers get to play a game for free, developers get to monetize their apps, and advertisers get to promote their products or services.
2. It Leverages Moments of Happiness
A majority of mobile gamers play games to get detached from their stress-filled life. In their pursuit of happiness, they are more likely to interact with an ad positively.
3. Gamers Are More Likely to Convert
Statistically speaking, mobile gamers are more likely to purchase the advertised product. This is because 39% of the players belong to the 21-35 age bracket, which means they are most likely to be financially independent and impulsive buyers as well.
4. Everything Happens in a 6-Inch Screen
Excluding tablets, most smartphones have a 6-inch or less screen size. This means an ad displayed on a smartphone has nearly zero chances to be missed. This is one of the significant reasons why in-game advertising has better visibility as compared to traditional advertising.
Tips for Rightly Implementing In-Game Advertising
1. Personalize the Ads
In-game advertising takes into account the search history and interests of users. In this example, a user who casually searched for the above car in Google was retargeted with a relevant ad when he played a mobile app game.
Just like any other advertising formats, personalising and serving only those ads that are relevant to a user’s demographics and behaviour will result in better CTR and conversion rates.
2. A/B Test, Always
Even if you succeed in behavioural targeting, it doesn’t guarantee that the users will like the ad they see. For that, try running multiple variations of the ad and see what works best for each category of audience.
3. Invest More in Creatives
Along with choosing the right ad spaces, advertisers must ensure to get the help of designers and copywriters to produce outstanding creatives.
4. Try Multiple Ad Networks
If your target audience is spread across multiple demographics, using just one ad network isn’t a smart decision. Instead, try different ad networks that offer different audience segments. If you’d like to know more about ad networks, then our article on mobile advertising companies and platforms is a must-read.
5. Be Concise
The video ads displayed must be capable of capturing the gamers’ attention in the shortest time possible. Instead of delaying the ad messaging to the end of the video, try conveying it within the first five seconds.
6. Play With Frequency Capping
Frequency capping means restricting the number of times your ads are displayed to the users. If you display ads rarely, users will have a hard time remembering and recognising your brand. If you go overboard, your desirability factor will diminish.
Experiment and find measures that suit your brand and its audience. You can use app advertising analytics tools to monitor and measure your ad campaigns’ effectiveness.
Top Myths of In-Game Mobile Advertising Busted
There are numerous myths in the industry that discourage marketers from trying out the potentials of in-game advertising. Here are some of them, debunked.
1. Gamers Hate In-Game Ads
Yes and no – gamers don’t entirely hate in-game ads, but they do hate intrusive ads that spoil the gaming experience. Even though the payouts for intrusive ads are high, most developers refrain from them to deliver an uninterrupted user experience.
As a marketer, it is better if you avoid intrusive ads at all costs. Even though they offer high visibility, brands utilising intrusive ads are seen as spammy – the exact opposite of your intentions.
Contrary to the popular myth, more than 75% of gamers are happy with in-game advertising as it allows them to play games without spending a penny. Along with that, 80% of mobile gamers are okay with watching an ad if they get rewarded for it.
2. Mobile Game Ads Spoil the User Experience
Just like the previous (busted) myth, this one too is a “yes and no” scenario. If the ads aren’t intrusive, then users will have minimal to zero distractions. The key is to deliver relevant ads at the right space, at the right time.
For that, most developers use interstitial ads, which are thoughtfully placed among the game content. With a majority of users feeling relaxed while gaming, in-game advertisements will have a positive impact on your brand.
3. In-Game Advertising Can Harm a Brand’s Reputation
The medium on which an ad is placed can have a significant impact on how the audience perceives a brand. If an advertisement is shown along with inappropriate content, then it can naturally tamper the brand’s reputation.
But programmatic advertising eliminates such inconsistencies. You can buy ad spaces that are relevant to your target audience and oversee whether it gels with your brand’s voice.
4. In Game Advertising Works Only to Target Male Teenagers
Most people perceive young males to be mobile gamers. Surprisingly, only 21% of the gamers are under the age of 18, and nearly 40% of gamers are aged between 21 and 35. Along with that, 51% of mobile game players are women.
Undeniably, the mobile gaming ecosystem is expanding rapidly. With users opting for free-to-play games more than any other category, advertisers will have adequate inventories to showcase and convey their brand messages.
A pro tip – don’t stick to just one type of in-game advertising. Instead, mix and match multiple formats. Also, make sure to frequently change the ad creatives to give users a fresh perspective.
Another crucial thing to consider is monitoring the ad campaigns. With the help of app advertising tools, you can pinpoint the campaigns that perform the best and the ones that don’t. This will help in streamlining your marketing efforts more accurately.