Thought Leadership

5 reasons why brands should spend in mobile games

October 20, 2017
By Jocelyn Sheltraw

Over the last 5 years we’ve seen mobile gaming become a mainstream consumer activity where app developers themselves have become household brands (look at Supercell, Zynga, Rovio, and MachineZone to name a few). This led to the birth of hundreds of ad tech companies looking to help app developers monetize these games and audiences.

If research shows that over the next 3 years, 27 million people will join the US smartphone gaming audience, totaling 190 million by 20201, why have brand budgets not shifted with the trends? If you’re a brand buyer thinking about exploring mobile gaming inventory, here are a few things to consider before you buy.

Today’s gamer is not who you would expect

In pop culture, gamers have inaccurately been portrayed as the “awkward nerds” who will combat a zombie apocalypse or construct a virtual city. With the advent of mobile, the modern gamer paints a very different portrait: today’s average gamer is female and 35 years old with a household income over $100k (according to ChartBoost). That’s right, women enjoy catching monsters just as much as they do matching gems, and that presents an enormous opportunity for brand advertisers looking to reach different audience segments.

Buying in-app is not just about user acquisition

Research shows when consumers are on their mobile devices, they spend the majority of their time in-app, with 43% of that time playing games2. That being the case, it’s surprising to me that until fairly recently, many brand buyers still considered in-app a channel only for performance or user acquisition. While it’s true a large portion of in-app spending has been focused on CPI and CPA buying, we’re now seeing brand buyers begin to shift budgets into mobile given the maturity of audience targeting, data, and format innovation. With the rise of mobile video in particular, in-app advertising is proving to be a tremendously successful branding opportunity. The focus on mobile video has also led to the rise of new industry standards and viewability metrics to measure campaigns against, which has been a concern for brand buyers.

Users enjoy rewarded video and playable formats

The traditional banner ad isn’t an effective experience in mobile. The small screen makes it difficult to communicate a brand message in a shrunken 320 x 50 banner, and viewers are typically turned off. Mobile game developers are getting creative with ads that fit content natively within the virtual experience. Formats like rewarded video (the exchange of something of value for watching a video) and playable ads (an interactive ad experience that allows a user to “play” with the ad) have exploded in popularity due to their high viewability and engagement rates, and positive user experiences. I’ve heard from a few gaming companies that, when A/B testing rewarded video, they actually received user complaints when they removed the option to watch a video in exchange for an item of value. The key to success for brand advertisers is understanding your users and what they deem valuable.

Game inventory is brand safe

The importance of brand safety is a serious one in our industry and must be considered before you run a campaign. For example, a travel ad that unexpectedly appears next to a plane crash story might not be the best at driving an immediate conversion. Brands must be vigilant in choosing vendors that have robust brand safety capabilities, and can handle the nuances of brand safety in-app. Fortunately, mobile games are known to be brand-safe. Games are heavily policed and filtered for inappropriate content before they are admitted to an app store. They are also generally free of any user-generated content, and support viewability measurement from vendors like Moat and Integral Ad Science.

Join the webinar to learn more! Engaging the Mobile Gaming Audience Programmatically: What Brands Need to Know

Programmatic makes it all possible

With more than 800,000 games available on the app store, how can one brand possibly keep up? The advent of programmatic advertising gives mobile buyers an opportunity to tap into a highly coveted and captive mobile gaming audiences, at scale. Chartboost, Kiip, Aerserv and TapJoy are just some of the many leading mobile platforms that have chosen Rubicon Project to sell their inventory in the open market, private market, guaranteed PMP, direct, and/or our recently launched curated PMPs, which allow sellers to curate and customize inventory based on a buyer’s needs — whether it be specific audiences, segments, or KPIs — all run through one deal ID, making buying at scale a breeze.

In-app buying should no longer be considered a “checked box” or an “add on” to a marketing campaign, but rather, a channel worthy of its own strategy.

Are you curious to learn more? Join Rubicon Project and ChartBoost for a free webinar on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 2:00pm ET on Engaging the Mobile Gaming Audience Programmatically: What Brands Need to Know

  1. eMarketer 2017

  2. Go-Globe 2015

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