Advertising in mobile games: Where do I start?

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Will Dorling, UK director of brand sales at AdColony, provides insight on the types of campaigns you should be running in mobile games

Now that you know why today’s media companies are most threatened by mobile games, and what type of consumer you’ll encounter playing mobile games, it’s time to dig into the execution itself. What type of mobile campaign can you run in mobile games? More importantly, what type of mobile campaign should you run?

When approaching any mobile creative campaign, whether it is a luxury auto manufacturer or an international icon in the FMCG space, your fundamental marketing principles comes first: What is my primary outcome? It’s very easy to get caught up in what’s the latest bright & shiny object in ad-tech, what your competitors are doing, or even the creative message is that you want to share. But before you can start thinking about ad formats or campaign timing, you must think about your KPIs.

Are you looking for a direct sale, and one that is 100 per cent trackable back to the original source? Or on the other end of the spectrum, is it more about achieving a measurable brand lift? In that case, you might be looking to maximise your completed video views (CVV) as brand recall after watching a video has been proven to increase. If you’re looking for more conversion-type actions, a display or rich media ad can lead a user to play a mini-game, install an app, sign up for a newsletter, add a series premiere to their calendar, or download a coupon.

Now with interactive video, viewers can be a part of the advert and to actively participate in its outcome (e.g., ‘wipe away’ dust kicked up by race cars on the screen, ‘shake’ the phone to mix up a martini). Traditional end cards on mobile video can offer multiple calls to action, such as replays, viewing product features, social sharing and offline connections like finding a nearby store or scheduling a test drive.

Regardless of your exact KPI, though, it’s safe to say that you as an advertiser are always looking for an action. It could be a click, tap, swipe or shake – anything that indicates that the user is engaged. Because engagement = interest and an interested consumer is one that will remember you and, ultimately, take action to buy from you. Their tap or swipe is a statement of intent, their intent to purchase. Engagement also shows you that the user actually saw your ad, which can alleviate your well-founded concerns about ad fraud.

Because fraud is a real issue, and not something you can sweep under the mat any longer. So, while I support looking at all types of mobile ad units when approaching a new campaign, I will say that there is one type that I’ve seen work for all KPIs, and, additionally, successfully avoid any suspicions or concerns around ad fraud.

Rewarded video, when the user initiates the playing of the ad in order to receive in-game value or additional content, is always seen – and most of the time (85 per cent) all the way to the end of the video. Viewability rates average 98 per cent, and ad fraud is lower than one per cent. It would be impossible for an ‘imaginary’ user (aka bot or other ad fraud tactic) to actively tap to opt in to watch a video on a mobile device – humans can opt-in, bots can’t. You might even call it a ‘guarantee of engagement’. 

Mobile gaming, specifically, has a unique advantage in that the most popular format with most consumers and mobile developers is opt-in rewarded video. These formats perform extremely well. Not only do they offer a full-screen HD video experience which is key to brands, but they are opt-in for the user meaning no forced ad experiences. People do not like to be pushed into anything; more than 3 out of 4 consumers have negative reactions to pre-roll, in-banner and social autoplay ads.

User-initiated video, however, produces positive feelings. You as the advertiser are not the enemy; you’re not interrupting their gameplay, you are offering them a reward in exchange for paying attention to your ad. And consumers love prizes, it makes them feel that you have added value, not taken something away from them.

Finally, user-initiated video is still… video. And video is on the rise: Currently in the UK, digital video ad spend is just over 12 per cent of all media ad spend, but by 2022, that number will increase to almost 19.5 per cent. In terms of display ad spend, digital video will account for over half of it in the UK by 2020. And now that advertisers can access video – including user-initiated – programmatically, there’s no limit to its growth.

So, as you start thinking about your 2020 marketing allocation, go beyond generic video advertising buys and consider your outcomes. If you want consumers to actively engage with your brand, in a way that is full-screen, brand-safe and 100 per cent viewable, rewarded video is worth a try. And if you want a scaled channel that has every type of demographic, including that of your target audience, consider mobile gaming.