There are several emerging video ad formats that mobile game publishers should be aware of this year.
Brian Bowman, CEO of adtech company Consumer Acquisition, said publishers should watch out for “brand in motion,” “demo in motion” and “six-second videos.” These are all short animations that emphasize specific aspects of the game, from the brand name to its gameplay.
“Publishers may want to start testing six-second videos and brand in motion videos from simple assets, and then graduate to the more interactive formats,” he explained.
These short-form ads, in addition to rewarded video, are the most effective formats for engaging and converting players, but he also warns that users may quickly grow bored of ad creatives, decreasing returns over time. In a recent blog post, Consumer Acquisition wrote that on average, 95 percent of video and image creative “fail to outperform best-performing ads on a portfolio making heavy creative testing necessary to achieve and sustain Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).”
Where Mobile Game Ads Thrive
Naturally, mobile game developers and publishers have turned to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for their marketing over the years to acquire users and strengthen engagement with their titles. Bowman said Facebook is the platform of choice for most companies and marketers are allocating between 20 to 60 percent of their monthly user acquisition budgets there.
“Compared to other platforms where we’ve tested video ads, such as Pinterest and Snapchat, Facebook is miles ahead in efficiency, and this is why it continues to be a key platform for advertisers,” said Bowman.
But many marketers have found stronger returns from other mobile games than from video or social platforms.
“YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are excellent sources of user acquisition, but are inherently different environments than mobile games,” Tapjoy’s VP of performance sales Sarah Chafer told AListDaily.
Chafer explained that rewarded ads on other games offer the best returns for discovery. In a game, players clearly understand that they’re watching videos in exchange for in-game currency, boosts or other benefits.
“Not only does this defined value exchange generally drive greater advertiser return on investment, but studies have shown that consumers are in a more relaxed and open state of mind when playing mobile games than when engaging with social networks, so they are more receptive to hearing advertising messages,” she added.
This relationship means that video ads within mobile games have better engagement, higher completion rates and ultimately bring in better quality users. There are no wasted impressions when it comes to using mobile games because publishers know that the audience is already interested in gaming.
While rewarded videos offer high returns, marketers stand to benefit from engaging players on other platforms.
Phil Hickey, SVP of brand marketing at Seriously, noted that creatives on rewarded videos in other mobile games tend to be very straightforward, whereas YouTube and Facebook allow the developer to reach its target audience in unique ways by mixing creativity with data.
“For YouTube, our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are based on Cost Per View (CPV) at scale, resulting in the Cost Per Install (CPI) we are happy with,” Hickey said. “We generally compare against our own benchmarks, since we’re already aware of what success looks like for us.”
Hickey also said that Facebook has a clear ROAS, which needs to be hit within the first week of an ad going live to know if it will be profitable or not.
Working with influencers to livestream games across Twitch, YouTube and Facebook remains critical to helping games grow an audience. Discovery occurs as viewers seek to learn more about a specific game or tune in to watch their favorite streamers. Both happen at close to the same rate.
“Viewers generally come for the game itself and stick around if they like the streamer,” explained SuperData senior analyst Carter Rogers. “Education about games is nearly as important as entertainment for livestream viewers. Among US livestream viewers 13-and-up, 72 percent watch to learn about games they are interested in, while 78 percent watch to be entertained.”
Rogers also said that livestream viewers ages 13-and-up in the US are 29-years-old on average, and they have a 69 percent male 31 percent female gender split. However, those statistics differ greatly when it’s an esports title. Esports viewers tend to be young and skews heavily toward males. Among US esports viewers 13-and-up, 84 percent are male and have an average age of 28. Rogers said that this also contrasts greatly with the overall gaming audiences, which has a gender split of 52 percent female and 48 percent male with an average age of 34.
According to Hickey, the key to knowing which platforms to extend a marketing mix to is in understanding the audience.
“After you have insights into your audience’s interests, it’s important to find platforms that can scale, such as radio, TV, out-of-home or even interesting digital media platforms that are unexpected, like Grindr,” said Hickey.