Guest writer, Irene Herranz, InMobi’s head of global developer marketing, identifies three personality traits commonly found in mobile gaming that are open to in-game advertising.
For the longest time, brands neglected gaming apps as an effective medium to reach their qualified audience of choice because it is “too niche.” Advertisers have been conservative in associating their brands with the gaming persona, regarded as a stereotypical teenager geek, utmost lover of sugary soda and greasy chips.
Today, we acknowledge that there are more gamers out there than one would imagine, and a large portion of us are, unknowingly, casual mobile gamers that brands actively seek to be associated with. According to eMarketer, the US mobile gaming user base is growing steadily with 180.4 million mobile phone gamers in 2016. Gaming apps are on the rise and by 2020, it’s estimated that nearly 64 percent of the population will use their mobile devices to play games.
For many years now, smartphone usage has been dominated by gaming apps. It is our default go-to destination whenever we have some free time, such as while commuting, watching television, or while waiting to meet up with friends. The most popular games topping app store downloads share a common pattern of addictive gameplay, triggered by a chain reaction of emotions that pro-monetization publishers tastefully craft to drive engagement and boost revenue.
The more you play, the more you “get in the game.” At the same time, you are sharpening skills and developing distinct personality traits with the ultimate objective of enjoying the gaming experience to the fullest. Overall, there are three key personality traits of mobile gamers that will prove how gamers represent the perfect audience for brands: educated, relaxed and curious. Here are some ways to engage with each personality trait.
Most gamers are found at the inception of the in-app mobile advertising industry. They have an extremely understanding mindset and tolerance towards advertising, and fully acknowledge that the ad economy fuels the freemium gaming industry. They may even feel grateful for a free-to-play (F2P) opportunity, empathizing with the developers behind the games they love. Developers need to make money, and even if consumers do not pay for the app, these players may be perfectly fine with watching an ad every now and then.
Additionally, mobile games offer the perfect app design (where to serve the ad) and flow (when to serve the ad) to seamlessly insert ads in intuitive placements at non-disruptive natural breaks. As a result, gamers already expect an ad after losing a life or completing a level. Some might even look forward to it, as it brings the perfect mini-break to unwind for a few seconds and recharge their batteries for the next game or level. Going one step forward, pro-gamers proactively look for the ad, going straight to the game storefront on the hunt for rewarded video ads to supercharge their game with precious in-app currency.
Pro-monetization gaming publishers capitalize on this education trait to tastefully offer rewarded video through different placements to maximize the number of ads per player, per day. A fantastic combination that makes the most of the natural breaks of the gameplay is the following combination: main screen, storefront and in-between levels or at the end of a game play. For example, Fortafy Games includes the visual and minimalistic approach of Color Switch in the home page. This includes a simple animated button featuring an intuitive video icon that reads: “+30 (extra points awarded).” Subway Surfers by Kiloo goes one step further, adding a dedicated menu section called “Earn Coins,” where users can watch unlimited sponsored videos to get in-app rewards.
A relaxed attitude towards in-game ads is way better than in any other, since users are feeling playful and are in the mood for discovery, making them open and eager to engage with ads. On average, mobile users engage with around seven apps every day and two of those are games. Brand marketers know it’s all about reaching the right audience, at the right moment, with the perfect ad. Entertained mobile gamers that proactively opt-in to watch the brand video embody this combination perfectly. As a brand marketer, I would rather reach my desired audience when they are happily gaming than reading the news covering economic crisis, political debates or the latest health scare. If the world is coming to an end, it will find me having fun, navigating cliffs, zip lines and mines in Temple Run and interacting with a Skittles ad—where I can pet a cloud to get some candy, and most likely getting some for real during my next visit to the grocery store.
Have you ever gotten a feeling of wanderlust whenever you travel and set foot in a new city? The same goes for mobile gamers. Endorphins and dopamine are in full force after tapping the screen 100 times per minute to uncover new war missions, escape from zombie towns or decipher a word challenge. Curious gamers are eager to keep on tapping, which represents the perfect opportunity to offer an opt-in ad. After a short break of watching a 30-second brand video, the exploratory mindset calls again to engage with that good looking companion interstitial in front of them.
Nothing beats the calling of the senses. Brands are increasingly aware of this fact, adding rich media interactive end-cards to their video campaigns that entice gamers to interact with the creative on top of consuming the opt-in video with undivided attention. End-cards packed with options (social media buttons, buy now tickets, reserve a test drive, etc.) that invite the user to engage with the brand, beyond the in-app entry touch-point, are the way to go. One gaming studio that rides this wave is Etermax with Trivia Crack. After completing a play session, the game offers a full screen packed with options, which include watching a video or asking friends to join in the fun via Facebook and earning users a pack of additional game lives in the process.
Rewarded video in mobile games combine the perfect opt-in video ad experience that masterfully turns a variety of powerful user emotions triggered during gameplay (e.g. frustration, amusement, desire, etc.) into user engagement that brings superior advertising engagement rates.
Gaming publishers carefully choose the perfect reward to incentivize daily gameplay by learning what offers players would consider to keep them coming back for more, and create a powerful habit of frequent check-in. There are two great strategies that can be seen in the game Talking Tom Gold Run by Outfit 7. First, it offers a juicy reward for a limited time to create a sense of urgency. Second, it limits the frequency for the best reward to one a day. Premium currencies and extra lives are a fantastic choice, as well as ‘hard to obtain’ in-game items.
Brands are leveraging this sweet spot to put their message in front of a hyper-engaged audience to reach their campaign goals. From brand awareness and ad recall lifts, to performance marketing measured by completed online purchases, and rewarded video advertising on mobile games, all help brands conquer every stage of the sales funnel.
Moving forward, with the upcoming rise of cross-device analytics that can accurately track user purchasing patterns, the next battlefield will be measurement of online to offline conversions. This is the next frontier and Holy Grail for brands to shift their entire advertising budgets to mobile, for good.
Irene Herranz (@irehoop), InMobi head of global developer marketing, is an electrical engineer turned marketer with a great eye for design, currently heading Global Developer Relations at InMobi in North America.
Irene has more than 10 years of international experience in marketing, product and business development roles at large corporations including Google, BMW, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica. She also has extensive startup experience and is founding partner of Karumi.com, the Rock Solid Code software development studio.