The Super Bowl brought a number of memorable ads this year, but what was surprising was the mobile companies that advertised their games. A new Game of War: Fire Age ad featuring Kate Upton debuted; uCool invested millions in a small spot for Heroes Charge; and Liam Neeson vowed revenge in a costly but effective Clash of Clans ad.
Now the question is if the ads were effective — and, according to Adweek, they most certainly were, despite competition from car companies and big-budget Hollywood blockbusters-to-be.
“It reminds me of GoDaddy— do people know what domains are (and) do people know what hosting is I would expect no,” said Tuong Huy Nguyen, a research analyst for Gartner. “But, on the flip side, it says something about where gaming has gotten to today. It truly has become much more mass market, it’s not just what 18-to-32 year old males do.”
Out of all three companies, uCool’s Heroes Charge came in as the rookie but it still ran some good business. Following the TV ads that ran last year (and leading up to Sunday’s commercial), the brand has managed to allocate 75 percent of its marketing through TV, and 25 percent through digital.
“Through television, we’re seeing a ten-fold growth in our player volume, and with more than one million apps for players to choose to engage with, it’s really increased the cost to market in what is now an overly saturated area,” said Benjamin Gifford, vice president of user experience for uCool.
As for Upton and the new Game of War ad, Nguyen stated, “It ties into that mass-market appeal. (But) I’m going to say I’m skeptical of how successful that would be.”
Both Heroes Charge and Game of War generated good viewership both on television and through online video, but Clash of Clans got the most buzz with Neeson, as many ranked it amongst the best Super Bowl commercials.
“It wasn’t just the use of Liam Neeson — it was the story they were telling,” said Derek Rucker, professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “If you’re going to advertise for this massive audience, one thing to think of is how do you maximize your investment. Part of that is that you should show up with creative worthy of the Super Bowl.” (Which would explain why some believe that the brief Heroes Charge trailer was one of the weakest being offered, as it didn’t have much of a story to tell.)
Mobile also made an impact as far as using phones and tablets during the Big Game was concerned, according to eMarketer. Its stats indicate that 32 percent of respondents in a recent poll used their devices for Facebook, Twitter and other social media, while 20 percent tracked stats through sports-related apps like ESPN. Games were in third place with 19 percent, and no doubt that viewers of the above ads may have played a part in downloading and playing them.
Adweek’s analysis is superficial as far as mobile games are concerned, since it fails to take into account the long-term value of the users acquired by this means. Are game players acquired through TV advertising more or less valuable than game players acquired by other means That answer won’t be known for months, as it takes time for these games to monetize.
Still, the Big Game seems to mean big business to mobile game companies. We’re likely to see more TV ads next year for mobile games during the Super Bowl, for a variety of reasons.