This piece was developed by MoPub and originally appeared in The Drum.
You might have noticed that mobile gaming is bringing in big numbers, including the fact that mobile apps and gaming surged to the highest levels ever recorded in Q2. Gaming as we know it today is not only one of the biggest forms of entertainment in the world, but is mainstream media, making it a massive opportunity for advertisers. If you’re a brand or agency looking to find and target your audience at scale, now is a good time to consider the range of possibilities that mobile games and their widespread audiences have to offer.
Welcome to a new era
Mobile games are rapidly becoming the most popular channel. App Annie research tells us that games not only account for a large number of mobile downloads, but also the majority of consumer spending on mobile. Not to mention that one-third of all worldwide downloads are games across iOS, Google Play and third-party app stores. Mobile games are attracting large, diverse audiences, can be accessed anywhere and at any time of day, and have even increased their appeal amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The question remains: how can brand advertisers and agencies get in on the action? For starters, in-game ads “increasingly provide a way for mobile marketers to reach audiences who are engaged with a gaming experience and aren't just passive consumers of content.” In-game ad inventory gives marketers another way to reach their target audiences, and a highly diverse, engaged audience at that.
Mobile gaming as a mainstream medium
It’s worth considering that marketers today are shifting ad spend away from traditional channels and moving those dollars towards more gaming-focused channels. For example, marketers are putting TV ads in video games, an experiment in trying to reach younger audiences who are watching less traditional TV. App Annie research tells us that by the end of 2020, mobile game spending is set to extend its lead over desktop and home console gaming to more than 2.8 times and 3.1 times, respectively. Mobile is also where the money is. Consumer spend in mobile gaming is also expected to reach 60% of market share among all gaming platforms by the end of 20201 (PC/Mac, console, handheld and mobile.) In this way, mobile gaming has established itself as not only a relevant platform through which to reach consumers, but also to reach them at a broad scale.
1 Source: App Annie State of Mobile Report, 2019
Gaming audiences are expansive and are typically open to receiving in-app ads
In mobile games, where audience demographics are expansive, the notion exists that today, pretty much everyone can be considered a “gamer.” The diverse and desirable mobile gaming audience, eager for new content and unique in-app gaming experiences, is arguably accustomed to seeing ads, especially rewarded video ads which are less intrusive than other ad formats and are typical to see in mobile games. Offering an in-game reward in exchange for a user’s completion of an ad in its entirety has helped to normalize the concept of in-app advertising and has made mobile gamers more open to the idea of ads when they provide some sort of value exchange, making the opportunity for brand advertisers and agencies that much greater. Not to mention that mobile gamers are extremely active on this platform, playing games nearly around the clock from a global perspective. Looking at data from Deloitte’s Mobile Consumers Survey, for example, mobile gamers play games from the time they wake up until the time they get ready for bed. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular gaming dayparts:
Brands are catching on
Brands are starting to understand that mobile gaming is where their target audiences are. Industry players like AdColony have already seen major brands like Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Ford invest heavily in mobile gaming, and many of the early adopting brands look at mobile gaming as the new social media in terms of the opportunity to engage with consumers at scale. Molson Coors is another example of a brand advertiser that has been ramping its media investment in gaming and esports for many of its most popular brands like Miller Lite and Coors Lite. During the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders, Molson Coors saw the 21- to 24-year-old segment shift more of their time to gaming platforms, and responded by increasing media spend in the gaming space, according to the company’s VP of media and consumer engagement. When we look at the data, we can see there’s an appetite for in-app advertising on behalf of brands. eMarketer research tells us that the rise of hyper-casual games and new immersive formats has accelerated interest in in-app advertising among brand advertisers. Brands are generally interested either in native advertising that immerses the brand into the background of gameplay, or more commonly in video.
Your audience is here
Gaming offers an unmatched opportunity for brands and agencies to connect with their customers. Understanding that today nearly everyone is a “gamer,” brands and agencies looking to diversify their ad budgets and branch out to new channels to launch their ad campaigns are realizing that mobile games attract players from nearly all demographics, and the opportunity to reach that audience is perhaps bigger than ever before. One of the biggest takeaways to consider is the win/win situation for both advertisers and consumers in this scenario. When consumers are playing a game, they are totally engaged and immersed in a gaming experience. App developers are fighting hard to gain new users, and user acquisition is a highly competitive and expensive “game” for brands. This means that app developers are careful about how they integrate the ad experience in their game and, in many cases, they’re more thoughtful about the ad placement than a traditional desktop publisher. All this means that a brand creative in a gaming environment is likely to have a high impact and brand uplift and has the added benefit of a positive experience for the user.
Brand safety is one of the highest priorities for advertisers, and games can be considered a safer choice because there is low risk for a creative being shown directly next to any unwanted news headlines or any user-generated content.
The key for brands is to understand how they can find their audience at scale, and continue to add value to the advertiser/audience relationship. Exploring new channels is one way of achieving that. Plus, we know a thing or two about the gaming audience. At MoPub and Twitter, we're experts in the gaming space and helping our app publisher and advertiser customers #ElevateYourGame. Both MoPub and Twitter Gaming teams have conducted extensive research into the minds and habits of mobile gamers. MoPub has recently explored the diverse makeup of mobile gaming audiences, and examined which ad formats are preferred among those audiences. Both Twitter and MoPub are continually finding new ways to understand and help advertisers to reach gaming audiences.
Interested in learning more? MoPub is here to help support your goals with our team of demand and mobile marketer consultants who can provide data, insights, and recommendations on how to diversify your ad spend and how to achieve revenue growth via programmatic spending. Brands trust MoPub to help them connect with audiences where they’re spending their time: in mobile apps. MoPub operates the leading mobile in-app exchange, programmatically connecting buyers to in-app inventory around the globe. Get in touch with us today or reach out to our agency team directly to understand how we can help find your audience and hit your campaign goals programmatically; our offerings for agencies include our video solutions, audience and custom targeting solutions, and a commitment to a clean and safe exchange.
About the author: Vincent Tessier, Brand & Agency Lead, EMEA
Vincent is MoPub’s Brand & Agency lead for the EMEA region. Passionate about all things programmatic and mobile, Vincent brings more than 12 years of experience across various roles for companies like Universal Music, AOL, Trademob, and LaPlaceMedia. Most recently as General Manager EMEA at adsquare, a real-time mobile data exchange, he successfully scaled and transformed the start-up into a European market leader across 9 markets and 4 local offices. Vincent holds an MBA in Digital Marketing and is an alumnus of ISC Paris.
About the author: Sara Penchina, Global Content Marketing Manager
Sara has 5+ years of B2B marketing and communications experience for companies in the advertising, marketing, tech, and media industries. At MoPub, she's currently focused on developing and executing content marketing strategy and activities supporting MoPub's market education, brand awareness, and lead generation initiatives. She lives in Brooklyn and is a certified yoga instructor. When she's not at work, you can find her at a barre or yoga class, practicing boxing (her latest fitness obsession), or planning her next trip.