Why mobile will be the key to unlock in-game advertising in 2021

Posted on: Friday 18 December 2020 | Kristan Rivers - CEO, AdInMo

Kristan Rivers, CEO at AdInMo, explores why mobile game advertising is a growing opportunity for advertisers

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With ad budgets under increased scrutiny in this tumultuous year, mobile advertising has fared well, with a 71% increase in global ad spend year-on-year reported in Q2 2020 - and it’s mobile gaming apps attracting the lion’s share of that spend. 

A third of the world’s population (2.5 billion) regularly play mobile games. During the first six months of 2020, usage soared by 75%. And while the pandemic has certainly helped shine a light on the opportunity of mobile games for advertisers, the category has been on the upswing for several years, with mobile gaming audiences forecast to hit 4 billion by the end of 2023.

In-game advertising is well placed to capitalise on the global and diverse reach of mobile games

In a survey we conducted with PocketGamerBiz.com, new monetisation models were identified as the number one opportunity in the 12 months ahead by mobile games developers and publishers. In terms of ad formats, 46% said they were planning to trial immersive in-game advertising in the next six months - where click-free brand ads are dynamically displayed and integrated directly into gameplay. 

In-game advertising works particularly well with mobile audiences because games are typically free-to-play. Players understand there is a fair value exchange and this reduces ad blindness. Meanwhile mobile games publishers and developers actively want to integrate ad formats that drive not only monetisation, but also crucially retention. 

Existing performance advertising models face increasing pressure in particular fuelled by Apple’s game-changing plans to get rid of the Identifier for Advertisers – IDFA. This will make it harder to target consumers in the same way and effectively re-writes the rule book for the mobile games advertising ecosystem. 

An untapped market

A significant chunk of today’s ad spend in mobile games is often for ads for other mobile games. However because a) these ads are usually promoting competitors’ games and b) the very nature of popular formats - such as interstitials or rewarded videos - forces gamers to leave the game, there has been a reluctance by developers to fully open up their player base across all genres.

Immersive ads that do not interrupt the game solve this problem. 

Our mobile games study identified non-interruptive advertising formats as the number one feature developers demand of a monetisation platform, with 75% of developers wanting to use ads that do not interrupt gameplay and risk impacting player engagement. Good news for in-game advertising supply.

What does this mean for advertisers?

Firstly, more and higher quality inventory. 

94% of 16-24 years olds own a smartphone. Mobile delivers global reach and diverse audiences, both in terms of game genres and players, with casual and hyper-casual titles in particular driving in-game advertising adoption.

More broadly, it opens up a completely new opportunity for advertisers to run brand campaigns in mobile games at scale. Not expensive one-off product placement deals but rather programmatic access to a global channel to engage consumers in an authentic way, where they spend a lot of time. As creatives are dynamically served as part of gameplay, viewability and brand interaction metrics exceed those of a 30 second TV spot, but at a fraction of the cost.

Of course, measuring success will be fundamental to mass adoption, but the audiences are there to make mobile the key to unlocking in-game advertising in 2021.

To find out more about the mobile games industry’s views on in-game advertising, download AdInMo’s whitepaper here.

Written by

Kristan Rivers

CEO, AdInMo

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