In-Game Advertising – the Next Big Shift in Mobile

The market of mobile applications grows more diverse and complex every year. In the overrepresented mobile ecosystem, the competition for the attention of the users and their money turns into a real race. App marketers are facing new challenges but those who manage to surprise and engage their users always have better chances to win.

The attitude of users towards mobile advertising has changed over the last couple of years. Traditional static formats quickly lose their former grip. The vast amount of ads fail to be delivered to the user, some part is getting banned by the ad blockers, and the majority of performed clicks is a matter of accident.

Meanwhile, the use of new mobile advertising in-app formats allows to promote the products with greater viewability, and engagement. Highly performing interactive formats like playable, rewarded, reveal, in-app video ads not only appear to be better ROI makers, they also overcome ad blockers which currently applied by 30,1% US users.

In-app & game apps make lion’s share of spend

According to Emarketer, the share of global mobile advertising ad spend will grow to 23.5%, which is three times higher than 6.6% of total media. More than half of all growth in mobiles is attributed to advertising inside the apps including games. By 2022 mobile and in-app share of ad spend is expected to climb to 47.9%.

At the same time, the data derived from SmartyAds CPI programmatic platform shows that in 2018 the cost per thousand impressions (CPM) on the mobiles has decreased by 13% while CPM for in-app grew by 11%. Advertisers are actively investing their funds in in-app advertising because this ecosystem allows serving interactive, effective, ad blocker-resistant creative ad formats.

Best in-game ad formats 2018

Playable ads. This in-game format is especially convenient for the promotion of other mobile applications which makes a bulk of mobile advertising traffic. These are short interactive ad videos of 5-50 sec. duration where users can try the gameplay which appears inside the other game already installed on the device.

Playable ads as well as rewarded and the majority of other interactive formats, provide a developer with interaction information which helps to analyze the user behavior.

The average eCPM of a playable ad is around $15,24, but the greater benefit of the format is 40% higher retention of the users. Knowing the game experience beforehand the users don’t delete the app right after installation as happens if the app doesn’t live up to the initial expectations.

Rewarded ads. Another favorite ad format of app marketers and developers preferred by more than 70% of game players is rewarded video. These videos typically appear at the game intervals and have 5-15 seconds duration — enough for the ad to be memorized.

Rewarded advertising format helps players to earn in-game currency or receive other additional privileges that help them progress inside the game. This method is used in more than half of free and freemium monetization models. Users choose themselves whether they want to see the ad and receive a value for their attention which helps to gain more loyalty.

Rewarded videos also feature one of the highest eCPMs which vary from $5,41 on Android to $8,31 on IOS.

Reveal ads. Reveal is one of the most progressive outstream in-app video ad formats that adapt to the user experience including mobile-first gesturing. Reveal videos are getting into view at the top of the screen as user is scrolling through the page.

Reveals are dynamically resized but cover only 28% of the screen that helps to achieve excellent viewability rate. Specific animation type, on the other hand, allows the creative to play continuously.  

This ad format complies with established by IAB LEAN ad standards, which stands for Light, Encrypted, Ad Choice-supported, and Non-invasive. As well it meets the coalition of better ad standards joined by Google, Facebook, and other brands created in response to the problem with ad blocking.

In-app video ads. Not exactly new but still increasingly popular in-app video format regularly brings over 30% of the revenue share to the publishers. In-app video formats are pretty much versatile – they can be a part of the native social feed the user reads, in-banner video or interstitial unit.

On average, in-app videos bring in 5 times higher revenues than banner ad formats which often cause banner blindness. The average CTR for in-app video ads sticks on the 1.84% – 3.00% level.

Effectiveness for everyone

In order to make in-app advertising comfortable, the brand needs to follow the basic practices of app monetization. The ad unit should not interfere with user experience, it should have the right size and position, and have the right frequency set for the one user to view.  

Joining the ad network or SSP platform, the developer only needs to determine the most winning places for the ads and preferrable ad format. The rest of the options can be configured in the self-serve dashboard.

If the aim of the promotion is installing the app or downloading the game, then the brand would typically seek the demographics with particular interests. In such case, the advertising should be shown to the target audience. The real-time-bidding (RTB) technology and the programmatic strategy allows displaying the ad unit solely to the audience the advertiser aims for.

This way, advertisers can pay only for the best-converting impressions and developers are able to pre-define how and when they want to see the ads. All is left for users is to interact with non-intrusive, engaging ads and enjoy the comfortable user experience.

The last word

As practice shows, in-app and in-game advertising appears extremely efficient, oftentimes it also appears cheaper than desktop or mobile web. In-app advertising ensures effective interaction with the user and high conversion if the creative corresponds to the industry standards and is interesting enough for the users. In-app ads also provide brands with data about the user interaction with creative so they can better target, optimize campaigns, and achieve superior results through specialized platforms.

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