Games differ from other forms of entertainment mainly because play requires active participation from consumers. Advertisers and publishers need to keep in mind the unique characteristics of a “lean-in” game experience when deciding on the best integration and media placements. There is a unique opportunity to leverage ad formats which drive both retention for publishers AND awareness and purchase intent for brands. And that’s why the IAB Game Committee, which I am a co-chair of, will be speaking at the upcoming New York Media Festival to discuss some of the ways that publishers and brands can monetize and reach this huge, engaged audience.
It’s important to note that in-game ad formats can vary depending on the game mechanic and most in the industry would agree that the best consumer experiences come when game developers incorporate brands and media placements in the game at the concept phase of the game design. This can include integrations, sponsorships, experiential and video.
Game Advertising Engagement = The Gold Standard for Marketers
Some fellow IAB Game Committee members shared their perspectives on proven engaging game ad formats and my thoughts follow:
IAB Game Committee Co-chair
In-game Reward Advertising represents an ad format 81% all mobile game players prefer, and it’s easy to see why. But before I go there, let’s define reward ads. What we mean is advertising that unlocks additional content instead of consumers using pay to skip features like DVR. In-game rewarded ads are not offering real-world currency. We have found this type of ad has lower engagement rates as users mine for currency across mobile, instead of spending time within the content they love.
Back to why 81% of gamers chose reward ads. First, the content is available to consumers by choice. The user has direct access to go left and pay or go right and continue to enjoy gameplay, additive content levels or even items to improve their game experience. Who doesn’t love choice? Next, the content is entirely professionally developed. No UGC videos here. And the consumer’s awareness of this point is high, to the tune of two-thirds of all mobile gamers know their content costs money to develop and is brought to them by advertisers. Finally, this player centric approach results in brand value in the form of a full screen, opt-in engagement with the highest view completion rates in mobile.
So, while all advertising is reward based where consumers use their time with ads in exchange for desired content, mobile games offer an unparalleled value for consumers and brands alike.
IAB Game Committee Co-chair
The esports industry is bigger than you think it is. Through sponsorship and event branding, these events offer incredibly lucrative advertising opportunities that can no longer be overlooked. They provide a diverse range of branding opportunities which could come in the form of booths, video displays, freebies, posters, interactive advertising, and many other creative methods.
However, the real branding potential is found in the staggering online audiences. These branding opportunities are made even more attractive to marketers when you consider that the industry is far from saturated and continuing to grow at a rapid rate. The figure of 34 million viewers is a 32% increase from the previous year.
These statistics are no mere outlier for a one-off event. Esports events are held as regularly as major sporting events. Year by year, they grow bigger and better. Their first season had about 500,000 video sessions. Their latest, season ten, topped 132 million. Fans, could watch in 26 different languages across 14 platforms, from Twitch to Yahoo. The diversity of platforms creates competition that thus far has kept advertising prices low. In addition, each platform offers its own unique branding opportunities. Brands looking to advertise on these channels can now choose which platform best suits their preferences, product, spending range, and target audience.
IAB Game Committee Member
Games offer high reach, high impact video advertising akin to personal ‘15-second’ TV commercials. In gaming, brands are able to reach consumers in a non-divisive brand safe environment while their target audience is both tuned-in, and in a laid-back entertainment mindset. Video ads are full-screen, without any clutter, and give advertisers 100% share of voice. These mobile video ads in gaming environments are able to deliver video completion rates of 75%+, and IAS & Moat MRC-accredited viewability metrics of 90%. With primetime TV CPMs on the rise and premium OTT video experiences like Netflix and Amazon Video opting for direct-to-consumer subscription models, gaming offers a great additional TV-like advertising experience.
In addition to high video completion rates, brands can further engage consumers with interactive end cards (which is a clear best practice for mobile video ads in gaming environments), and we are seeing about 15% average engagement rates with interactive end cards.
For performance advertisers (across a wide range of categories), we are seeing video advertising as a highly effective ad format within gaming environments. Additionally, we have found that interactive video is driving 1.8 times greater conversions than non-interactive video for gaming performance advertisers.
IAB Game Committee Co-chair
From my perspective, integrations in mobile games are an important way to leverage not only the 2-way engagement games offer, but the huge reach of the audience. According to Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report, three-quarters of mobile users are mobile gamers. Integrations in game offer unparalleled time spent and interaction with a brand. We’ve seen several advertiser integrations in games drive upwards of 15 minutes time spent with the brand.
In a game with natural breaks between levels, a video interstitial between turns mimics the commercial break found on live TV. Much has been made of the interruption this poses to consumers. However, the data tells a different story. For some of the largest games in terms of Reach – Zynga’s Words With Friends is an example – the game has maintained its position as the top #1, #2 or #3 game for eight years, even with an ad after every turn. For game publishers and consumers ads are seen as a fair value exchange for otherwise free content.
From rewarded video to esports, playables and video interstitials, game advertising is uniquely suited for consumer engagement and, as we all know, engagement is the new gold standard for marketers.
The IAB Game Committee represented by Gabrielle Heyman, Julie Shumaker, Kym Nelson and Anne Frisbie will speak about this topic at a panel discussion moderated by IAB’s Susan Borst at the New York Media Festival on September 26 from 3:00-3:30pm ET in NYC. To learn more about the panel and to register, click here.