Mobile games are still limited by ad spending

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According to a new report from eMarketer, over half (51.3%) of the US population will be playing games on mobile devices this year. However, in-app ad spending hasn’t caught up yet. The Mobile Games: A Large Audience, but Limited Ad Spending (So Far) research highlights that marketers have yet to become more creative with the new format.

In 2015, 51.3% of the US population are playing games on their mobile devices

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The mobile gaming market is huge, knows Julie Shumaker, VP of ad sales at game publisher Zynga. She says:


“I can leverage a program for Coca-Cola today that reaches 28 million unique users in the US through one title. In console, one publisher couldn’t reach 28 million users in a day, let alone a month.”

Indeed, mobile app-install ads offer the greatest ROI among leading mobile ad formats. BI Intelligence confirms that the sector is set to grow to become a $6.8bn market in 2019.

Mobile app install ad spend is growing rapidly

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BI Intelligence writes:

“These ads are becoming an essential tool for apps seeking to stand out among the millions of mobile apps on the Google Play and the Apple app stores. On top of strong performance, including high clickthrough rates, marketers like app-install ads because their value can often be accurately quantified.”

However, Brian Wong, Founder and CEO of mobile ad network Kiip finds that there are differences. Metrics such as time spent and ad impressions are still important tools to measure a campaign’s effectiveness.


“But if you think about it applied to mobile, the amount of time spent with a brand might be more [associated with] how potentially annoyed a user is with that brand,” he says.

In order to avoid the annoyance factor, marketers are increasingly focused on rewarded ads, offering gamers additional lives or extra levels. Ari Brandt, Co-founder and CEO of MediaBrix, explains:


“If a brand comes in and interrupts [a game] in any way, the first thing [the user does] is look for the X button to close the ad. However, you could be playing a game and you’re stuck, and then you get a message that looks native to the game and it says, ‘It looks like you could use some help. Coca-Cola wants to help you. Click here and Coca-Cola will give you a boost to help you clear the level.’ The user not only appreciates that you’ve acknowledged their state of mind, but beyond that you’re coming in and offering to help.”

In addition, campaigners can leverage brand integration to drive ROI. Game publisher CrowdStar‘s Covet Fashion game is a good example of this. The game lets users style, shop and win virtual fashion from over 150 brands. Users can also purchase the clothing from within the app.