Video Reward Ads: A Game Changer for Digital Marketing

Back to Blog - by Kyle Malone

When searching for a recipe or an answer to a random question on Google, consumers are accustomed to skimming over digital display ads. They have a mission: to find whatever information they’re seeking.

But there’s one audience that exhibits different behavior: gamers. This group continues to grow exponentially, both in volume and in the depth of their investment in their craft. In fact, mobile gaming app downloads increased 45% in 2020, compared with 35% in 2019. With that growth curve and the unique ad formats available for in-game advertisements, you can imagine why games are such an opportunity for advertisers.

What Are In-Game Interstitial Ads?

Interstitial ads are interactive, full-screen ads that cover the content of the host app. They might be static images, videos, or even gamified ads. Typically, interstitial ads appear at natural breaks in the game, meaning they feel much less disruptive and more organic.

Interstitial ads generally follow a “prompt, opt-in, reward” structure, so these video game advertisements work best in action, arcade-style, puzzle, and sports games that easily provide users benefits for watching an ad.

When the mobile game ad is displayed, a user can tap the content and be directed to a landing page or close the ad to continue the game. If the mobile game ad includes rich media, such as video, the user usually has to watch the ad for a specific length of time, typically five seconds, before they can close out of it.

This ad format doesn’t just benefit advertisers, but also users. Thanks to the nature of the medium, gamers are twice as likely to pay attention to in-game display ads than other internet display ads. That’s because more than 70% prefer to “pay” for in-game content (such as game points, currency, or other related benefits) by watching video “reward” ads rather than spending actual money.

As an example, in many games, gamers have a set number of lives. If they’ve reached a certain level and lose, users have to start from the beginning once they’re out of these lives. Video reward ads could prompt them to view or interact with the ad in exchange for additional life so that they no longer have to start the game from scratch.

This structure is a win-win for everyone; the advertiser gets the gamer’s attention, the gamer saves money, and the game producer still gets revenue by selling the interstitial ad space.

The Value of Video Reward Ads

Video reward ads offer many benefits. Here are a few of the most important:

  • User engagement. The bigger the ad, the bigger the impact. Interstitials are more memorable than other mobile game ads. They engage users better because they’re less disruptive and more “helpful.” In fact, 50% of userssay they would be less satisfied with their app experiences if reward ads were removed.
  • Audience diversity. The volume of this industry makes it ripe with opportunity. There are more than 5 billion gamersin the world, and they aren’t just young men. Forty-six percent of gamers are women, and 40% are between 25- and 44-years-old. That offers potential for advertisers in various industries seeking different demographics’ attention.
  • Brand safety. Finally,in-game mobile marketing is a highly brand-safe environment. The content is not user-generated (as with social media or YouTube, for example), so brands have more control over their image and messaging. The content is also usually lighter and lower-risk. That said, advertisers should still use only trusted partners that monitor and make brand safety measures a top priority.

Getting Started With In-Game Advertising

Keep the following best practices in mind as you determine how to best advertise in mobile games.

1. Define your audience upfront.

This industry has long outgrown the niche “gamer” stereotype, so knowing your target audience and how to reach it is more important than ever. The last thing you want to do is waste valuable impressions. Consider different targeting (or anti-targeting) metrics, such as age, gender, geo, device, language, and interest segments. Then, layer on contextual segments targeting gaming content. If you have specific gaming apps you wish to run on, create and target a site list for those apps specifically.

2. Be mindful of where you send the user.

The offer you showcase in your ad should directly tie to where the user lands upon post-click. We recommend creating a specific post-click landing page (rather than just sending users to your website). This is more respectful to the user, so you’re actually providing value and not coming across as sales-y.

3. Keep your audience in mind when designing creative.

It might be tempting to use this space to show off your team’s graphic design skills, but it’s better to create a clear UX for gamers, including a clear exit button and captivating, memorable content. To capture gamers’ attention, your ad must first be useful and entertaining.

4. Implement advertising measurement tools.

The data available to advertisers is one of the key benefits of the gaming format. Many developers allow advertisers to integrate third-party measurement tools, such as Frameplay and Kochava, that use a new impression-to-conversion attribution model. Through this partnership, advertisers can track conversions based on in-game mobile marketing to see how effective their marketing dollars are in terms of video game advertisements.

5. Stay up-to-date with industry trends.

The gaming space moves quickly, so it’s key to keep yourself educated and updated from a compliance and privacy standpoint. The Media Rating Council is working with the Interactive Advertising Bureau and industry to update the 2009 In-Game Advertising Measurement Guidelines, as in-game advertising has evolved significantly over the past 13 years.

In-game mobile marketing offers a growing market of opportunity — not to mention invested audience — to advertisers willing to make the leap. Interstitial and “reward” ads, in particular, drive value for the customer, make brands memorable, and allow you to get your audience’s undivided attention and hopefully direct consumers to a specially-designed landing page.

To learn more about developing a strong mobile game advertising strategy, get in touch today.

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