Mobile game ads: market, trends, formats

Mobile gaming has been taking a large share of mobile and in-app market far before the quarantine. Largest events related to gaming have been gathering thousands over thousands of companies, coping with mobile technologies, apps development, and advertisement, looking for new opportunities to have their niche within this market share.

Since the lockdown, caused by COVID-19, the mobile gaming industry has seen even more growth. Specifically, there’s a 39% increase in global mobile game downloads in the month.

Apparently, the increasing interest in mobile gaming creates more advertising opportunities. Specifically, according to eMarketer’s prior estimations, ad spend in all games grew 16% in 2019 and will continue to grow by double-digit rates in 2020. 

Let’s take a closer look at the state of mobile gaming ads, what’s trending in the industry, and advertising formats performing best.

# Who are mobile gamers

The majority of mobile gamers are females. There is also age diversity, with gamers ages 21 to 35 accounting for 39% of the total and those ages 36 to 50 accounting for 33%. More than a fifth of gamers are 50 and older.

As for game types, more females prefer mobile strategy and puzzle games, while a wider audience of men is into mobile action, racing and shooter games. 

# What’s trending in mobile gaming

Talking about game types, here are several growing trends.

Augmented Reality 

Augmented Reality (AR) technology in mobile gaming keeps evolving, opening a lot more opportunities for marketers. 

How does AR advertising work? Simply put, it considers an ad unit using the smartphone camera to superimpose 3D assets. AR ads can run on both iOS and Android in-app traffic, within rewarded video, and display placements. 

Here are just several great use cases of mobile AR ads in 2019 worth mentioning: Miller Lite beer activation, Coca Cola Holiday Magic Campaign (by the way, it’s hardly the first time the brand goes into AR ads), First Security Bank & Trust ads accompanied with newspaper publication, and provocative and highly interactive campaign by Burger King “Burn That Ad“.

Mobile Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR), mainly focused on PC and console games, is also infiltrating the mobile game market though. Both Google and Apple app stores are full of roller coaster games, VR maze puzzles, shooters, racers, simulators, and battles. All the player need is a Cardboard and Gear VR as budget-friendly mobile VR headsets. Moreover, many newer smartphones are AR and VR compatible.

When it comes to ads in mobile VR games, it looks like fantastics. In 2017 Unity, the engine used to create rich, immersive, and interactive 2D, 3D, VR and AR experiences, released a Virtual Room, a type of interactive ads, letting brands create immersive experiences. 

Apparently, VR technology requires further improvement to enable brands with more ads opportunities. And it’s being improved as more tech companies appear on the scene. A recent example is a startup Admix, providing tech opportunities for non-intrusive ads within VR mobile games. 

While it’ll take some time until the whole industry will embrace the ultimate immersive and seamless ads concept, there are more mundane but still performing ads opportunities within less sophisticated but engaging mobile formats.

Hyper-casual mobile games 

This type of mobile games may become its own genre as it’s gaining more and more popularity and takes a significant share of the market. Specifically, by the end of 2019, the hyper-casual gaming was worth over $2 billion. In fact, many of the top mobile games of 2019 were hyper-casual games. 

According to VentureBeat, hyper-casual gamers watch 2x more ads than other gamers. Moreover, they download 10x more games than other players. 

Now which mobile game ads formats have been most popular and performing so far?

# Mobile game ads formats 

Back to eMarketer report, mentioned in the beginning, rewarded video is the most prevalent format, but playable ads are growing rapidly. The rise of free-to-play games has also spurred renewed growth in banners. 

As a recap, what is what in mobile gaming ads formats:

Rewarded ads

The rewarded video is an ad type bringing a gamer different incentives if they watch this video ads. Normally, it’s a non-intrusive short video (around 15 sec). Appropriately placed and personalized, rewarded ads can increase brand recall and drive leads and conversions.

Playable ads

Playable ads are one of the most engaging ad formats. This format motivates the audience to interact with ads. Mainly, playable ads work great for apps, attracting potential users to have a brief look into the app or another game before downloading. 

Native banners

Native banner ads are still highly efficient for bringing awareness to new audiences as well as for converting users. Also, native ads can be blended into game environment, replacing some game features or appearing as branding ads on various surfaces. This type might be also called an in-game ads.

Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads perform best on games that are broken in different levels. Appearing between levels, interstitials take advantage of natural pauses in gameplay and don’t interrupt the overall user experience. Marketers can benefit from interstitials as this type of ads offer a larger, full-screen experience, is visually compelling with animated and interactive rich media content, and generally yield high impressions and conversions.

# Final thoughts

Mobile gaming industry keeps growing and developing in terms of technologies – and new advertising opportunities, that should bring both, high outcomes to marketers – and unprecedented user experience to the gamers. 

Looking for mobile supply? Drop us a line to find out how Markpoint DSP can help with that.

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