According to a new eMarketer report, “Mobile Games: A Large Audience, but Limited Ad Spending (So Far)” – the US mobile gaming user base is swelling and not showing any signs of letting up. The report estimates that in 2015, for the first time ever, over half of the US population will be mobile phone gamers, . Although ad spending is not very robust right now,that may change as advertisers become increasingly more comfortable with mobile in general and with some of the special features mobile games offer creative marketers.
Shouldn’t the sheer size of the mobile gaming audience should make it attractive to advertisers? Not always the case, but it seems that the tide is changing quickly as marketers find ways to leverage their brand in non-obtrusive ways to gamers that are increasingly spending more and more time with their devices.
“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.”argued Julie Shumaker, vice president of ad sales at game publisher Zynga.
In addition, Shumaker said, the mobile gaming audience is diverse and broad—more akin to a TV audience.
However, there are differences. “Brands like to look at metrics like time spent and impressions as measurement of whether or not a branding campaign has been effective, 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,” said Brian Wong, founder and CEO of Kiip.
As a defense against that “annoyance factor,” a number of advertisers have invested in rewards-based advertising—giving the audience a tool or a free pass to move up a level within a game in return for viewing an ad.
“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,” said Ari Brandt, co-founder and CEO of MediaBrix. “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.”
Another game-specific opportunity for marketers is brand integration. Game publishers like Zynga and CrowdStar work with brands to integrate their products within mobile games. For example, CrowdStar’s Covet Fashion game lets users style, shop and win virtual clothing and accessories from more than 150 brands. In addition to styling a look, users can also purchase the actual clothing and accessories featured in the game using the app.
Why its Hot:
Historically, whenever a shiny new thing appears and begins to attract people’s eyeballs, media dollars are..skeptical…then eventual to follow. Once the secret sauce of properly leveraging gaming for a particular brand is unlocked, the value in capturing a highly diverse and highly engaged audience will surely unfold. With the proliferation of mobile gaming and the relative ease of entry (for users) into the recreation, what was once thought of to marketers as the gaming demo (younger males) is invariably changing as well. Who has a grandma that hasn’t at least heard of Candy Crush? How can this work best for the brands we represent? Think like a gamer and add value – its a good start. There’s definitely a trend developing towards value exchange and figuring out ways for brands to be additive to an experience