As video investment increases, mobile in-game video ads are on the rise

As marketers increase their investments in video, they’re seeking increasingly effective methods and channels to reach their target audiences. One approach successful teams are using is video ads in mobile games. 

Mobile games have evolved into a premium advertising channel — mass-market interactive entertainment. Statista predicts that advertising spend in mobile games will increase to $130 billion in 2025, up from $46 billion in 2021, solidifying mobile game advertising as an exponentially growing space. 

Advertising in mobile games (and gaming in general) is a much less cluttered environment than other avenues marketers turn to, such as CTV, social media and display. Essentially, video is video, no matter where it appears. When it’s within mobile games, it’s a brand-safe space where advertisers can choose the genre and target the audience that best works for them. 

By leveraging the various video ads available within mobile games, marketers are reaching receptive, desirable audiences via advertisements that stand out just as much in mobile games as on other premium video channels like CTV.

Non-intrusive mobile video ads reduce friction and preserve gaming experiences

Video ads in mobile games are far more native to the user experience, making them more impactful. Ad options vary, from non-skip video (6 and 15-second formats) to custom playable ads that integrate branding directly into gameplay and rewarded video ads. 

“Rewarded video ads are the gold standard for video in games because players are in complete control over the ad experience — they can choose if and when they see an ad,” said Gabrielle Heyman, vice president of global brand sales and partnerships at Zynga. “When there’s some friction point in the game, and they have to either pay for an in-app purchase to get over that hump or watch an ad to give them the lives needed to continue — it helps propel the game. Additionally, it performs well as the consumer’s attention is centered on the game.” 

An ironSource study measured the 30-day retention rates of users engaging with multiple types of mobile game ads, and rewarded video was found to have the most significant effect on retention. Retention rates steadily increased with each video view, between 53% and 68% — 3.5 to 5x greater than the benchmark.

By giving players something to continue their game, advertisers create a brand association where they emotionally connect with the gamer. Eighty-five percent even enjoy ads that offer in-game rewards, with 9 in 10 agreeing to watch them — 10% higher than the industry average. 

These native experiences can significantly diminish the potential for friction, ultimately enhancing player engagement and attention. Meanwhile, custom playables promise engaging gaming experiences where users see and interact with messaging. 

“It’s a way to get something custom without having to do a full-blown in-game integration — it’s more turnkey than that,” Heyman said. “It’s probably the most native ad because you’re playing a game, then you’re playing an ad that’s a game, and you’re going back to playing the game — we see high engagement rates and player response.”

Targeting capabilities in mobile games are extensive

With the vast range of mobile game genres, there’s a game for everyone, providing marketers ample opportunities to reach a broad audience. Yet, many gaming-focused advertising teams have focused on marketing to Gen Alpha and Gen Z. However,  Millennials and Gen Xers play mobile games more than any other demographic

“Each genre has a different kind of audience,” Heyman said. “There’s the brain and puzzle, which is more the millennial mom, and then sports and racing tend to be the millennial dad. There are hyper-casual or hybrid casual studios that are more multicultural and Gen Z. So, tap into the games that match your audience; you can even go after a curated list of titles. You can also leverage third-party targeting to overlay and reach specific audiences, for example, if you want comedy moviegoers.” 

While mobile game targeting includes contextual and game/genre targeting, Heyman expands on some additional capabilities. 

“We think about targeting data in three buckets: demographics, interest and purchase intent,” she said. “Whether it’s first-party, second-party, third-party data or contextual, you will have to use all of them to maximize reach.”And when marketers utilize advertising in mobile games, they can make an impact.

Seventy-three percent of Zynga players feel in-game ads offer a unique and effective way to learn about brands and products, driving brand awareness, and a majority (58%) feel more connected to brands they see in-game.

High-quality mobile in-game video ads can drive campaign success 

According to a YouGov and Zynga study, mobile gamers 35 and older play mobile games more than they watch CTV. Mobile games provide a more engaging, positive experience, and, as a result, players are receptive to ads and zone in rather than zone out.

Gaming isn’t a passive experience like watching TV; it requires thought and attention. This creates a unique opportunity for advertisers. While CTV and YouTube ads are most often clustered together or scrollable, ads in mobile games appear on their own.

“No one wants to see more ads,” said Heyman, “but in the case of all of our video units, we’re only serving one ad at a time, it’s not scrollable and people are anticipating the reward, so we find that the attention that they’re giving is extremely high to that video ad, so it’s an excellent way to stand out of the clutter of ads on CTV and social — it’s front and center.”

The native, brand-safe, clutter-free environment puts ads right in front of consumers when they’re most engaged for continued awareness and positive sentiment. Mobile games offer advertisers an effective way to reach highly attentive audiences with ads that fit a user’s experience and leave them with a positive brand experience that delivers results.

Sponsored by Zynga

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