By Ori Meiry, Head of Social Acquisition, yellowHEAD
Earlier this month, yellowHEAD had the pleasure of discussing user acquisition and retention for mobile games at Casual Connect USA 2017 in Seattle. Together with three leading players in the social casino arena – DoubleDown Interactive, Zynga and Playtika – we shared the latest trends we foresee developing in 2018 when it comes to maximizing acquisition campaigns.
But it’s true: even though the advertising industry has come incredibly far since the early days of the mobile banner, the way we deliver advertising experiences and messages to consumers in apps still has significant room for improvement. And the shift from fixed-budget, brand awareness advertising to highly measured, performance-based campaigns is only further expanding this gap. Advertisers are expecting more from mobile than ever before – and publishers must be able to support the ad experiences that drive these outcomes.
The ideal ad experience
What are these ad experiences, though? Is it full-screen video, leveraging the power of sight, sound and motion? Is it interactive and sensory experiences, using features like haptic effects and 360-degree video? The answer is yes, yes and yes – to all of the above. The best mobile ads are those that integrate multiple elements and formats, that are truly a hybrid of everything that is possible on mobile today.
However, there is one component that, whether it’s the foundation of the experience or simply an added component, consistently improves the quality – and hence performance – of every mobile advertisement. “Gamification,” or introducing elements of fun and competition (e.g., points, rewards, scoreboards, levels, rules) has long been proven to deepen engagement and satisfaction with ads. It makes an ad participatory and draws in the user (pull tactic) versus simply illustrating or explaining (push).
That’s why playables ads are here to stay. They attract and engage mobile users not just because they are new and different, but because they are truly opt-in. Rather than interrupt the content experience, they give the user the option of seamlessly moving into a different one – and when they’re done, moving right back, almost like an interlude.
Poised for massive growth
So it’s of little surprise that in an app developer survey we ran earlier this year, we found that playable ads were, by far, the mobile ad experience that gaming advertisers were most excited about in 2017 – much more so than full-screen video or social video. Already, more than half (64 percent) of app install marketers are using playable ads, and 7 out of 10 of them find playables to be effective.
On our platform, we’ve found that they can drive 100 percent higher install rates for mobile apps – more than double the rates of full-screen HD video ads. The demand is so high that many ad companies cannot build playables fast enough to keep up with it.
Not just for gaming advertisers
While app install marketers were the first to fully harness the power of playables, creating mini-games that drive downloads of their game, we’ve seen other verticals quickly catch on. Entertainment companies have started to “gamify” their movie trailers: For Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Disney’s campaign let players go on a treasure hunt for specific items hidden inside a video, and they were rewarded with additional video content from the film for everything they found.
For Transformers: The Last Knight, users had to “wipe away” the dust that was accumulating on the screen in order to keep watching trailer content. Brands in other verticals, like QSR (Buffalo Wild Wings), are also integrating game elements into their mobile ad experiences and seeing stellar results. Users are not only fully engaging with the ad (versus multi-tasking or passively viewing) but they are choosing to replay it over and over again – which multiplies the awareness impact and is a clear indicator of developing real brand loyalty.
3 reasons publishers should embrace playables
With so much positive advertiser sentiment and user engagement, you would think that publishers and app developers would be excited about playables, right? But the most common complaint is that they are almost “too good.” That is, the mini-game competes with their own, and users could be drawn away from their app.
I’m here to tell you that is no reason to eschew playables in your app – playables can have many positive impacts to your monetization. Here’s why:
Playables enhance user experience. Playables can add to the positive experience that users have in your app, not detract from it. And, just as mobile users became accustomed to value exchange (rewarded video) ads and started looking forward to using them in certain apps to build virtual currency or unlock gated content, they will also return to app environments that offer enjoyable mini-game ad experiences (versus annoying banner ads).
They pay a lot more. Playables have extremely high conversion rates, and users that do convert are less likely to uninstall the app, since they’ve already tried and enjoyed the game. Free trials work! They are also more likely to spend money and engage in high-value activities within the app later. This all means high value for advertisers, and therefore much higher eCPMs for publishers.
Incremental revenue stream. Playables can immediately run inside an existing video or interstitial display zone, but as they grow in popularity with users and advertisers, savvy publishers will begin to build a specific home for them as a “demo center” for discovering new apps. Since this essentially compartmentalizes the playable ads, giving them their own section, it’s a great way to address concerns from publishers that they distract the user from the game experience. With higher payouts for publishers, users could try new apps to get more points and even larger rewards than exist today with video.
As mobile users ourselves, we all get excited when we discover a new app. We tell our friends, family and everyone about it. But what if ads actually become games themselves and allow us to “play” instead of just see and hear? All of our lives could become a tad bit more exciting with some much-needed play.
Today’s mobile gaming industry is thriving, with a rapidly growing number of players across the globe. According to Newzoo‘s Global Games Market Report, 2.2 billion gamers are expected to generate $108.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 7.8% compared to 2016. Mobile games are a marvel of code, challenging gaming operators at different levels: Dev teams must constantly deliver bigger and more complex updates, develop highly personalized systems, and keep up with trends like VR and synchronous multiplayer. Marketing teams are faced with high churn rates, and need to familiarize themselves with multiple user profiles, from whales through FTDs to annoying bonus abusers.
Every achievement is a complex victory that must be earned through group effort. - Natalie PortierClick To Tweet
In-app ads and amazing user experience don’t have to be mutually exclusive. At Casual Connect Europe 2017, Natalie Portier, COO of Appodeal, treated the attendees with how to generate a positive, customized experience for your users and top ad revenue. This included expert tips and detailed case studies from successful publishers. Natalie advised, “Good user experience is essential to monetize a F2P game, like minimize ad loading time and deploy them in natural rooting periods.” To learn more about this, see the full lecture below.
Value-Driven Marketing (VDM) has been part of retail for decades, however, as explored in my Gaming VDM intro, the road to its adaptation by mobile gaming has been challenging yet insightful.
In that context, Facebook Offers is a great tool to effectively target people with valuable offers. Back in 2015, convincing a mobile game publisher to use Facebook Offers as any other traditional marketing channel has proven somewhat challenging, and for a good reason they said: Facebook Offers are for brands, aren’t they? Naturally, as no industry standard existed to turn game virtual items into marketable offers (oh, and in-house attempts to do so have been too basic or too scarce), so how could any mobile game publisher consider Facebook Offers seriously as a valid channel? There was literally no accumulated marketing skills to even build a solid plan. We felt we had to pick up that glove.
Vungle, the leading performance marketing platform for in-app video ads, recently released an in-depth mobile advertising benchmark report for 2017, providing insights for how advertisers and marketers can engage with their most valuable mobile consumers and increase their mobile return on investment (ROI).
Here are a few of the key takeaways from the report.
Marko Jevtic is the product marketing manager for Nordeus’ Top Eleven franchise. He leads the marketing team, and has worked in digital marketing for over ten years.
“Community management is important to us, and we have a presence across various social media platforms,” Marko detailed. “Market research is also part of my responsibilities.”
Before joining Nordeus, Marko worked on creative, digital strategies and as a media guide for clients like Visa and Samsung in Europe. Nordeus made the offer to Marko, which he saw as a great opportunity, noted that one year in the gaming sector is like 20 in other industries.
You have created a great app and people are downloading it. What can you do from there to ensure the best opportunities for that app to succeed?
Ian Atkinson, Vice President of Business Development at AdColony, offered his insights into the steps you need to take in the “Leveling Up Your App Economy” session at Casual Connect USA. At AdColony, Ian delivers high quality inventory for advertisers in the AdColony Network through partnering with game companies and tech vendors while enhancing monetization. Ian brought to the session his expertise, developed through more than twenty years of experience in the industry at both startups and large game publishers, with particular knowledge of emerging digital and interactive entertainment markets.
In this session Ian described how the top mobile app publishers are able to engage and retain users while, at the same time, maximizing monetization. The session analyzed the best practices and must have features of the apps that are doing it right and discussed the importance of an ad network. “Don’t treat ad networks as an ATM machine,” Ian emphasized. “Treat them like a trusted business partner.”
To learn more about how you can give your app the best chance for success, watch this video of Ian’s full session below.
Social video as a whole exceeds YouTube and other free sources. - Alissa BrodskyClick To Tweet
Young people are exposed to so much marketing since the early age, that they’ve become extremely savvy, and will only watch a video if they’re personally connected to the digital celebrity. This year’s Acumen Report by DEFY Media takes a deep-dive into the video diet of 13-24 year olds, a key target demographic in the growing F2P mobile gaming market. In her Casual Connect USA session DEFY’s Senior Games Producer Alissa Brodsky explained what sources they watch, what devices they use, as well as their attitudes towards digital advertising and what kinds of ads young people find acceptable.