5 Keys to Capitalizing on the Mobile Gaming Phenomenon


ADOTAS – Over the last two years, mobile gaming has emerged as one of the largest forms of media consumption and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. In fact, according to eMarketer, gaming continues to dominate as the most popular activity by smartphone owners and nearly 70 percent of tablet owners in the U.S. play games on their devices — more than they perform any other activity. Also according to eMarketer, by 2015, approximately 162.4 million, or over 50 percent of the U.S. population, will actively play games on their mobile devices — that’s 8 out of 10 people.

There are a lot of reasons why people play mobile games. According to a recent YouGov study, users engage with them to relieve stress, fill time while traveling and interact with family and friends. Regardless of the reason, mobile gaming has become a global phenomenon that is occurring on a tremendous scale. In addition, it’s “portable” and not limited to location, so people can play at home, at work, on vacation, when commuting and virtually everywhere else, making it a seismic shift in behavior, as well as a huge opportunity for marketers. That’s why an industry reporter recently said, “If marketers want to understand mobile content and usage, and think harder about how to integrate either ads or services into consumers’ lives, they need to wrap their heads around gaming.”

More importantly, mobile gaming isn’t a passive activity; it’s one of the most engaging forms of media consumption. According Flurry data, U.S. consumers spend an average of 2 hours and 7 minutes per day interacting with smartphones and tablet mobile apps and spend 32 percent of that time in gaming apps, which calculates to roughly 41 minutes per day — a significantly longer interval of time compared to other categories, including social networking, news and entertainment apps. And where people are highly engaged, marketing dollars tend to follow. Today, they are starting to flow into mobile gaming, making it a critical digital strategy for brands’ overall marketing mix.

For these reasons, mobile gaming advertising must be taken seriously. However, in order to utilize this medium to its full potential, marketers need to treat it differently than they do other digital media. Here is what they must consider to do just that:

1. Evolving beyond web-based ad units. The mobile gaming ecosystem can be a tough one for brand marketers to navigate since it is drastically different than other forms of digital media, because it offers marketers a way to reach a massive and engaged audience that circumvents issues — such as banner blindness and viewability — prevalent in standard digital advertising. The good news is that mobile gaming provides a scalable way for marketers to finally think beyond interstitials, banners and pre-roll video ads, which users often ignore, resulting in poor performance. On the contrary, mobile games deliver brands with the most innovative digital ads today such as units that offer players rewards, value exchange video advertising, rich media creative, branded content and more. These ads are 100-percent viewable, achieve 100-percent share of voice and appear in a high-quality environment in front of truly engaged users.

2. Tapping into players’ emotions. Marketers should recognize that users will run the emotional gamut and may feel elation or frustration or everything in between — sometimes all in the same session — when playing mobile games. In order to run ads effectively, marketers must understand how to complement the players’ personal gaming experience with innovative ads units (such as those mentioned above) that appeal to their emotions, as well as fit natively into the experience.

Emotional targeting in mobile games elicits positive responses and increases brand engagement based on a player’s emotional state, hierarchy of needs and current activity. This approach empowers marketers to reach players as they experience specific emotions in real-time through immersive ad units with dynamically positioned creative messages, offers and promotions.

3. Appearing in the right place at the right time. Emotional targeting fuels breakthrough moments (BTMs), which are the moments when marketers utilize emotional targeting to reach and target players based on their emotional responses during mobile game play. Examples include when a player gets a new high-score, achieves a personal best or gets stuck on a level and is in need of help. BTMs offer a way for marketers to reach players at the right place and right time with the right messages—those appropriate to the players’ mood. As a result, users are more receptive to the advertisements so that the format garners higher performance rates and helps establish a meaningful person-to-brand connection in the process.

4. Positioning the brand as the hero. Unlike other forms of digital advertising, mobile games offer brands the chance to reward, encourage and rescue players in a way that is additive to the user experience. For example, with BTMs, brands can reach game players during moments of “achievement,” such as when they get a new high score or a longest jump. This allows brands to be the “hero” as they reward players with a virtual good. Once a reward is redeemed, people will reciprocate the brand’s gift and take a post ad action — such as purchase a product or visit a website — and further engage with the brand. The entire experience is “in-unit” and doesn’t disrupt game play, giving marketers a unique way to make lasting, meaningful connections with people.

5. Brand-specific metrics and performance. Mobile gaming advertising delivers brand-specific metrics—such as brand lift, interaction, time spent, video completion and engagement rates—that provide the data and proof that these ads engage players, as well as add value to game play. Mobile gaming metrics, data and analytics help marketers quantify and qualify how they will achieve their branding objectives. And the best news of all is that mobile gaming ad campaigns can garner performance rates that exceed industry averages 30x or higher.

With scale and engagement this impressive, mobile gaming represents a powerful form of media consumption that marketers can’t ignore. But in order for marketers to capitalize on this seismic shift, they must take to heart all the above to ensure their ads will have the maximum impact and achieve their full potential.



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