Have Mobile Games Supplanted Television?
Traditional TV was the brand advertiser’s dream channel
All branding campaigns have two critical requirements for success: creativity and reach. The 30-second TV adverts offered ample room for creativity, giving rise to iconic characters, such as Smash Martians, as well as memes like, “Go to work on an egg.” Ads were interchangeable, as the same 30-second adverts could be aired on any channel. Reaching the desired audience at scale was a straightforward proposition, as there were only a handful of channels in the UK, allowing advertisers to know what, where and when the country was watching, all “without the need for sophisticated technology, data collection, or analysis.” If an advertiser wanted to reach British families at scale, the brand could reliably do so by advertising on The Royal Variety Show. For these reasons, TV was (and continues to be) an important vehicle for brand awareness campaigns.
Digital upended this model for marketers in many profound ways. Today’s consumers now access TV content on demand, whenever they want, and on whichever device they want. As a result, reaching desired audiences at scale can be more of a challenge.
Meanwhile, TV is no longer the only source of entertainment. As mobile devices proliferated, consumers got hooked on mobile games. Across the globe, some 2.6 billion men, women and children play games on their mobile devices. Within the UK, 47% of smartphone owners use apps on their phones to play games. That’s more than the time smartphone owners spend on online banking (40%) or reading the news (33%).
Advertisers are keenly aware of the opportunity that mobile gaming apps provide. This past summer, we surveyed media agencies and brands regarding their attitudes and plans for mobile ad campaigns and learned that gaming apps were clearly viewed as solid investments, with 60% of all respondents citing scale, reach and high user engagement as reasons to advertise in games. Another 78% of respondents said they’ve already placed ads in gaming apps, and 90% of media agencies, and 87% of brands said the plan to do so in the coming year.
Sight, sound and motion are just the starting point
Like TV, mobile gaming apps provide brand advertisers the opportunity to present consumers with highly creative adverts. But that’s just the starting point. Rewarded video ads shown in apps allow consumers to choose to watch an advert in exchange for something valuable, and according to eMarketer, 74% of gamers say they watch them because the exchange improves their in-app experience. Offer walls allow users to select which ad to view, and are native to the app environment, which is why they deliver strong results. Playable ads, which allow users to test drive a game or an app, also deliver strong performance (28% of agency professionals surveyed say they are the most effective ad format).
Digital channels are also interactive, meaning advertisers are free to deploy a range of engagement tactics, including one-click access to the product details page. These tactics elicit the same brand objectives brand advertisers have for the TV campaign, such as brand recall. More than that, brand advertisers can increase the impact of their TV spots by reinforcing their messages with complement ads that appear in mobile game apps.
Open Measurement SDK is the new Nielsen
Unlike traditional TV, there are hundreds of thousands of mobile game apps, and knowing which are the best places for a brand’s adverts requires constant iteration, along with precise measurement, so that media strategies can be optimized. Fortunately, this issue is being solved with the Open Measurement Software Development Kit (OM SDK). Developed by the IAB, the OM SDK facilitates third-party viewability and verification measurement for ads served in the mobile app environment, by providing just one SDK compatible with the prominent verification and measurement providers (Moat, DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science). In other words, mobile game developers no longer need to implement multiple SDKs for every service provider within their apps.
Are mobile games the new TV?
It’s an interesting question. In many ways, mobile games are everything appointment TV offered – ample canvas for creativity, reach, brand recall. And they come with added advantages of interactivity and measurement. Looking ahead, I predict that mobile games will assume a greater importance in the marketer’s ad spend, becoming a primary place where advertisers turn when they want to launch massive branding campaigns at scale.