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3 Myths of In-Game Mobile Advertising

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Posted by Courtney Reich on July 26, 2018
Three Myths of In-Game Advertising

Games are the most underestimated advertising medium in the mobile world. Besides attracting a huge and diverse audience of engaged players (2.3 billion, to be exact), mobile games also offer an engaging environment that is conducive to a positive advertising experience — a feature that we explored in The Mobile Games Playbook. Unfortunately, many advertisers continue to misunderstand mobile games and their popularity among smartphone users. In this post, we try to dispel three myths pervasive among advertisers in order to prove how safe and attractive these apps are for discerning brands and advertisers.

Myth #1: Advertising Distracts from the User Experience

There’s no denying it — bad ads and bad ad space implementation will detract from the user experience. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

When advertising supplements an app’s intended user experience (instead of distracting from it), everybody wins. The advertiser’s brand is positively received by the user. The app serves viewable ads that drive revenue and build their reputation with advertisers. The user gets to experience great gameplay (for free) as intended by its creators.

Ensuring a positive advertising experience for mobile gamers is a collaborative effort. App publishers must strategically implement ad spaces, choosing quality over quantity. Luckily, this is a practice that most publishers abide by. In fact, nearly half of mobile game developers only serve one or fewer ads per session.1

Advertisers can also help ensure that their ads are seen as a positive addition to the game. Key elements that can help this happen include targeting ads to hit maximum relevancy and using varying creatives and ad formats to keep things fresh.

Working Together to Create Positive In-Game Ad Experiences

Myth #2: Mobile Games Aren’t Safe for Brands

Brands want to understand both who is seeing their ads and in which context. This means knowing what type of content is running alongside their ads, as consumers can interpret a brand’s advertisement as an endorsement of other on-screen content.

Accurately identifying which content is brand-safe in a digital ecosystem driven by user-generated content is an incredibly complex and difficult task, and as a result, many social websites have put brands’ integrities at risk. Luckily, there is another medium to which these advertisers can turn, an engaging digital environment that captures the attention of over two billion people worldwide — mobile games.

Mobile games provide a controlled and brand-safe environment without the risk that an advertiser’s message may appear next to inappropriate content. On the Smaato platform, a wide variety of brands are already seeing the benefits of advertising in mobile games. The top ad categories in gaming apps are media, retail, and automotive, which means the majority of ads are for digital entertainment platforms, retail stores, FMCG brands, and auto manufacturers. Only 10% of ads in gaming apps are for other mobile games.Share of Ad Spending for Top 5 Verticals in Gaming Apps

Myth #3: Mobile Gamers Hate Advertising

From full-page ads in magazines to commercials on TV, it’s understandable that many consumers are frustrated with the number of advertisements they are confronted with every day. However, mobile games are a unique medium for advertising, and mobile gamers represent a sophisticated audience that understands the role of ads in their in-game experience.

Free-to-play game revenue already overtook that of pay-to-play games in the App Store in 2011. In the years since, players have become very accustomed to the free-to-play model, with a recent studies finding that 73% of gamers are happy with the ad-funded model of app games and more than 75% prefer watching ads in a free mobile gaming app rather than upgrading to an ad-free version.2

Rewarded video ads, which provide consumers with an in-game currency or virtual goods in return for watching an ad, are especially popular among mobile gamers, with over 80% of mobile gamers say they don’t mind watching a mobile ad if they get some sort of in-game reward.3

>>Press Start<<

Capturing over 25% of users’ total mobile time but just 7% of mobile ad dollars, mobile gaming offers a huge opportunity for advertisers to reach an engaged audience. For actionable insights into the mobile gaming landscape and how to level up in-app ad campaigns, download The Mobile Games Playbook today.

Download Now The Mobile Games Playbook


1deltaDNA, Nov 2017  | 2Tremor Video, Feb 2018; 2CV, May 2017  | 32CV, May 2017

Written by Courtney Reich

Content Marketing Manager @ Smaato

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