THE BLOG
04/16/2016 04:28 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mobile Gaming: The Future of Entertainment, and Why Advertisers Should Enter Play

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By Gonzague de Vallois, SVP of Publishing, Gameloft

The meteoric rise of mobile gaming presents a powerful opportunity for the advertising industry to reach consumers in a way that they will engage with time and time again, and which has lasting value for brands.

Mobile gaming will play a huge part in the future of entertainment. Recent research from market research analysts, App Annie, has found that games generated approximately 85 per cent of mobile app market revenue in 2015. This represents a huge total of $34.8 billion across the globe. Whilst these numbers reflect well on game developers, advertisers should also be sitting up, taking note, and examining the ‘most downloaded’ mobile app charts for where they can get involved.

The numbers reflect a huge consumer appetite for mobile gaming content. Deloitte’s TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) Predictions report has even gone as far as suggesting that mobile gaming will overtake PC and console gaming by the end of 2016. Mobile games are also going further than a touchscreen alone, with their popularity and success leading to lucrative cinema, merchandise and food and drinks exposure through licensing a game’s intellectual property.

The opportunity for advertisers

Advertisers need to be savvy in where they look to reach their target audiences, as traditional advertising channels are being disrupted by changing audience habits and media consumption. Dual screen habits mean that people are spending time on their mobile devices whilst they’re watching TV, during ad breaks for example, or while listening to the radio.

The good news for brands is that mobile gaming offers them a mass market media platform with a huge audience of engaged consumers. In fact, almost two thirds of the US population will play mobile games in 2016, showing the scale of their use across the world. What’s more, advertising via mobile games can build an emotional connection with audiences that traditional formats, such as film and print, cannot. Players are emotionally invested in a mobile game; they play it multiple times, at numerous times of day, at home, on the move and even with others.  The opportunity lies in tapping into these consumers through these daily touch-points with advertising content they’ll engage with in the same way.

Ads that consumers can’t get enough of

Native advertising is the winning format when it comes to achieving these levels of engagement. When advertising content forms part of the entertainment experience, as presented by in-game solutions, it does not present itself as an intrusion. In fact, one of the main considerations when an in-game solution is being developed is to integrate it with a game as seamlessly as possible. These advertising formats demand the same developmental approach as the game itself: focussed on the player experience.

Branded mini-games, served between relevant apps and to targeted audiences, are one way of achieving this by immersing players in branded content. Building a custom mini-game increases the time and quality of your brand exposure as players return to the game time and time again. The emotional investment in completing the mini-game, as well as repeated exposure to its content, helps with brand recall. Whilst a television advertisement might run for 30 seconds and repeat hourly, with a mini-game, consumers are coming to you for the content repeatedly, and actively want to engage with it.

Going mobile from the start

Advertisers can see the benefits in utilising mobile as part of their programmatic campaigns thanks to the high level of data and targeting it provides. eMarketer forecasts that US advertisers will spend $15.45 billion programmatically to serve mobile ads this year, hitting $21.22 billion in 2017. As mobile games form a huge part of the mobile experience for consumers, in-game ads are being factored into wider programmatic advertising work.  The ability to track consumers and collect data across mobile devices, all the while profiling your audience, can all begin with a game download.

When a mobile game really takes off, reaching high on the ‘most downloaded’ charts and with people comparing their experiences and scores widely amongst themselves, history has shown that this reach can then extend to other entertainment formats. However, advertisers don’t need to wait until game popularity reaches this stage in order to capitalise on it. In-game advertising places brand content in the hands of consumers right from the start. What’s more, IAB research has shown that 75% of gamers will accept advertising in free apps or online games, as they recognise there is a fair exchange when it comes to accessing free content. There’s a great opportunity here for brands, and those who act on it now will reap the benefits.

I’ll be discussing this topic in more detail at Advertising Week Europe at 12.30pm, Monday 18th April, as part of the ‘mobile track’. Join me at The Guardian Stage and hear more about the explosion of mobile gaming in the entertainment industry.