With a market that is expected to balloon past $3 billion (and beyond due to COVID-induced acceleration of gaming), game advertising will only continue to grow in prevalence for years to come.
Much of that ad growth is projected to come from mobile game ads, which have been powered by mobile app advertising technology and an influx of game studios and developers competing for attention.
Here’s a look at which mobile game ad formats are most popular for acquiring new users with some tips for creating your ad campaigns.
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Mobile game ads are gaming advertisements that display on mobile devices — primarily through popular apps like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more.
For mobile app advertisers, gaming ads are a huge opportunity given the fact that the gaming apps are the largest category for app installs worldwide, according to eMarketer.
What may surprise you is that game publishers now make the majority of their revenue from in-app advertising and in-app purchases.
This profit model has given rise to the popular “freemium” and “free to play” games (such as Fortnite) that generate the bulk of their revenue from microtransactions.
Smartphone gaming is already an enormous market in the US, where in-app and mobile advertising plays a major role in driving awareness and downloads.
According to the same report, eMarketer projects there are “145.1 million US smartphone gamers” as of last year, which makes up “62.3% of smartphone users and 87.6% of digital gamers.”
When it comes to mobile game ads, there are two overarching categories: dynamic and static ad types.
Both ad types can be used to drive acquisition and in-app conversion events, but feature different types of content.
Dynamic game ads are:
- Updated in real-time programmatically using demographic or behavioral targeting
- Interactive (they can have interactive CTAs or game-like mechanics)
- Can be displayed within the game environment (buildings, billboards, cosmetics, logos, etc.)
Static game ads are:
- Pre-designed and feature creative that isn’t dynamically updated
- More closely resemble traditional advertising — a set product or image that is delivered in the same manner for a single campaign
Both ad types can be used to complement one another, although improvements in programmatic app advertising that give advertisers more control over targeting and delivery have helped dynamic gaming ads become more popular in recent years.
Have you ever been encouraged to watch a short ad for a benefit or reward?
This type of advertising has become especially popular for game advertisers, as it gives the player a chance to be rewarded with an in-game reward in exchange for their attention.
According to eMarketer, rewarded video ads are one of the most popular mobile game ad formats:
“With their ability to augment the gaming experience, rewarded video—video ads that can be launched at key moments in a game in exchange for a small, tangible in-game benefit, such as an extra life or added energy—has found a home in games. Most game developers that offer in-game ads use rewarded video, per Walnut Unlimited. In fact, only 15% didn’t use them, while 75% did so with other formats.”
Playable game ads are one of the newest ad formats for mobile games.
These are interactive ads that encourage your audience to preview or play your game instead of a traditional CTA.
The most popular formats for playable game ads can be found on Facebook and Instagram, which both feature playable game ads for app advertising campaigns.
According to Facebook, playable game ads feature three components:
- A lead-in video that showcases a demo of how your game is played
- An actual game demo where the user gets to interact with your game
- A call to action at the end of the demo that directs the user to the app install page
Arguably the standard for gaming advertisements, banner ads are your standard ad type that features images or videos that directly lead to a landing page or app install page.
These ads can be found within the newsfeed, stories feed, and even in-game.
Banner ads are simple and easy-to-setup on most self-serve social apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Ready to build awareness by launching your game advertising on mobile?
Here are some practical design tips to help you improve installs.
1. Personalize Your Gaming Ads
Much like any other campaign, the more personalized your ad experience, the better the performance will be.
You will earn more clicks and conversions if you tailor your gaming ad to both your audience and the platform they are viewing it on (think Facebook news feed versus an Instagram story).
2. Embrace Brevity
This one especially goes for videos — your gaming ad needs to capture the user’s attention fast.
Facebook’s recommended length for standalone news feed video ads is 15 seconds, but we recommend getting to the point even earlier.
Try to get your message across in the first five seconds of the video. And if you’re using any form of on-screen copy, make sure it’s less than 20% of the ad—and enhances the message without getting in the way of visuals and audio.
3. Show, Don’t Tell
If you want to educate how to play your mobile game or why it’s a blast to play, then your ad should show why or how rather than tell.
A quick three-step visual teaser can entice a user to click for more information. Mobile games excel at this, providing quick previews of how to play the game with a CTA to download the actual game.
A successful game video ad should include a few quick and exciting shots of gameplay, followed by a clear and demonstrative call-to-action at the end.