Social and mobile gaming offers a massive and engaged audience to brand marketers. According to data supplied by eMarketer, by 2014 there will be nearly 250 million people playing social and mobile games in the U.S. What's more exciting is that this audience responds well -- and is receptive -- to innovative advertising.
Recent results from a 2012 Harris Interactive survey reveal that more than half of Facebook app users and smartphone owners say they prefer newer video ad formats such as user-initiated and value-exchange ads to pre-roll ads. To align with consumer preferences and put users in control of their brand experience, marketers must begin to embrace value-exchange advertising.
For those new to the term, value-exchange ads are opt-in, reward-based social and mobile video advertising units. Value-exchange ads that run in social and mobile gaming environments offer marketers the opportunity to reach their target audience, all the while inspiring positive brand association during game play.
Often, this emerging tactic is used during "rescue or revive moments," or when a player is running out of lives -- and gives brands the opportunity to offer the player a new life as a reward for viewing their video ad to full completion. In other words, the brand becomes the hero by rescuing players during game play. Value-exchange ads not only enhance the user experience, they actually add value to the game and improve the user's feelings and perception toward the game, as well as the brand -- which is an even greater win.
People playing games will reciprocate by engaging more with the brand after viewing the ad. They will download coupons, visit a brand's site, seek out information, and share the brand's ad, and the are often willing to participate in an ad effectiveness study. According to data supplied by eMarketer, 80% of brand marketers in North America use brand-lift metrics to determine the effectiveness of digital ads. This is also becoming true for value-exchange ads, where marketers can run short-form brand studies and gain insights directly from consumers, including data on brand favorability, purchase intent and ad awareness. Users who have seen the ads are predisposed to give back, and many will participate in a short survey. Thus, the value comes full circle back to marketers.
Value exchange is becoming an incredibly powerful form of advertising, and that translates into real, hard numbers. We have found that on average, social and mobile gaming value-exchange video ads see an average CTR of 11% -- 100 times the industry average for rich media video ads. Social and mobile gaming value-exchange ads also outperform standard banner, rich media, mobile banner and Facebook ads. The ads see completion rates of 91%, exceeding all other video ad completion rates in the industry.
Advertisers are catching on to value-exchange ads in social and mobile gaming environments. For example, recently, a major beverage company used them to increase awareness and drive sweepstakes registrations. The results were outstanding. The campaign garnered a CTR of 31% -- roughly 300 times the industry average for rich media ads.
The rise of value-exchange ads comes at a time when advertisers are faced with many challenges, such as increased scrutiny over viewability, calculating performance and a fragmented landscape of various devices and channels through which they must reach their audiences. Clearly, the digital advertising industry needs reinvention.
I challenge you to truly add value to the person at the other end of your advertising campaigns. Make them feel better than before they came in contact with your brand experience. Surprise them by adding value to their day -- or even better, their social and mobile gaming experience.