Mobile Gaming: Brand Marketers' Best Kept Secret

Brands can no longer deny that mobile games offer the best opportunity for them to both reach and engage the mobile consumer. According to Nielsen research, 27% of consumer’s time on mobile devices is spent playing games.

That’s more than the time spent on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter’s apps combined. In fact, over 115 million US adults—47% of the population—now play mobile games. 

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just pimply-faced teenage boys playing mobile games, either. Nearly half of all U.S. mobile gamers are between 25 and 44, and the average mobile gamer is a young, female professional with above average income.

The question now facing brands is no longer why or if they should be advertising in mobile games, but how.

There are a number of ways for brands to advertise within mobile games, from interstitials and full screen takeovers to banner ads and even in-game placements. But one model—the value-exchange model—has emerged as the clear front-runner when it comes to not only driving measurable performance but for lifting brand awareness and perceptions as well.

Value-exchange advertising—in which users earn in-app currency or virtual items, such as upgrades and power-ups in exchange for their engagement with targeted advertisements—has proven to be effective at driving measurable actions, such as registrations, site visits, app downloads, social follows and more.

But nowadays, it is proving to be effective to help many brand-centric advertisers reach their goals as well. 

Games provide the perfect medium for brand-driven value-exchange ads because the model works best when contextually relevant rewards are inserted into moments of achievement or failure, found aplenty in mobile games.

Consider the case of an endless running game. When the player loses their life, an advertiser can present them with the opportunity to revive it by watching a brief video or engaging with a rich-media ad. By offering something of value that the consumer wants, the brand becomes a hero and greatly enhances the user experience.

The positive feeling consumers receive from being rewarded in the app experience gets transferred to the advertiser that provided it.

eMarketer reported that smartphone owners’ respect for a brand goes up 22% when they’re exposed to a rewarded ad as opposed to a non-rewarded ad. Their perception of the brand as “premium” goes up 28%.

In essence, the brand becomes a “hero” to the gamer and gets all of the positive associations that come with such a role.

Not coincidentally, the rising use of value-exchange ads among brand advertisers comes at a time when many of those same brands are also adjusting their perceptions of mobile gamers.

Just as they’ve embraced mobile gamers as a desirable audience, they’ve embraced value-exchange ads a brand-friendly model.


We are still in the early innings of mobile advertising and the value-exchange model, and we are learning more every day about what type of creative works best.


Advertisers are seeing dramatic results with ad campaigns that leverage gyroscopes, accelerometers and other unique features of smartphones and mobile devices.


They are testing inventive new creative that makes advertising more fun and engaging—essentially turning their ads into a game within a game.

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