Many more major brands are pumping big advertising dollars into mobile games, pushing Google, Facebook and others into the in-app gaming ad space. Some believe this is in response to brands searching for a secure, safe place to run video ads and engage with consumers.
Jun Group, for example, saw media sales for in-app game ads rise by more than 25% in 2017, compared with the prior year. Adam Cohen-Aslatei, vice president of marketing at Jun Group, says brands took dollars from social platforms and put this into campaigns targeting an audience he calls MOCA -- people who play causal games.
“We’re a ten-year old company and 25% is a massive increase for us,” Cohen-Aslatei said. “When a marketer puts an ad in a game, they know exactly the type of message or content it will show up next to.”
The vast majority of the games catching the dollars of brands and interest of players are casual strategy games like "Wheel of Fortune" and "Pictionary." It appears that the budgets are not coming from search advertising, but rather display ads on sites like YouTube.
“All ads that go into these apps in games are vetted by Apple or Google before they launch in the app store,” Cohen-Aslatei said. “Anyone can create a website and a script to download [malware onto the page].”
Then to initiate the content or the ad in an app, the person playing the game must click on it. “The ad just doesn’t appear,” he said. “And no ads appear on the screen in the game. The vast majority are opt-in, which are called value exchange ads.”
The uptick in media buys in games prompted Jun Group to partner with the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), Tap Joy, and Electronic Arts to analyze the trend that leads passive users to become active players.
On Thursday Google made a major push into in-app game ads to offer brands safety -- announcing several new initiatives and monetization strategies such as Open Bidding in AdMob as well as new interstitial and video rewards ads.
Global interactive gaming is becoming mainstream, with 2.6 billion gamers in 2017 versus 100 million in 1995, according to the 2017 trend report from Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
About 80% of all mobile gamers use gaming apps at least once a day, and the number of mobile gaming apps on Play that combine ads and in-app purchases has grown more than 50% between January 2017 and January 2018,according to Google’s internal data.
Google boasts that it has driven more than 10 billion app installs through in-app ads to date. The kicker is that the company has managed to lure more than 1 billion 30-day active users on Google Play in more than 190 countries, according to the company’s data.
Facebook also recently began allowing all developers to create games for its HTML5 cross-platform Instant Games service that lets users play games on News Feed and Messenger without downloading other applications or programs. Developers can create deep links to directly send players to their game outside of Facebook and Messenger channels.