In 2019, everyone is a gamer. And gaming offers a huge opportunity for brands to connect with consumers. But the biggest challenge for many marketers is moving beyond the incorrect stereotype that gamers are young males playing on a PC or video game console.
"Not only is the classic teenage-boy-gamer stereotype untrue today, but it’s even less accurate when it comes to mobile games," says Tom Simpson, vice president, brand and exchange, APAC, AdColony. “More than one billion Asian consumers of all ages and genders play games every day on their smartphones. In fact, across many markets in APAC we see a larger number of female gamers than male.”
And people are extremely passionate when it comes to their mobile games. "Two in three consumers would rather give up social media apps or TV than lose their favourite mobile games”, he continues.
The Drum spoke with Simpson on the opportunities that brands have within the APAC mobile gaming market, why rewarded video is the preferred format and what steps brands can take to start investing their advertising budgets on mobile gaming apps.
How big is the opportunity?
The global mobile gaming market is projected to be worth $174 billion by 2021 (for context global movie box office in 2018 was $41.7 billion), according to NewZoo's latest report, and 49% of that revenue is in APAC. Southeast Asia alone is projected to have more than 250 million mobile gamers by 2021.
We have already seen major brands like Unilever, Coca-Cola and Ford, invest heavily in mobile gaming, and advertisers not embracing the demographic diversity and sheer size of the market risk falling behind. Many of the early adopting brands look at mobile gaming as the new social media in terms of the opportunity to engage with consumers at scale.
Mobile gaming is also, importantly, a very brand safe channel. Since user-generated content isn't part of the medium, advertisers can be assured their ads are only being shown in environments they want their brands to be associated with. Proper genre controls and whitelists keep things in the right lane, something UGC platforms are unable to deliver.
Mobile as a whole is the most tracked, measured, and accountable platform for digital. Measurability vendors like Nielsen, MOAT, Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify can accurately measure the viewability and brand safety metrics that brand advertisers are looking for, delivering peace of mind with verified third party numbers.
What is the audience in this category?
Mobile games deliver even numbers of males and females, young and old, high and low income across the majority of markets in Asia.
More ‘traditional’ mobile games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush are popular across all demographics. Word search and word scramble games are the new crossword puzzles for older generations. Football games such as Score Hero index strongly against young males.
It’s easy to find the niche audience you want, or deliver a brand awareness message at scale, depending on advertising objectives and budget.
Is this more pronounced in APAC where mobile drives behaviour?
Gaming is a genuinely global phenomenon. However, entertainment options can be less in emerging markets, and we see mobile usage taking up a larger share of consumer time. So in this sense, gaming does offer a slightly enhanced opportunity in some APAC markets. It’s also interesting that from a cultural perspective, gaming has fewer negative associations in Asia than in Western markets.
The biggest opportunity for brands offered by gaming in APAC is reaching the 40% of consumers using ad blockers. These are blocking ads on every other channel - but you can still reach them on mobile gaming apps via rewarded video (also known as user-initiated video). This is an incremental audience, and serves as a massive opportunity for brands to target this group effectively.
Why is rewarded video an important format? How does this impact effectiveness?
Mobile gamers love receiving rewarded video ads, where a gaming app grants an in-game incentive, such as currency or power-ups, in return for watching a video ad. 82% of APAC mobile gamers said that this is their preferred method of receiving ads.
Rewarded video allows users to have control on when and how they receive ads in a respectful and transparent manner, which in-turn converts into a positive experience with the brand.
Consumers in a gaming environment tend to engage with the advertising they receive. Research by TapJoy shows that gamers are more than twice as likely to pay attention to advertisements placed in mobile games (41%) than ads placed on the internet (17%), in magazines (15%) or on billboards (15%).
This fondness for rewarded video and willingness to engage with brands who play in this space holds true for different demographics - three in four millennials preferred opt-in rewarded ads, and 67% of parents said they are more likely to engage with a video ad in exchange for a reward.
What steps can brands take to start investing?
Gaming is an easy channel to dive into. Inventory is available to buy programmatically, or via app marketing platforms.
The key thing for marketers to keep in mind when engaging with gaming for the first time is the rich, interactive and ‘playable’ nature of the environment. Brands have the opportunity to create rich digital video experiences to drive engagement with their target audience through the use of innovative technology, including interactive video, AR, gamification, and playables. Take it.
Consumer expectations have evolved, and advertisers need to step up their game in order to stay connected and relevant with their customers. While this advice applies to any mobile channel, it is especially crucial for brands to 'mobilise' their ad creative for mobile gaming.