Antonin Lhuillier, MD North Europe at Gameloft, considers the latest Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report and the advertising formats that are boosting mobile ad spend.
Mobile advertising has yet again been declared the growth media channel in the latest Advertising Association/Warc quarterly ad spend report. Whilst overall forecasts have been revised down, internet spend is on the up, with mobile leading. It also shows that mobile accounted for 96 per cent of total internet growth in Q1 of this year. Forward thinking marketers know that mobile is the channel to invest in, but just what exactly is driving its continued growth?
Confidence in mobile growth
Mobile use is only going to continue to grow. Research by Zenith has found that in 2015, mobile overtook desktop to become the primary means of accessing the internet, and this year it is forecast that people across the world will spend on average 86 minutes a day using mobile internet, compared to 36 minutes using desktop internet. This means that 71 per cent of internet consumption will be via mobile.
The figures from AA/Warc reflect this by expressing a confident forecast of mobile as an advertising channel. The mobile gaming space, in particular, is growing at an exponential rate. The unavoidable presence of Pokémon Go within the recent marketing media agenda shows the appetite that brands have to understand and engage with the mobile player audience.
The reality of mobile gaming is that people play games, across a huge range of ages, demographics and backgrounds. The opportunity for brands lies in tapping into this huge and diverse audience through relevant content, and as the figures show, advertising spend in mobile is leading the way, as brands look to use mobile’s unique offering to their advantage.
Brands need to grasp the opportunity to integrate themselves within mobile habits. The important thing is to do this in ways that are relevant to audiences, and which are undisruptive - especially as issues around ad blocking continue to trouble the industry.
For brands and agencies, mobile presents a huge number of marketing options, and provides rich data on consumers, their demographics, activities online, and how they use mobile devices. This information is hugely valuable to advertisers.
Investing in social media platforms such as Facebook and Google allows for a massive reach, given the volume of consumers that are active on these sites every day. Reach is of course important, but where these platforms fall short is through a lack of immersive and enjoyable advertising. It can be all too easy to scroll past and dismiss ads that do not further the experience, and especially easy if the ads presented are considered irrelevant by the consumer.
The very nature of native in-app advertising can provide higher potential than the likes of Facebook, Google and other digital avenues in terms of ad formats. For instance, in-game advertising – where players encounter ads as part of their game, such as through rewarded video and branded minigames - enables authentic engagement. The immersive experience actively involves the player from start to finish, increasing time spent with the brand, and in turn the favourability towards it. Marketers are under increasing pressure to improve the impact of their campaigns, so it is important to note that within the in-app environment, all advertising is served with 100 per cent share of voice vs. other brands.
Relevance is key, making sure ads reach the right people in the right place and at the right time. Programmatic advertising can provide an excellent opportunity to direct specific content at mobile users. However, this medium only works when used correctly. Placing programmatic advertising content for mobile in the hands of ad networks that don't understand the in-game experience and its audience, risk affecting the patience of the player, and the impact of ads. Brands and agencies need to ensure programmatic content is served in the right games and to the right players.
An added bonus for in-game advertising lies in the fact that viewability rates are significantly higher than the industry standard, being typically 90-100 per cent, and – more importantly – mobile users are more open to brand content in this environment. Previous research from the IAB has found that 75 per cent of players are willing to accept advertising in free apps or online games, as they recognise the trade-off to access the content. Advertising does not have to work against the engagement of the mobile consumer.
The power of branded games
It isn’t just big brands such as Coca-Cola, Netflix and Samsung who are adopting mobile gaming strategies. Celebrities, who are brands themselves, are tapping into mobile games. Their vast audiences of dedicated followers means there is an existing appetite for the content they put out. Big names across the entertainment sector, including the Kardashians, Gordon Ramsey and Britney Spears, have all released mobile games and apps that immerse fans in a digital environment linked to their idols. As well as using their global names to publicise the apps, sales mechanisms and branded content mean that fans are encouraged to go on to purchase. Britney’s game, for example, was linked with fashion brand Juicy Couture.
Creating bespoke games works when you have an established fanbase to build from, but brands can just as easily use branded content within existing mobile apps to immerse customers in advertising content. Car brands - such as SEAT, Ford and Mercedes-Benz - have been able to feature their new models in-game as part of multi-channel campaigns. They have allowed players to view and even drive in game levels, giving a more interactive experience than other mobile ad formats can offer. This type of advertising enhances a player’s experience with the brand, and can form part of the game play experience itself.
It can be easy to look at Facebook and Google as the primary route for mobile ad spend, but marketers should recognize the potential of in-game advertising. A focus on quality positioning, immersion and viewability can be the difference between a click-through and an indifferent scroll-past.
Antonin Lhuillier is MD North Europe at Gameloft
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