The in-play advertising revolution

Mobile Marketing discusses the in-play advertising movement, the pandemic’s impact on the gaming sector, and the influx of ad tech startups with Adverty CEO Tobias Knutsson.

Mobile Marketing: How much potential do you see in the growing in-play advertising movement?

Tobias Knutsson: We are seeing more and more brands wake up to the lucrative opportunities that come with in-play advertising. They are realising that unlike big expensive activations, in-play advertising is scalable, and since it uses first party-data, brands can rest assured that the right ads are served to the most appropriate users. Adverty believes that the unstoppable growth of the gaming industry will naturally lead to greater reliance on in-play advertising. The untapped potential in this lucrative market is clear; over 2bn gamers worldwide makes the sector ripe for innovative advertising channels like in-play.

MM: How is your partnership with InMobi a game-changer for the advertising industry?

TK: This partnership marks a crucial turning point, as it will enable even more brands and agencies across the globe to reach premium mobile users with ads that blend into the game environment, such as electronic advertising boards in an eSports arena or the extremely popular casual and hyper casual gaming space, using Adverty’s multi-patented in-game ad technology. InMobi is the world’s leading independent marketing cloud, so this news is further proof that the most exciting, largely untapped media frontier is very much open for business. What’s more, both branding and performance advertising options are available, meaning that advertisers can unlock previously unreachable audiences at scale and turbocharge their marketing efforts in ways never before thought possible. With this partnership, the door is wide open for further innovation.

MM: Has the pandemic led to a growth in the mobile gaming market?

TK: It was little surprise that the global lockdown led to an inevitable increase in the online and mobile gaming market, with the number of worldwide gamers predicted to hit 3 billion. We don’t expect the growth of the sector to slow down after the pandemic either; indeed millions of people were introduced to online and mobile gaming for the first time in the pandemic. These amateur gamers will likely mature along with the industry and some may even go on to become lucrative gamers who build full-time careers out of their hobby.

MM: How has the pandemic accelerated the growth of in-game advertising?

TK: The explosion of the gaming industry has, in turn, led to a boom in in-game advertising, as brands get savvy to the bountiful opportunities on offer to engage with otherwise unreachable gamers. We saw in-game advertising go mainstream during the pandemic, as brands proactively looked for more innovative and creative ways to engage with audiences who were in lockdown and therefore unable to engage with traditional advertising channels like OOH, sport sponsorship and in-venue advertising.

As a sign of the times, many global agencies and Fortune 500 companies jumped headfirst into the fast-growing and immersive medium, including Omnicom, Dentsu, GroupM and Publicis. Indeed, these agencies’ interest in in-game advertising was a result of the world’s largest brands already utilising the channel, including Coca-Cola, Samsung and Volkswagen.

The huge surge in online gaming caused by the pandemic led to massive increases in gaming traffic and downloads with Twitch reporting a 195 per cent growth in first-time game viewers during lockdown. Unsurprisingly, mobile accounts for almost 50 per cent of the global gaming revenues and is the fastest-growing gaming device, creating plenty of opportunities for savvy advertisers. With analysts claiming in-game ads perform better than some leading digital advertising channels such as Facebook and display, there’s never been a better time to join the in-game revolution.

MM: What does the influx of ad tech startups tell us about the potential of the mobile gaming industry?

TK: The sector continues to grow and mature, so naturally this is leading to investment in ad tech startups who are leveraging the growing interest in in-game advertising. AudioMob is a platform enabling advertisers to engage with mobile gaming audiences without disrupting gameplay via in-game audio ads, and the London company has raised over $2m to date. Similarly, South African startup Carry1st is a mobile gaming publishing platform that enables global gaming studios to unlock the untapped African market and they recently raised $6m in Series A funding to scale the business.

The proliferation of these startups and their subsequent investment rounds continue to add credibility to the online gaming industry and is a wakeup call to advertisers who can no longer ignore its potential.