The case for mobile gaming apps and video advertising

Why advertisers should include mobile gaming apps in their video advertising strategy

Gamers are no longer a niche: 55% of the U.S. population now plays games via the internet. In response, advertisers increasingly place video ads in games and mobile gaming apps. Paired with innovative mobile ad formats, advances in targeting technology are making it easier to optimize in-app campaigns for both brand and performance KPIs.

Gamers are more diverse than ever 

The gaming audience has evolved to include gamers across generations, geographies, and genders. 

  • Millennials and older Gen Z (25-34 years) still dominate at around 17% of digital gamers, although younger Gen Z (18-24 years) gamers are expected to grow 4% in 2024. 
  • Women gamers now represent around 48% of players worldwide.
  • Older gamers (45-65 years) have joined the fun, comprising about 10% of all gamers. In fact, the number of gamers aged 65+ is set to triple in 2024. 

Demographics aside, gamers are a captive audience, hyper-focused on the game’s content — presenting opportunities for brands’ campaigns to use in-app games for powerful results.

Programmatic technology can transform in-app advertising into a contextually relevant part of gameplay. Instead of intrusive ads, they blend into the complete user experience. A player might whiz by an ad in a racing game or watch a rewarded video to earn extra lives. Players who might be traditionally ad-averse now engage with brands thanks to multiple immersive formats.

The takeaway? Game developers and marketers need monetization and advertising strategies for diverse preferences. Brands need to find where their audiences are playing and partner with the right developers to forge relationships with players.

Innovative in-app ad units deliver winning KPIs

Consumers are already accustomed to in-app ads — after all, they spend 4+ hours daily using mobile apps. This means that video ads need to be engaging enough to keep users within a gaming app. 

Fortunately, publishers have many options to help advertisers captivate users: playable ads, rewarded videos, interstitials, and banner ads. Offering a mix of ad formats maximizes revenue streams — and enhances the user experience by aligning ads with natural gameplay flow. For instance, rewarded videos offer in-game incentives for watching ads, boosting player retention and increasing ad engagement rates.

Hitting performance KPIs

To boost marketers’ performance KPIs, publishers should lean into innovative ad creative features that enhance calls to action. Features like SKOverlay and StoreKit Auto Open streamline the user journey from ad engagement to app installation, reducing drop-offs and increasing conversion rates. 

SKOverlay lets users interact with app store details directly within the ad, encouraging immediate action without disrupting gameplay. Similarly, StoreKit Auto Open effectively shortens the conversion funnel by automatically taking interested users to the app store post-ad viewing.

In-app video ads for brand KPIs

In-app advertising delivers results beyond lower-funnel conversions. For campaigns focused on brand objectives — awareness, consideration, and recall — video ads present a great opportunity to engage with high-attention users through built-in interactivity (e.g., rewarded and playable ads). 

Measurability of ads within the app also allows marketers to gain insights on brand KPIs like viewability, attention, and offline conversions (where IDs are present). Additionally, with the rise of cross-channel content streaming, users significantly favor video ads over static or less-interactive ad units.

Next-level targeting: unlocked

As the advertising industry braces for the demise of third-party cookies, marketers can score major points with audiences by choosing mobile apps as a channel. 

A gamer is more than just a gamer. A parent swiping through a hyper-casual game waiting for soccer practice to end could also be a finance or news enthusiast who consumes other apps and has varying interests. Contextual signals from both these apps in a device offer valuable data that can help identify other facets of a user, ultimately improving addressability for advertisers looking to target prospective consumers without using device IDs or relying on traditional methods of tracking users across multiple apps. 

Better content analysis and classification means that contextual targeting solutions can match relevant ads with the right users with near-deterministic precision, while safeguarding user data and privacy. Thanks to machine learning, publishers or advertisers now also have means to identify unknown and unaddressable ID-less users through on-device cohort modeling — all without relying on any PIIs or IDs, offering safe and secure targeting. 

Video advertising has come of age for gaming

Despite early concerns about disruptive ads, the industry is taking a more balanced approach, offering users control over their ad experiences. More respectful and relevant ad placement has sweetened the public’s outlook on video advertising. In fact, both gaming and non-gaming app users find video ads to be one of the most helpful ad formats.

Video advertising in mobile gaming apps has matured significantly with cutting-edge tech and user-centric experiences. Audiences and technology may have evolved, but the goal remains the same: to build meaningful experiences for gamers while meeting advertiser and developer objectives.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in VideoWeek’s Guide to Video Advertising.

Want to subscribe to our newsletter?