The Gift of Attention: Mobile Gaming Influence on Holiday Advertising

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If advertisers looked inside their ad budget stockings this holiday season, they’d find that Santa left a prime opportunity to capture the attention of their target audiences through mobile gaming.

US consumers spend more daily time on mobile games (28 minutes) than any major social network. Overall, people spend about 11% of their mobile time playing games. Yet, there is a big gap between time spent and ad spend, with less than 4% of all ad money going towards mobile games.

This holiday season, however, advertisers should be lining up to take advantage of this shortfall. With inflation concerns affecting US households, consumers will be judicious about their holiday spending. This means brands need to engage, tell their story, and convert customers quickly. Perhaps no other medium can take consumers quickly through that journey like video advertising in mobile games.

Beyond time spent, video ads in games also rank higher at capturing and maintaining attention, as well as brand recall. Plus, mobile games have the advantage of users already engaging with their eyes AND hands, which makes them more likely to interact with a video ad than in social platforms where they are only tuning in with their eyes.

And before you look past this opportunity by thinking mobile gamers are not your target audience, our data shows gamers are more likely to shop in-store than heavy social media users. And beyond that, mobile gamers are also more likely to be regular shoppers at large retailers like Walmart and Target. With consumers across various locations, mobile gaming can provide multi-locational brands with a unique opportunity to engage widespread audiences and drive in-person traffic across their retail locations.

In short, if you’re an advertiser not utilizing mobile gaming in your campaign toolbox, your ad engagement metrics will surely land you on Santa’s naughty list.

US Lags in Recognition of Mobile Gaming’s Advantages

Recent data highlights that US brands rank relatively low in the utilization of mobile gaming’s advertising potential. Brands rely on the popularity of digital video ads to raise brand awareness, yet consumers generally don’t comprehend the full story of the ad campaign through this medium.

When people watch videos on social media, they typically only watch for a few seconds, with the sound off, or entirely skip it. While they have a high viewability rate, there is no guarantee that you will capture their full attention. With the volatile nature of advertising these days — privacy infractions and the rising complaints of MFA sites have consumers worried — gaining quality attention is of the utmost importance.

Thankfully, mobile gaming is the secret weapon to add to your data arsenal to ensure your brand’s products make it on every consumer’s Christmas list. Unfortunately, many US brands have not yet added it to their arsenal.

Mobile Gaming vs. Social vs. TV: Who Comes Out On Top?

When it comes to different platforms, mobile games allow advertisers a better chance of getting noticed. Only 14% of consumers say they see brand advertising that is relevant to them in mobile games. Comparing this to 36% on TV and 21% on social media means that mobile gives advertisers the opportunity to target consumers in a less cluttered environment.

The bottom line is that consumers will more likely see–and digest–your holiday campaigns in mobile gaming ads than other channels.

However, the landscape of advertising in the US does not currently reflect this. Most American advertisers prioritize TV and social investment over mobile games. Most often, consumers see relevant holiday ads while watching TV, most likely with commercials airing between programs. Social ranks in second place. With the popularity of social media platforms, it’s understandable why advertisers are focusing on them. But, this does not mean advertisers are more successful at reaching consumers in these avenues.

While investment in gaming rounds out the bottom in the US, the attention opportunities in mobile gaming advertising are too beneficial for advertisers to squander away. In addition, 64.50% of the US population are mobile gamers. Neglecting this demographic erases a massive portion of your audience base for holiday shopping.

The Gifts of Mobile Gaming: Leveling Up Holiday Campaign Strategies

Mobile gaming is the gift that keeps on giving and Santa has placed several strategic advantages for mobile game advertisers. These gifts can help advertisers connect with consumers. One of the core strengths of advertising in mobile gaming, especially for holiday shopping, is that consumers play these games in their downtime. This means these consumers are more receptive to branded content while playing mobile games.

While video advertising often places ads in jarring and awkward moments, mobile gaming advertising places ads when a natural break is plausible. In simple terms, mobile gaming puts ads where users are more likely to pay attention to them. In fact, these are how the gifts are manifested for advertisers:

Gaming offers the gift of brand building because it provides cooperative attention from the user — an average of 22 seconds — that allows them to digest the ad.

Gaming also offers the gift of brand engagement. Since games are already interactive, advertisers have the opportunity to create content that the users can interact with as well—in a sense, making the ad part of the gameplay.

Santa’s Secret Storytelling: Leveraging Rewarded Videos

Santa’s final gift for holiday advertising in mobile gaming—the gift you save for your children at the back of the tree to savor that last surprise—is rewarded videos. This differentiates mobile gaming from TV and social. While playing video games, consumers can gain power-ups or extra levels of defense to help them along. Advertisers can use holiday campaigns to promote products through these rewarded videos.

Rewarded video also elevates your brand in the eyes of consumers with 54% of consumers agreeing that the ad experience led them to have a more favorable opinion of the brand (compared to only 14% that disagreed).

The flow of this advertising is also favorable among consumers because it integrates naturally with the gameplay. At the end of the video, the player benefits from the game and the advertiser may celebrate a new holiday purchase.

At the core of it all, mobile gaming helps increase consumer attention towards your ads. Mobile game advertising is the perfect symmetry of cooperative advertising — when there is cooperation between a brand’s desire to communicate and a consumer’s desire to listen.  Ad measurement companies have already measured that in-game video advertising can deliver four times more attention than social video. As the industry becomes more open to attention metrics and the gifts of mobile gaming, its brand impact will undoubtedly increase.

Victoria Beyer, VP of Digital Turbine’s West Coast Brand Business in the US, has well over 23+ years of Adtech experience in mobile, programmatic, data, and complex technology covering Brand and DR strategies. Victoria brings her experiences from working at Conversant, Vivendi Universal Music, IAC Interactive, Millennial Media, and Quantcast.