Interstitial Ads vs Rewarded Ads: Which One Performs Better For Gaming Apps?

September 29, 2022
5 Minutes

Video ads are here to stay, and publishers and advertisers have accepted them wholeheartedly. Users, too, now understand that ads are an integral part of the ecosystem. With the unparalleled growth of video content, smartphone advancements, and internet speed, video ads have emerged as the preferred choice for advertisers and mobile app developers.

While video ads are prevalent in mobile applications, one of the key segments of mobile applications that have adopted video ads is gaming; an exponentially growing industry. The mobile gaming industry is so large that it now dominates over 60% of the entire gaming market, which is worth over $200 Billion (Source: Mashable). But as ads in mobile gaming increase, it becomes critical for developers and publishers to choose the right ad format to promote a healthy ad experience for players. There are various ad formats that can be used in mobile games, but we are going to focus on two such formats.

This article will talk about interstitial and rewarded ads, outlining their features, comparing them for their advantages, discussing which format is the best for mobile games, and highlighting another growing format for mobile gaming.

What Are Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads can be defined as ads that cover the entire screen interface of the device they are playing on. These ads are designed to be engaging and may offer the user specific options for engagement. Users can either skip or exit through a button located on the ad and continue with their experience or go forward to reach the ad’s target location. Interstitials are often displayed at natural pauses in the user’s viewing experience to offer a good experience without disrupting the natural flow. These pauses or natural transition points include level changes, task completions, or when a video file ends. Interstitial ads may use static images, videos, and rich media, but the majority of them are video ads.

Gaming applications significantly leverage interstitial ads, with various formats to choose from. These include the traditional video and image interstitial ads, rewarded interstitial video ads that offer rewards to users for watching, and interactive interstitial ads which the users can interact or play with before choosing to exit or go forward with the ad. While advertisers receive a highly engaging result, many users believe interstitial ads are intrusive as it hampers the smooth flow of the user’s journey through the application.

Advantages of Using Interstitial Ads

The increasing popularity of interstitial ads can be attributed to the long list of advantages they bring for both publishers and advertisers. Here are some of the benefits of using interstitial ads:

  • Separation From The Application: For numerous ad formats, many users cannot differentiate between the ad content and the published content. This may include in-content banners, video ads before video content, and more. However, interstitials clearly separate themselves from the application and display the designated ad.
  • Higher Viewability And Engagement: Interstitial ads are displayed across the whole screen, making them impossible to miss completely. Interstitial ads mitigate the effects of banner blindness and ensure that they have user attention. Users have to either wait for a certain time period to skip the ad or engage with the ad to go further in the ad journey. Either way, the viewability and engagement are higher for interstitials.
  • Revenue Catalyzation: With higher viewability and engagement, interstitial ads have proven to be effective for advertisers. Since these ads are extremely potent in driving users deeper into the ad journey, advertisers are ready to pay a premium inventory rate for interstitial spots. While efficiently employing interstitial ads, game developers can exponentially increase their revenue by charging premium rates.

What Are Rewarded Ads

As the name suggests, rewarded ads are ad units that offer rewards to users when they watch and interact with an ad. These rewards can range from extra lives, continuing the level after losing, in-game currencies, level unlocks, and more. Typically, these ads feature in circumstances when there is an absolute need for rewards, such as all lives lost, a player losing a level, or needing more coins to start playing. Rewarded ads are extremely popular with developers as they almost guarantee 100% engagement, thereby increasing revenue and retention.

While they help developers scale revenue, users also prefer rewarded ads over other ads. Maximum users never pay to use an application, and rewarded ads are a gateway to premium content or in-game items without spending any real money. Typically, rewarded ads have four events that occur for the user, which are the prompt telling user they can watch the ad for a reward, the opt-in when the user decides to watch the ad for the reward, the ad which needs to be completely watched for the reward, and finally the reward which can help the user continue their journey. Since these ads are opt-in, rewarded ads result in a positive user experience and increase retention.

Advantages of Using Rewarded Ads

Rewarded ads offer key benefits for users, publishers, and advertisers, making them a sought-after ad format. Here are certain advantages of using rewarded ads:

  • Better User Experience: Since these ads are opt-in, users only have to watch the ad when they choose to. Therefore, users get more control and don’t feel that these ads are intrusive as they don’t disrupt the user flow, which improves the experience for them. Moreover, each ad follows with a reward, a favorable outcome for the user, adding to the UX.

  • Higher Engagement: Rewarded ads demand engagement from the user, which is extremely beneficial to both advertisers and game developers. Firstly, the users have to opt-in to the ad, and when the ad concludes, users may also have to interact with the ad once again to receive their reward. Since users are looking to earn rewards without spending money, these ads warrant constant interaction.
  • Increased Revenues: For developers, rewarded ads bring in extra revenue over many other ad formats. Since a lot of users will never spend money while using the application, rewarded ads offer an opportunity for publishers and developers to monetize this user base. These ad units bring in higher viewability and engagement, making them better for advertisers, who offer premium rates for this ad inventory.

Interstitials vs Rewarded Ads: Which One Should You Choose For Gaming Applications

As game developers and advertisers look for the ideal ad format to maximize their revenue and reach, interstitial ads and rewarded ads are two of the top contenders. Here’s how they fare on the key parameters:

Publisher Revenue: Gaming application ads have become the key source of revenue for publishers and developers. While both interstitial and rewarded ads offer high rates, the latter emerges as the leader for developers. Since rewarded ads are opt-in, users are not looking to skip the ad and tend to watch it completely before they get a reward. On the other hand, interstitial ads occur randomly for the user and are usually skipped or exited before they are completed.
Lasting Impression: The core benefit of running an ad is to occupy the mind of the user and convert them into a customer for the product displayed. The ads that have minimal lasting impressions tend to have lower conversion values. Rewarded ads tend to make a lasting impression on the user, as they need to watch the entire video ad before they can collect their reward. These ads are a win-win for both advertisers and developers, as it boosts engagement and offers a higher ROAS.

User Experience: User experience is key when it comes to ads. Too many and irregularly placed ads can damage the player experience, thereby reducing retention. Interstitial ads are considered more intrusive than rewarded ads since they occur randomly (for the user) and may even disrupt the gaming flow. While employing interstitials, developers have to ensure they are capping the frequency of the number of ads one user can see and placing them strategically so as not to hinder the natural flow of the game. Rewarded ads, on the other hand, are opt-in and occur at crucial instances, which enables the users to choose when they want to see an ad. This increased control, followed by a reward after watching the ad, is a great experience booster for players.

Rewarded Interstitials: The Best Of Both Worlds

With rewarded interstitial ads, developers do not have to choose between displaying interstitial or rewarded ads. Rewarded interstitial ads are units that cover the entire screen and offer rewards to users in exchange for a view. Much like interstitial ads, rewarded interstitials are placed at natural app transitions. One of the key advantages that rewarded interstitials offer is that they are developer-controlled and do not require an opt-in from the player. Therefore, these ads start without user intervention. If the user continues to watch the ad and finishes it, they get rewards. On the other hand, users can choose to skip the ad to stop it before it finishes and lose the reward. Rewarded interstitials have emerged as a prominent ad format for improving the user’s ad experience in your game.

Choosing The Right Ad For Your Game

While interstitial, rewarded, and rewarded interstitial ads come with a list of advantages and disadvantages, it all comes down to your game’s genre and audience. What works for one game might not work for another game. Therefore, before pinpointing your mobile gaming ad strategy towards one ad format, it is recommended that you run experiments to find the right sauce. Ensure that you are not overdoing any ad format and keeping a favorable gaming experience for your players.

If you want to scale your revenue through your games and reach the right audience, then iion’s next-generation monetization solutions are ideal for you. iion makes it easy for game developers to monetize their games and get the best rates for their ads.  ensures high-quality advertisers for increased brand reputation and offers a seamless blend of ads for the best user experience. With a pool of ad formats to choose from, iion offers you complete control over your ads, enabling you to choose the formats that work best for you.

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  1.  What are interstitial ads?
    Interstitial ads are ad units that cover the entire interface while playing. Users can either skip or exit the ad after a certain time, have to wait for it to end, or engage with it to reach the ad destination.
  2. What are the key benefits of using interstitial ads?
    Since interstitial ads run on the whole screen, they are impossible to miss. Therefore, interstitial ads attract higher engagement and viewability, making them a key choice for advertisers. These ads also bring in better revenue for publishers due to higher engagement.
  3.  What are rewarded ads?
    Rewarded ads are ad units that offer users a reward once they finish watching such ads completely. These ads are extremely popular in mobile gaming and offer users a chance to continue to the level, extra coins, lives, and in-game currency as rewards. These ads are opt-in and offer users a choice before they start playing.
  4. What are the key benefits of using rewarded ads?
    Rewarded ads, being opt-in, offer a better ad experience to players. Moreover, since users choose to watch these ads, they offer better viewability, higher engagement, and in turn, increased revenues for developers.
  5.  What are rewarded interstitial ads?
    Rewarded interstitial ads are a combination of interstitial ads and rewarded ads. These ad units can be played as interstitial ads and do not require an opt-in from the user. The user can, however, exit the ad if they wish to. Once the ad finishes completely, the user receives a reward, much like a rewarded ad.

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