In-Game Advertising

Mobile Game Monetization's Future: Unlocking Brand Dollars

May 18, 2023
5 Minutes

As the $600-billion advertising industry and the $300-billion gaming industry continue to evolve, finding the right business model that leverages both is key. 

Historically, automated tech sorcery (programmatic advertising) has controlled ads in, around, and away from the game. 

But to make mobile gaming monetization truly shine, technologies and platforms can be the magic wand publishers need to enhance core elements for gaming.

This requires a diversified approach, including a mix of performance-driven campaigns and premium brand campaigns.

While, performance-driven campaigns can be a key strategy when it comes to metrics like app installs, user registrations, and in-app purchases. They're all about getting those sweet, measurable results and making mobile gamers go "Click, click, BOOM!" 💥

On the flip side, premium brand campaigns weave together eye-catching, immersive content that speaks to the hearts of gamers. They're here to dazzle and enchant through tailored  ads that resonate. ✨

But what happens when these two powerhouses join forces? Cue epic music 🎶

🌈 It creates a thriving ecosystem that attracts all kinds of advertisers, ensuring fresh, engaging, and downright awesome ad content. 

Now let’s dive deeper into how you can secure more brand dollars.

Leveling Up Programmatic Advertising for Gaming

Programmatic advertising has been the go-to method for many, thanks to its incredible efficiency and user-friendliness. 

But there's always room for improvement to unleash the full potential of mobile gaming monetization:

  1. 🎯Measuring Attention Programmatic advertising offers the chance to measure attention, which is a metric used to determine the value of ad space. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has set standards that defines viewable display impression as more than 50% of an ad's pixels being on screen for a minimum of one second, but gaming ad units need something more tailored to their unique environment. 
    However, all is not lost. Companies are now conjuring new measurement tools to bolster brand confidence. 
    Top tip: Overcome this hurdle by combining performance and premium brand campaigns.
  2. The elusive nature of programmatic advertising can make it hard for advertisers to know where their ads land and for publishers to grasp their ad inventory's true value. 
    This lack of transparency is one of the limitations that can lead to ad fraud and brand safety issues. This can be overcome by using platforms that provide visibility, be sure to select the right monetization partner as this is central to success.
  3. 🚀Low-quality Ads: Programmatic advertising has some limitations, which can lead to ads that just don't click with users. 
    These limitations include: 
    Poor targeting:
    Inability to accurately reach the desired audience.
    Lack of creative control:
    Limited ability to customize ad content and presentation.
    A focus on scale over quality:
    Prioritizing ad reach rather than ad relevance and effectiveness.
    Audience ad fatigue:
    Overexposure causes users to become less responsive to ads.
    Budget constraints:
    Limited resources affecting campaign scope and quality.
    Limited oversight:
    Reduced control over ad placements and potential brand safety issues. 
  4. 🧩Fragmented Ecosystem: A study on the programmatic supply chain study shows that only 65% of programmatic ad spend reaches the publisher. 32% is divided among agencies, demand- and supply-side platforms, technology and fees, and the remaining 3% of spend is unable to be attributed.
    Be sure to use platforms that have built in solutions that provide standardization, transparency and streamline the ecosystem to create safe and lucrative opportunities for publishers and advertisers.
  5. 🍪Goodbye Third-Party Data: The end of third-party cookies means advertisers will lose access to most third-party data, making it tougher to run programmatic campaigns. 
    By utilizing first-party data, building strong partnerships, and adopting privacy-centric advertising methods, the gaming industry can continue to thrive in a post-cookie world.
    In a nutshell, programmatic advertising isn't perfect, but many of these challenges can be overcome with clever solutions and strategic finesse.  Such as combining direct demand and full-funnel game advertising for epic results. 🚀

Power-Up with Diversified Demand Sources

Programmatic advertising can fall short, especially for genre-specific games, emphasizing the need for a variety of demand sources.

In 2022, a striking dip in eCPM was seen across iOS and Android platforms:
📉 Rewarded videos on iOS: 20% plunge in the US, 21-47% nosedive in the UK
📉 Rewarded videos on Android: Tiny 0.3-4.7% dip in the US, 6-18% drop in the UK
📉 Interstitial video eCPM on iOS: 10-23% decrease in the US, 22-25% fall in the UK

These shifts are likely due to rising inflation, repercussions from the war in Ukraine, and Apple's Identifier for Advertisers changes.

While programmatic advertising is often the simple, go-to approach, publishers need more diverse options to boost their ad revenues. Enter direct demand. 

Capturing Brand Dollars: A Game-Changer for Publishers

By allowing advertisers to buy ad space directly, publishers can diversify demand sources and discover new revenue possibilities for their games.

Direct deals are a great way to unlock the potential of contextual advertising, enhancing user experience, click-through rates, conversions, and revenue.

Key Benefits of Direct Demand:

  1. 🤝Strong Advertiser Relationships: Shortening the route between advertiser and publisher allows for tailor-made, high-impact ad campaigns catering to the game's audience and the advertiser's target audience. No wonder 52% of US and European marketers plan to increase their contextual spend.
  2. 💰Premium Ad Pricing:  Direct demand paves the way for better eCPM, as advertisers are willing to pay more for well-placed content. Publishers usually sell their top-tier inventory via direct deals, luring in big names like Coca-Cola, Ford, and Unilever, which are investing heavily in mobile game advertising.
  3. 🌍Diverse Audiences: The global gaming audience is estimated to reach estimated at 3.2 billion in 2022, with women making up a whopping 47% of this audience and dominating the mobile gaming category with a share of up to 61%. By embracing direct demand in their mobile game monetization strategies, publishers can capitalize on the growing enthusiasm of major brands to tap into their extensive ad budgets.
  4. 🎯 Ad Relevance and User Experience: Better ad targeting, and relevance mean happier users and higher engagement. Contextual advertising shines here, when ads align with the brand message and game environment it helps to maintain brand safety. This also paves the way for innovation though interactive, gamified ads, or even augmented reality experiences.
  5. 🔒 Brand Safety and Control: Working with direct demand partners ensures greater control over the ads displayed, allowing publishers to maintain brand safety and integrity. Keep communication open and consistently evaluate your partnership's performance to find areas to improve or expand.

Direct demand improves transparency, lowers the risk of ad fraud, and ensures brand safety – a win-win for everyone

Challenges in Capturing Direct Demand 

One of the reasons programmatic advertising became so popular in the first place, is that connecting with global brands and unlocking those brand dollars can be a challenge.

Not every publisher has the superhero powers of Nintendo, Sony, or EA. Most just can't muster the resources, muscle, or minutes to make those deals happen.

👾 Level 1: Resource Shortage – Smaller publishers often lack a trusty sales squad to build direct connections with high-end brands, making it hard to score those big-ticket deals.

👾 Level 2: Network Necessities – To strike direct deals, publishers need a solid web of contacts with top brands and advertisers. Sadly, building and keeping these connections can be a tall order for the little guys with a low profile.

👾 Level 3: Negotiation Ninja – Direct deals demand some serious negotiation skills, and for publishers with fewer resources and less experience, this can be tricky. They'll need to learn the ways of industry knowledge, pricing tactics, and legal lingo.

But don't hit the pause button just yet. The sweet rewards of direct demand make it a must-try for publishers eager to power up their game monetization.

By unlocking the direct demand achievement, publishers can ride the wave of premium brand interest and cash in on their ad dollars, level up their revenue and their users' experience.🕹️

Introducing iion: Bridging the Gaps & Maximizing Monetization

Navigating direct deals can be tricky, but fear not – iion is here to help you conquer the game advertising and monetization world.

iion’s platform bridges the gap between advertisers and publishers, providing access to direct brand campaigns for top-of-the-funnel brand awareness efforts and powered up programmatic advertising opportunities. This powerful feature gives publishers an edge over the competition.

Our data-packed platform untangles the ad landscape by gathering gaming-related media inventory, creating a user-friendly marketplace for brands to find and buy ads across the gaming universe (in-game, around the game and away from the game).🌐

iion's got all the tools and tricks you need to max out monetization opportunities:

1️⃣ Hybrid Direct Programmatic Approach: iion fuses the personal touch of direct deals with the high-tech wizardry of programmatic advertising. This powerful combo includes:

  • Private Marketplace (PMP) & Programmatic Guaranteed (PG) deals for programmatic direct: This blend of PMP and PG deals offers the best of both worlds, enabling publishers to access high-quality, premium demand from brands while maintaining control over inventory and pricing.
  • OpenRTB for programmatic open auction demand: iion's OpenRTB integration facilitates seamless, real-time bidding, optimizing ad placements and revenues for publishers in the ever-evolving gaming landscape.

2️⃣ Direct Agency Campaigns: iion makes direct agency campaigns a breeze, making the advertising ecosystem more efficient and fun. By helping agencies, media groups, and brands buy premium media inventory directly from publishers, iion creates a winning scenario for everyone involved:

  • Publishers: Gain access to ad spend and monetization opportunities typically reserved for premium brand campaigns, effectively diversifying their revenue streams, and boosting eCPMs without an international sales squad. 🌍
  • Advertisers: Can easily find and secure premium media inventory across diverse gaming environments, ensuring their campaigns are showcased in top-notch, brand-safe spaces, leading to more clicks and conversions. 🎉

Direct demand + strategic diversification + the right monetization and advertising partner = game monetization success and lasting revenue growth. 

By leveraging iion's unique advantage, publishers can unlock new revenue streams, forge lasting partnerships with premium brands, and ensure their gaming environment remains attractive and engaging. 🕹️

The Future of Game Monetization: The Direct Demand Advantage

As gaming skyrockets, it's crucial for publishers and advertisers to level up their strategies and seize the potential of this thriving market. 🎯

Statista predicts that mobile game advertising spend will increase by almost 50% over the next two years, reaching a stellar $130.9 million in 2025

By mixing up demand sources and tapping into direct demand, publishers can uncover hidden revenue treasures and max out their ad revenues. 

Meanwhile, advertisers can rest easy knowing their ads are in a brand-safe space with an awesome user experience, leading to more clicks and conversions.

iion is your trusty sidekick in this quest, bridging the gap between publishers and premium brands. 

Remember, the right partner is key to unlocking success in the ever-changing world of game monetization. So, why not take the pressure off and let us do the heavy-lifting for you while you see your revenue come rolling in.

Don't miss out on the benefits of direct demand – team up with iion today.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the future of the mobile game market?
    The market is expected to continue its rapid growth due to factors such as increased smartphone penetration, improved mobile technologies, and the rise of 5G networks. 
    The market will likely see the emergence of new gaming genres, innovative monetization strategies, and increased focus on user acquisition and retention. 
    Additionally, cloud gaming and cross-platform gaming experiences could become more prevalent in the mobile game market.
  2. Is mobile gaming the most profitable gaming segment?
    Yes, it’s one of the most profitable segments in the gaming industry, thanks to its accessibility and massive user base. In-app purchases, advertisements, and subscriptions are some of the major revenue sources for mobile games. 
    However, industry competition is fierce, and success depends on factors such as user engagement, retention, and diversified monetization strategies.
  3. What is the biggest mobile game market?
    The biggest mobile game market is China, followed by the United States and Japan. These markets contribute significantly to global mobile game revenues, and their influence is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. 
  4. What is the most profitable game genre?
    The most popular genre varies depending on market trends, user preferences, and monetization strategies. 
    However, some consistently high-performing genres include casual games, strategy games, and puzzle games. Battle royale games and multiplayer online battle arena games have also proven to be highly profitable in recent years.
  5. What percentage of mobile apps make money?
    The percentage of mobile apps making money can be difficult to estimate, as there is a vast number of apps and profitability depends on many factors such as user base, monetization strategies, and app category. 
    It’s important to note that a significant percentage of apps do not generate substantial revenue, as competition in the app market is fierce and only a small portion of apps achieve widespread success.

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