SAN FRANCISCO — In-game ads are all terrible. They pull you out of the experience to show you something you probably don’t want — only that’s not necessarily true anymore, according to one of the companies figuring out the best practices for serving ads on the Web.

Developers can serve up ads that make them money while also simultaneously providing gamers with a positive experience, according to Tapjoy chief executive officer Steve Wadsworth at the GamesBeat 2014 conference today. Tapjoy is a mobile-ad company that provides marketing for a huge number of developers and publishers. Wadsworth says that the idea that in-game ads have to disrupt the player is only the case if you are doing things wrong.

“One of the concerns of all this is to make sure the ads don’t become intrusive,” said Wadsworth. “But the right ad is not intrusive. The right ad actually increases engagement. If you hit a user at the right time, they’re going to play more because of that ad.”

The executive gave an example where a player reaches a “game over” screen after playing for an extended period of time. In a number of free-to-play apps, you would potentially have to wait for your in-game energy to recharge before you can play again. But Tapjoy is working on serving up a sponsored message right at that fail moment that offers the player a chance to continue playing from where they left off if they watch a video advertisement.


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“The user will actually be grateful for that ad,” said Wadsworth. “The right integration creates a win for the user. It also creates a win for the publisher because they increase retention, and it’s a win for the advertiser.”

That “everyone wins” scenario is the ideal solution for advertisements. If a sponsor helps a player with a game they love, it could increase the likelihood that the consumer will build a positive relationship with that brand.

And spend money on a free-to-play game.