With 2018 getting underway, it’s an ideal time to reflect on a handful of emerging trends in mobile app monetization that have real potential to take off next year. These have each proven effective in small ways to date, but are replicable, scalable, and ripe for further innovation.
Reward now, watch later
When Featherweight Games released Rodeo Stampede, it introduced an interesting twist on the traditional rewarded video model that typically rewards players upon completing a video advertisement. In Rodeo Stampede, Featherweight flips the model, giving players who meet an untimely death an opportunity to continue the game immediately in exchange for watching a video ad after the level has been completed.
Delaying the ad keeps the player engaged at critical moments, and in many instances leads to longer game plays and happier players. Dylan Bevis, director of Featherweight Games weighs in: “We felt like the benefit of not breaking the players flow by making them watch an ad mid-level was self-evident.” Ads appear at natural breaks, such as between levels. This approach improves performance for advertisers, as players are more receptive to viewing and engaging with ads on their own terms.
In 2018, we expect to see developers borrow this successful strategy and develop entirely new creative applications for rewarded video. Bevis describes some benefits of creative implements for rewarded placements. “Allowing the player to use the revive prior to watching the ad made a huge improvement to the experience of that ad placement.”
Brands eye mobile games as valuable promotional tools
Throughout the course of 2017, brands and their agencies have exhibited an increased interest in game integrations. Such brand integrations can take the form of a custom branded level, branded game menus, or the addition of new characters or virtual items. Brands are learning they can combine rewarded video with game content to deliver awareness, engagement, and promotion in a single app that hits their key demographic targets.
Although brand integrations have been around for a few years now, games like Recolor and QuizUp have standardized the way brands are injected into these environments. This allows brands to create more memorable and immersive experiences for players at a lower investment levels.
Brands love the heightened level of engagement they receive through such integrations while developers benefit from a new stream of ad revenue that doesn’t interrupt gameplay. 2017 felt like the year brands finally understood the value of mobile games, so we anticipate 2018 will be the year they act on that knowledge in a big way.
Playable brand ads catch up to playable game ads
If there’s one thing advertisers and game developers can mutually agree upon, it’s that engagement matters. MRAID (Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions), a protocol that enables interactive mobile ads, experienced wide adoption by mobile game advertisers in 2016-’17. The game industry is often a step or two ahead of others in terms of advertising sophistication, so naturally 2018 will be the year the rest of the advertiser community gravitates to it. PepsiCo, Dell, and McDonald’s have all recently run MRAID campaigns on rewarded gaming inventory, signaling bigger and broader things to come.
While AR/VR are hot and tantalizing user engagement tools for brands, expect the real volume to come from a more proven interactive format. MRAID drives great user engagement without relying on the expensive production or the slower-than-expected user adoption rates currently seen in the AR/VR space. Playable brand ads are simply too clear of a winner for Fortune 500 brands to ignore.
The pace of innovation for mobile app monetization can at times be dizzying. While ad platforms furiously compete to outperform one another, game developers are imagining novel methods of monetization that increase revenues without compromising user experience. All signals indicate that 2018 will provide brands with an unparalleled opportunity to access highly engaged individuals with new and immersive ad formats, while app developers will continue to do what they do best – create entertaining content with multiple monetization entry points to drive high LTVs.
Robert May is the director of business development at HyprMX, a California native, a foodie, and a lifetime gamer.