Mobile Gaming Ads – you can do better

The rise of mobile gaming has seen a proportionate increase in adverts – with some of the same inconveniences we experience in website advertising. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a bad thing…

Imagine downloading the new top-trending free-to-play mobile game, and thinking “I can’t wait to see how they’ve integrated ads in there”. Can’t say that rings a bell?

The reality is, that after completing the first level of your shiny new game, you were subjected to an unskippable 30 second video attempting to entice you to start a digital farm. Frustration, exasperation; it’s understandable. But we think that mobile gaming has a unique potential to integrate ads not only respectfully, but desirably.

The baseline is: we need ads – and they need us

Simply put – adverts are what pay the developers and let us have so many free-to-play games. Which in turn, helps support a diversity of affordable options for different players. And this is fine – we all know there’s no such thing as ‘free stuff’, and will expect an ad or two along the way. 

Keep in mind as well that the gaming space (mobile in particular) has boomed in the last couple of years. More games means more developers, and more developers means more competition. With more competition, there’s less money up for grabs – so we can’t blame them too much for trying to make a buck or two.

But when ads start taking away from the player’s enjoyment of a game, or in some cases, make them abandon it, that’s when problems arise. Ultimately, they are undermining the very culture they helped create.

However, after playing many mobile games, we think this is an easily avoidable problem. We’ve put together our top 4 suggestions for developers, so that when making their games they can keep their players happy without burning a hole in their pocket.  

Play a lot of mobile games? Let us know how would you like to see adverts change/adapt in mobile games. Any cool ideas and we’ll add in to this post.

1. Advertise in moderation

Usually when you open up a mobile game, it’s probably because you want to play that game. Similarly, if you choose to go to a specific website, you’re likely interested in the content there (whether that be a video, an article, or a podcast on the Byte This website – see what I did there?). 

Now raise your hand if you have sometimes been shown so many ads along the way, that you actually ended up leaving altogether. I’m not the only one, right? 

Across platforms, you’ll probably have different reactions to ads depending on where they range, on a scale going from: “I’ve got a picture of the new gaming laptop in the bottom corner of my screen, but it’s fine, as it doesn’t interfere with what I’m reading” to the dreaded: “my screen is filled with a graphic video advertising hot singles with raunchy sounds… Just as my boss rocks up”. Which will actively push most people away.

The fact is, due to the massive rise in ad blocking software in the last decade, marketing companies have done a lot of research on the subject to find out exactly where the average consumer draws the line. This has resulted in industry guidance such as the Better Ads Standards, which give evidence-based guidelines on which type of ads tend to push you away. 

This might be slightly different in the mobile gaming space, but as the line stands at the moment, a lot of companies (and developers) either don’t know these standards, or don’t follow them. In short, there can definitely be a better balance. (AKA – tone it down developers!)

Image source: Tenor (thanks!)

2. Get more interactive!

Don’t get us wrong, but ads are a good thing. Without them, we wouldn’t know about the new Spider-Man film, the new Cyberpunk game, even the latest iPhone that you definitely don’t need (but want). 

But, what about instead of watching a bunch of video ads that you’re only waiting to skip after the mandatory countdown, you had a fun little mini-game? This is perfect for mobile games. It makes the ad more fun, and we get to try out new games throughout the advert. 

One drawback to this method though, is sometimes developers can get a bit ‘spammy’. Although this applies to any type of advertisement, going through the same motions again and again after seeing a specific interactive ad several times in a row can quickly get annoying. However, the variety of the mini-game and the quality of the design can go a long way towards fixing that.

3. Know who we are (without being creepy…)

The products you buy can tell brands a lot about their audience, and mobile games are no different. With their players info, game developers can carefully choose the ad library they are pushing through their content in order to match it to their customers tastes. 

This not only means you get ads you may want to see, but it also makes them more effective – which should all translate into more money for the developers. It’s a win-win, really – we just need to see more of this. So developers, if you’re reading this, please spend a bit more time getting to know us, before sending us a bunch of possibly irrelevant ads.

4. Reward us

Most games have some form of in-game currency, or equivalent. Whether it’s getting one more life to match sweets, the opportunity to flap a bit longer, or a hint for that final word in the puzzle, it’s all desirable when you’re playing the game. So desirable, that we’ll happily watch an ad for them.

If you play mobile games, then you’ve seen it. More and more games recently are applying this technique and offering players a chance to watch an ad for an in-game reward. This is an active choice for us, and because they are rewarded at the end, it makes it tolerable for ads to be bolder and longer, all the way up to 30 second videos (without invading our personal space). And it adds something material for the user in the form of a game-play mechanic. Again, a win-win situation.

So there you have it, that’s the kind of positive advertisement culture we’d like to see more off in our free-to-play media. Luckily there’s already a lot of great games out there which apply some of these principles, but we wouldn’t mind seeing a few more!

Cover image source: @plqml | @feliperizo.co on Unsplash (thanks!)