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Top Mobile Game Advertising Trends in 2022

By Polina Haryacha 0 comments

Mobile game advertising powers a booming market, but recent developments are forcing mobile gaming brands to rethink their strategies.

Many industries suffered during Covid, but mobile gaming thrived. It’s not slowing down either; mobile game revenues averaged about $1.7 billion a week, up 13% from the same quarter last year. Downloads remain steady too, despite other forms of entertainment returning. 

Mobile gaming player data appears to reinforce this growth. Facebook Gaming found “new” mobile gamers (those who started playing after March 2020) are playing more hours per week than existing mobile gamers. According to Facebook’s report, these gamers are more social and spend more money.

Mobile gaming developers are supplying this explosive demand. In Q1 2021, 477,000 mobile games were available in Google Play Store (up 11.90% from the previous quarter), with 316,000 available in Apple’s App Store (up 6.21% from the previous quarter).

While the availability of mobile games is great for gamers, it presents advertising challenges for gaming brands. In such a saturated market, success isn’t easy. A strong user acquisition (UA) strategy that considers the latest advertising trends is key.

In this article, we’ll break down the latest advertising trends in mobile gaming that video game marketers need to know in 2022.

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Photo by SCREEN POST on Unsplash

Mobile gaming ads are changing to embrace new gamers 

The audience for mobile games is more diverse than ever. And while this presents new opportunities, one-size-fits-all mobile game advertising strategies aren’t going to succeed. Your ad campaigns need to be tailor to these new demographics and their ad preferences. From switching up monetization strategies to experimenting with different brand-driven advertising initiatives, testing is the name of the game

Advertising for mobile games isn’t one-dimensional; you can’t push one style and expect everyone to be receptive. Data reinforces this, with 47% of gamers avoiding playing a game if they feel it’s not made for them. This represents a massive—and missed—opportunity for mobile gaming publishers and developers. 

To appeal to gamers in this landscape, you can shift focus to personalized ad models. Appealing to your target audience’s motivations like we talked about earlier is a way of doing this. To actually implement it, you can tell a story that creates emotional engagement with your ads. 

For example, hyper-casual mobile games like Fruit Clinic traditionally offer a simple game mechanic without complex themes, characters, or storylines.

Through humanizing characters and compelling storytelling, Fruit Clinic had potential users invested and intrigued in their game in a way they hadn’t seen before. This approach accelerated downloads and created attachment to a game which generic gameplay ads would struggle to achieve. 

Targeted mobile game advertising is becoming tougher

Recent advertising changes to major mobile platforms are making it harder to acquire users for specialized mobile games. Apple’s recent identifier for advertisers (IDFA) changes have damaged advertiser’s ability to measure performance and target users. Previously, IDFA was enabled by default, with an opt-out option for users. Now it’s opt-in, which will significantly reduce the effectiveness of IDFA when it comes to measuring mobile gaming ads.

This change is massive, with Facebook suggesting it could reduce developer revenues by 50%. Google’s Android Advertising ID is following suit, adjusting its own privacy features to the detriment of targeting and retargeting ads. While advertisers will eventually adapt to these changes, a revival in more traditional forms of creative advertising looks set to occur.

Gaming influencers align with the creative advertising trend

Gaming influencers represent a perfect opportunity to take advantage of this creative advertising shift in mobile game marketing. They’re authentic, naturally creative with content, and have ready-made, dedicated fanbases. 

Adjust highlights how influencer marketing offers various user acquisition strategies for mobile games. Live streams are a core component of gaming culture, allowing audiences to connect and interact with influencers on a deep level. 

  • Consider having your mobile game featured at a sponsored stream, allowing audiences to get an in-depth, authentic look at your game from someone they know and respect. Sponsored streams represent a great long-term option to advertise your game.
  • Freebies offer another route for you to get your mobile game exposure in the influencer space. Whether it’s a free subscription, access to lucrative in-game items, or even physical merchandise, freebies help build positive relationships with influencers you want to promote your game. It’s adaptable too; you can implement this tactic as part of a long-term sponsored stream strategy, or just offer freebies as a short-term approach when your game launches or drops an update.
  • Events around your mobile game are another way to leverage influencer marketing. Events represent a great opportunity for you to dictate the way you want your game to be advertised. Once your creative is set, it’s just a matter of selecting influencers you think will integrate authentically with your campaign. Offering audiences exclusive items or access alongside your event is always a good idea, too.

Gaming industry leaders recognize the pull of effective influencer marketing. Take PlayKids XD massive global influencer campaign as an example. PlayKids XD partnered with CloutBoost to promote their game via relevant gaming influencers in several regions. 

Ad formats are evolving

The changes we talked about earlier to Apple and Google’s ads privacy laws will push mobile gaming brands toward other ad formats, with playable ads looking set to lead the way. Put briefly, playable ads are interactive ads that let users try out the core functionality of an app or game—like a free demo. 

Take a look at this playable creative by Rovio for their Angry Birds 2 campaign:

 

A core benefit of playable ads is the ability to use in-ad data for ad performance analysis. Plus, they allow users to experience different touchpoints throughout. This interactivity is key, with gamification of ads naturally appealing to mobile gamers. Gamification doesn’t cater to just hardcore gamers either, with playable ads for casual games seeing a 113% rise in 2020. Whether you’re focused on FPS or mobile RPG marketing, interactivity is massive.

Playable ads are seeing such success that they’ve been deemed the most effective in-app ad format. A Facebook case study found that mobile games company Me2Zen increased click-through rate by 10X and saw a 50% return on ad spend through playable ads.

The shift toward motivation-led ads 

Old stereotypes around who plays games and why are a thing of the distant past—particularly with the rise of mobile gaming. In fact, 80% of self-described “non-gamers” play games on their phone. Mobile gaming has broadened gaming’s player base; fishing the same small pools of oversaturated audiences isn’t sustainable. A recent development in the mobile gaming ad space is a focus on player motivations. 

Motivations such as social connection, escapism, progression, discovery, and relaxation can all tap into a different user base. Creating ads according to motivations is paying off, with Venturebeat creating a framework around motivational ads which was 100% effective in converting different players during tests. These ads also saw a 26% increase in Ads Quality Ranking than control creatives. Riot Games leveraged the motivator of social connection in their recent video ad campaign to promote League of Legends: Wild Rift, demonstrating how industry leaders are utilizing motivation-led ads.

Increasing adoption of machine learning 

Machine learning adoption continues to grow, and machine learning-enabled ad tech in mobile gaming is a great example. Zynga acquired Chartboost, a mobile programmatic advertising platform. It’s thought that Apple’s recent IDFA changes are driving the move in part, as major companies look to pivot from an overreliance on the ads platform. Huuuge Games acquired Playable Platform last year, an AI-driven ad creative platform to automate the optimization of their playable ads and interactive video. This is a great example of how combining trends (the effectiveness of playable ads, optimized by machine learning) can create a holistic ads strategy.

This push for automation makes sense. Pocket Gems found that Facebook’s Automate App Ads product is providing better results in three months compared to long-running existing campaigns. Speed is a huge benefit of automated optimization; it allows ad teams to identify winning ads and immediately scale them. Marketers also highlight how automated ads free up time to focus on the product and other projects, realizing cost efficiencies simultaneously.

Conclusion

The mobile game advertising industry is more competitive than ever, but the market shows no signs of slowing down. Generic ad strategies that mobile gaming companies used previously will no longer cut through the noise. In order to get ahead, you need to identify and implement key trends in the mobile game advertising space—fast. By investing in different ad formats such as playable and personalizing or automating new ad creatives, mobile gaming companies can separate themselves from the pack.

CloutBoost is a mobile game advertising agency that helps mobile gaming brands capitalize on the latest trends. By implementing key trends into your advertising strategies, you’re able to distinguish yourself from the rest and find success.