Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why in-app is a new highway for brand monetisation

Partner Content

By Tobias Knutsson, CCO Adverty

Gaming is one of the few industries to have benefitted from the pandemic and associated lockdowns. There it all was on your phone; no need to buy a console or even a game. For many, it was readily available, and offered a social element, too.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, global mobile game downloads are expected to increase by 35.7% year-on-year in 2020 to 57bn, up from 42bn in 2019, according to As a gaming platform, mobile is growing faster than console or PC in terms of usage – in fact, it is now outpacing TV as the media platform of choice. And, thanks to programmatic offerings, publishers can simply plug into the ad networks, making the in-game ad buying process seamless.

The second highway

Today, though, it’s still not well known that programmatic is possible in-game and in-app – with all the same metrics, measurements, and KPIs. There is this second highway, and if we consider time spent, then mobile is far more significant than desktop, with time spent in-app far greater than time spent on the web, too.

What’s more, with incoming 5G networks promising console-quality graphics in your pocket, this trend is only set to continue. Increasing data speeds will help advertisers to deliver a superior experience, enabling more effective monetisation within this ad model. It is not too far-fetched to claim that, in the not too distant future, 5G will bring about the death of the console.

Performance, branding and measurement

Put simply, mobile gaming is a media channel of exceptional promise. Today, networks like ours allow for both performance and branding opportunities: Our in-play format lets advertisers fit unobtrusively into games, with brand awareness ads in virtual locations such as billboards; while our new in-menu format offers brands an opportunity to place contextually-relevant, performance-focused banner ads in between gameplay.

We have also worked hard to address issues around viewability, which, along with reach, is the abiding obsession of advertisers. And we have taken into account factors such as objects in motion, too, while in the US we recently patented the algorithmic technology, known as BrainImpression, which facilitates measurement of complex scenarios.

Seamless advertising

Other ad solutions – which primarily offer incentives following a ‘must-do’ action in gaming settings – offer only coercive engagement as opposed to enabling effective brand advertising. Game developers must note, too, that, very often, with these solutions, competitor games are advertised and the end user may end up going elsewhere. This risks forgoing the developers’ holy grail – the big spenders in games.

On the other hand, genuine branding within the gaming experience, whether in-play or in-menu, is a source of monetisation for developers which does not cannibalise the product. It’s advertising in a non-intrusive and contextually relevant way. And if a developer can add another source of revenue in this way – what is there to lose?

What’s more, our platform is built to run programmatic ads seamlessly, and at scale. This means automation of ad delivery -no signing contracts or delivering files, but instead automatic reporting and payments. For the advertiser, it’s an opportunity to find fresh advertising space, within the burgeoning media frontier of gaming and also to drill down into categories – given that targeting requirements can enable diversity, scale and entirely new audiences.

Ad investment failing to match the scale of opportunity

Yet still, there is significant work to be done when it comes to integrating gaming into the wider media consciousness along with the other channels that make up the programmatic offering. At this stage, the discrepancy between the size of the gaming audience and the scale of the advertising market is increasingly hard to justify. More than 2.6bn consumers are now gamers. These individuals frequently demonstrate higher rates of engagement than TV viewers, while gaming’s demographic range is far broader in both age and gender mix than the prevailing stereotypes suggest. Despite all this, ad investment in this category stands at only 5% of that claimed by social media – a mere fraction.

This significant mismatch in terms of ad investment and channel potential relates to the fact that usage patterns are changing, and is based on historical factors. For some time now, mobile has been taking over. It is high time, then, that developers were made aware that there is this second highway to monetise.

The need for education 

Education is needed in the gaming community as well as the advertising industry. There’s an education piece for developers, ad buyers, and brands that is required. 

Gaming is unchartered territory for many brands and, if the ad is unobtrusive, rather than frustrating, and can be leveraged via seamless programmatic buys – reaching new, previously hard to reach, audiences in the process – then what is there to lose?