In-game advertising extends beyond casual games as developer confidence grows

Dec 19, 2019 | Ads, Marketing through gaming, Mobile

In-game advertising extends beyond casual games as developer confidence grows
Game developers are using more ad formats and showing more ads per session and are now increasingly beyond just casual games while making more money overall, according to new research.

The fifth annual In-Game Advertising Study, released by deep-data analytics and player management company, deltaDNA, finds that 94% of Free-to-Play (F2P) games now feature some form of in-game advertising (up from 87% in 2018). While the number of developers making between 40-100% of their revenue from ads has increased by 21% year on year.

The study, which is based on the experiences and opinions of hundreds of game developers, suggests that the ‘cautious’ and ‘experimental’ phase of in-game advertising could be coming to an end, with the number of game makers feeling
‘confident’ about their approach to ads up 60% in just twelve months.

Developers are becoming increasingly competent when it comes to balancing ads and In-app Purchases (IAP) in a way that preserves the player experience. As a result, 30% of developers are now showing five or more ads per session (compared to just 20% in 2018) while the number of developers choosing not to show any ads has fallen by almost a third to just 10%.

This confidence also extends to ad formats, with 68% now using more than one ad format within their games (up from 56% in 2018), while 33% use three or more different types of advertising, a rise from 20% the previous year.

But it’s not just casual games where ads are flourishing. The number of core games generating 81-100% of their revenue from ads has increased by 7% in twelve months, as developers becoming increasingly convinced of the legitimacy of ads as a vital revenue stream.

Other key findings include:

  • Rewarded video ads continue to go from strength to strength and are now deployed within 82% of games (up from 65% last year), ahead of interstitial video ads (57%) and banners (34%). Playable ads are now used in 19% of games, down from 21% last year.
  • The number of respondents who identify in-game ads as an ‘important monetization opportunity’ has grown from 59% in 2018 to 64% in 2019, while only 15% believe ads scare off potential payers.
  • When it comes to setting the frequency of ads in a game, the most common concerns among developers are increased player churn (30%), lower levels of player enjoyment (27%) and impact on IAP revenue (16%).
  • Almost a third of developers (28%) don’t evaluate the return they get from UA spend, while the most common form of evaluation (31%) is to compare the CPI from UA campaigns.

Mark Robinson, GM, deltaDNA, said: “In the five years that we’ve been running this study, we’ve seen attitudes towards in-game advertising evolve significantly, to the point where ads now feature in almost all casual games and increasingly in core games.

“By using analytics and A/B testing, game developers have been able to move beyond the retention concern of previous years by integrating in-game advertising as a key part of the player experience.

“This has given developers the confidence to use a wider range of ad formats and show more ads per session, which is why the number of games making the majority of revenue from ads continues to grow.”

Download the full study here

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