How Pokémon Go revealed games to be the future for marketers

The success of Pokémon Go underscores what we already know: mobile games defy demographics and are consistent, strong performers at app stores, so why aren't marketers diving in? Robby Yung discusses in this guest post.

A highly-engaged, almost daily global audience around nine times the size of the total viewership of this year’s AFL Grand Final. That’s the power and reach of Pokémon Go.

Robby Yung:

The mobile game had an audience of around 45 million daily active users in August – a month after its phased global launch. The record-setting, meteoric rise of Pokémon Go. Go has exemplified the power of mobile media to rapidly engage massive global audiences.

But, if marketers had been following the eyeballs, they would have been leveraging this channel long before Pokémon Go’s success.pokemon go water

Mobile has been a key buzzword in marketing circles for some time now. And it makes sense: given that users spend more time on their smartphones than any other device, logically, advertising spend should be targeted accordingly.

Yet, in Australia at least, the advertising-on-smartphones debate has steered clear from the idea of advertising in mobile games and apps, instead focusing largely on the mobile offerings of web giants Google and Facebook. The industry is largely being held back by rigid standard ad formats rather than embracing the blank advertising canvas that is a mobile game.

This, despite Apple — at every iPhone launch in recent memory — indicating that mobile games are the strongest performers in terms of downloads and engagement at the App Store.

This is an underused channel because many marketers know very little about it. android-phone-screen-shoot-app-store-games

For starters, you don’t need to build a game from scratch to advertise in one. There is a difference between advertising in a game and the gamification of a brand.

The first step is to acknowledge that games are media, just like television and print, into which advertisers can inject a message. The interactive nature of a game doesn’t detract from its ability to deliver brand messaging; it enhances it.

Typical reservations around in-game advertising concern “interrupting the game experience” and “appropriateness of content to the brand.” Yet these issues rarely surface in discussions of television advertising, where advertisers regularly connect with audiences in the midst of intense television dramas to advertise ordinary consumer goods.

Much about what we read in the space revolves around big brands using games to create an interactive experience with their customers. This is great, but it’s not the only way.

Much like programmatic ads on a high-traffic website, marketers can instead opt to place versions of their campaigns in high-use, high-engagement games.

The sheer amount of high-traffic inventory in this space is set to explode due to an expected shift in the business models underpinning the mobile gaming sector.

Advertising is set to become one of the key revenue drivers of mobile games into the future, replacing the freemium model – where the game is free and users pay for add-ons – that has buoyed it to date. candy-crush-screen-shot-game-in-play

Rapidly increasing audience numbers for mobile games is driving this shift. And success stories like Pokémon Go and Candy Crush are only further pushing it in this direction.

In turn, developers will shift their focus away from freemium titles and will instead develop free games that are supported with in-game interactive or banner advertising.

This form of advertising in mobile games is performance based. If traffic falls by 50%, it means that it will take twice as long to deliver the same amount of inventory, but you only pay for what is delivered.

This gives the developers an immediate incentive to both promote their game on the app stores – to drive audience – and also ensure they keep users engaged with regular updates.

Many saw the rise of Pokémon Go as a tipping point for augmented reality technology.

But for us, it’s demonstrated the reach, power and influence of mobile games, particularly ones that include major brands and how they can connect with consumers.

Robby Yung is the CEO of Animoca Brands. He will be talking about how mobile games can be leveraged as an advertising channel at the Mumbrella Entertainment Marketing Summit



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