Research finds $192 million spent by gaming apps in ANZ for user acquisition in 2021

AppsFlyer has released its State of Gaming App Marketing 2022 edition findings for the ANZ region which show US$138 million (AU$192 million) was spent by gaming apps for user acquisition in 2021.

The AppsFlyer State of Gaming App Marketing study is an in-depth report on key trends that shaped gaming in 2021, aiming to help gaming app marketers and developers understand the current climate and adjust strategies and innovations accordingly. The findings highlight a heightened sensitivity and awareness to data privacy and security in gaming apps operating in the ANZ region.

The research found 80% of gaming apps in ANZ have implemented Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt, with low user opt-in rate which was averaging at 37% across genres, addressing the ANZ region’s more amplified awareness of data privacy and security.

App Tracking Transparency not a solution for complete privacy

Apple’s ATT prompt is an opt-in privacy framework requiring all iOS apps to ask users for permission to share their data – it effectively asks users to consent to having their data shared by Apple to advertisers.

The Financial Times published a report late last year revealing the processes behind the feature aren’t exactly airtight when it comes to completely protecting user privacy from advertisers.

The feature, introduced in iOS 14.5, is designed to prevent app developers from tracking your activity and selling that information to advertisers.

However, it was noted in the report that while opting in and asking apps to not track you prevents apps from collecting and selling data tied to your individual, personal advertising identity, it doesn’t keep developers from collecting any information about you at all.

Effectively, developers can access user data that enables them to target ads at cohorts, justifying this by stating that unique identifying user data isn’t assigned – data is anonymised and grouped to help advertisers without technically tracking users individually. Some personalized data like IP address, location, and screen size still makes its way to advertisers from developers.

Fast facts: the mobile gaming industry as an advertiser’s goldmine

While iOS 14.5+ and other privacy updates have posed a challenge, the gaming industry is looking to stabilise as highlighted by the following data:

  • Globally, US$14.5 billion (AU$20.2 billion) was spent by gaming apps on user acquisition (UA) in 2021 compared to US$138 million (AU$192 million) in in ANZ
  • The Non-Organic Installs (NOI) trend on Android remains stable while iOS (traditional*) saw a downward trend
  • Hardcore games continue their winning streak with In-App purchase (IAP) revenue with a 1.7x increase (70% rise in iOS) in iOS in Australia
  • The midcore gaming vertical (which includes games such as adventure, simulation, action, arcade and racing) accounted for the highest user opt in rate of 45.75%
  • In ANZ, 80.2% of gaming apps have implemented the ATT prompt

“Gaming is the most popular form of entertainment in this day and age. 2021 has been a challenging year for the industry due to the privacy changes, and there will be more obstacles in 2022 and beyond. From Android’s upcoming privacy changes, mergers and acquisitions in the market, to international competitions. Industry players need to continue improving ATT consent rate. Using ATT opt-in rates as a KPI can help clarify objectives for the team to improve consent,” said Antony Wilcox, director of growth, AppsFlyer ANZ.

“Doubling down on creatives for app optimisation can also help. This is particularly important with iOS 15 changes and provides a more uniform flow – from context, segmented creative, to a landing page with the same look and feel. In the future, industry players need to also look at the upcoming trends such as the involvement of blockchain technology and web3 to preserve user privacy,” added Wilcox.

The mobile gaming industry now generates over US$77.2 billion in revenue from over 2.5 billion mobile gamers worldwide, but lingering perceptions about the consumer profile of a ‘typical gamer’ still remain.

Programmatic can help brands can identify the most relevant genres and games that their core target audience is engaging with, and subsequently activate, experiment, and evaluate campaigns in real-time to optimise for key KPIs.

What the future of data in gaming means for advertisers: blockchain, Web3 and P2E

Although blockchain technology and Web3 are still in their early stages within the gaming industry, it is set to be a gamechanger for app marketers and developers. Web3 offers new ways for gaming developers and players to increase their profits and democratises data ownership for gamers where users can control their own data and identities.

Technology innovations adopted by marketers have resulted in attraction, retention and engagement of high-value players. As the uptake for Play to Earn (P2E) via blockchain gaming, advanced game analytics and cohort technologies accelerates, marketers will be able to better understand player behaviour and engagement tactics to balance user privacy and experience.

Other forms of online gaming like esports are emerging as a bounty for advertisers, with the Newzoo Global Esports & Live Streaming Market Report (2021) places Australia’s current esports audience at 2.3 million. Newzoo estimates that by 2023 there will be 646 million people globally watching esports at a growth rate of 10.7% year-on-year.

Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to advertisers tapping into the massive esports market. While the infrastructure and intricacies of the esports ecosystem is complex to understand, and has limited support in contrast to other traditional channels that still dominate the lion’s share of ad investment, the burgeoning growth of the sector is critical for advertisers to take note of in the coming years and months. A report by PwC in 2021 found that total interactive gaming and esports revenues rose by 7.2% in 2020 to $3.41 billion in Australia – and the figure is only predicted to keep climbing up.


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