Guy Ben-dov, the Executive Vice President Business Development, HD games at Anzu explains why in-game advertising is more important than ever for making your mobile game a success.
These days, game developers have so many decisions to make, and one which can make or break a game is how to monetise. Do you focus on the traditional pay-to-play model and gamble on players being interested enough in your title to pay for it on day one? Do you go down the in-game items route and hope players get invested enough to part with their cash in exchange for upgrades and player customisation? Do you release part of your game for free and make additional DLC payable? Or do you hedge your bets and do all of the above?
Intrinsic in-game advertising is helping to solve a lot of these issues and, as a consequence, has become the preferred way for many publishers, large and small, to generate consistent and reliable revenue without compromising on the gameplay. A lot of the work my team and I do is collaborating with game publishers to understand whether in-game advertising is suitable for their titles and what problems it could help solve. With this in mind, we have put together five reasons why every publisher should consider this means of monetization.
1. Players are increasingly moving to free-to-play titles
People love free, and that’s no different when it comes to gaming. People love free-to-play (F2P) games, and the numbers do not lie. Two of the world’s top games - PUBG and Fortnite - collectively have over 630 million players, and Roblox, the third most popular game, boasts around 202 million regular players. These three titles also have something else in common, they are all cross-platform. In doing so, they have spurred a free-to-play ( F2P) revolution, especially within the PC and console ecosystem, where more titles are adopting the F2P model.
As global recessions loom and prices increase, more people are looking for lower-priced or free entertainment. During this time, introducing more revenue channels like in-game advertising that can work alongside your other monetisation methods makes sense. In relevant games, in-game advertising can add meaningful additional revenue from any player, whether they have paid for the game or not.
By establishing a reliable revenue stream, you will be able to add more value to your game on an ongoing basis and allocate funds to support your next creation. At Anzu, our mission is to create sustainable revenue for game creators. We feel accomplished when we can positively change the economy of developers and support their games and their growth. We have worked with loads of amazing studios, large and small, to help enhance their titles - from mobile developers like Wildlife Studios, APPS, and Amanotes, to AAA behemoths like Ubisoft and Saber Interactive.
2. There is uncertainty with performance-based advertising revenue
For those publishers who already use advertising as a revenue stream, it is no longer enough to rely solely on performance advertising. It is not what it used to be! Changes in privacy guidelines, particularly in the US, have affected the revenue from these sources. Additionally, the big tech players, including Apple with IDFA and Google with its new app policy, have made it much harder for performance advertising to thrive within the mobile ecosystem.
Players have come to expect a premium experience from their games and don’t want to be interrupted during play. This was reflected in our UK in-game advertising report, where players were asked what advice they would give advertisers running ads in-game. The most popular answer was ‘make your advertising as relevant as possible’, closely followed by ‘don’t force me to wait for what I’m doing’ and ‘never interrupt a committed gamer in their flow’.
By implementing intrinsic in-game advertising, you can augment your revenue and return to the income you were used to. Brand awareness campaigns are on the rise, which is why more advertisers are looking to in-game. Another massive bonus for game developers is that these in-game brand awareness campaigns don’t drive players away from your game to feed other services.
3. Players enjoy realistic games more when they see brands they recognize
Players live in the real world too. They enjoy seeing references to the brands they love within their games. When you add in-game advertising, your world can become even more relevant, trusted, and enjoyable by players, whether it's a new movie, snack, or the latest footwear. Research we carried out in the US found that 70 percent of gamers are positive or neutral towards in-game advertising, over two-thirds of US gamers said they would welcome more advertising into their games if done right, and 50 percent said it's important to see their favourite brands in games.
Anzu works with many of the world’s biggest advertisers, including WPP, NBCUniversal, Vodafone, PepsiCo, and Samsung bringing their latest campaigns in-game. Axis Games, the publisher behind one of the most popular American Football simulations Axis Football, recently shared some feedback they received from one of their players, which demonstrates just how effective bringing brands into the game can be if it’s done right: “The ads in the stadium add a lot of life and realism, just like in an actual stadium, the billboards and banner ads reflect real-life products, and they change from season to season and game to game. Having this feature in Axis Football really elevates the immersion.”
4. One-off brand integrations are no longer enough for advertisers
In the past, you may have been used to one-off deals, bringing one or two brands into your games. In 2023, brands want the benefit of digital advertising. Still, they expect to access everything they are used to from other digital advertising channels within gaming including reporting, targeting, programmatic capabilities, and brand safety tools. Developers who scale up with intrinsic in-game advertising can offer this if they work with the right partner and enjoy ongoing revenues from the same placements. This allows you to maximize your in-game real estate in terms of dollars and relevant brands.
After implementing in-game advertising, PC developer Amelore saw a 112 percent increase in revenue from 2021-2022, with in-game ads making up 50 percent of their total revenue. After speaking to players, they found that 90 percent felt neutral or positive about the ads. Mobile developer Amanotes saw quarterly revenue increase five-fold and average revenue per daily average user (ARPDAU) increase up to three times in the US. These two developers are reaping the rewards from implementing in-game ads.
5. Games are now media channels with dedicated communities
You’re a media mogul, and you didn’t even know it! Servicing players with your game means you run a community. Replying to comments, promoting updates and upcoming features on social channels like Discord, monitoring your player behaviour, and using this to drive in-game updates now come with successfully managing a video game.
In-game advertising allows you to enjoy the fruits of your hard-earned labour by turning your fake in-game billboards into real ones, allowing you to enjoy the additional revenue from the game and service you run. It can even help you to bring on more staff to manage and grow your community.
So there you have it! Our top five reasons why you should consider in-game. There are, of course, many more reasons why intrinsic in-game ads are gaining so much popularity right now. If you would like to hear more or find out whether in-game ads could work for you, check out our developer offering by heading here, or reach out to our team directly.