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MGF 2013: Can mobile games attract advertising from the big brands?

#mgf2013 A panel discusses...
MGF 2013: Can mobile games attract advertising from the big brands?
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Is in-game advertising a necessity evil for mobile developers, and can they get more of it?

That was the underpinning of a mobile advertising panel on the second day of the Mobile Games Forum 2013, in London.

Of course, the representatives from the mobile advertising industry were keen to talk up how effective in-game ads can be.

"Click through rates are very strong in mobile games," said James Salins, MD of Supersonic Ads. "We have a powerful story to communicate. In-game advertising is twice as effective as online advertising, and four times more effective than TV advertising."

The problem, however, is that the big brand advertisers remain conservative when it comes to spending money with mobile apps and games.

Partly this is because developers don't have enough (or any) information about their players.

"It's almost impossible to get brand ads unless you have good data about who your audience is," Salins pointed out.

He said, he thought that mobile (apps and games) should be getting 20 percent of the overall brand campaign budget.

Give me more

Another issue is that low quality banner ads remain the default unit within games.

"One day we made a mistake and instead of an banner ad, we had an empty image into our game and we got the same click through rate as when we had an image installed," revealed Ian Harper of UK developer FGOL.

"Interstitial ads give better click through but that could be just because they're bigger," he added.

Everyone on the panel agreed that video ads provided the best user experience as well as being the sort of ad unit that brand advertisers like and understand.

"We need to move away from banners," argued Jonathan Zweig, although he is CEO of leading video ad company AdColony.

On the upside, Salins pointed to brands such as Unilever and P&G who are starting to experiment with in-game advertising, particularly because of the rise of casual women gamers.

"The clever brands are tapping into an engaged audience, but we still need to do a lot of education," he said.