Zynga’s Matt Sharpe managed to extract an arguably controversial statement from Re6I’s co-founder and panel moderator Kat Peterson: “I hate ads.” But, as he continues, ads can create deeply disruptive experiences for mobile players.
“People are always two seconds from going to the app store and downloading another game. You have to have your shit together, and can’t just turn the dials up and expect results.”
In a closing Q&A session, the panel – Nav Gupta, founder and CEO of Chaarmi Worlds; Saloni Gangal, ad monetisation manager at AppLovin; Matt Sharpe, Studio E creative director at Zynga; Flavio Caracas, monetisation and marketing director at Gameloft; and re6l co-founder and CEO and panel moderator Kat Petersen address the next iteration of rewarded and gamified ads.
Sharpe was effusive with his focus on creative iteration: “This is the challenge every single day. We have to be better. This comes from insight and analytical data. We have to keep working on the creative – and people don’t like this response – but iterate, iterate, iterate; push it out, figure out what works.
However, Gupta wanted to espouse the advantages of new technology – and deep insight in the user: “Use additional technology to engage the user. Give them the opportunity to describe who they are and reward them for that.
“We have to be careful with what data we’re gathering, but if you can get a sense of the user and you can show them something valuable, they are going to engage with it. But all of the restrictions over the years, we have to be creative in how we get that data. Take the time to get to know your users in a custom way, be smoother, and get that flow.”
Caracas added: “Something small but manage your inventory. If your players are seeing the same ad, they’re more likely to put their phone down.”
Ultimately, it all loops back to what you want to achieve with your ad, according to Gangal: “Be clear about your KPIs. The data will show who is seeing the right ads and where you can get the best results, and it’s essential that you follow it.”
Do we make ads more seamless or disruptive?
Fundamentally Games’ Oscar Clark and Dimoso’s Jackie Vause both expressed the need for playables to be as seamless as possible – or, specifically, their disdain for playable ads, which risk taking the player out of the experience – although, despite that disdain, Vause did express a curiosity to shift to more deeply interruptive experiences.
Sharpe noted that, as Zynga’s in-game studio, “one of the benefits of being an in-game studio is we can make our ads seamless”, but for something more disruptive, he pushed awareness of “risk/reward. Understand the risks when you’re embarking on a controversial experience. Brace yourself for the valley, and know where you want to end it”.