Mobile leaders discuss value of rewarded ads at Casual Connect

EA, Kongregate, Hothead & Concrete explain why rewarded model works for publishers, advertisers

The streets of Seattle reached upwards of 90 degrees last week, as mobile developers from far and wide converged on the city for this year’s Casual Connect. But inside the air conditioned halls of Benaroya Hall, our team brought the fun of a summer carnival inside — complete with cornhole, prizes, and freshly-popped popcorn. Over the course of three days countless games were played, every salt shaker in the popcorn bar was tested, and most importantly, we had the chance to have great conversations with both new and familiar faces alike.

On day two of the show, Tapjoy CRO, Shannon Jessup, moderated a panel which focused on the strategies that publishers are taking to maximize the LTV of their successful titles. The conversation quickly shifted to monetization best practices and across the board, the panelists alluded to the value of rewarded ads, both for publishers and advertisers.

Kongregate’s VP of Marketing and Ad Monetization, Jeff Gurian, shared that the company’s hit game AdVenture Capitalist effectively found success after the desktop title re-launched on mobile and incorporated rewarded ads to drive revenue. “Ads have absolutely changed the way we look at games and have allowed us to create something that is marketable,” he shared, adding that AdVenture Capitalist currently generates 75% of its revenue from rewarded ads, and that without ad monetization the company wouldn’t be able to fund user acquisition for the title. “The game is now 2 years old, and for the past few months we’ve consistently set records for revenue. IAP is of course a component, but ads drive the game’s success and have carried it to where it is.”

Concrete Software CEO, Keith Pichelman, chimed in that rewarded ads not only work for their games from a monetization perspective, but that users genuinely appear to enjoy them. “Rewarded ads have worked fantastically for our titles,” he explained. “In fact — users will complain if rewarded ads are not available, but we’ve never received a complaint about the lack of non-rewarded interstitials. People really enjoy them and find them engaging.”

Kenneth Wong, Senior Monetization Manager at Hothead Games, agreed that their company has seen that “rewarded ads lead to higher conversion and retention,” adding that they “effectively ‘bridge’ users from the moment that they first interact with a game to the moment they are willing to spend. It’s like giving [users] a ‘carrot’ to introduce them to the value of the in-game economy.”

Electronic Arts’ Senior Director of Ad Strategy, Product and Development, Joy Taylor, explained that EA’s approach to successfully integrating ads into their mobile titles is to think of them as an extension of the game experience. “Our philosophy is to think about ads as a feature of the game experience, “ she explained, “something that adds value for the user — for example, getting through pinch point and allowing them to progress. It should always add to the player experience.” She added the EA has conducted extensive research to ensure that ads complement the in-app economy, rather than compete with it. “Our research has shown that users who engage with rewarded ads are 35% more likely to make a purchase — and there was no adverse affect on those who were already spenders.”

When asked whether it is still a challenge to communicate the value of the mobile gaming audience to brand advertisers, Taylor explained, “I think we’ve reached a tipping point where brands understand that games are content, and that they shouldn’t be viewed differently than any other content. In fact, performance will generally be higher because of players’ level of engagement. So now we’re more focused on how brands can use games to their benefit.”

Missed us this time around? It’s not long until Tapjoy is on the road again! In the coming weeks our team is headed to Mobile World Congress Americas, dmexco, and Tokyo Game Show. To learn more about how Tapjoy can help you maximize the value of rewarded advertising, contact us to set up a meeting.