While mobile web advertising has been around for a while, there are various challenges for advertisers that are now starting to be addressed with in-app advertising capabilities. And having the ability to access in-app audiences, especially in the mobile gaming industry, could be a game changer. Pepe Agell (pictured below), VP of corporate strategy, Chartboost, talks about the challenges advertisers face and the opportunities now available with programmatic access to mobile gaming inventory.
ExchangeWire: Mobile gaming is a huge industry, what does Chartboost do, and what sparked the move into programmatic?
Pepe Agell: That’s true, mobile gaming is indeed a huge industry. There are more than 2.6 billion monthly active users, and the growth of gaming is dominating engagement in the mobile space worldwide. In the US alone, 69% of mobile phone owners play a game once a month and that is only expected to grow year-on-year. In terms of overall digital ad revenue, mobile ad spend accounted for over half in 2016. Today’s mobile gaming persona is attractive to advertisers: it’s diverse, mostly female, and between 35 and 44 years old. 47% of gamers spend 3+ hours per week shopping online.
Chartboost is the leading mobile gaming audience platform. Our platform reaches over 900 million unique users every month across more than 300,000 mobile games. In our six years of existence, Chartboost has successfully connected top marketers with these valuable global in-app audiences.
As we look at the future of mobile advertising, we strongly believe in the power of programmatic buying. Platforms will add more automated capabilities and RTB will be the standard for in-app advertising. We just launched the Chartboost Exchange, which opens up our inventory to programmatic buyers and DSPs. Our goal is to continue helping developers build a business with more diverse and higher performing advertising.
Do you think the overall marketing mix will change for brands now that they reach mobile gamers programmatically?
As brands continue to look for new channels of engagement, reaching untapped audiences, like mobile gamers who show high engagement and ROI, will become key in their user-acquisition strategy. While brands may also be more familiar with mobile web traffic, understanding how in-app and native at programmatic scale can impact their marketing mix will be how brands stay ahead of the curve in 2018.
With the Chartboost Exchange, brands are now able to tap into in-app gaming inventory and create meaningful experiences through the standard native formats (i.e. interstitial and rewarded placements). While the mobile web will continue being a scalable source of traffic, it presents some challenges and I expect more and more marketers to dedicate bigger budgets to in-app advertising.
What are the biggest challenges with advertising in mobile?
Today, the majority of the traffic on mobile exchanges is still coming from the mobile web, which presents some challenges for marketers who want to drive brand awareness, engagement, and return on ad spend. The first step is understanding the difference between mobile web and in-app, and challenges with each.
The first metric that brands care about is viewability. Advertisers must be sure that they don’t waste impressions and that tracked impressions were actually seen by a human being. In most placements on the web, this is hard to guarantee. According to Integral Ad Science, mobile web ads have a viewability of 44%, on average. On Chartboost, because of the nature of our full-screen immersive formats and the in-app inventory, we are seeing viewability levels of over 98%.
Related to that, brands care about creating high-quality ad experiences in the right context. The reality is that most placements on the web don’t foster that, compared to in-app, where most placements capture the full attention of the user.
The other big challenge is data accessibility and measurability. Even brand awareness campaigns are looking for a specific return, this is why it’s important to be able to track the users who have engaged with a specific campaign or ad unit. Ads on the web don’t pass device IDs and it’s hard to map users using fingerprinting or cookie tracking.
Last but not least, fraud is the eternal enemy of any marketer. It happens on the web and it’s obviously growing on mobile (fraudsters always follow the money). In order to mitigate fraud, it’s important to have 100% trackability and direct access to the traffic so that you can turn off the suspicious sources.
How will the new exchange help advertisers increase performance and gain full viewability?
Transparency is a driving force in the Chartboost Exchange, with a focus on data accessibility, brand safety, and full control over the user experience; 100% of the traffic on the Exchange comes through direct publishers that use Chartboost and we let buyers engage with these audiences through native in-app and innovative ad formats – like interstitial, opt-in, vertical video, and interactive ads.
Our creatives are dynamically optimised to deliver the best user experience with full viewability and a very high completion rate, especially on opt-in placements.
What in-app formats are available for advertisers?
Advertisers can connect with the mobile gaming audience through video, opt-in video (rewarded), interactive ads, and rich media. All these formats are delivered to the user in a full-screen context, capturing their full attention and creating immersive experiences.
Through all these formats, gaming offers brands the opportunity to convey their value proposition while generating a memorable experience. Players are fully focused and, because of the context, the brand will be associated with a moment of excitement and fun. Moreover, rewarded placements, where the user gets a reward on the game for fully watching the video ad, offers the potential for the brand to be more connected to the channel – for example, giving a reward that is exclusive to that placement.
What does the future of programmatic advertising for the gaming industry look like?
Programmatic for the mobile advertising industry is still nascent, there’s a lot to learn and room for innovation in technology. For gaming, we’re in an even earlier stage, which is extra exciting for Chartboost.
First, we know that gaming as an industry is expanding to mass markets and audiences. While much of this is the mobile population, the inventory is mostly accessible through specialised ad networks only. As mobile marketers and brand advertisers understand how to best engage this audience, and technology providers create the tools to reach them, we believe that by next year more than 50% of the gaming inventory will be available through programmatic on both web channels, like Twitch, and mobile. And Chartboost will lead the charge in connecting marketers to this valuable audience.