November 17, 2023
User acquisition for mobile games is hard, and it’s only getting harder. The ongoing impact of IDFA’s deprecation and other knock-on effects from the move toward mobile privacy self-regulation highlights this difficulty. But this time of change is far from the industry’s final hours. Instead, it’s a move toward something better.
The way forward for mobile user acquisition puts control in the hands of players by giving them a transparent and mutually beneficial path toward their next favorite game. This doesn’t happen through videos that players set and forget, nor does it depend on CPE-driven boosts that pump short-term engagement numbers through a tutorial (and then off a cliff). It requires a more reliable, loyalty-building rewarded system that serves as a net gain for all parties involved – publishers, advertisers, and users too.
The evolution of rewarded advertising crosses disciplines and is still in progress today. However, the changes that have benefitted user experience, loyalty, and lifetime value the most can be broken down into three key pillars: personalization, deep funnel incentives, and active relationships across communities.
According to a McKinsey study, 71% of consumers expect personalized interactions from the companies they do business with.1 While that’s important to keep in mind for all industries, it’s essential for companies that specialize in something as personal and rewarding as play. Potential players want to feel confident that they’ll find hours of enjoyment in their next game before they commit to a potentially lengthy onboarding process. The time to rely on hit-or-miss binary choices and scattershot offers is over.
It’s true that rewarded ads have always given players more control over their advertising experience. Rather than simply being required to watch an interstitial to keep playing, a player could deem the in-game rewards being offered worthy of their pursuit.
Opt-in ads give players a binary choice – to engage or not to engage. Players could then decide what to engage with from a list of advertisers through an offerwall. But since offerwalls are better at promoting a scattershot of short-term engagement across a range of advertisers than they are at setting up experiences that keep players sticking with a new game for the long haul, offerwalls are also of limited use.
That brings us to the new wave of rewarded advertising solutions. Today’s mobile game advertisements help users find experiences they actually want to engage with by personalizing their recommendations. Dedicated recommendation engines capitalize on “zero-party data” – which is, as Salesforce explains, another way to refer to data that users actively and voluntarily submit, namely by asking for the information necessary to find the best matches.2
As traditional, tracking-reliant targeting options are increasingly hamstrung, this kind of direct relationship between the consumer, the information they knowingly provide, and the improved results they see is an uncommonly virtuous cycle. And this cycle reaches far beyond a better user experience to build reach and drive performance for advertisers. When the right players can find your game more easily, the results speak for themselves.
The solution is particularly potent when combined with AI-powered recommendation engines such as the one that drives Mistplay’s personalized suggestions. This engine combines individual user information with aggregate data drawn from thousands upon thousands of hours of play to ensure suggested games are always on point.
The result? Publishers will find more high-value, relevant mobile gamers downloading and spending in their games. In the age of personalization, rewarded advertisements are made even more powerful when paired with incentives that keep players loyal for longer.
👀 Related reading: What are rewarded video ads and how do they work?
The new age of rewarded advertising layers on continuous incentives for engagement, standing in contrast to the one-and-done CPE campaigns found in most offerwalls. They also work to build loyalty across a range of players by offering practical rewards that really matter, whether they’re useful in the game or even in real life. As we found in The 2023 Mobile Gaming Loyalty Report:
Traditional rewarded advertising has always excelled at funneling players into games. These solutions often go further still by rewarding players for pushing past common drop-off points such as the end of the first-time user experience (FTUE). But that singular milestone is where these one-time incentives end, and after which many promising new players tend to part ways with the game.
By working within a platform that enables consistent tracking for player commitment and progress, advertisers can offer rewards that keep players around way past the FTUE. Now, players keep getting rewarded the longer they play, building loyalty with their favorite games as they go.
But not everyone will be equally motivated to stick with a game by the in-game prospects they’re used to. Here’s another pair of figures from our 2023 report that outline some of the most common causes for player churn:
Pivoting extrinsic rewards to also include real-money rewards, such as Amazon and PayPal gift cards, drives engagement by presenting rewards that everyone can use. Mistplay has given away more than $60 million USD worth of these kinds of rewards so far, building an even stronger relationship between players, their favorite games, and the people who create them.
Traditional ad networks serve as a go-between for players and games. Even if they manage to pair a user up with their new favorite title, that’s where the relationship ends. But as the Harvard Business Review observes, building a community around your brand isn’t just a marketing strategy for acquiring new customers – it’s a business strategy.3 And if you aren’t working to bring players into yours, you risk losing them to competitors who do.
Fortunately, advertisers don’t have to do it all on their own. Modern rewarded advertising platforms drive performance and engagement through steady reinforcement as well as promotional initiatives. For instance, a user’s time spent playing and the in-game milestones they reach could unlock persistent achievements that follow them even outside of the game – thus revealing new tiers of both in- and out-of-game benefits that incentivize continued loyalty through play. Where players may naturally fall off at certain lulls, these extrinsic, community-centric rewards keep users coming back to experience all your game has to offer.
This direct relationship establishes new opportunities to help players find their game of choice. Boosted games within the platform encourage them to try out new titles, or return to old familiar ones, for special rewards. Limited-time offers, meanwhile, encourage players to add new games to their regular repertoire.
Newer rewarded advertising solutions can also be used to maintain direct relationships with audiences. These relationships take many forms, but solutions that exist within their own app allow advertisers access to the same tools they’re used to relying on in any given MarTech stack. For example, emails and push notifications that entice players to return can feel both familiar and personally fulfilling based on their offer. This is all made possible by the cohesive relationship and community built around and within a dedicated platform.
👀 Related reading: How to improve mobile game player retention: 5 effective strategies
The new age of rewarded advertising for mobile games is a paradigm shift toward more personalized, deeply incentivized, and relationship-driven solutions. It gives players an efficient way to find the types of games they’re most likely to enjoy, and it gives advertisers a key to more sustainable growth that’s built on trust and transparency, rather than potentially dicey data sources and questionable targeting.
The Mistplay app and platform align players with their next favorite games – then stay with them through the lifetime journey. This deeper relationship between players, Mistplay, and the games therein creates a virtuous cycle that builds loyalty and engagement, all in an inherently transparent way, far removed from other methods of user acquisition that are rapidly deteriorating in the face of privacy concerns.
Want to learn more about how Mistplay can empower your game with a modern platform for rewarded advertising? Reach out to our experts today.