As we look upon the new year I wanted to reflect on what I feel will continue to be the trend for games and app monetization in an industry that is rapidly evolving.
The human race has created some remarkable things over the course of history, but banner ads are not one of them.
For those of you who follow me here on LinkedIn and other platforms, you’re probably familiar with my attitude toward this marketing mechanism. I think they’re interruptive. They’re annoying. They have no mobile DNA. But this isn’t another post about how bad ads are again.
Kiip came to market as a much-needed alternative for the mobile gaming industry. We realized reaching new levels or beating high scores offered natural breaks in gameplay to reward achievements. As we expanded the scope of our rewards model, we entered into different kinds of apps, from fitness and health to productivity and music.
Despite what some articles out there claim we said, games continue to play an integral role at Kiip. Look no further than the fact that we just launched the first Mobile Gaming Championship with Guinness World Records to crown the best mobile gamer on earth (and have already seen gamers top the world record charts in Into the Dead and Lane Splitter), or that we just teamed up with Cut the Rope – one of the top mobile games of all time with more than 300 million downloads – to integrate Kiip rewards.
We believe any mobile advertising strategy that doesn’t include games is a shortsighted one. Games are far and away the leading app category on smartphones, making up 33 percent of app downloads.
However, the industry has recently seen some of the biggest mobile games turn away from mobile advertising altogether and go their own way. King, the developer behind the hit game Candy Crush Saga, made lots of noise. Here’s an excerpt from an email the company sent to advertising partners following its decision to forego ads:
King’s #1 focus around delivering an uninterrupted entertainment experience for our network of loyal players across web, tablet and mobile has unfortunately led to the difficult decision of removing advertising as a core element of King’s overall strategy.”
The key word there is “uninterrupted.” The banner ad model is oriented around interruption first, engagement second. It alienates and antagonizes users. Let’s look at why that might be the case:
- The Game Experience – Games are full of moments worth celebrating, but banner ads don’t offer gamers a virtual high five for their achievements. There’s nothing inspiring or rewarding about a small strip at the bottom of the screen. They completely miss the mark and fail to capture the opportunity to congratulate gamers for reaching milestones.
- The Gamer Experience – Mobile has historically been a unique advertising medium because it’s the most personal device we’ve ever owned – after all, it contains all of the digital activity in our lives. 72 percent of consumers explore mobile apps at home, where they can relax and take some “me” time. Banner ads are the equivalent of solicitors – unwelcome, offering something you don’t want and difficult to make disappear.
- The Developer Experience – The monetization equation for game developers has historically been an exchange. In return for an ad spend, advertisers ask for a piece of valuable screen space and ruin the user experience. It’s a compromise, and developers are on the losing side. As the first generation of digital natives matures, this key demographic group will have grown up ignoring ads and will be experts at navigating around them. This makes in-house options like in-game currency and purchases that much more appealing to developers.
At Kiip, we’re focused on reversing the abuse of advertising with respect and reciprocity from rewards. We are dedicated to providing a better gaming experience for users, developers and marketers alike.
The norm of monetization in exchange for sacrificing your user experience was a byproduct of the banner ad. This should not be an accepted norm. It was a byproduct of linear thinking. We are determined to continue to innovate on the concept of the moment, the reward, and helping make the entire ecosystem experience the coveted “triple-win”.
We’ve learned a lot from rewarding moments in other experiences than just games. The core learning is that at the end of the day, we are all human beings. There are key things that will not ever change: because we feel and experience things subjectively, we want to be respected and appreciated. There is a way that brands can play a part in this virtuous cycle, but unfortunately it isn’t through advertising.
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- Marketing Strategies